The good rainfall in many rural areas combined with continuing new house building will see bulk operators looking for growth and bulk trailers builders under pressure. Diesel News talked to one small operator in South Australia.
Bulk transport is a highly specialised industry, while also covering a number of different customer groups from large multinational corporations to small farmers in remote areas. The industry is dominated by the small mum and dad operations around Australia. One such operation is based in Tailem Bend in SA.
“We’re probably lucky, because we started with the gypsum and that’s our bread and butter,” said Sam Paterson, from Paterson Bulk Transport. “We use a couple of subbies to haul gypsum and then we have others who buy the gypsum direct and pick it up themselves. We are shifting around 80,000 tonnes per year leaving the mine.
“Once upon a time, there wasn’t the need for backloading, we got paid a two way rate for one load. Now, it’s a competitive market and you’ve got to try and work both ways and make it pay. Instead of the gypsum and transport running hand-in-hand, we now run Cooke Plains Gypsum as a mine and the transport company as a transport company. You can’t rely on each other to make it work and not get too complacent.
“We take gypsum Australia wide. Predominantly, in the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane regions as well as over to Tasmania on the boat. We used to do a lot up to the Territory, but not so much these days. Then there’s a lot of work locally. We deliver to farmers, landscape yards everyone who has got anything to do with agricultural industry. We have got customers who we cart our gypsum to and then we cart their grain, fertiliser and wool.
“Back, years ago, when I was a kid, we used to run flattop tipping convertibles and then we would take gypsum to Sydney and load general freight back out. It worked both ways, because you couldn’t get a back load for a tipper. That’s how we started doing general freight. Now, we have got into curtainsiders and the business goes in two different directions. Convertibles are a thing of the past, a lot of the customers won’t use them.”
The Patersons operation has one truck which runs on Performance Based Standards. It’s a Mack Trident with a quad dog set-up which allows it to run on general access routes at 57 tonnes. Running at 19 metres long, it is possible to get a 38.5 tonnes payload on it, not much less than is possible on the B-doubles in the fleet. All of which runs on HML, with the drivers working within the BFM system.
“The bigger PBS tipper and dog combinations with five or six axle dogs don’t necessarily suit what we do,” says Sam. “We have split loads and you can only so much on the trailer. Somer places we go to your have to split to get in, so you can’t the long dog trailers in there. It’s different horses for different courses.”