Good Freight Ain’t Cheap 

good freight ain’t cheap

Mark Hall is a straight talking trucking operator based out of the Gunnedah Basin are in New South Wales, who says he works with the motto ‘good freight ain’t cheap and cheap freight ain’t good’. 

MDH Haulage has found a niche for its bulk hauling business in a couple of areas of work, and maximises payload using an allowance requiring on board mass (OBM) units fitted to the trailers. Tim Giles talks to the company’s founder, Mark Hall.

“I’m the allocator, driver, truck washer, tyre fitter, grease monkey, I‘ve got a few titles in the business,” says Mark. “Our job is pretty easy to organise week-to-week. There’s always a curve ball thrown in there around Wednesday, which changes it all around, but it’s just what we deal with. 

“This week it was that we were all going to go and load fertiliser today, but the boat’s a day late. You get a fair bit of time to think as you drive along and work what to do instead.”

good freight ain’t cheap

Mark began in the trucking industry washing trucks for a removalist while he was still at school and caught the bug from there. Later, he served his time as a mechanic and, like a lot of young mechanics, drifted into truck driving Then, there was a sidewards shift into coal mining for seven years, returning to the trucking world after that. 

He worked for a few operators and learned the ropes before going into business for himself and the MDH Haulage business has been going for seven years. Coming from the Gunnedah area, quite often means the basis of the business is in hauling coal, with trucks returning to rural New South Wales and Queensland with agricultural products like stockfeed and fertiliser. 

The operation services over 20 customers with coal supplies and some of those customers use the coal in the production of products like ethanol and stockfeed. It is this stockfeed which the business moves from areas like the NSW South Coast, up to the large stockfeed consumers in NSW’s West and further up into Queensland. 

“The work is consistent and we cart coal out of the Gunnedah Basin, and service an area from Grafton on the North Coast to Nowra on the South Coast,” says Mark. “In between those two points we handle 23 customers. The coal is mainly used for boilers for furnaces.”

The drivers are all in the BFM program and the allowances built into the system gives the operation enough flexibility to get the tasks done. Most of the drivers manage to get to sleep at home during the week, coming in and out of Gunnedah. 

good freight ain’t cheap

Getting the Mass Right

“One of the routes we regularly use goes down Mount Ousley and there’s a requirement that you have Onboard Mass fitted which lets you run down there at 74.5 tonnes,” says Mark. “You can only run down there at 68.5 tonnes without it.”

The fleet runs a number of different combinations, including truck and quad dog, B-double and A-double. This A-double set runs with the same number of axles as a B-double, with two bogey axle semi trailers and a bogey axle dolly, but can get the GCM of 74.5 tonnes, using the Load Man Australia OBM, and satellite tracking on concessional mass limits for both NSW and Queensland.

The A-double in the fleet was supplied by Sloanebuilt Trailers as was one of the truck and dog combinations. The new trailers are fitted with the Loadmass on board mass system which ensures reliable record keeping and secures compliance with the requirements of Transport for NSW to run at higher masses over the routes used by MDH Haulage.

“I went to Sloanebuilt and said I want a road train that I can tip like a truck and dog,” says Mark. “So that A-double can be tipped off, the whole thing, without unhooking it. We played with lengths of drawbars and turning circles. We do tip it without unhooking, but sometimes it is just as easy to unhook.

Payload on the A-double gets up to 50 tonnes, while the B-double can get to 43.5 tonnes and the truck and dogs can get a 38.5 tonne payload on board. The only other special requirement the operation needs for its trailers is for the sides to be slightly higher than is normally the case, at around 1.8-1.9m. 

good freight ain’t cheap

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