Productivity is king for Smart Grain Transport – move goods from A to B at the lowest cost. Diesel News has been talking to a New South Wales operator using a smart way of hauling grain to the port for export.
Having met Peter Parslow a few times over the years, I thought I had a good understanding of the business he runs. A tipper operator based in Narromine, hauling grain hither and thither, it is easy to pigeonhole the operation to be like so many others all across rural Australia.
However, once the conversation gets down to details, it emerges this operation is far from the usual set-up we expect to find in this area. Tippers run grain from the farmers’ paddock into grain storage at harvest time, and haul grain out storage facilities into the ports, or wherever it is bound, for the rest of the year.
Yes, it is in the tipper business and also has grain storage facilities, but it is the presence of a railway siding in the yard and talk of containers which piqued Diesel News’ interest. This is no run-of-the-mill grain haulage story (pun intended), this is all about using what you’ve got to do to come up with a smart solution.
“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.
“It was a quality control measure for Agrigrain. We started with one truck in ’98. We kept going until we got to fourteen, at one stage. Since then, we have diversified a bit, gone back down to eight and put a couple of subbies on. However, we still do all of our own seed, in and out.
“We also run a packing business, which is Agrigrain’s strength here. We load three trains a week with containers loaded for export and heading to Sydney, before going overseas.”
Agrigrain has become the New South Wales arm of the Plum Grove business, a grain business based in Western Australia. The deal saw Plum Grove enter the NSW grain market with its purchase of the Agrigrain business, providing grain buying and selling, seed and fertiliser, container packing and transport services in the state.
Plum Grove’s business is based on simply buying and selling grain, but the addition of a transport and logistics arm adds to the diversity of its business. It partners with large grain and flour operations in countries like Malaysia, giving it a useful reach across Asia.
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 NSW.
Peter was the Operation Manger in the Agrigrain yard when it decided to go into the transport game. The company wanted control its own destiny and be able to ensure quality control over deliveries to and collections from customers. Initially, the first truck had been intended to simply handle seed cartage, but over time the company realised the value of having its own truck handling other tasks within 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.