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A double take

A-double uptake is on the rise across the industry amongst operators looking to optimise payload capacities on specific routes.

One such operator is Farmhaul, which as the name suggests operates a fleet of trucks hauling farm-related products including vegetable oil that is used in the production of feed for cattle fattened at feedlots in southeast Queensland.

According to Farmhaul owner Geoff Harris, the new stainless-steel Byford combination represents two firsts for his company in that it is the first A-double tanker set the company has owned along with being the first Byford-produced tanker combination to join the fleet.

“We’re based in Pittsworth about 35km southwest of Toowoomba and we operate the A-double between the Port of Brisbane and feedlots on the Darling Downs,” Geoff says.
The vegetable oil is imported from overseas and is delivered into the tankers at a temperature of 750C to ensure it remains in a fluid state during transit.

The elevated temperature is maintained by the well-insulated barrels which feature a double skin construction with insulation material sandwiched between the two stainless-steel surfaces.     
Geoff explains that stainless-steel barrels rather than the fibreglass units which he also uses for other liquids are necessary for this contract due to the sustained high temperature prerequisite of transporting the vegetable oil.

“As well as the vegetable oils we deliver a variety of other liquids for the feedlots including molasses and liquid feed supplements, for which we use fibreglass barrelled tankers,” he says.

“The beauty of the Byford combination is that if need be we can use it to carry other liquids which makes it a very versatile addition to our fleet.”

Farmhaul was started in 1997 and now incorporates 36 trucks, 36 full-time drivers, a couple of casual drivers and an office staff of five people.

The business operates seven days per week and all of the drivers are Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) accredited which enables them to work a 14-hour day if required.

“The drivers’ shifts generally average around 10 to 12 hours per day, five to six days per week,” Geoff says. “We cover most of Queensland and also down into NSW as far as Dubbo in the central west of the state.”

As for his reasons for choosing Byford, Geoff cites the company’s expertise in producing stainless-steel tankers and its ability to manufacture the A-double combination, including the tandem-axle dolly, within an acceptable timeframe.

He also appreciates the fact that the company’s representatives were always available and willing to assist with his enquires throughout the entire process.

“I hadn’t dealt with Byford prior to this and when I was in the initial stages of enquiring about the combination, they were quick to call me back and explain everything I needed to know – that goes a long way with me,” Geoff says.

“I’m very happy with the end result – even though they were building it in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown they still managed to finish it in close to the timeframe they originally proposed.”

The combination is towed by a T659 Kenworth, the brand that makes up the majority of the prime mover fleet.

“We’ve had a very good run from Kenworth over the years and we are looked after extremely well by our local dealer, Brown and Hurley, at Toowoomba,” Geoff says.

Given the rising acceptance of A-doubles on PBS-approved routes, Geoff agrees that the high productivity combination is the way of the future and, indeed, necessary in order to remain competitive.

“The extra volume we can carry with each load out of the Port of Brisbane to the Darling Downs makes a big difference to the efficiency of our operation,” Geoff says, adding that the A-double combination can haul 55 tonnes of vegetable oil with a Gross Combination Mass (GCM) of 85 tonnes under Higher Mass Limits (HML).

By way of comparison, Geoff says a B-double combination hauling the same product on the same route has a legal payload capacity of 40 tonnes.

Another advantage of the A-double over the B-double is the added versatility of being able to split the combination into two standard semi-trailers if required.

While Geoff says Farmhaul’s Byford A-double will be mostly running the same route under permit and will therefore not be split very often, he acknowledges the benefit of having two equal sized tankers that could be used independently if necessary. All up, the new Byford A-double is delivering everything Geoff expects, not least a 55-tonne payload of vegetable oil on each trip.

Fast Fact
A Byford A-double stainless-steel tanker combination is proving highly productive for Farmhaul – transporting 55-tonne payloads of vegetable oil from the Port of Brisbane to feedlots on the Darling Downs.

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