Top Tankers

Only the best will do when it comes to safety and Hills Tankers

It’s a proud moment in any manufacturer’s history when it supplies a customer with the 100th trailer in a successful relationship dating back 30 years. That’s the accolade for Brisbane-based Holmwood Highgate, as it delivered trailer numbers 99 and 100 to Peter Hill, managing director of Hill’s Tankers.

Not surprisingly, the event was commemorated by management and staff at the Brisbane factory in Loganholme, with the handover also signifying Holmwood Highgate celebrating its own 55-year anniversary.Hills-tankers-7

Peter Hill was on hand to accept delivery of the new tankers from Holmwood Highgate’s Neil Stapleton. Together the trailers form an impressive B-double combination while also providing flexibility to separate them to mix and match with existing trailers in the fleet to form larger A-double combinations.

“The lead trailer (number 99) carries 25,800 litres of fuel in three compartments, while the larger B-trailer (number 100) has six compartments and a maximum capacity of 40,500 litres,” said Roger Manning.

“Although regulations enable a B-trailer to be configured for up to 44,500 litres capacity, this slightly smaller volume and reduction in maximum dimensions enable it to achieve greater flexibility in operation when required as part of an A-double combination and coupled to a dolly. The fifth wheel, landing legs and kingpins are by JOST with the rear trailer coupling by Ringfeder,” Mr. Manning added.

“We have been successful in attracting additional contracts this year with BP and Shell, and this has enabled us to almost double the size of our fleet operation. Our work is specialised and we provide distribution services for petroleum products from our bases in Brisbane, Rutherford (Newcastle NSW) and Mackay,” said Peter Hill.

The Hill’s fleet comprises 38 prime movers plus an additional 6 subcontractors. The majority of the fleet is based on Volvo FH 6x4s with the most recent delivery being 7 of the latest FH Series Volvos rated at 600 hp and fitted with I-Shift transmission. Other brands in the fleet include 3 Western Stars, Cat Trucks, Kenworth and Freightliner, and collectively these haul a total of 46 sets of trailers.

Hills-tankers-3“We are very focused on using the highest specification available. We are comfortable in using this technology that includes electronic braking systems (EBS) with roll stability control, anti-lock braking and disc brakes. Also incorporated in the latest vehicles are Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Driver Alert Support and Forward Collision Warning. Cameras mounted on the dashboard record any incident occurring on the road ahead, providing an independent record of the movements of other road users,” said Peter.

“The purchase of new trailers, and our fleet upgrading programme, has enabled us to achieve a 100 percent fitment of disc brakes and EBS by the start of 2015. We also have electronic height control valves and whatever else we can find that can improve safety levels.

“We started fitting EBS systems back in 2007. These latest systems are very reliable, we get very good service life from the disc brake systems, and the braking performance and reduced stopping distances are fabulous,” Peter added.

Service requirements for the 19 Volvo and 3 Mack prime movers are all controlled under the Gold Contract Maintenance agreements with Volvo Group Australia and include the Volvo Dynafleet Telematics System for reporting back to the workshop supervisor or transport manager.

“Contract maintenance provides peace of mind for our operation and certainly results in less stress for me. The best part for us is that we know what our fleet maintenance is going to cost in advance,” said Peter.Hills-tankers-5

“We have had some real issues in the past with Kenworth and Cummins with its EGR engine. We’ve seen gearbox, engine and diff’ failures. Before that we were a Caterpillar engine fleet and never had an issue. That’s why we changed to Volvo, as we had to find something that did not cause us that grief. With the contract maintenance and operating lease we just hand it back at the end of the contract and take delivery of a new vehicle.

“We have to have everything right. We deal direct with Volvo and receive fabulous service from Leonie Conyers, Volvo’s National Fleet Account Manager. She is fabulous to deal with whenever we want anything and is the best sales person for trucks anyone could have. She joined Volvo as we got on board and we have been with her ever since. We figured out the Volvo product together that we wanted and just went from there,” added Peter.

Hendrickson axles with AAT 230 INTRAAX suspension may be fitted with either WABCO or Knorr-Bremse Bendix air-operated disc brakes and have a warranty of one million kilometres. For the Hill’s Tanker fleet the preference is for the Wabco air-operated disc brakes and these have been the standard fitment throughout the fleet for the past five years. The INTRAAX suspension design has the axle passing through and welded to the suspension beams (trailing arms). U-bolts are not used and the axle cannot be separated from the beams.

Tyre maintenance programmes are also a major part of the fleet protocol, and, in the past three years, 24 trailers have been supplied and fitted with the Hendrickson TIREMAAX PRO tyre inflation system.

“Tyre inflation systems enable us to get the best out of our tyres plus they assist in maintaining the best fuel economy. Our tyres are always where they should be, and this again makes it much easier to keep track of their condition rather than trying to catch up with tyres to cheHills-tankers-13ck pressures,” said Peter.

Hendrickson’s TIREMAAX PRO tyre inflation system inflates and deflates tyres to the designated preferred pressure in an automatic operation through couplings on each axle end. It ensures that dual-tyre applications always have equalised pressures. In this way it also protects bearing life by preventing excessive loading on the bearing that can occur when one of a pair of dual tyres is run underinflated.

Air Brake Corporation of Australia is the distributor to Holmwood Highgate of the Wabco products fitted as standard to the Hill’s Tanker fleet.

The Wabco Electronic Braking System (TEBS) assesses vehicle data such as wheel speed and load information, and if it detects the chances of vehicle rollover it automatically applies the brakes. Wabco’s Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is a fully integrated function of the TEBS system and significantly reduces the stopping distance during emergency braking, allowing the driver to keep control of the vehicle during emergency manoeuvres.

Wabco eTASC electronic suspension is also controlled by the Wabco TEBS system. It features a return to ride height function that is triggered by the vehicle speed. In the case of the Wabco systems fitted to the Hills Tankers fleet it returns the tankers to ride height at 10 km/h. Another feature enables he suspension to lower the ride height by 50 mm when the vehicle speed reaches 80 km/h. This reduces drag and provides greater stability due to the lower centre of gravity of the truck and trailer combination.

Wabco’s TailGUARD increases safety during reversing operations by detecting small, large, static and moving objects in the blind spot behind the trailer. As a fully integrated part of WABCO’s EBS technology, the system interaction provides automatic stopping at a programmed distance, followed by a forced slowdown to 9.0 km/h and final stopping again at a programmed distance.

The Emergency Brake Alert is an additional safety feature that automatically flashes the trailer’s stop lights during hard braking to warn following drivers, thus reducing the risk of rear-end collisions. This feature is currently programmable for use with 24 volt European-style prime movers and rigid trucks or with North American trucks featuring 24 Volt electrical systems such as the T-Series Kenworth fitted with the PACCAR MX13 engine.

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