Innovation and diversity

Managing director of South East Qld Hauliers, Brett Plummer, is a man totally focussed on customer requirements. Rather than simply going with the flow, he is continually looking to the future and how he and his 50 strong truck fleet can be best positioned to provide services beyond the norm.

South East Qld Hauliers was established many years ago and Brett has headed the company for the past 13 years. He has seen the freight market change and made alterations to operations to suit those needs. For example, the company operated 20 trucks with a large number of tippers in Brisbane and had a large presence in the transport of bulk materials, but as demand changed in the northern capital he moved away from that type of cartage and built the truck number to 50, mainly concentrating on container cartage as the Port of Brisbane underwent continual development.

While Brett discontinued tipper work there, operations in Sydney is another matter. Sydney is home to a fleet of vehicles playing a vital role in the operations of Abrasive Sand Distributors and Nepean Landscape Supplies plus Tiger Pack Australia, diverse businesses running in conjunction with trucking and highly successful in their own right.

But, the mainstay of his business activities continues to be container transport in the South East Queensland region and he is continually seeking ways to improve handling and transport methods to offer streamlined services, with minimal delays and a high degree of reliability.
So when Haulmark Trailers embarked on the design of a PBS based two trailer combination, Brett could see the benefits and worked closely with the company to get the concept up and running.

The result is an A-double combination, a unit delivering substantial capacity and safety gains while delivering a reduction in emissions. The A-double has an overall length of 29.95 metres and runs on specific routes at a gross weight of up to 85 tonnes. Being a modular unit, it offers a high degree of flexibility and allows the use of potentially any B-double prime mover while the dolly can be utilised under any trailer.

South East Qld Hauliers operates ten A-double combinations, which can carry two 40 foot containers, four 20 foot containers or a mixture of both. There is a requirement to move 100,000 tonnes of grain to the Port of Brisbane loaded in 27.5 tonne containers, with only one carried on single trailers under permit. The containers can be carried into Toowoomba by road train, however the combination has to be split with single movements made, but the A-double enables two to be transported. It is estimated 4000 truck movements are required to handle the task but by using the A-double this is reduced to only 2000. 

“At the end of the day, we are providing a general service and it is vital we look to innovation in order to open up new markets – particularly for exporters. It is our continual aim to do our very best for customers and it is imperative we look ahead to reduce costs and to offer advantages to the people we carry for,” Brett comments. 

“We are very big on developing operational systems to ensure reliable and dependable service, minimise problems and deliver what we say we will. Coupled with that our people care, that is critical, and what does make us a little different is that all of our management people can go into any role in the operation should it be required. 

“It is all about the customer and we must continually look at ways to improve our services to them, offering service they value and working towards ongoing improvements to meet their needs in every way possible.”

Brett himself drives, and in fact is more than happy to do so, and when the first A-double combination went into service two months ago, he was behind the wheel on runs between Brisbane and Toowoomba to gain first-hand experience on its performance.

“I can tell you I like what I see in the mirror,” he smiles. “The A-double handles beautifully, is extremely manoeuvrable and is fitted with the highest level safety systems available.

“It is a quantum leap forward in all aspects and I must say it has been a collaborative effort between Queensland Transport and Main Roads, the National Transport Commission and mass management people. It has been a two year program that has come to fruition with so many benefits for everybody,” he says.

While this innovative concept will undoubtedly open new doors for the company, with obvious productivity benefits, it represents a high capital investment. But Brett says he is more than happy with the outcome and can see value increased in his business operations.
“It is vital to invest in the future, the freight task is continually growing and we must keep ahead of requirements by looking at how we can do things better.

“Road transport in this country is renowned for its innovative approach across all areas of freight movement but we cannot afford to be complacent. There must be a continual focus on bettering the manner in which we do things and the A-double is just one example,” Brett says.

The A-double is already proving an invaluable tool for South East Qld Hauliers and as a company concerned with the impact of trucking on the environment, Brett is well aware of reduced truck trips making a significant contribution.

“It is our responsibility to look at environmental issues too and by halving truck movements this is also a leap forward for the industry. This is another area where trucking has received more than its fair share of criticism, but we are very responsible in reducing emissions.”

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