Australian Native Landscapes approaches its 50th anniversary- Words by Warren Caves, Images by Torque it Up
Patrick Soars, the founder of highly respected Australian organic-waste processor Australian Native Landscapes (ANL), together with his son Harley, the company’s Asset and Maintenance Manager, stand proudly within the company’s processing facility at Badgerys Creek. Around them are stockpiles of mulched material and taking pride of place alongside is the familiar green and gold livery of the company’s latest acquisition and showpiece, a striking Kenworth T909 8X4 truck and five-axle trailer, or quin-dog (depending on your chosen description).
ANL has a long history in the organic-waste recycling industry and has consistently pioneered product development that has led the way with innovation during that time.
Back in 1971 Patrick launched ANL off the back of his profession as a landscaper. In so doing he had planted the seed of what would grow into an environmentally-conscious enterprise producing 600,000 tonnes of organic mulches and soils per-annum, at a time when phrases like “organics recycling” and “environmentally friendly” were largely unheard of.
“In the early days I would have people say to me, what’s all this environmental crap you’re on about,” laughed Patrick, but undeterred and with the courage of his conviction, he persevered.
The original site of the business was at Terrey Hills in Sydney’s north, with the company purchasing and establishing the Badgerys Creek processing facility in 1983. Today the company operates 15 sites across NSW, including four major composting facilities with the remainder being retail and wholesale outlets.
Using kerbside green-waste recycling directly delivered to the Badgerys Creek facility by council waste trucks and sawmill waste, ANL composts, grinds, screens and blends the organic matter with a mix of sand and soils to create nutrient-rich garden mixes. The sawmill wastes are processed and dyed as required to produce decorative hues of landscaping products in either bulk form or bagged products.
Keeping pace with the increasing need to reuse and recycle for the betterment of our environment, ANL has a contract with Sydney Water to process, recycle and transport bio solids. Up to 14 loads are transported by road each day equating to around 150,000 tonne annually, most of which are supplied to farms in western NSW as fertiliser. Both Patrick and Harley agree that agricultural products are now a big part of the ANL business.
Being Australia’s largest recycler of organic waste for nearly 50-years has obviously allowed the company to develop a deep insight into the whole of process, including and refining the transport chain.
This in-depth knowledge highlighted industry inefficiencies in the process of handling bulk organics.
After seeing moving-floor discharge trailers used in the USA, Patrick addressed this problem by importing Australia’s first moving-floor trailer in 1979. The following year he founded a separate division of ANL, Matilda Walking Floors Pty Ltd, designing and manufacturing moving-floor trailers for the Australian market. The division has recently completed the production of its first quad-axle trailer with a capacity of 110 cubic metres.
While the latest truck to join the fleet is a Kenworth, it wasn’t always that way. ANL currently runs a mixed fleet, with Patrick revealing that the first truck used by the company in 1971 was an AB International which he purchased for $80. This was soon traded in for a Daihatsu in 1972 before the company started using UD trucks.
“We had one of the first CK-30 UD’s then CK-40’s and 45’s. The UD’s were a great truck. It wasn’t until 1976 that we purchased our first Kenworth. That truck cost $61,000, which was a lot of money back then and I still have that truck today,” added Patrick.
Now, with over 200 trucks in service, ANL has a very diverse fleet profile that encompasses the brands of Fuso, Sterling, Volvo, Freightliner, Kenworth and Peterbilt. We also have the following truck brands, Isuzu, Western Star, International & Mack.
In the 1990’s ANL generated a strong preference for Peterbilt, importing the company’s first unit in 1996. That truck, “Stoker” a 379-model, is still working within the fleet and has recently clocked up 2-million miles.
Maintenance and repairs are all carried out in-house by ANL technicians, with workshops located at the company’s major depots. While some of the ANL fleet have travelled millions of kilometres, it’s the regular maintenance regimes by ANL workshops that ensure reliability.
With new opportunities comes additional equipment needs and in the last 18-months, ANL has welcomed a total of nine new Kenworth’s into the fold. These include two T909 quad dog combinations, six T409 quad dog combinations and this stunningly presented 8X4 T909 and five-axle dog combination.
