The strategy adopted by Ken Pitt, All Size Equipment Transport (ASET) Managing Director, has been to adapt prime movers and trailers to minimise size and weight to get as many loads inside prescriptive or periodical permit restrictions and as few as possible requiring special permits or pilot vehicles.
As farm machinery has grown in size and mass, it has become harder and harder for the operation to keep within these rules without customising its equipment to get a few millimetres of height here, an axle there, or a few kilograms shaved off the gross combined mass (GCM).
The trailers are tri-axle as standard, but Ken has designed a special module, which can be fitted to the rear of the trailer to turn it into a quad-axle float. When the trailers run as a quad the axle spacing is typical. Again, higher utilisation is possible.
Unfortunately, due to the design of the module, when it is running as a tri-axle, the spacing is uneven. The rules in South Australia (SA) had specified even spacing in the past, but were changed in 2012. On many occasions, roadside enforcement would forget the rules had changed and breached trailers during checks. This forced the ASET to appeal each breach.
Ken is now in the process of trying to obtain a piece of paper, in the form of some kind of permit which drivers can show to enforcement when the tri-axle trailer is running within general access dimensions. By the rules the trailer is compliant, but it will save ongoing appeals, if the officer at the roadside can be shown some form of documentation.
“The first prototype we built was quite time consuming to adjust, but there were no hydraulics,” explains Ken. “It was important for machinery to be able to run up onto the gooseneck and for the rear ramps to be easily detachable to enable a rear overhang, if required.
“At that stage, we hadn’t worked out how to change the front of the trailer so you could load from the front. We are pretty happy with the latest platform we have now ended up with.”
In essence, the trailers being built now by ASET are very low to the ground, running on low profile tyres. Hydraulic rams can transform the trailer by lowering the landing legs and folding the gooseneck out straight. The trailer ends up flat and straight, with the front at ground level.
With this platform, machinery can be driven directly onto the trailer, from either the front or the rear. Then, the hydraulics can lift the legs and recreate the gooseneck, with the machinery in situ.
“What we do is go to customers and ask them what they are doing and what is coming up for them,” says Stuart Wearne, ASET Business Manager. “What trailers do we need to build to get your work? That’s what we are asking. We look at the task and make the equipment to do the job.”
It doesn’t stop there. There is also a truck-mounted crane in the works. It will fold out from the prime mover and be used to load and unload separate components of the machinery being moved.
Building the fleet
Ken comes from a farming background in the southeast of SA. After a number of years working as an interstate truck driver running between Sydney to Perth, he ended up buying his own truck and worked as a tow operator for a period. He moved onto the livestock game, and came to the realisation that the kind of working hours he was putting in were not sustainable in the long term.
“I began looking at what a truck should be doing,” says Ken. “Working with stock got me thinking. All of these farms are small businesses and every time they bought something it needed to be transported in. I bought a drop-deck trailer and started out on my own. I altered the trailers as I went along.”
The vast majority – 80 per cent – of ASET’s work comes from the agricultural sector, with 10 per cent from construction and the rest made up of mining equipment, plus assorted sectors. The customer will either be a dealer or manufacturer selling the equipment or an agent bringing equipment into their area.