Choosing disc brakes, EBS and roll stability was an easy choice for KIM Haulage.
Some three years ago, PowerTorque visited Kim Haulage of Londonderry, on the north western outskirts of Sydney, to discuss how being an early adopter of technology could prove to be the right decision for efficiency, reliability and, above all, safety.
Founder and managing director, Ken McClelland, has always been open to the benefits of developing technologies, switching to BPW axles with BPW disc brakes from drum brakes and embracing EBS with roll stability and anti-lock braking from 2000 onwards.
This was considerably in advance of the standard truck and trailer specification of the time, and, even today, Ken is still ahead of many in the pack, although comparable with those that have already moved on to gain the benefits of performance based standards (PBS).
Ken’s focus on using different technologies to improve safety, reduce vehicle downtime and minimise driver fatigue has enabled him to cope with the vagaries of the transport business. As the workload increased, his fleet expanded, reducing in number when demand lessened.
From a fleet that previously numbered around 14 vehicles, by 2014 Ken had downsized to just 4 rigid tippers and dog trailers, all that was needed to satisfy a local coal contract.
“The ever-changing demands of the industry today has seen the fleet expand once again, growing to 22 trucks and trailers, but with the emphasis moving from rigid tippers and quad-dog trailers to tandem A-double combinations. We also have more units currently on order and awaiting delivery.
“Introducing AMTS with reduced fatigue means a fresher driver. It not only introduces new younger drivers to the industry, it also means that older drivers can remain in the industry longer.
“In the early days of disc brakes we experienced an imbalance in brake effort between trucks and trailers. BPW moved from 370 mm to 430 mm larger rotors, and we worked through it to improve the overall balance and solved all the problems. We got a lot better tyre life as we run the Vigia tyre inflation system from BPW Transpec, plus brake balance with discs is much better and there’s no brake fade or lock-ups.
“We had to work with the truck manufacturers to modify their systems to work with what is a more sensitive disc-type foundation brake. The upside is that the stopping distance is so superior for discs versus drums.
“Now the balance is right, the disc pad replacement is around 200,000 km intervals with 180,000 km minimum. Steer axle life is 200,000 with drive axles at 250,000 km. Rotor condition is regularly monitored and under normal circumstances we expect two pad replacements to each rotor replacement.
“With brakes and tyres on quad-dog trailer work we experienced more brake pad wear on the 1st and 3rd axles, and more noticeable tyre wear on the 2nd and 4th axles. It’s the same with the trucks, with the 1st drive axle showing more brake pad wear and the 2nd drive axle highlighting more tyre wear.
“Now with tandem A-doubles the payload and productivity equations have all changed. With a gross weight of 74.5 tonnes we have achieved major productivity gains.
“Sloanebuilt for bodywork and trailers is our standard choice throughout the fleet. It’s my belief they are the best when it comes to PBS requirements. They understand it far better than any other and their knowledge is far superior to anybody else.
“In terms of payload under PBS legislation with rigid trucks and quad-dog trailers, we can achieve payloads of 39.5 tonnes on a quad, 43.5 tonnes on a five-axle and 51.5 tonnes on the tandem A-doubles. Everything has BPW axles, BPW disc brakes, Wabco EBS with the Smartboard and we use Edbro hoists,” said Ken.
Commenting on the specification of the A-Doubles for Kim Haulage, Ben Weckwerth of Sloanebuilt Trailers said:
“Both of the Kim Haulage A-doubles are under 26 metres in length, the A-trailer being 86,550 mm long with the B-trailer being one of Ken’s existing PBS-compliant quad-dog trailers at 11,850 mm, all featuring side heights of 5’6”,” said Ben.
“All of the Kim Haulage Sloanebuilt dog trailer fleet can be operated as the back trailer in this combination, as Kim Haulage has a full PBS fleet of trailers with all trailers having been added to the vehicle approval.
“Ken has used his knowledge and understanding of PBS, mass, fatigue and maintenance management, and by working with Sloanebuilt Trailers he has been able to put Kim Haulage at the forefront of PBS operators in New South Wales, if not Australia.
“The amount of effort that is put into each and every new truck is also mirrored from an administration and compliance point of view with Ken putting a lot of time into making sure this is a 100 percent correct and to Ken’s high standard.
“Throughout the development of the A-double trailer combination concept, the RMS and NHVR have provided extensive help and assistance to facilitate the approval of these higher productivity designs. Because of their assistance and their understanding of the objectives and final vehicle applications, it has enabled us to make combinations like the A-double a commercially viable unit,” concluded Ben Weckwerth.
In order to simplify things for the drivers, the controls and instrumentation in each truck are identical, with mobile telephones being non-removable and non-operational when the vehicle is in motion. Alongside the phone installation are two screens, one providing sat/nav coverage, the other enabling the driver to monitor five on-board cameras. A further camera attached to the windscreen covers the view of the road ahead, constantly recording the movements of all other road users.
“We speed limit trucks when the pto is engaged to 25 km/h, and we have blindspot cameras and hoist alerts with visual and audio alerts when the hoist is in the air,” said Ken McClelland.
“The camera vision covers any possible blindspot, and individual cameras are mounted on the top of the left-hand air intake and behind the truck body and the rear of the trailer,” said Ken.
Tyre condition is monitored visually with regular rotation completed in-house, and tyre wear immediately reduced by 20 percent as a result of the Vigia tyre inflation system.
“Prior to PBS we ran with tyre pressures set at 95 psi as we were only running 13.5 tonnes on each bogie spread. With PBS adding more weight we then increased to 100 psi. All our maintenance is completed in-house with our own team, and I believe that makes us much more hands-on when it comes to maintenance management and regular inspection.
“The disc brake advantage is that we don’t flat-spot tyres. In the old days with drum brakes, even on brand-new equipment the adjustment could alter between drums. Disc brakes are always perfectly adjusted equally and you don’t flat-spot tyres.
“Using the Vigia automatic tyre inflation system from BPW has not cut down the puncture rate, but it has reduced the number of blowouts. The most common cause of blowouts is caused by a tyre deflating through a puncture, and that puts more weight on the adjacent tyre, causing overheating and failure.
The Vigia system maintains pressure in the tyre experiencing the puncture, dramatically reducing the opportunity for a blowout of the neighbouring tyre.
“We believe that by maintaining correct tyre pressure management we also reduce the opportunity for bearing wear as the bearing is always evenly supported over both dual wheels. We just wash and repack bearings on a regular basis and very rarely need to replace them.
“When you are paying $150,000 for a new five-axle trailer, I can’t understand why you don’t include EBS and automatic tyre inflation systems,” said Ken.
The Kim Haulage fleet comprises two Super-Liners at 685 hp, and the remainder of the fleet of Mack Tridents are at 535 hp, all of them have the mDRIVE AMT. Oil drains with the Macks are now 33,000 km intervals with a C-service every third service. It’s easy to remember when a service is done and ensure that everything is completed correctly, with oil sampling on every service.