Prime Mover Magazine

Eastbound and Down on West

Eastbound and Down on West

Graymore Couriers has expanded operations in recent years. Its alliance with the Detroit-powered Western Star has been instrumental in helping it meet a growing freight task along the enormous length of the Australian Eastern seaboard.

A $20,000 bank loan was enough to see Ross Moorcroft kick-start a small company delivering newspapers around the Brisbane metro area back in 1999.

He had the one van. Nearly 20 years later his company Graymore Couriers works with multinational companies moving general freight as far north as Cairns with a fleet that includes 14 prime movers, nine rigid trucks and nine vans.

It landed work through Followmont Transport, one of its major clients, soon after and it proved something of a tipping point in broadening the business as it proceeded to add magazines to the deliveries it made into newsagents recalls Ross.

But by 2008 digital media online had begun to eat into the wider circulation of physical news media.

At the time Graymore Couriers had already invested in its first heavy vehicles. The trucks, according to Ross, freed up his business to consider product and client diversification. 

“Once we started doing linehaul it led to general freight and that in turn led to other work like moving bricks out of Bundaberg.”

Those same bricks were bound for Japan. Before Ross knew it, Graymore Couriers was a player in a local supply chain with international range.

Although newsprint is still a focus of the business, Ross confirms that his company now moves aluminium billet and ingot from Boyne Smelters near Gladstone into Brisbane and Melbourne.

On the return journey Ross says they transport promotional pamphlets according to concessional mass limits (CML) of 38 tonnes out of Melbourne back up into Queensland on B-doubles pulled by his fleet of Western Star trucks.

“I have a range of Western Stars which vary from my first purchase, a 2006 model to the very latest model,” he says. “They’re a tough and durable truck and they need to be given we’re running up to 14 B-doubles from Cairns right down the Eastern Seaboard.”

This includes the older series Western Star 4800 through to the latest Western Star 5800 with the DD15 Detroit engine. It’s traditional linehaul with no need to unhitch any trailers.

“They go straight through to Melbourne where they are unloaded and reloaded before they come back up the Newell Highway, as near to maximum mass of between 38 and 40 tonne, into Brisbane.”

It’s a commitment of five days a week for the drivers.

On average, Ross says the Western Star trucks, even at a heavy mass limit (HVL) of 41 tonnes are delivering a fuel burn that has exceeded expectations.

Graymore Couriers also runs bricks into the mines such as BMA at Moranbah, Coppabella and the Kestrel mine at Emerald in remote Central Queensland.

In 2012 they purchased a Western Star specifically for the purposes of a nightly linehaul freight run for a client in the industrial town of Gladstone on Queensland’s central coast.

“We found a niche as a linehaul specialist for a few of the multinationals and it’s escalated from there,” Ross says.

Most of the B-doubles are monitored using Future Fleet for its Global Positioning System (GPS).

Telematics is something he has only started using on the latest Western Star 5800, which he is currently leasing as part of a trial. As the vehicles increase in mileage he anticipates that leasing, mainly for maintenance purposes, will likely be an option better suited to the needs of the business.

“I don’t think there’s much advantage leasing when the truck is in its infancy which is to say under 200,000 kilometres I suppose,” Ross says. “But when they start getting up in age your maintenance bill starts getting up a little bit. It makes your day-to-day expenses flatten out which is preferable to having sudden highs and lows.”

According to Ross he’s interested in the data telematics can reveal in regards to fuel economy, speed alerts and the braking patterns of the drivers. Of the 50 full time staff at Graymore Couriers, 45 are drivers.

“We run a pretty lean office staff. We subcontract some of our mechanics. Because we are running shifts seven days a week we need to schedule drivers for all of that.”

Moving forward he already has some ideas of how he might introduce telematics among the drivers.

“The way to go seems to be starting up a competition between the drivers for best fuel economy,” he says. “You start spreading the news around about who is doing what and you see what happens. It’ll soon take care of itself.”

Despite having his own in-house mechanics and no need for servicing from Penske, Ross says the appointment of a new parts sales manager on their behalf has proven an immense help to his business. Two months ago Penske established a delivery service for parts, which Graymore Couriers, according to Ross, has been quick to adopt.

“They’ve organised a service delivery which is a major help,” he says. “It saves one of our drivers an hour and a half going out to Wacol and back and that’s the sort of convenience you can’t beat. I keep going back.”

Ross says he has a truck “in need of some freshening up” undergoing an engine rebuild at the moment. Enter the Western Star 5800, with the 565 horsepower Detroit engine, which has been picking up some of the slack.

“It’s a brilliant truck. The comfort is great and so is the ultra-shift automatic transmission,” he says. “Because of the set-back front axle on it the turning circle is brilliant. It makes reversing B-doubles that much easier.”

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