When Rob Hannemann started the Maktrans operation 13 years ago after he took over from an existing fuel carting business, getting compliance right was not the number one priority.The initial two trucks were part of a contract with BP to distribute fuel to the distributors in rural NSW, in areas such as Inverell, Moree and Goondiwindi. The original business had been located in Ipswich but Rob relocated it to his hometown, Toowoomba.
As work increased, a third truck joined the fleet. Then a fourth and fifth when distributors called. This process continued and developed to the point where now, Maktrans work for all of the major oil companies. This was the point at which compliance became a more important part of the equation.
The company has to deal with regular audits by the majors. Auditors point out the flaws they find in procedures and this inevitably leads to the need to add another step in the procedure. For Rob, the advantage of it is when it comes to the chain of responsibility, his operation is already as close to compliance as possible.
“We have been to some seminars that the Queensland Trucking Association have put on and seen that some of the operators in more general freight tasks are at greater risk,” says Rob. “They are not forced to have their procedures written down, and now they’re going to have to do it. They are probably able do the job correctly every time, but, by the letter of the law, it has to be written down as a set of procedures.”
The office staff now includes Brett, who, until last year, was a driver for the company. He now works as a scheduler managing the fleet, which consists of eight trucks, seven Freightliner Coronado 114s and one Mercedes-Benz 2663 cabover prime mover. The Benz is the latest addition to the fleet, intended to pull a 26m PBS a double set, when approved.
“We are probably a little different from the oil companies, because we don’t run 24/7,” says Rob. “We have a five-day rolling roster with the trucks, with trucks operating seven days a week. The driver will leave here and, more often than not, stay away for five days, then they get five days off. We work under Basic Fatigue Management, so the drivers can work five full days. Each truck is shared by two drivers.”
“Scheduling has to be done on a day-to-day basis, the company will only know today where the deliveries are required tomorrow. There is plenty of variation in the routes taken, one run could be to Cunnamulla and the next could be a simple Brisbane to Toowoomba run.”
“We can’t fully utilise our trucks 24 hours a day and we give our drivers flexibility in deciding when they will drive. some like to start in the early hours of the morning others will start around five or six, it depends. Usually the deliveries are required within something like a six-hour window, which gives us the kind of flexibility which works in the areas we service.”
Some of the trips are scheduled by the oil companies while others are set up by the end user. For the scheduler, it is a balancing act, making sure long-term customers are being serviced correctly while fitting in other jobs around these trips. With a fluctuating fuel price, demand can go up and down daily. The team has to be quick on their feet and able to react when things change quickly.
In the BP loading system, Maktrans have to supply the specific dimensions of each truck and the company’s scheduling software will allocate specific loads to specific trucks. The email commissioning the trip will tell the driver what the load is, where it is going, and which compartment each product will be loaded into.
On the other hand, the Caltex system simply tells the transport company what the dip levels are at the destination’s fuel storage and leaves it to the operator to decide which product goes where and on which truck.