Everything is on a big scale in the Pilbara for the Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls, the distances involved are huge and the tonnages needing to be moved are enormous. Even though much of the iron ore arrives at the port on rail transport and the gas is piped out to the ships offshore, there is still a massive amount of freight needing to be moved by road, just to service the mining infrastructure and workforce working here.
The madness of the construction phase for these enormous iron and gas installations has passed, but Karratha is still a very busy town. Much of its business is busy developing the capability to service the needs of the resources industry projects now running in the region.
One of the businesses involved in this service industry is Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls, whose striking pink trucks are instantly noticed by other road users out on the highways of the Pilbara and on the roads down and back to Perth.
The trucks themselves are part of an initiative by Volvo Trucks to tackle the problems of driver supply and retention in the Australian trucking industry. The donation of two trucks, a Volvo FH 16 and a Mack Superliner, was announced earlier this year, at the ITTES in Melbourne by Volvo Group Australia President, Peter Voorhoeve, as part of his campaign to improve the lot of truck drivers and get proper training and qualifications up, in the industry.
The donation of the trucks was in recognition of the great work being done by Heather Jones in Karratha. She has been a lone voice in the Pilbara wilderness for a number of years. however, with Volvo’s involvement, it seems someone is finally listening to her ideas and interested in her methods.
I have been really drowning for the last sixteen years, trying to do this by myself,” says Heather. “No matter what you say, they agree it’s a good idea, but let you do it yourself. With Volvo on board now, I am very excited. I love safety and I love safe trucks. These are easy trucks to teach in, so it’s a good match for me.”
The heart of the philosophy is in evidence when Diesel News visited Heather and her team at the PHHG headquarters in Karratha. These are working trucks and the task at hand is running two triples out to a large gas installation site and removing the garbage a small town of 7,500 souls generates.
The difference is, the drivers of these trucks and the way the job is handled. At any one time there can be trainees working on the job. The first stage sees them observe, sitting in the passenger seat and learning how the job is done properly. The next stage is to handle the simpler tasks with an experienced driver at their side helping out and checking everything is done right and the final stage involves the driver tackling the complete task, on their own to an extent, but monitored to ensure safety and efficiency.
It’s as simple as that, just a matter of giving someone with the license to drive a truck the skill set to actually do the job properly and be a useful member of the trucking community. The principle here is, you have got your license, now you need to learn how to be a truck driver.