Trailer Magazine

Porthaul’s next level

  • From the July 2017 issue.
Porthaul’s next level

Always ahead of the pack, Porthaul has become the first operator to run Super A-doubles in the Green Triangle – a headline-making achievement that wouldn’t be possible without the help of suppliers like BPW Transpec.

The Williamson family has been capturing the attention of the commercial road transport industry and public alike since 1990, when Brian Williamson took over flailing Portland business, Bulkhaul, and turned it into bulk transport company, Porthaul.

At the time, it was Bulkhaul’s employees who were first captivated by the family, as their jobs were all saved along with the operations. More recently, it’s Porthaul itself that has earned the attention of industry for its innovative perspective on trailing equipment. Since Brian’s son James joined the company in 2007, the fleet has gone through a modernisation process to create transport efficiencies for the rapidly growing business.
Now General Manager of the family company, James’s willingness to explore alternatives to traditional trailers brought him to the high productivity Performance-Based Standards (PBS) scheme in 2012. In a significant achievement for the business, his various approved combinations managed to cut 30 per cent of Porthaul’s vehicles from the fleet while completing the same tasks.

Now, Porthaul has again captured the attention of the industry with the delivery of three 34m A-double combinations that he says are “a bit next level”. Custom-built to service a contract with new import/export company, United International Container Services (UICS), the Super A-doubles carry full weight, 32-tonne 40-foot containers between the UICS packing facility in Mt Gambier and the Port of Melbourne.

“We became the first company to run PBS-approved A-doubles in the Green Triangle when we got our first three combinations in January this year,” James says. “These trailers are deliberately designed 
to pass bridges on the route from Mt Gambier to the Coode Road wharf at the Port of Melbourne. When the Victorian roads and bridges
are upgraded, each unit will be expected to run at 85.5 tonne Gross Combination Mass (GCM).”

Though James says working with the PBS scheme has resulted in significant advantages to his fleet’s efficiency and productivity, it hasn’t always been an easy process getting the trailers approved. However, he says Victorian road authority, VicRoads, and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NVHR), which runs the high productivity scheme, as well as his suppliers, have always been at the ready to assist where required.

“The A-double combinations are eight metres longer than a conventional B-double, and the size of them can be a bit intimidating,” James admits. “The length also meant we needed to reconfigure the drawbar lengths and axle spacings, so there were a lot of unique design aspects to work with. In saying that, VicRoads and the Regulator have been great to deal with; their performance testing and other checks have been spot on.”
James says BPW Transpec Product Consultant, Peter Hart, was heavily involved with the design process to ensure the new axle layout would be compliant. Two of the three Super A-double skel combinations run on BPW AL II airbag suspensions and 10-stud 285pcd disc brake axles with a steer axle at the rear grouping.

The new combinations also feature Air CTI digital tyre pressure readers on the trailers, allowing the driver to be alerted in the cab should there be a decrease in tyre pressure, James says. “Our tyre equalisers on the trailers through the BPW axles are giving us great tyre wear and the steer axles are performing perfectly,” he explains.

“BPW has proven to be reliable for a long time with us. Its customer care is on the next level and that’s something we appreciate. Across the board, the experience has been exactly what we were hoping for to make sure we got the best equipment under our trailers.”

James adds that all the hard work in designing and approving the Super A-doubles was worthwhile as the combinations are “the benchmark going forward in transport over the next 20 years”.

“They’re as fuel efficient, possibly more fuel- efficient than a B-double, they turn better, they ride better and they carry 10-tonnes more cargo, and the weight distribution is better.”

With the first three Super A-doubles on the roads, James says he has nearly a dozen more of the combinations to join the Porthaul fleet in the next 12 months – an achievement that will no doubt keep the public and industry’s attention firmly on the Williamson family business as it grows.

Fast Fact
United International Container Services (UICS) began trading in February 2017 and is the only AQUIS accredited export/import and packing facility site in the Green Triangle region of South Australia and Victoria. “Porthaul has been awarded a long term contract with United and will expand our operations alongside United as it grows,” says Porthaul General Manager, James Williamson.


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