Trailer Magazine

Getting value from your equipment

  • From the February 2015 issue.
Getting value from your equipment

When a product works as advertised, it’s likely to create return business. That’s why Thorpe Interstate Transport Services is happy to have SAF-Holland gear fitted across its entire fleet. the equipment is yet to let them down even after decades of use, making for a unique business case.

Arguably the most commonly asked question in the transport equipment industry is: “Am I getting a solid return on my investment?” Value for money is the key ratio behind every procurement decision in the commercial road transport industry, and getting it right is crucial for long-term success, as entrepreneur Leon Thorpe found.

Leon is the Managing Director of Melbourne-based Thorpe Interstate Transport Services and a second-generation business owner. His father Lenny started the company more than 30 years ago, with Leon helping him continue the family tradition and growing the Thorpe brand into a successful long haul transport provider.

“My father was very passionate about transport, but also about working on trucks and customising them according to what the customers wanted. That’s why we started our own chrome and custom fit out workshop called Thorpe Custom Trucks,” Leon says.

“What this industry teaches you is that quality servicing and equipment matter – and only those who go the extra mile will stick around. If someone pays good money for a product or service, then they will want to know that they’ve invested their money wisely and that they can receive good returns on it. That’s what we pride ourselves on delivering a premium service that justifies what our customers pay for.”

Starting off with just a few trucks and trailers, Thorpe now runs a fleet of 30 prime movers and a trailer division that consists of 30 B-double combinations, eight semi-trailers, four skels and four curtain-sider semis. All trailers are built by Vawdrey Australia and are fitted with the latest SAF-Holland equipment.

Most of Thorpe’s work is subcontracting to larger transport and logistics businesses like Mainfreight, a company that is now the beneficiary of two new sets of Performance Based Standards (PBS)-approved 36-pallet double drop deck Titeliner B-double combinations. Both combinations include a 14m A-trailer connected to a 22m B-trailer.

According to Leon, the main attractions on the B-doubles are the SAF-Holland Modul axle and suspension systems he specified. Leon says they were adjusted slightly to suit the PBS requirements of the combinations and have already proven themselves in the field. “The uniqueness of the suspension is the axle configuration over the tri-set, which SAF-Holland moved closer together by re-engineering the airbag plates to allow for extra room,” Leon says.

“The bearings require little maintenance on them, while the disc brakes come with full automatic slack adjusters that don’t require mechanics to fix them since the brakes do it themselves. In addition, the SAF-Holland Modul system is fully protected from dirt, dust and road debris. From a safety point of view, SAF-Holland is the best equipment to use and won’t put our drivers at risk. It ticks all the boxes.”

The B-doubles themselves offer a capacity of 190m³ each and can operate at a 68.5 tonne GCM. They come with a 4.6m high frame and automated mezzanine deck systems designed by Vawdrey. “The high cubic capacity of the trailers, along with the PBS approval, means we can run the combinations directly from Clayton in Victoria all the way to Preston in New South Wales, which is where they will be mostly used for the Mainfreight contract,” Leon says – revealing the load will consist of general freight.

“The set-up of these new combinations is all about maximising volume, which is why each trailer contains electric mezzanine floors to be as flexible as possible when loading them. Mainfreight wanted us to acquire the latest in transport equipment for this job, and they knew our strong partnerships with SAF‑Holland and Vawdrey would help achieve that goal.”

In terms of value for money, Leon feels vindicated in his latest purchase. “Vawdrey have never let us down and their backup service has always been consistently good. I believe they’re the best trailer builder out there,” he says. “The same can be said of SAF-Holland’s equipment. Like Vawdrey, we’ve been purchasing from them for more than two decades.

“The one aspect that attracted me is the warranty for all SAF-Holland products. You get a one million kilometre warranty, along with five-year warranty on the parts associated with the equipment. If a company is willing to give you that, it tells me right away that it’s a reliable product, will perform well and most importantly, gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re going to get top dollar returns for the money you spend.”

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