Seasonal complications are nothing new to those in transport, with companies entwined in the agriculture industry working to the beat of Mother Nature’s drum, managing the busy harvest months and vulnerable to the effects of storms and droughts. Similarly, transport companies focusing on construction and civil industries work with seasonal diversity that largely revolves around the weather, with the rainy months typically slowing business down.
Understanding that preparation for workload variance during the ‘off-seasons’ can be a tipping point to success or failure, Victoria-based Derham Transport has developed a strategy that factors in the downtimes and fills them accordingly. “Construction work has a tendency to slow down during the cold and wet seasons as we deliver raw materials to construction sites that are mostly unsealed roads. It makes it quite difficult to access some sites due to boggy ground conditions,” explains Tate Ramsey, Derham Transport Operations Manager. “It’s not like the grocery industry, where it’s the same rain, hail or shine – the tipper industry has seasonal challenges that we have to consider.”
However, the Derham Transport business model keeps the company churning regardless of the weather by leveraging the vast resource of materials from its very own sand quarry, ‘Hillview Sand’. “Tucked in behind the picturesque You Yangs National Park in Victoria near Little River, we have 1,300 acres of raw materials that never fail to keep us busy,” Tate says. “During the dry season we cart raw materials, crushed rock and aggregate for construction companies like Holcim and Boral, but we are fortunate enough to have our own internal cartage work to keep a small number of the fleet working in the quiet times.”
Tate mentions that the fleet of 35 trucks had to be carefully chosen to meet Performance-Based Standards (PBS) guidelines.
“We run PBS-approved three-, four-, five- and six-axle truck and dog combinations. The five- and six-axle combinations are Kenworth T908 and 909 models, while the four-axle truck and dogs are pulled by a couple of Western Stars, Freightliners and a Kenworth T403. Freightliner Columbia and Kenworth 350s trucks tow our three-axle combinations,” Tate lists – adding that the vehicles are always kept busy across the diverse operations of the business.
“There’s always something going on. We’re fortunate to have work throughout all weather, whether it is stockpiling raw materials or organising loads, managing our washing and refuelling systems or running our depots in Colac and Geelong,” Tate says – revealing that by factoring seasonal complications into its business model, Derham Transport staff are kept busy rain, hail or shine.