Regional towns and cities depend on highly flexible and proactive local distribution operations to keep the local economy moving forward Diesel News looks at Power’s supply chain for Bendigo. The issues in around regional distribution in Australia are meat and drink for Power’s Country Express.
Distribution systems in Australia can often be based on a model designed to suit the large cities in which most of our population live. However, regional cities are also an important part of the lifeblood of Australia, with businesses supplying these widespread communities within their regional area.
This local economy needs an efficient and innovative distribution set-up in order for local businesses to thrive, get supplies from the city and distribute their goods locally and into the large centres of population. One operation over two hours north of Melbourne is based on a small industrial estate on the edge of Bendigo. Damian and Emma Power run Power’s Country Express. It is a strong local business covering Bendigo and Central Victoria, offering a specialised service across a broad range freight.
Bendigo serves as a hub for more far flung regional towns like Swan Hill, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Rochester and Echuca and all the areas in between. The freight coming into Bendigo, for distribution in the city and further afield is many and varied, as is the freight coming in from those areas for onward shipment into the capital city.
“I started back in 1998, with a van running to Swan Hill every night,” says Power’s founder, Damien Power. “I was out of school and had done a year at uni, an opportunity came up. I was looking around for something to do and the opportunity came up to start my own business. It was worth giving it a try.
“It just developed from there, we have just built on it, and now it is our 21st year. We still have our existing customers who we had at day dot, but we have built on that over time. We have grown along with a few of the companies that we deal with.
“We have now got it to the point where we have 31 vehicles and 50 staff. We now have a few national clients and some smaller local ones. For some of them we cover the area around Bendigo and we’re running freight in and out of Melbourne every night.”
On any night of the week there could be seven or eight B doubles arriving with freight to be unloaded. The freight is varied with pallets as well as parcels included in the load, all of which has to be sorted and allocated to different loads on different trucks out of the depot. There is a carousel conveyor for sorting goods as they come out of the trailers to assist in the allocation process.
Just about everything coming in overnight has to be on a truck and delivered the following day. The bulk of the freight moving through is what can only be described as general freight, a little bit of everything. One of the major customers is the local Bendigo Gold mine.
As a regional operator, Power’s has clients in a wide variety of industries including retail, health, building, mining, automotive, agricultural, government, educational and hospitality. The company has gained these customers as a local operation able to offer improved flexibility and a more personal service than that offered by the large national concerns working in this area.
The fleet includes a variety of trucks all the way from B-doubles, rigids with different trailer options and at different GVMs, all the way down to vans and a ute.
The rigid trucks vary in size from heavy-duty curtain-siders to light duty pantechs and some with tail-lifts. A couple of the trucks are also set up to pull a pig trailer. There’s a wide range of very different trucks to suit different situations and different loads. The important factors in deciding which truck to use for which load is based around which of them can access the delivery points on each route.
Some trucks work both day and night, while others are only used during the day. There are also a number of staff working in the office during the day and others who specifically work at night, sorting out the freight for delivery in the morning. Some trucks on the day shift are regularly returning to the depot to pick up more freight, while others on the longer country runs are out all day to unload and then load again before heading back into the Bendigo depot.
All of the servicing work on the entire fleet is done by Poyser Trucks, the local Isuzu dealer in Bendigo. This is part of a long-term relationship the Power’s business has had with the dealership built on a mutual trust, devloped up over the years.
“It’s a long term relationship with Poysers which works very well for both of us, we work alongside each other. It probably wouldn’t happen in a metro area, but they have a set of keys for the depot, so they can collect and deliver trucks back to us at any time.
One of the more useful trucks which Power’s have invested in recent years is an Isuzu FYJ, an 8×4 rigid. It runs to Maryborough every day with a pig trailer and then does a few jobs around Bendigo before running down to Melbourne every night. It has been fitted out with mezzanine decks in the main body to give it more flexibility in the amount of, and type of freight it can carry.