Ian Shanks is the Purchasing and Product Quality Manager at Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL), and oversaw the development and quality testing of Isuzu’s new Australian-made bullbar, manufactured by Melbourne’s own Abcor Engineering.

In addition to its stylish, modern design, Ian told us what makes the new bullbar stronger than ever.

Ian, can you give us some background information on how the new bullbar design differs from the previous model?

It’s an extremely exciting design, and completely different from anything we’ve seen on Isuzu trucks before. Our new bullbar has been engineered by a world-leading subsidiary of Isuzu Japan – ICL, Isuzu’s accessory design and development experts.

Everything was thoroughly tested by Isuzu Japan, in an extremely rigorous, extended process. The outcome of all this hard work, however, has been sensational.

Australian high-tech engineering company Abcor was specifically chosen for the bullbar manufacturing contract. What set them apart?

Abcor’s advanced manufacturing techniques, world leading technology and wealth of industry expertise really impressed us, and their quality work processes were second to none.

We investigated a range of different options and paths, but for every one of IAL’s criteria, Abcor clearly came out on top.

Abcor is renowned for being an exceptionally high-tech company, what sort of technologies does it use during the manufacturing process?

The main body of the bullbar is constructed using a thousand-tonne press, instead of an extrusion (which is normal practice for bullbar manufacturing). This gives Isuzu’s new model a much stronger foundation.

It’s also fully robot-welded and polished, ensuring a very high level of quality control. A huge amount of automation goes into the bullbar manufacturing process, leaving nothing to chance.

It’s all part of Isuzu’s stringent quality standards and represents industry best practice.

There’s been a lot of talk about how careful Isuzu’s quality assurance processes are. How many years of planning and testing went into the new bullbar?

It’s been close to a three-year process. After extensive testing in Japan, Isuzu Japan engineers travelled to Australia to thoroughly inspect Abcor’s processes and manufacturing plant.

The result is an advanced product that’s built for Australian conditions with the quality and reliability that customers expect from Isuzu.

What sort of safety testing was involved, and what are the safety benefits of the new bullbar?

Uniquely, it was crash tested on a vehicle in Japan, so it’s completely Australian Design Rules (ADR) and airbag compliant. We decided to go the extra mile to ensure our design was one of the safest and strongest on Australian roads.

After widespread computer analysis, the crash test guaranteed the safety of the new bullbar, and confirmed the FDA approvals.

Does the new bull bar have a different headlight mounting design for models that used to have the headlights mounted into the bull bar?

The new bull bar retains the Isuzu headlight mount assemblies, which are relocated to the steel bull bar mount. This differs to the old bullbar, that had the headlights repositioned and didn’t use the Isuzu mounts and adjustments.

Relocating the headlight mount assembly to the steel mount is closer to the original Isuzu design and retains all of Isuzu’s mounts and adjustments. The new design also passed all of Isuzu’s vibration test requirements.

What sort of performance testing was involved?

In addition to the safety testing, Isuzu Japan had a range of other criteria that the bullbar had to meet. It had a full shape and vibration test in Japan, the airflow and cooling packages have been fully verified, and its FAT compatibility has also been tested.

What engineering standards did Abcor have to meet?

Abcor had to meet all of Isuzu Japan’s approvals – not an easy task by any stretch. In addition, every part of Abcor’s business had to meet the approval of both ICL and IAL.

It couldn’t have been more thorough. We investigated their manufacturing, design and even their admin processes. Anything to do with the bullbar was fully audited by Isuzu Japan.

The new model is a two-piece design, what makes it so strong?

The design integrity of the two-piece bullbar is exceptional. When we look at this design, the upper section and the lower section are joined by ‘mechanical fasteners’ – the region where it’s bolted together.

These fasteners have proven to be stronger than a welded product, which is the current standard for many bullbar designs.

In addition to significantly strengthening the product, the two-piece model allows for a far cheaper replacement if the top or bottom part of the bullbar is damaged, and will also allow for a HD bumper variant if the bull bar is ordered without the top section.

Finally, why should Isuzu customers be excited about the new bullbar?

Put simply, it’s a modern, contemporary design that utilises world-leading technology. It’s stronger than ever, safer than ever and the best part is it flawlessly reflects the style of the trucks.

The quality assurance is there for all Isuzu customers to see. When a product is fully designed and approved by the Isuzu factory, you can rest assured that it meets extremely rigorous standards.