For a Narromine tipper operator, using Performance-Based Standards (PBS) to get over the mountains to the port is vital to the viability of the business. After using a semi for the work, the company moved over to more truck and dog combinations, as these are able to get the highest payloads across the Blue Mountains, where full-size B-doubles are banned.
“We started in trucks back in 1998,” says Peter Parslow, Castlemac Traders (CMT) Operations Manager and Freight Coordinator. “CMT was formed as the transport division of Agrigrain. They are a seed business and grain trader, so we needed trucks to cart our own seed. We had had some people cart some seed for us and it had got contaminated.”
Over half a million tonnes of grain passes through the operation on an annual basis at the Narromine facility, plus another 300,000 tonnes through its Coonamble facility, 180km to the north. This makes Agrigrain a major player in the grain game in New South Wales.
“We run five PBS truck and dog outfits of our own,” says Peter. “We have one five-axle dog and the other four are quad dogs. The quads have a 37.5 tonne payload. We also run three road train/B-doubles. They can run as a B-double going down to the coast and then, out here, we can put a dolly in them and run them as a road train.”
Due to the road over the Blue Mountains having a persistent ban on full-size B-doubles, the B-doubles heading to Sydney either have to take the southern route via Yass, or sweep around to the north via Newcastle.
“The trouble is the customer expects you to quote for the shortest route, which is over the mountain,” says Peter. “We reckon going around via Yass is about 80km longer than going via Newcastle, but going that way you use about 60 litres less fuel.”
It was issues like this that prompted Peter to take a good look at using the PBS rules to get a higher payload over the mountains, to aid productivity.
“People said, you don’t want to do PBS , because you are going to be satellite tracked,” says Peter. “But we have no problems. All of our drivers on the PBS trucks have been with us for at least 14 years and they have no trouble. They drive to their book and drive to suit the tracker and we don’t get any issues. If you don’t do anything wrong, you don’t get into trouble.”
After experimenting with the first five axle dog PBS unit the company is looking to add another two of the same to the fleet. They can run at 63 tonnes GCM, giving CMT a payload over 42 tonnes.
“I always said we would never get a B-double or a road train,” says Peter. “Then we migrated to one B-double. When PBS vehicles came out, we were the third quad dog Tefco built to meet the standards.
“On the engine front, we have stuck to Detroits. At the moment we have all DD 15s fitted in Western Star 4800 models. All the Tefco trailers have BPW running gear. We have had no issues with the engines, but the fan does seem to work a bit too hard and we have had a couple of fan issues.
“About every 60,000 to 80,000km we pull the intercooler out and clean them all down. We do it before harvest and we do it after harvest. We have a regime to make this happen.”