White line fever
Scania commercial vehicles have been a major force in ushering in improvements for safety and comfort in the transit of goods and freight. But it’s also providing solutions for booming infrastructure businesses like Image Linemarking as it retains the newest equipment and machinery so that it can meet the long hours required of it on major projects in Victoria.
To support a new water blasting machine sourced from the United States in 2010, Image Linemarking purchased a twin steer P400 8x4 LB. The first of six commercial vehicles it has bought from Scania, the truck, is reportedly still going strong for the Melbourne-based infrastructure company.
Formed in March 1998 by Managing Director Craig Riley, Image Linemarking is a specialty player in linemarking, roadmarking and road construction – areas Craig has been involved in for the past 35 years. Six of those years were spent working in the Traffic Linemarking section of VicRoads across all regions of the state, building roads and managing linemarking companies.
Previous to establishing his own linemarking business, Craig worked for eight years in the private sector. Notwithstanding regular subcontractors, the company employs 25 full time staff and works major infrastructure projects across Melbourne with small to medium size construction companies, local shires and councils.
At present, the Image Linemarking portfolio includes major upgrades to City Link, the Monash Freeway, the Tullamarine Freeway, remaking the entire Eastlink network, the current Westgate Tunnel project and Hoddle Street Package B.
In 2013, a second Scania, a P360 LB 6x4, was acquired for its growing thermoplastic market. By the following year a Scania P280 4x2 was added to meet the growing demand for smaller construction, including contract work for shires and councils. It also has been utilised for the application of thermoplastic linemarking, which is fast becoming a commonly accepted alternative to paint markings, given its longevity. Continued growth in the construction sector soon prompted the company to purchase its second P360 6x4 MNA.
“In 2018 business had grown to the point that we had to increase its capacity once again with a third P360 to keep up with the demand,” says Craig. “At the time that made it our fifth purchase from Scania but we have since taken delivery of a P410 4x2 prime mover which will be used to move around the newest of our water blaster machines.”
This month the company takes delivery of a P320 6x4. Its main application will be predominantly to provide black thermoplastic used to black out redundant road markings and to create the rumble strip on the edge of the road.
Scania commercial vehicles, according to Craig, are the backbone of the Image Linemarking business. Aside from delivering the machines and staff to site safely, the trucks run around the clock – day and night – providing lighting, warning lighting and directional arrows boards for the travelling public to navigate the sites safely and, what’s more, to supply a continuous supply of hot material for linemarking machines.
Kettles fitted to the tray – there are two – contain around 1.5 tonne of material of thermoplastic which is heated to around 200 degrees celsius. Thermo extrusion involves the placement of the material by an extruded machine, not unlike a corkscrew, which spirals the hot material on a chip seal although the application works on almost any surface.
The molten material is tested beforehand to ensure it isn’t too runny or solid but rather reaches a flow point so once it leaves the head it cures before it actually hits the road. These finer details in the testing will predetermine if a line is going to be good or bad. Pallets of stock sit on the tray in front of the kettles. There are also safety accessories including wash units and a compartment for tools.
The majority of the Scania commercial vehicles have been built-for-purpose in accordance with that format.
Commercial Manager Damien Robertson says the output determines the size of the kettles the trucks are responsible for moving.
“The larger kettles require the Scania P380 and are generally more effective and efficient on bigger projects such as freeways,” he says. “Naturally because of the volume of lines we go through a lot more material on those jobs.”
It’s a continual process. For a contract like the Monash Freeway project, on any given shift Image Linemarking are running two large trucks paired with buggies. When a kettle is emptied the driver will go back to the buggy that runs on the back of the truck, dump the material into his kettle and repeat the process. The lines are computerised when they are applied on the road.
In any single shift, Image would go through between 10-14 tonnes of material. It’s a lot of material, considering the kettles would probably hold only 350 to 400 kilos. That means repeat fills especially on return trips down a section of freeway. Craig refers to the Scania as the “working mules” of the operation.
“We particularly appreciate the lack of downtime these vehicles have afforded the business,” he says. “It only takes one phone call and within half an hour a Scania service operator arrives to provide a professional solution to the problem.”
Image chooses Scania as its preferred supplier of trucks largely due to the ease of operation and strength.
“Our newest model coming in June 2019 is the P320-6x4 which we have hand picked for its suitability for the task intended” says Craig. “Once the P320-6x4 arrives we will be adding approximately $200,000 worth of equipment onto the tray. The installation of two new Hoffman Kettles valued at $80,000 each is the biggest alteration the P320 will have added to make it fit for purpose for Image’s needs.”
He adds, “The P320 is ideal for this pivotal key role within Image’s fleet and Image couldn’t imagine having any other than a Scania truck out front towing our thermoplastic fleet.”
Working long shifts at night, on major projects, determines that safety remains a priority for Image Linemarking. There was never any question the company would look past the Scania New Generation commercial vehicles, according to Craig, with its most recent delivery.
“When you are comfortable with something and believe you’re on a winner why change?” he says. “Picking out the next Scania truck wasn’t the issue for us. It was finding the model best suited to our current needs and the P320-6x4 was soon identified as the vehicle that would satisfy our requirements. Safety is Image Linemarking’s number one priority and the safety benefits of owning and driving the Scania regardless of the model is paramount to my employees.”