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Going for Bulk

Page Last Updated Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

Article courtesy of Power Torque Magazine - February/March Edition

Bulk haulage can be a hard industry. With most payments made by the tonne, the incentive is there for operators to go in search of equipment that will allow maximum payload without sacrificing on strength.

Some operators have a different incentive though, with the emphasis more on the demand for bulk commodities than the dollars being made between the farm and the delivery point.

Waterfall Feedlot in Goomeri, QLD, is one of those operators that run trucks primarily as a way of ensuring reliable and efficient supply to support their main business. With the feedlot using over 100 tonnes of grain a day during busy times, reliable transport is imperative to the ongoing success of the business, and the wellbeing of the valuable livestock.

The latest addition to the fleet is a B-double set of Titan Thinwall aluminium belly-dump trailers, used to cart grain direct from farms to feedlot. The Thinwall design minimises tare weight by utilising aluminium throughout the design, including the suspension sub-frame on which steel axles are mounted. This removes the need for hydraulics on either trailer.

The Thinwall trailers have been doing the rounds for a little over two months, with Ken swapping an older set of Moore tippers for the new Thinwalls.

"They are easy, there's no doubt about that," Ken said. "There was a bit of transition period to get used to how everything worked. You've got to load them a little bit differently, and they're certainly different to unload".

Ease of operation aside, the Thinwall trailers are providing other benefits, including a significant increase in payload, with Ken saying, "I'm saving 4 tonnes in tare weight between Moore trailers and these, so that's an extra 4 tonnes of payload on every load. You don't have to be a mathematical genius to work out the difference".

At an average of five loads a week, Ken stands to move an extra 1000 tonnes a year, without doing any extra miles, and with no fuel penalty over the older trailers.

The Titan Thinwall Unibody Hopper Trailer design originates in Canada, where all-aluminium trailers are far more common than they are here in Australia. The design uses extruded, double walled, interlocking aluminium panels that are welded both sides to provide good strength in the side walls. This also provides a smooth wall surface, both internally and externally, allowing for a clean unload and easy washing of the trailers. The extruded walls also provide plenty of room to run electrical and air lines within the walls, making for a clean and tidy appearance while reducing the risk of damage.

The floor is made up of angled panels, which direct the load to the individual outlets, in much the same way as pressurised tankers, allowing for good weight spread and quick unloading over a pit.

In the case of Waterfall’s B-double combination, there are five individual compartments along the length of the trailers, with two chutes in the A-trailer and three in the B-trailer - behind the landing legs, ahead of the rear suspension, and between the rear axle and the back of the trailer.

Unloading time over the pit, as I witnessed, is remarkably fast. The tarps do not need to be partially opened to allow for airflow and avoid being sucked into the trailer when unloading, because of the vented internal divider walls. The rate of discharge can be controlled by how far the hatch is opened, and can be anything from a trickle to a rapid gush of product, depending on the capacity of the pit.

“It’s great having the electric, remote-operated hoppers, because you can stay out of the dust,” Ken pointed out. “You just stand back, press the button, and the thing opens up”.

The hoppers can also be operated manually, should an electrical fault occur, meaning an operator will never be stuck with a loaded trailer. Being electrically operated also eliminates the risk of potential contamination caused by burst hydraulic hoses.

The Thinwall trailers also feature easy-to-access aluminium ladders, and standing platforms to improve safety while loading. Using these platforms, it is easy to stand and watch the product being loaded, without the need to hang over the wall of the trailer and without the sore calf muscles caused by standing on a ladder for long periods of time.

In terms of productivity, the Canadian Thinwall design certainly has a lot to offer those looking for maximum payload, but it wins out in a few other areas as well.

With OH&S being one of the leading factors in new equipment purchases, the ease of operation, stability during unloading and the ability for an operator to be well clear of the dust zone are three very big boxes to tick. With all of the systems on the trailer being electrically operated, and the battery charged through the lighting circuit, there is no need for truck-mounted hydraulics, saving operators more dollars up-front, and a little more tare weight.

For the full article see Power Torque Magazine