Leading Riverina transport contractor Deniliquin Freighters is operating two purpose-built Kenworth T909 A-Double roadtrains which haul 60 tonnes of export rice from SunRice’s newly reopened Coleambally mill in southern NSW.
The innovative A-Double two-trailer configuration, which is 36.5 m – 10 m longer than a regular B-Double, is a first for the state. The company was granted a special permit by the NSW Government’s Roads and Maritime Services. This enables the trucks to carry two 20-foot (6.1 m) TEU shipping containers of up to 30 tonne gross weights on specific routes from the mill to rail terminals in the region.
The permit allows the Kenworths to carry containers which are, for the first time, filled to capacity. That is around a 13 percent increase or 3.5 tonnes of milled rice per load more than trucks were permitted previously.
The new road limit load approvals, which were arranged following talks with NSW Roads and Ports Minister, The Honourable Duncan Gay, who played an important role for SunRice in ensuring maximum efficiency in the movement of rice for export, particularly from the recently re-opened Coleambally mill.
SunRice’s Coleambally and Deniliquin mills had been closed almost five years earlier due to severe droughts which decimated Australian rice crops. Today, SunRice has had its second consecutive year of full rice production, with a harvest of more than 963,000 tonnes. That’s a dramatic turn-around compared to its low of just 19,000 tonnes in 2008. To meet the increased capacity, it reopened the Deniliquin mill in early 2011, followed by the mill in Coleambally in November 2012.
Deniliquin Freighters has been contracting to SunRice since the transport company was established in the mid 1970s and, since 1999, it has been one of the company’s key road carriers from the rice mills in the Riverina. In addition to managing a large team of contractors, the company maintains its own fleet of 10 Kenworth prime movers which distribute SunRice finished rice to wholesalers and retailers throughout mainland Australia. It also handles haulage of milled rice between the three mills as well as the export containers carted from Coleambally.
Deniliquin Freighters’ Managing Director, Russell Tait, said he worked with SunRice to find a more efficient transport solution for the Coleambally mill since it was the only one not located near a rail terminal.
“The closest rail terminal to Coleambally is in Tocumwal – that’s a 256 km round trip which our trucks need to make several times a day,” he said. “We spent 15 months working with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to try to find a cost-effective transport solution. The special RMS’ permit achieved that. It enabled us to implement a new transport configuration that increased payload capacity to 60 tonnes at CML (concessional mass limits) weights.
This was important to ensure efficiency at the re-opened mill, and it’s become a win-win for everyone. The A-Double roadtrain substantially lowers the overall cost of transport and provides SunRice with significant productivity gains. It also benefits the local community and the state with less trucks on the road,” Russell explained.
Deniliquin Freighters purchased its Kenworth T909s from award-winning dealer, Graham Thomson Motors in Shepparton. The T909 is a versatile model which suits almost any application where the front axle weight is critical.
Kenworth custom built the prime movers to the exacting requirements of the Coleambally mill operation. This included making provision on the chassis for the installation of a dual-wheel, lift-up Hendrickson pusher axle in front of the drive axle. When employed, the pusher axle enables the vehicles to carry a heavier payload that is spread more evenly across the axle groups.
Rated to a GCM of 106 tonnes, each truck is powered by a Cummins ISX EGR engine, generating 600 hp and 2050 lb/ft of torque. The truck features an 18-speed Eaton UltraShift Plus FO-22E318B-MXP automated transmission with Hill Start Assist to prevent rolling backwards on an incline. It also includes Meritor MFS73 front axles (7.3 tonne capacity) and Meritor RT46-160GP rear axles (21 tonne capacity), and rides on Kenworth’s Airglide 460 eight-bag rear suspension. The model has also been fitted with Kenworth’s Aero 50-inch integrated sleeper, Front Under-run Protection System (FUPS) bumpers as well as the Kenworth Electronic Brake Safety System (EBSS) Level 1, including ABS, automatic traction control (ATC) and drag torque control (DTC).
The T909s pull two, low-profile, drop-deck skel trailers by Vawdrey, which are linked by a tri-axle dolly. The 36.5 metre, Kenworth A-Double roadtrains operate two shifts, five days a week, from 3 am until midnight, and one shift on Saturday, from 3 am until 1 pm. Each truck makes five round trips in a full day. Four deliveries are made to the Tocumwal rail terminal, which is a 256 km round trip, and one is made to the Deniliquin terminal, a 330 km round trip. The trucks also make three trips on Saturdays.
Every week, the Kenworths haul in total 112 shipping containers with a combined payload of close to 3000 tonnes of milled rice. The containerised rice is sent by rail to the Port of Melbourne, where it is exported to various countries throughout the Pacific.
Russell looked at a number of Kenworth models before deciding on the T909. He said he chose it based on several factors, including its longer wheelbase, which allowed for the pusher axle, and provided better steering for the lengthy rig.
“The A-Double roadtrain is a major step forward for NSW transport, particularly regional agribusiness. But the 13-axle configuration, the long operating hours and the often hot Riverina conditions would tax most trucks. That’s why I didn’t seriously consider any other brand – only Kenworth.
“We have used a variety of American and European models since the 1970s, but for the past 11 years, I have only purchased Kenworths. It just makes sense. They are engineered in Australia for Australia’s toughest environments. And they are custom built in the factory to our specifications. If we used any other brand, it would have been much more difficult and time consuming, with no guarantee it would be the best vehicle for the job. With Kenworth, we get exactly what we need without any compromise,” he explained.
Russell says the T909 has proved to be the ideal model for Coleambally job.
“I needed a strong, powerful truck to handle the work but, because we are carting heavy containers with a set weight, I needed a light prime mover to ensure we stayed within the permit limits. The T909 has a surprisingly light tare weight and it’s economical to run. They’re real workhorses and yet they’re so comfortable to drive. We work them long and hard, and they haven’t missed a beat.
“The beauty about the T909, in fact all Kenworths, is their flexibility. If the Riverina went back into drought, we could remove the pusher axle and turn the T909s back into bogey drives and they would join our other Kenworths doing linehaul work. We run a variety of models which are configured as single trailer, B-Double and roadtrains. It all depends on the needs of SunRice and our other customers. Our Kenworths are versatile, and that allows us to react quickly to changes in the market,” he explained.
Russell said another important reason he continues to buy Kenworths is the often overlooked dealer service.
“Graham Thomson Motors is an excellent dealer – we have been buying Kenworths from them for years. They have very knowledgeable and long-term staff, who understand our business, and always give us prompt service and advice. In fact, they played a key role in the development of our A-Double roadtrains,” he added.