Small transport operations find working for the major corporates to be a very onerous issue. They are more used to sub-contracting to larger transport operations or contracting with smaller businesses. One small operation based in Adelaide has taken the bull by the horns and is working for some of the big players in the energy and mining industries as a primary contractor.
The Energy Logistix company currently employs 28 people. Some are based in Adelaide, but other are fly-in fly-out workers in the remote areas where there is regular work involved. The company has reduced its dependence on sub-contractors, apart from the line haul to get freight into Adelaide, before being consolidates and sent out into remote areas. The major clients do not want them to contract work out.
“As much as we can manage our sub-contractors to the highest possible level, they are still not our trucks,” says Shaun Williamson who runs the day to day operation of Energy Logistix. “We’ve had to use our own fleet a lot more. Our image is a big thing, it’s that first impression.
“There is no typical load. That’s the trouble. Some days it’s small stuff and sometimes it’s big stuff. at the moment, we have a 250 tonne crane in the yard loading up machinery to be washed and exported. The other day we had a hotshot to the middle of the desert, with a box full of washers.”
Small vehicles are set up for remote operation, as well as a 3 tonne truck with a sleeper built in. The heaviest float can carry up to 30 tonnes. anything bigger is moved by a trusted sub-contractor.
Many of the systems were in place before the company started to own its own trucks. The investment in backroom equipment meant the operation could concentrate on working with blue chip clients. These large energy companies will audit the Energy Logistix HSE system every twelve months.
A lot of extra training is needed when employees are working in remote areas with the energy businesses. Not only are there inductions to all of the possible sites, but also in managing life in the remote areas, like heat stress.
Jo Williamson’s office is where the compliance, accreditation and access permits are handled. As the company works across every state in mainland Australia, that’s seven separate jurisdictions to cope with. On top of this is the HSE requirements of the large multi national companies and their strict auditing requirements.
A lot of the team’s work involves overmass and oversize loads, adding a another layer onto proceedings.There are issues involved in balancing the requirements of the client who is looking for a quick answer and swift service and, at the other end of the spectrum, the road managers with the final say on whether a load can be transported and when.
The message is getting through on chain of responsibility to a certain extent, but the large companies need to be regularly reminded of the requirements of the new rules. For the large energy industry players the CoR rules are just another regulation among many others monitoring their business.
All of these requirements need to be documented and recorded. There is an immense amount of data to be collated and attached to any incidents which may occur. Audits may drill down to want to see the record of a truck’s movements when handling one particular task, to ensure it kept to speed limits on each leg of the journey and complied with any other rule.
Clients are looking for quarterly reports to meet their compliance needs plus a statistical update once a month. Where some of the larger companies had compliance teams pulling the data they needed together to remain compliant, in the past, now, they are getting the reports from suppliers like Energy Logistix. The team keeping compliance up to date consists of two full timers and two part timers, equivalent to ten per cent of the workforce.
The telematics system also includes an electronic work diary, running on a trial basis with the intention of full introduction when it becomes certified. This system will also replace the current load paperwork, with all of the relevant data and notes the driver needs to be aware of included in it.
The operations team have a journey planner which works as a trip plan and a means to calculate any risks involved with a particular task. It rates any trip and will flag up any problems, rating the trip with colours. Green means low risk, yellow tells the operations team to be aware of any possible issues and red tells them to look again at the task. It could mean adding a second driver at some point or extending the timeline for the job to reduce night driving.
Walking around the company’s base we probably see a picture of how transport companies are starting to move into the future. The business is not just about keeping a truck on the road anymore, there’s so much more to it. Data collection and compliance are vital parts of the operation, while truck workshops on site become smaller.
What is clear is the vibrancy of the operation. The fresh faced Shaun and his mother have found a part of the transport and logistics game which needs a particular kind of operation and they have built something which is sustainable and providing a top service to high flying clients.