SunChip has carved out an enviable reputation in the plantation forests of southeast Queensland and southern NSW, utilising the latest technology equipment including Mack trucks, Elphinstone trailers and Tigercat forestry machines. Diesel News spoke with SunChip General Manager, Dirk Koeppen.
Innovation, Innovation, Innovation. That’s the catch-cry of any successful business. Build a better mousetrap, find a way to steal a march on competitors; these are among the elements of what’s required to stay ahead of the pack and therefore remain profitable and viable in the future.
It’s upon these foundations that SunChip has operated since its inception in 1997. The private company, which is owned by Mark Blackberry, has operations in Queensland and New South Wales including depots at Maryborough and Gladstone as well as Bathurst and Tumut. Mark Blackberry hails from Scottsdale in Tasmania where he cut his teeth as a harvester in the logging industry before seizing the opportunity to expand his horizons on the mainland.
SunChip’s General Manager, Dirk Koeppen, has been with the company for 20 years. He originally started as a truck driver before transitioning to machine operator and later moving into training roles for both truck and machine operators as well as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) training.
Using this vast amount of experience, Dirk has been able to streamline the operation to ensure maximum productivity and profitability for the business. He describes logging as a close knit and exciting industry to be in, where everyone helps each other and works together for the best outcome.
When asked how the opportunity arose for the company to break into the logging industry in Queensland, Dirk’s answer is short and succinct: Innovation.
“We were the first to have B-double walking floor trailers for hauling wood-chip, and the first to do on-site chipping in Australia,” he explains.
Perhaps even more importantly, Dirk says, SunChip helped pave the way for superior safety and efficiency in transporting logs on the roads and highways.
“The log jinkers they used many years ago in these areas were very primitive bits of gear. They had no clearance lights or mudguards and the axle weights were incorrect due to the huge overhang, and the logs used to sharpen up like a pencil on the bitumen road.
“Clearly things had to change, so SunChip, with the help of Tasmanian-based Elphinstone Trailers, came up with the extendible B-double log trailer with all the compliance features like lights, mudguards, mudflaps and on-board scales which really changed the face of the industry and enabled round the clock operation.”
To put an even finer point on it, Dirk says that to carry the same volume of logs the company carries today on the old style jinker would require an additional 15 jinker and prime mover combinations.
“That would mean 15 more trucks on the road, 15 more drivers and 15 more headaches for us.”