Trailer Magazine

Sydney Sideloaders

  • Posted on Thursday 4th, April 2019
Sydney Sideloaders

As a specialist in containerised cargo, Sydney Sideloaders, keeps a hectic schedule working on the waterfront of one of the busiest ports in the world. To ensure its fleet of prime movers is revitalised and raring to go six days a week the company invests in the Agility Program from Mercedes-Benz Trucks.

With its headquarters located mere minutes away from the hotspot of the wharf where 70 per cent of its freight task arrives as imports, Sydney Sideloaders works with bond containers, hazardous goods and more commonly takes care of medical supplies from Asia, refrigerated containers and tiles that it delivers into the ACT on Tautliners. Daily runs begin at 4am Sunday to Friday. These are prescheduled 48 hours in advance to cope with the relentless activity of the supply chain.

Established as a business by Chris and Tony Divis in 2008, Sydney Sideloaders has since outgrown its yard near Port Botany, which was granted a 99-year lease in 2013 when NSW Ports came to an arrangement with the NSW Government. An experienced truck driver himself, Chris joined the transport industry when he finished school in 1983. Brother Tony is a banker by trade and handles accounts and finances. According to Chris, who started out driving Pantechs, the prescheduling required of container operations now differs greatly from his earliest experiences in the industry.

Moving red line hazardous cargo, a service in which Sydney Sideloaders specialises, requires it to be collected inside of 12 hours, legally, following discharge of the vessel. As paucity of time makes greater demands of organisational structures and scheduling, the equipment needs to work, without fail. Reliability is a must when it comes to running commercial vehicles for Sydney Sideloaders.

As the company provides what Chris calls “out of the ordinary stuff,” it invests in the Mercedes-Benz Actros 2651. Less than 10 per cent of the fleet, Chris estimates, is older than 10 years. That also includes the trailers. He says the company has been able to achieve this by going on the Agility Program. The trucks he most recently replaced were only three years old, with very low mileage. As sideloaders weigh in around 10 tonnes the extra power afforded by the 510hp engine is vital for pulling the excess weight.

“We could probably get away with a 460hp but I’m a firm believer that you don’t make trucks struggle. I like to have enough horsepower there to do the job properly,” Chris says. “Rather than saving a couple of thousand dollars to get the cheaper option I’d prefer it to buy the one that’s going to do it comfortably.”

As for its prime movers, Sydney Sideloaders opts to stick to one brand. On its country runs the Mercedes-Benz Actros 2653 is its truck of choice, as it sees further gains in the more powerful engine and an improved fuel burn, especially when running back empty. The fleet consists of 20 Actros prime movers in total. Only six trucks of the older model remain and these will be replaced, starting next year, according to Chris.

“For the local trucks we do an analysis on what the trucks are doing and what kilometres they accumulate during the course of the year. We take on an Agility Program for every truck allowing for 75,000 kilometres-a-year for the trucks on local consignment,” he says. “Our current contracts are taken over four years and we have a guaranteed future value from Mercedes-Benz on the buy-back. The truck is fully maintained by them.”

Accident damage, windscreens and general wear and tear, are, under the agreement, the responsibility of Sydney Sideloaders. After four years, according to Chris, the business is attentive to the worth of each truck and what it will fetch as a repurchase from Daimler. If it’s in good condition Sydney Sideloaders will often choose to keep it.

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