Scott and Jodie Anderson strive for perfection in the tipper and dog trailer segment
Yamba, on the north coast of NSW, offers some of the finest pristine beaches and national parks while retaining a friendly, village-style atmosphere. Well placed for reaching Brisbane within three hours or the Gold Coast in two hours, it’s also a handy hub from which to reach Ballina, Lismore or Grafton.
Much of the recent building activity in the region has centred on the continued upgrading of the Pacific Highway, and where there’s road building there’s the need for a consistently reliable service providing product such as roadbase, sand and gravel.
Yamba resident Scott Anderson, together with his wife Jodie, runs SA & JL Anderson, specialises in transporting sand, gravel and road building products, with an immaculately presented fleet comprising five Kenworth tippers hauling dog trailers.
Scott is continuing the family tradition of working in the truck business and is the third generation of the family to get behind the wheel.
“My father Neil drove trucks for a long time carting cane around the Yamba area for Causley’s Transport, and in the off season carted sand and gravel. My grandfather was also involved in trucking in the Yamba area,” said Scott.
“I am actually a builder by trade, and that certainly helps us with our customers as we understand what they need to do the job, rather than just carrying product.
“Our success comes from local knowledge. When you run a business supplying builders with fill, sand and product we have found that the more people you know, the more business you can generate. With three generations of the family having lived in the Yamba area, this is very much how local businesses operate.
“The weather has not been helping us much. It’s an industry where sometimes you are very busy, and at other times when it slacks off you have to just bear with it. The building business on the coast is very quiet but the road works are busy.
“Eleven years ago I started our business with a 1978 TranStar I bought from my father-in-law, who at that time operated a sand quarry. In the process of doing it up I painted it in red, similar to the fleet colour we use today. The old Detroit two-stroke had its issues occasionally, but in those days they all had their moments. I operated that for about nine months then sold it and moved up to operate a Kenworth.
“After having bought my first Kenworth back in 2003 we found additional work and that got our company up and running. From that point onwards we added the current T350 and T401 and continued to operate three trucks. It took quite a while to be able to expand confidently from three trucks to five. In the early days we used to rely on the building industry, but these days the majority of the work we do is for road building.
“The increasing standards that apply to the road building industry have resulted in a significant upgrade in the type and quality of the product required, especially in the creation of abutments where they are stabilised by steel reinforcement. It can only be used if it does not react with the steel, in order to prevent any possibility of corrosion.
“The Anderson fleet runs five Kenworths, comprising a 2008 T350 with a Cummins ISM engine rated at 410 hp, a new T403 with the current ISX EGR Cummins engine rated at 450 hp, a T388 with a CAT C13 rated at 435 hp, and two CAT C12s, each rated at 440 hp and powering the T401s.
“The CAT motors are good engines for this type of work. We are getting good fuel economy out of all of them with the best probably being the smaller ISM engine. In general terms we get a regular 2.2 km/litre throughout the fleet operating in truck and dog trailer configuration, but it has to be noted that half our work is empty running. Currently our fleet is operating over a two and a half hour return trip.
“The support we get around the Yamba area is excellent, with WesTrac handling CAT support and Cummins having its own service outlet, both in Grafton. It’s a good warranty offered by Cummins at five years and 800,000 km. With the CATs they are obviously out of warranty. We rebuilt the T350 at 507,000 km after we found it was pressurising the sump, but that’s been the only thing wrong and it was back in work within four days.
“All our service and maintenance requirements are handled in house with regular oil drain intervals set at 15,000 km. That can reduce when we find a vehicle is available for service perhaps a few thousand kilometres earlier than normal. If it suits our service regime, then we change it earlier to avoid any subsequent loss of time.
“We operate our fleet at gross weights of 48 tonnes and on average that gives us a payload of 33 tonnes. The lighter tare weight of the T350 increases the payload option to 34 tonnes. It’s a particularly versatile truck and is extremely efficient, with or without a trailer.
“There’s not much benefit in moving to operate B-double configuration due to the size of the roads in the Yamba area. It’s just not a comfortable fit for our type of business. The same applies to the higher weight of PBS adoption.
“On our newer vehicles such as the T401 we use Hercules bodies, which we find work well, and these are fitted with Edbro rams and Ringfeder couplings. We also have one Hamelex White and one Borcat trailer in the fleet.
“We run our tyre maintenance programme internally with supply through our local Tyrepower dealership, and we use Kumho steer and drive tyres with Steelmark on the trailers.
“We are really interested in the latest technology available and I am keen to take a closer look at the new PACCAR MX 13-litre that’s now available in the T-Series. It wasn’t an available option when I bought my latest T403, but we are hearing through the dealership at Brown and Hurley that they are going well in fleets that do similar work to us.
“Buying more trucks obviously depends on the amount of work, and with the road work continuing that might give us the opportunity to upgrade some of the older vehicles.
“We have an excellent relationship with Brown and Hurley, and a lot of the details in the vehicle specifications are worked out through consultation with Mick Clarke, our local area sales representative. We use the Kenworth AirGlide 400 airbag suspension with onboard weighing through the airbag system, plus we standardise on 46,000 lb diffs with diff locks and cross axle locks. Currently, we have always used drum brakes, but that may change in the future with the increased adoption of disc brakes and EBS.
“Our drivers tend to stay with us for a long period, and my father Neil still works for us if we need a relief driver at any stage. There are four other drivers, including Clae Munro and Tony Daniels, both of whom have been with us for nine years and five years respectively.
“Another of our drivers is Matt Blanch, a mechanic by trade that decided two years ago to move into driving. His father and my father grew up together, and that’s typical of how relationships are created in small communities. We keep it pretty simple. Matt’s father, Steve Blanch, is with SCT and is now in his 30th season as a driver working in the cane industry.
“We are always interested in looking at the latest technology, and the introduction of the latest average-speed cameras in the area prompted us to use windscreen mounted video recorders in each truck cab to constantly monitor the road ahead. We are using a Uniden system with two cameras, one monitors the road ahead and the other records the vision through the left-hand mirror. It provides an unbiased and independent witness that can support the actions of the driver.
“We are aware of other technology such as lane departure assist, and, although we are not using that yet, we understand the Europeans are looking at the systems. If the rules changed and we had to look at cabovers, we would obviously go that way, but we are more aligned with running conventionals.
“Appearance and presentation is really important to us, and all our trucks have stainless steel accessories such as visors, special battery box covers and other items all fabricated by Glen Ryder Sheet Metal of Grafton. We also fabricated in-house the additional stainless steel sections on the wheel arches, which really finish off the appearance of the trucks. The signwriting was completed by Sign Art in Grafton,” said Scott.