A lot of ANL’s work and locations require trucks to work in semi off-road applications and the 900 series & 400 series trucks chosen by ANL were purchased for that factor over European Trucks due to factors such as ground clearance etc.
“Muscat Trailers build all of our truck bins and tipping trailers. Troy Azzopardi and the team at Muscat Trailers build a very good trailer and had a great deal of input into the design of this combination,” said Patrick.
“We wanted a combination that would carry heavier weights than we frequently transport. It needed to be able to be loaded to maximum GCM’s while also having a high volumetric capacity for transporting our own barks and mulches throughout NSW.
“The end product is this incredibly well-presented, 25-metre long truck and dog combination featuring a 5.5L X 1.98H truck bin of 26 cubic metre capacity and a 10.1L X 1.98H dog trailer of 49.5 cubic metre capacity,” added Patrick.
The truck and trailer coupling features an air assisted Ringfeder unit that displays its connection status through red and green indicator lights on the in-cab control panel. This system is proving very good in practice, as it negates the annoying occurrence of the drawbar pin being locked under load and preventing the lifting of a traditional lever type manual handle.
A further benefit is the reduction in the amount of times the driver needs to get in and out of the cabin. As the truck and trailer are regularly disconnected for unloading, these additions are proving their worth in saving time and increasing safety standards. Extra lighting is fitted to the rear of the dolly and a reversing camera is fitted to the rear of the trailer.
Binnoto hoists are used with a 50-tonne capacity ram on the trailer and ‘Body-up’ alarms are fitted in the hydraulic system to alert users and by-standers that the body is raising. In-cab digital axle weight gauges blend with the OE gauges in the centre dash panel to aid with loading.
The Muscat trailers feature road-friendly Hendrickson suspension and INTRAAX AAT250 axles are used to keep tare weight as low as possible. Braking and stability are enhanced by the fitment of WABCO EBS and ABS with roll stability.
The six T409 models are used on the Sydney Water contract with the T909, five-axle combination used on a combination of horticultural and agricultural products cartage as well as barks and mulches.
“We have a T904 in the fleet which has been a great truck, reliably clocking up around 2.5-3 million kilometres. That proved to us that it was worth investing in another Kenworth 900 series truck, a truck which still retains that iconic, long bonnet look. Although we feel this design may not necessarily go on forever, this new truck is also the perfect way to showcase our business,” added Harley.
At 25-metres long and with a maximum gross payload of 68.5-tonnes under PBS regulations, the T909 is well suited to the increasing demand for heavier loads such as sand within ANL’s operations. Adding versatility, the 26 cubic-metre truck bin and 49.5 cubic-metre trailer bin are perfectly suited to accommodate bulk organic matter. With a combination tare weight of 22,700 kg, payloads of 42,800 kg or 45,800 kg are achievable, dependant on route access.
“This type of versatility of equipment sees ANL trucks generally running loaded most of the time. With outlets and depots in Blayney, Bathurst, Orange, Anna Bay and around Sydney, it’s quite rare that we have the need to run our trucks empty for any great distance,” said Patrick.
The T909 features a Cummins X15 engine rated at 600 hp with peak torque of 2050 ft/lb backed up by an Eaton UltraShift PLUS AMT to provide the necessary power and torque. The leading axle on the tri-set-up is a lift-up pusher axle which raises automatically when not required in order to minimise tyre wear.
According to Harley Soars, “When routes permit its use, our latest T909 five-axle combination enables us to operate at 68.5 tonne on PBS. When not operating under PBS requirements we can drop back to 65 tonne, ensuring we have the volumetric capacity and versatility to carry bulk organics when needed.”
There’s no doubt recycling is here to stay and producing garden and landscape products from green waste and offering both bulk transport or a small bag of potting mix has proven a successful business for ANL.
The creation by Patrick Soars of a business model in the 1970s centred around the environment and recycling organics was certainly visionary and ahead of its time. It is worth noting that 50 years ago recycling to many householders involved a 44-gallon drum incinerator that disposed of discarded household items and garden clippings in a plume of toxic smoke each Sunday afternoon.