Warren Caves reports on Multiquip – Images by Torque it Up Photography.

A three-way alliance between Gilbert & Roach Kenworth, Muscat Trailers and Multiquip aggregates is driving growth, and fleet expansion for Multiquip, from its 1200-acre Bungonia quarry site.

Bungonia is located roughly 20 km south of Marulan, NSW, in an area that has seen a remarkable surge in quarry product extraction in recent years. Sydney’s infrastructure projects and housing growth have seen the demand for quarry products multiply exponentially, with concrete batching plants making up a large volume of this growth.

The Marulan area in particular has become somewhat of a hub for quarry products. Within the area, companies such as Boral, Holcim and Gunlake, to name a few, have also set up production plants. Millions of tonnes of raw product at hand, reasonably close proximity to Sydney, plus easy access to the Hume Highway, all make for a practical base from which to operate.

Steve Mikosic, Multiquip group of companies’ managing director, recalls humble beginnings in 1982 with his first truck, a Leyland Mastiff.

Fast forward 36 years and Steve is giving me a guided tour around the Bungonia quarry in his leather seated LandCruiser, which I feel may be a little more pleasant than a ride in the Leyland. Steve points out that they have different areas of the property yielding products such as river sand, blue metal and high-grade soil, in great demand as a base for cricket pitches.

“We have extraction approval for 30 years; however, our geological surveys and sampling document a 90-year lifespan for the quarry,” explained Steve.

The property was purchased in 2002, and, although this project was not the company’s only focus at the time, the initial approvals took a lengthy seven years. In more recent times, the Bungonia quarry has become a primary focus, with production already under way and infrastructure still being put into place.

Current approvals are in place for the quarry to process and output 400,000 tonnes of total product per year, with a pending application in review for that to increase to 580,000 tonnes.

The quarry is located just south of the small village of Bungonia, with access, historically, through the village. In the past, this has resulted in some backlash from local residents with concerns about the number of truck movements and time of day they travel through the village.

In order for Multiquip to gain operational approvals, conditions put in place have meant that they had to widen local roads by one metre and create their own private village by-pass road for access to their quarry. This seems to have smoothed over local residents for the most part, through the improvements to road surfaces and resultant employment opportunities offering a definite bonus to local economy, infrastructure and employment, with Multiquip employing a good number of local residents in its Bungonia operation.

Approvals for output increases are basically governed by the use of higher productivity combinations, under PBS (performance-based standards) and mass management. This has seen tonnage rates increase, with no increase in truck movements.

To facilitate this, Multiquip has recently commissioned eight new Kenworth T610 SAR truck and quad dog PBS combinations to carry sand from its Bungonia quarry to concrete batching plants located throughout Sydney.

The trucks were purchased through Gilbert & Roach Trucks, Huntingwood, with the deal being handled by sales manager, Bill Anderson.

General manager of Multiquip, Jason Mikosic (Steve’s son), explains, “The first of the new Kenworth T610 models were placed into service in December last year, with last units coming on board in May of this year. All combinations are fitted with Muscat Trailers, PBS-approved truck bodies and dog trailers, and we are very happy with the final design and relationship between the Kenworths and Muscat bodies

“Gilbert & Roach, has been our chosen supplier for Kenworth trucks in the past. Bill understands our business and works in well with our chosen body supplier of Muscat trailers to achieve a unified end goal.

“The purchase of the latest eight new T610 SAR trucks has been a positive experience all round,” explained Jason.

“We run the eight trucks with the Eaton UltraShift PLUS AMT, behind the X15 Cummins engine, rated at 600 hp and with 2050 kW of torque. This choice of drivetrain, in conjunction with the Eaton’s dual-mode transmission programme is yielding an average of 2.0 km/l, which is better than one of our other dominant brands featured within our fleet. I’m quite happy with these figures.

“The drivers seem to be quite happy with the trucks as well. The extra 300 mm width inside the cab over the dimension of the outgoing T409 makes the drivers rolling office a little more spacious, and the slight curve on the centre dash panel means ergonomics have improved, with less lean forward action required to operate switching and dials. We are loading the combinations to 57.5 tonnes gross weight for the two 350-370-kilometre round trips to Sydney they complete each day”.

Multiquip has had all the trucks fitted with satellite tracking, incorporating the geofence capability, which identifies actual truck location and the speed zones in place to confirm the adherence to speed limits. Additionally, the trucks have forward and rear-facing dash cameras and a fatigue detection unit mounted on the dash-top and driver-side A-pillar. These monitor the driver’s face, and sound an alarm and vibrate the seat if attention drifts away from the forward view for more than a pre-set time frame. Each event is notified to a compliance manager and reviewed to see if any action is required.

In-cab weight gauges are also incorporated to assist loading within legal limits. Recently installed at the quarry is a quad-deck weighbridge set up for these combinations, which allows individual axle group weight evaluation in a one-stop movement.

Muscat Trailers at Narellan, in Sydney’s sprawling southwest, have been producing trailing equipment for over 40 years, and manufactured the truck bodies and quad-axle dog trailers to PBS regulations. These combinations feature roll-top auto tarps, the Wabco smartboard system, Hendrickson axles, data hubs, and lift-up axles on the dog trailers.

Multiquip has capitalised on permissible weight allowances under the PBS and mass management schemes through not requiring heavy rock lining reinforcement. As the trucks will be transporting sand and crushed rock, Muscat Trailers has been able to achieve an average tare weight of just under 18 tonnes, enabling the combinations to realise payloads just short of 40 tonnes on some of the units.

“These units ultimately measure in at just a little under the 19-metre mark, and our weight distribution is spot on which, is fantastic,” said Jason.

Being maintenance management accredited under the NHVR, Multiquip prefers to handle all its own servicing and maintenance requirements.

“With a lot of our work throughout our businesses being 24/7 in its nature, we need technicians available at all times. You can only get that type of flexibility with your own staff,” said Jason.

“We like to keep on top of any maintenance issues regularly and are currently running these trucks on an A-service at 10,000 km, and a B-service at 20,000 km intervals. We could probably run these out a bit longer if we decided to, but for now we prefer this type of regular maintenance.

“Personally, I can’t see demand for this type of raw product diminishing to any great degree in the near future. In fact, some might say this is just the beginning. Badgery’s Creek Airport has not even begun construction yet, and the various Connex projects and motorway tunnel extensions for Sydney are still plodding away, resulting in huge demand for quarried materials,” he added.

Alliances forged on mutual understanding of the industry and its complex legislations allow Australian manufacturing companies like Kenworth and Muscat trailers to collaborate on design to create rock-solid, profitable products and solutions for Australian companies such as Multiquip, at the same time shoring up employment prospects for Aussie workers.

At a time when Australian manufacturing is going overseas at an alarming rate, this surely can only be described as a win-win situation.

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