The Stainless Solution

Reducing tare weight and corrosion are the major benefits from Byrne Trailers – Report by Dave Whyte

The world of livestock transport is a tough one. It’s tough on the gear and tough on the people who operate it. From farm pickups in the middle of the night, to having your load “in for the kill”, the workload and the required skill set for the driver can encompass all levels, including travelling in 45-degree heat on back roads that some of us would cringe at, and all the while being responsible for the welfare of the load.

There is much more to livestock transport than meets the eye. While the nature of the freight may not have changed much over time (sheep are sheep, cows are cows), the equipment used to get the job done certainly has. While some of this evolution has come through the want or need to transport more stock per load, the conditions encountered also mean trucks and trailers need to be tough to survive. Not only does this equipment have to stand up to the dust, dirt and corrugations that come with working in rural areas, but the effluent deposited by the freight en-route also has a detrimental effect on the life span of a trailer.

Byrne Trailers, with its main engineering facility in Wagga Wagga, NSW, has a long and proud history in building livestock trailers. From humble beginnings in Peak Hill (between Parkes and Dubbo), the company has grown to employ over 100 people, with its growth based on reputation. That reputation has come through the strength and reliability of its product, but also the company’s willingness to look for better materials and methods involved in building it. The latest example of this product improvement comes in the form of its new stainless steel trailers, which are designed to be stronger, lighter and more resistant to the corrosive effects of effluent.

“The material on the whole superstructure of the trailer has been changed to take advantage of the strength and lighter weight of using stainless steel,” said Jonathan Byrne.

“Further benefits result from the resistance of stainless steel to rusting, which reduces ongoing trailer maintenance costs,” he said.

The material in focus is a certain grade of stainless steel, of which Jonathan says, “We source it from a couple of countries around the world, and have it turned into tube, which is why we’re able to produce the product we have.”

Interestingly, it’s not only a small part of the trailer that uses this stainless steel, but, as Jonathan explained: “It’s every piece of material (on the trailer), other than the side boards, which are aluminium. The only thing that’s carbon steel is the chassis rails, where the wheels attach to the trailer, where we’ve never had any problem with rusting out.”

As Ben Byrne (Jonathan’s brother) pointed out, there are big benefits to be had in terms of tare weight.

“There will be significant weight saving in the 4x2s (those trailers that adapt to either four decks for sheep or two decks for cattle),” he said. “There’s been a significant change in the design of the cattle decks, because of the high tensile stainless.

“There’s a lot more strength within the profile of the steel, which provides a weight saving of up to three per cent when compared with carbon steel. Recent changes to the ADR Rules around trailer design have also enabled improved weight distribution over the axle grouping,” said Jonathan.

“While building trailers out of stainless steel may sound a little expensive, the impact on the purchase can be contained within a ten per cent premium.

“Basically, the cost up-front is cheaper than replacing skid plates and decks and all that occurs after a period of time when additional maintenance is required.

“You’re saving in both a reduction in repairs and lesser downtime. It also has benefits for the overall lifespan of the trailer. While the product is only very new to the market, Byrne has already supplied B-double and B-triple configurations built with the new stainless steel technology.

When asked about the inspiration for the stainless steel design, Jonathan said, “We’ve always been wanting to supply the market with the best equipment available.”

“It’s something that we’ve developed ourselves – working with industrial chemists and engineers, and creating the right mixture of steel to make it stainless. It’s not the same sort of steel you’ll find in your kitchen, it’s a structural steel,” he added.

While the stainless steel does offer many benefits over traditional carbon steel, it also requires different manufacturing techniques to achieve the best results, and this has resulted in a lot of changes within the factory to accommodate working with the stainless steel, including welding techniques and surface preparation.

Byrne organises a lot of training in-house, through a partnership with a training organisation in Wagga.

“We have the teachers come out to the workplace. We have our own classroom in our factory, so our trades people are receiving further training on the job. In the past, you’d go and do your trade, and 40 per cent of your learning would only touch on a little bit of what you’re doing.

“For the training of our young trades people, it’s become a lot easier for us because we’re able to control what they’re learning and where an increase in their knowledge can benefit them.”

Given the operating environment, and the remote areas where carriers are working, occupational health and safety is also a big concern in the design of these trailers.

“Always in the design of a vehicle, is the operator’s safety. Always!” said Ben adamantly.

“WH&S is a continuing issue. It’s at the forefront of discussion. Operator safety, working from heights, those sorts of things.

“These new trailers are no exception, with access ladders between the trailers coming in for some attention, while new fold-out ladders are also fitted on the side. You don’t want your operators to be in a position where they can get hurt,” said Ben.

The new stainless steel livestock trailers from Byrne look set to continue a tradition of strength, durability and engineering innovation.

As Ben Byrne put it, “That’s always been the philosophy at Byrne Trailers – to continue to innovate, continue to bring new things into the market. We’ve just got to continue to do the research, continue to look at different materials, develop, innovate and evolve the product.”

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