Trailer Magazine

Knowing the niche

  • Posted on Monday 17th, December 2018
Knowing the niche

Operating a tow truck business in rugged northern Tasmania is a job demanding expert knowledge of both land and equipment. Launceston Towing is a company perfectly adapted to the niche.

Long-standing Tasmanian company, Launceston Towing, will only ever carry cars and light commercial vehicles, according to owner, Graeme Pitt. “I won’t do work that puts my people or my gear at risk,” he says.

The load capacity of each tilt tray is limited by ability of the hydraulic tray equipment to lift the weight of the towed vehicle rather than the payload rating of the truck. Consequently, the trucks are never over-loaded and Graeme estimates they in fact spend more than a third of their life unloaded – ensuring there is always ample margin to take on the next job.

With view to the fleet, Graeme can look back on a typical tow driver’s biography, starting out with Ford and Dodge jib trucks and then moving on to Japanese tilt trays before progressing to a 16-tonne DAF LF55 several years ago.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have decent trucks all along,” he confesses. “The first Japanese trucks we had were no good once they were out of warranty. We should have been able to get 800,000km out of a truck doing this kind of work without one engine rebuild, let alone two.”

Operating 24-7 in a place like Tasmania brings home the employer’s obligation to provide a safe work place, too, he adds. “I am doing all that I can to make sure that my drivers get home safely. Some jobs can be testing, for example a 3am call-out on a wet night in a remote area, especially when you’re the only person there. As such, it’s important that we give our people reliable gear that will do the job safely.”

The climate extremes in Tasmania also require effective heating and air-conditioning, Graeme explains. Also on the standard spec list are good seats that look after the drivers’ spines, as well as driver air bags for safety. A dual passenger seat to accommodate the drivers of the vehicles being towed is also a necessity in Graeme’s area of business.

“Looking at the spec, it’s easier to buy a truck with all that included rather than adding it later-on,” he explains. “Our first DAF had all that and more when we got it. It is easy and comfortable to drive, with the air bag suspension being a real bonus that allows us to raise or lower the rear of the truck, which drastically alters the approach angle of the tray and proved vital for many late model vehicles that sit very low to the ground.”

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