PowerTorque finds that new truck and trailer combinations are making their contribution to improve productivity for K&S Freighters.
There are two big factors that lead the charge in terms of equipment design – productivity and safety. While the two often don’t work together, with increased safety leading to reduced productivity and vice-versa, many operators are finding ways to make the two combine very well. With regulators also weighing in on the equation, a perfect balance can be hard to find, but with its new Super B-double combinations, K&S Freighters has found a perfect solution to suit the needs of the company, the operators and the regulators.
The increasing popularity of PBS combinations has led to some interesting different options showing up on our roads over the last couple of years. While the routes and weights available to individual combinations vary, the availability of increased productivity and efficiency has seen many operators adapting combinations to take advantage of the flexibility within the PBS regulations to suit their own individual needs. K&S Freighters is no different, and, by moving to PBS combinations, has found a way to reduce the number of vehicles on a particular task by half – from six trucks to three.
Super B-doubles are not a new concept, with many examples running around our wharves for a few years now. The ability to carry two 40-foot or four 20-foot shipping containers makes them a great solution to the problem of moving more boxes without increasing congestion. While the overall allowable gross weight is greatly reduced on roads outside the port, their design and capacity still provides a very attractive option to those looking to ferry containers between the wharf and their depot. This is where K&S are making the most of three new Super B-double combinations, built by Vawdrey Australia, which were recently added to the fleet. To learn a little more, I caught up with K&S Freighters’ national equipment manager, Robert Douglas, at its depot in Truganina, west of Melbourne.
“They’ll be used on the main freight routes in Victoria, which are the High Productivity Freight Routes,” Robert said. “They will transport containers from either the port to the rail, or vice-versa, and from either the port or the rail to here”.
As mentioned earlier, the Super B-doubles are restricted to certain routes, which didn’t allow access to the K&S depot initially. This was rectified by having the road up to the depot gate added to the High Productivity Freight Route listing, and, as Robert pointed out, “We had to apply for it, but it allows us to come back to the yard here at 77.5 tonnes, instead of the normal 68 tonnes”.
On the roads around the port, where the Super B-doubles will be the most productive, the quad-quad set-up allows for weights well in excess of the 100-tonne mark.
“It allows us to take even heavier weights from the ports to the rail,” Robert said. “We will be travelling in excess of 100 tonnes gross weight, somewhere closer to 117 tonnes gross weight”.
The benefits in terms of productivity become obvious when Robert says, “Basically, it will carry double what our normal trucks carry, so it’s a 50 percent increase in productivity for us”.
The motivation behind K&S Freighters going to Super B-doubles was not a case of moving more freight, but moving the same amount of freight with fewer vehicles. “It’s an efficiency advantage because we’re able to reduce the number of trucks,” Robert said. “In this case, these three vehicles replace six, so it’s a 50 percent reduction in the number of vehicles for this application, and that’s a good thing”.
But the Super B-doubles were not only built with gross weight in mind, with safety also being a major factor in their design.
“These units represent a very innovative vehicle for K&S, in the sense that they are full disc brake and full EBS with anti-rollover protection. They have electronic weight scales on board as well, so we understand exactly what it weighs on every axle group, including the steer,” Robert said.
“PBS didn’t require us to fit the weight scales, in Victoria, at this stage. But we’ve done that, and that’s fitted straight to our satellite tracking and monitoring systems that we’ve got in the trucks, so the weights automatically go across, and we can track them from here.
“These trailers also have steerable axles on them as well, so that reduces the swept path and they are able to turn into tighter locations. It reduces road damage, less tyre wear, and gives a smaller turning circle, so it’s an advantage all around. Steerable axles are fitted to both the A and B trailer on each combination.”
The Super B-doubles are pulled by three new Scania R560 day-cab prime movers, which are also loaded with safety equipment to ensure the safest possible operation.
“We use Scania prime movers for a lot of reasons, including the safety and technology built into the truck. There’s a lot of technology in the truck, like extra-heavy-duty axles to carry the extra weight. Neither the truck nor the trailers are standard, they’re all purpose built for this particular task.
“We are taking advantage of all the technology we can currently get,” Robert said.
“Our trucks have forward and reverse facing cameras, and they also have side-view cameras. We have trucks with lane-change technology, adaptive cruise control – all those things to basically try and make it safer on the road. As I said, we have full-time monitoring of those vehicles, and that includes the videos down each side of the vehicles, forward and back, and driver monitoring to manage fatigue.
“There’s a hell of a lot of technology in these trucks, especially given they only go that short distance from here to the rail and back again. Mainly because of that large interaction with the public I guess, and to try and make it safer for everybody,” Robert said. “I don’t think there is a safety feature that anyone can think of that isn’t fitted to these trucks”.
The big gain here for K&S is the establishment of the highest levels of efficiency, safety and productivity, all achieved with the same piece of equipment. Working within the PBS framework, and with the assistance of Vawdrey Australia
, K&S Freighters has found that one truck can do the work of two. What is exceptional about these combinations is that the overall length is only 27.3 m, meaning that an extra 20’ (6 m) shipping container can be carried for a minimal increase in overall length over a standard B-double.
The full specification of the new Vawdrey trailers includes standard and steerable axles, suspension and disc brakes supplied by BPW, EBS and stability systems supplied by WABCO and the E-Max Air-Weigh LoadMaxx onboard weighing systems.
“Through discussions with Justin Simmonds at Vawdrey, he was able to take a look at what we wanted, adapt it, and get it engineer and PBS approved. The units were built and the route access approved, and now they’re on the road. At this stage, they’re working really well,” Robert said. “I guess for us it’s a win-win situation, because we end up with a technologically advanced vehicle on the road, plus we also reduce the number of trucks we have on the road,” Robert concluded.