The modern trucking fleet running high kilometres needs to be constantly working to improve processes, like the way the workshop performs, in order to survive in the modern world. The fleet in question runs to 160 trucks and 220 plus trailers. Most of the trucks are high mileage prime movers pulling singles, B-doubles and road trains all over the country, including regular services to Perth.
Hauling fresh produce out of North Queensland to customers all over Australia is a high pressure task. By sticking to the task and always looking for improvement, Blenners Transport have become an iconic refrigerated transport operation, recognised nationally.
The operation has a number of depots across Queensland, in Tully, Brisbane, Innisfail, Townsville, Mareeba, Cairns and Mackay. However, the fleet only has one workshop, at company headquarters in Tully. The person charged with keeping the fleet on the road and efficient is John McKnight, Fleet Maintenance Manager.
The shuttle trucks running up and down the East Coast on staged runs are doing the most kilometres, well over 330,000 km each year. The line haul trucks heading over long distances to other destinations do a little less, at around 280,000 km each year.
Running at these kinds of numbers means the maintenance team need to keep on top of the game and minimise any breakdowns. Most of the trucks will return to Tully every seven to ten days, although the road trains to Perth have a 12 day turnaround.
The solution used is for every prime mover heading out on these long runs to be checked by the workshop every time it returns to the yard. These checks start with a simple examination. The truck will go through the wash bay and the tyre bay to be tidied up and checked. In 95 per cent of cases it will go over a pit to be checked over by a technician, in what Blenners call a Trucksafe Inspection.
After two such inspections, the next time the truck reappears in the yard it will be given the A service. Much more thorough, this is a way of ensuring full preventative maintenance is carried out. The pattern of servicing will continue like this until the truck reaches the oil change interval kilometres.
The vast majority of the fleet are Kenworths with Cummins engines and they get their oil changed at 60,000 km. For most of the Volvo prime movers in the fleet this number is 50,000 as a B-double.
“We use oil sampling 100 per cent of the time for all prime movers,” says John. “We sample at every B service, when the oil is dropped. We do the sample through our ESOC (Environmentally Safe Oil Capture) device.
“We have two of these machines and we connect them using fast fill connectors fitted to inlet and drain points, they are fitted to every engine in the fleet, including fridge motors. We connect to the fast fill connectors and it drains all of the oil out under suction. It will purge the filters ready to be changed. Then it will prime the oil filter and fill the compartment up to the appropriate level, automatically.
“As an engine oil we used Gulf Western’s Global Plus for many years and never had any concerns with oil quality and oil degradation,” says John. “We have now moved on to their Top Dog Indestructible. When people were having a lot of cam lobe failures in ISX EGR DPF engines, we were no different. We were put through a microscope by Questions were asked by Cummins in relation to both our oil quality and drain intervals when they checked if we were using the right oil and through our sampling processes we came up every time we were put through the wringer we came up rosy. Our oil drain intervals were appropriate.
“Gulf Western gave us a lot of technical support when we were being questioned. Cummins had to be sure there wasn’t a trend of non specification-approved oil being used in fleets. Gulf Western backed us up immediately with the support of a chemist.”
The workshop in Tully has two B-double pit bays and four B-double flat bays. Including the tyre bay and wash bay, the maintenance department has a full complement of 50 operatives, but is currently running with 45. This includes two mature age RPL apprentices and six young starters coming through as future technicians.