The tippers running around Sydney in Bedrock’s colours are instantly recognisable and there seems to be plenty of them on the roads. The infrastructure growth in Sydney means there are a lot of building materials on the move to feed the projects on the go.
One of the participants in this flow of materials is Bedrock Quarry Products and Bulk Transport. Brightly opainted new trucks running in innovative combinations come and go from plants and project sites around the city.
Diesel met the founder of the business working out of a small building on a suburban block in Sydney’s far North-West. Bedrock began operating back in June 2010. With an original plan of growing to a fleet of three trucks. Mick Colley has been in the transport industry for 30 years working for other people. He only decided to take a leap of faith and start up his own operation in June 2010.
“One thing led to another and so I decided to give it a crack,” says Mick. “I left a company because I wasn’t happy with the new owners and moved on. I decided to buy one truck and drive it myself. The plan was to expand to between three to five trucks. Once you get to five, you really don’t need to be in a truck.
Bedrock uses Sloanebuilt as its supplier of these trailer sets, fitted with Loadmass onboard mass monitoring equipment. The way the regulations work out, the tandem axle A-doubles are able to use the state road classifications for access and then need permits over the last mile, but with the triaxle A-double a permit is required for each route from end to end.
“When it comes to routes, we actually apply for everything,” says Mick. “The biggest problem now, with the RMS and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is trying to get routes approved. When it first started, it was easy, you got an approval in a month or two. Some routes now, we have been waiting for nine months.
“They just don’t have enough staff. They push us to go down this track, but they haven’t got enough staff to be able to cope with the number of people who want to use it. It’s the RMS who are understaffed and the local councils are very slow.
“We did some trials at a new plant which was being built at Banksmeadow. We were running our A-doubles and the customer has a B-double, plus we had our tridems down there as well. Myself and a representative form Sloanebuilt were asked to go out to a conference at Penrith. The local councils had no understanding of what we were doing. It’s hard to get people to change.”
Mick’s experiences can be echoed around the country for anyone trying to push the boundaries of productivity. The local and often state authorities are unable to understand or cope with requests. As Mick suggests, “They understand the issues we have got, but, unfortunately, can’t do anything about it.”
Sometimes you get a win. After discussions, Mick took a representative from Mack/Volvo to demonstrate to the RMS exactly what data he could provide to them using the Dynafleet telematics system which was already in the trucks. After it was demonstrated to the officials that they could audit at any time and see exactly where all of the trucks had travelled, the RMS accepted this tracking as enough to demonstrate the compliance it needed.
Running an Instantly Recognisable Fleet
The Bedrock operation currently runs 16 trucks. These are broken down into three A-doubles, one on triaxles and two on bogey set-ups, two tridems pull five axle dog trailers, there are two more conventional tippers pulling five axle dogs and the remainder are tipper and quad dog combinations. This mix gives the operation the kind of flexibility to maximise productivity in some cases and maximise access in others.
The tridem tipper and dog can run up to 68.5 tonnes GCM with a 48 tonne payload. Mick maximises payload by specifying tip over axle and aluminium hangers from Sloanebuilt to minimise tare on most of the trailers.
Every single truck in the fleet runs on PBS, demonstrating the effectiveness of the scheme in this sector and the reason why the vast majority of PBS vehicles in Australia are tipper and dog combinations.
The A-doubles needed to be designed to stay under 26 metres long. This has meant requiring a cabover prime mover when running with a tri-tri set-up but a conventional works well on the bogey-bogey combination. The cabover also suits the needs of the bridge formula with its axle spacing.
North of Sydney, Bedrock can’t run over 74.5 tonnes GCM, so the tandem axle trailers work well and this makes a 52 tonnes payload. In fact, due to one bridge in Hexham the trucks can run North fully loaded but can’t coming South and have to follow a diversion.