The complex rules around where particular combinations can and cannot and this hasbeen an issue for grain haulage and A-doubles. However, this NSW operator has found a happy medium, choosing a combination which retains the right level of flexibility.
Based in Inverell, New South Wales, Grant Albinus spends most of his working life working with grain haulage and A-doubles from his local area into Brisbane, Queensland, and returning to northern NSWwith fertiliser. With an operation like this, productivity is king; every last kilogram needs to be accounted for. However, Grant has decided to use triaxle dollies on his A-double despite the weight penalty when travelling through Queensland.
“I used to work with my parents in their farming business and when they decided to sell up, I decided to carry on with just the transport side of the business,” says Grant. “When I go somewhere to unload, I tell people my surname and they seem to forget it. So, I decided to call the business something a bit more memorable.
“I decided to call it KGB transport, which some people thought was strange, I told my wife, Kate, it stood for Kate and Grant Bulk Transport. It works, because it’s catchy and sticks in people’s memories.
“To begin with, I would contact the agents and would be able to get a load, but because I keep on doing the right thing, now they will let me subcontract the work out. I have people phoning me from everywhere asking whether I can get them a truck.”
According to Grant, what his customers are looking for are good service levels. He has found that his business reputation has grown from doing the right thing, arriving on time and keeping the customer fully informed.
Grant went out on his own as a transport business 10 years ago. Before setting up the original farming business, his father had a small trucking operation in South Australia. After moving to Inverell, the farming business had included some transport operation and this is the basic equipment with which Grant started off on his own business when his mother and father decided to retire.
The first truck in the KGB fleet was an Iveco Powerstar which was followed by a Kenworth T909 truck and dog combination. Now, Grant runs a Kenworth T909 prime mover with a Cummins X 15 engine rated a 600hp and putting out 2050 ft lb of torque. The truck is just over two years old.
Grant subcontracts fertiliser work out on a regular basis, the level of which varies as the seasons change. A lot of fertiliser movements are made around the sowing window in each area. These busy periods can last up to two months, depending on the local conditions.
“There are no contracts, not many people do contracts in the transport industry,” says Grant. “The customers know the trucks which I use and that’s one of the advantages. I’m not sitting in an office giving out work, I’m out on the road.
“This morning, for example, I was loading in front of one of the subbies working for me, but I was on a split load so I had to go out and come back in again. It gave me time to speak to him, give him instructions about the load and where he was delivering. I’ve seen his truck and know the quality of his truck. It’s my name on the line and you can do 50 loads without a drama, but it only takes one load which is bad, that’s what they all remember.
“I had a sub-contractor on a job last week where the load took some unloading, half was dropping at one location and half at another. The agent was there helping, but it took a long time, the auger was slow. The agent phoned me up afterwards to say how well the driver had behaved and hadn’t caused any trouble about how long it took to unload.”
This is the sort of feedback Grant needs to ensure the sub-contractors are doing the right thing. The last thing anyone needs is a driver who upsets the weigh bridge operator, or the person in the batch office. That’s when the day goes bad for the operation.
Most of the time, with grain haulage and A-doubles, trucks will be loaded both ways. In times of drought there may be periods when there is no grain coming out of NSW. Grant has done a deal with his fertiliser agents for a higher rate, because he now has to come up to Brisbane with an empty truck to load fertiliser back down to NSW.