As an operator, Ken Beggs puts a lot of thought into just how to run and equip his business and hauling stock feed over long distances means tare weight and fuel consumption are the most important considerations.
Based out of Mildura, the Beggs Bulk operation concentrates on hauling stock feed out the local area up to the cattle feedlots of Queensland. This sees the trucks handling a regular round trip up to nearly 3000km on a regular basis. Most of the loads come out of the Mildura area, but others can come from a couple of locations, just over the border in South Australia.
“I am trying something different with these trailers I have at the moment,” says Ken. “I am trying to find the one percenter stuff and get a one or two tonne advantage and these Thin Wall trailers are about a tonne lighter than anything else in Australia. They also come with a five year structural warranty.
“I am trying to keep ahead of the game, I just keep innovating. If you find a good product and you just stick with it, the competition don’t just match what you’ve got, thy come back with something better. You’ve just got to keep trying to find a better way to do the job, to stay ahead the pack.”
Currently, the A-double Thinwall set, with Keith Walking Floors can run at the same maximum GCM on the whole route from Mildura to Queensland and at higher mass limits most of the time, increasingly so, over time. The overall GCM can run up to just over 91 tonnes, but in fact the loads rarely get up to this limit, because the stock feed carried is relatively light.
With a cabover prime mover and two 45-foot trailers the whole combination measures 34 metres long. However, the 36.5 metre length limit means that although two 48-foot trailers would fit inside the envelope, the regulations do not allow 48-foot trailers in an A-double.
Changes in the nature of the stock feed he is carting means that the overall payload is not as heavy as it was in the past, with a resulting lower income. However, Ken reckons he has more than made up for this reduction, with improvement in fuel economy.
“This new generation Scania I have now has got incredible fuel economy,” says Ken. “I did have a 730hp for some time and it did have some awesome horsepower, but to feed all of those horses it costs a bit more. This one is what they call a smart truck, it reads the roads and reads the hills, so it knows what gear to select.
“I have been getting around 1.85 to 1.9 km/L with an 85-tonne road train. I am still scratching my head, I am pretty anal with my figures and it is just an awesome amount of fuel. I know that the driving score that the system puts up is around 97 to 100 per cent all of the time. In fact, the scoring system is not that good for road trains, it is OK for semis and B-doubles, but I have worked out how to get higher scores.”
“As long as you accept that these have a completely different way of being driven from the American trucks, they reward you with lower running costs.”