In a bid to kickstart the economy post-COVID-19 prodigious government incentives have been designed to stimulate infrastructure projects. For a business like Hy-Tec Queensland, who had already been gearing up for future projects in the increasingly competitive infrastructure and civil construction sectors, they are well positioned to meet this demand thanks to opportune investments.
Hy-Tec, one of 19 respected brands within the ASX-listed Adbri Limited Group portfolio, operates pre-mix concrete plants throughout the east coast of Australia, as well as supplying aggregates and sands to the infrastructure, commercial, civil and residential construction sectors.
The company services South Australia, the Northern Territory and a broad swathe of the eastern seaboard including the capital cities of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney in addition to regional areas including northern New South Wales, Darling Downs, Townsville and southeast Queensland.
Like any forward-thinking business, Hy-Tec is continually striving to improve efficiencies and provide the best service to its customers. With the company’s vertically integrated business model it was a logical step to add cement haulage to Hy-Tec’s local offering.
As a result, Hy-Tec has established a fleet of pneumatic dry-powder tankers, drawn by Kenworth prime movers, to supply the cement that is a primary ingredient in the concrete it produces.
A vital element of researching the considerable capital purchase involved determining the total costs involved with not only the setup, but also the ongoing day-to-day running of the new assets.
The fact that the company is already involved with trucks in its primary business gives it a walk-up start. When it comes to making the decision on a significant capital equipment outlay, specifically a fleet of Kenworth conventional prime movers and Convair dry bulk tankers, past experience certainly counts.
Hy-Tec has traditionally prioritised agitator work over raw material supplies, leaving concrete haulage to other parts of the business.
“We could see an opportunity to be more competitive in our offering to customers, while also giving us better certainty over supply” Tony Jackson, Hy-Tec Logistics Manager – Queensland says.
“We put together the necessary documentation and business plan from our side and we used the Kenworth pricing as part of the plan. When it was approved we stuck with the Kenworth product. My feeling was that if we used a different product and it didn’t work out so well we’d be kicking ourselves. You pay a premium for the Kenworths, but I think you get that back when you sell them.”
Many Hy-Tec contract agitator drivers, according to Tony, swear by Kenworth trucks because they rarely break down, last a long time and have good resale value.
The proposal was for two semi-trailers and two B-doubles so the obvious choice was T410s for the singles and T610s for the doubles.
The Kenworth T410s are powered by PACCAR MX-13 engines rated at 460hp and coupled with PACCAR 12-speed automated manual transmissions (AMT), while the T610s sport Cummins X15 powerplants rated at 565hp driving through Eaton UltraShift-Plus 18-speed AMTs.
“So far it has been good and everything is going to plan,” Tony says – adding that the overall fuel economy of the Cummins-powered Kenworths is meeting expectations, while the MX-13-powered T410s with the PACCAR AMT on the integrated powertrain are also returning excellent fuel figures, which is an important factor for Hy-Tec.
Another key element with transport operations is driver acceptance, and in the case of the new Kenworths Tony reckons it is 100 per cent.
“The drivers love the Kenworths and have taken well to the AMTs – even those who have been long-time drivers of manually shifted trucks,” he says.
Tony is happy with the suite of safety features that have been optioned on the new trucks, an area Kenworth has shown great improvement in recent years.
“We had them specified with collision avoidance and lane departure warning systems and it definitely works well and the drivers are impressed with the way it all works,” he says.
While the company generally doesn’t specify its trucks with too much ‘bling’, Tony says he is pleased with the look of the new Kenworths with their white cabs and orange mudguards which match harmoniously with the Hy-Tec logo on the doors and trailers.
As for the distance they travel, the trucks load out of Sunstate Cement at the Port of Brisbane and deliver to batching plants as far west as Toowoomba, south to Burleigh Heads and north to Coolum, all within a 150km radius of Brisbane.
Each of the trucks is double-shifted and has two regular drivers which helps ensure the equipment is well taken care of.
The Convair tankers and the Kenworth trucks were sold to Hy-Tec by Brown and Hurley at Caboolture, which in addition to being the local Kenworth and DAF dealer has also built a trailer dealership at the same premises covering some big name brands of various trailer types including Convair pneumatic tankers.
The dealership also takes care of the servicing and maintenance of the combinations, and is a handy one-stop-shop for Hy-Tec.
“All the servicing of both the trucks and trailers is done by Brown and Hurley and they’re doing a really good job,” Tony says. “They are agents for the Convair trailers as well, so they carry the necessary parts and take care of any warranty work that’s required.”
The company, in regard to maintenance, is keen to find out from its own experience whether disc brakes on trailers provide a cost advantage over drums.
Accordingly, one of the B-double sets has been equipped with disc brakes as a trial to see how it stacks up in terms of performance and lining longevity compared to the other drum-braked unit.
Tony says he is as equally impressed with the Convair tankers as he is with the Kenworth trucks, and the fact that both products are manufactured in Australia is not lost on him.
He also made mention of the fact that the General Manager at Convair Engineering, Peter Swann, flew up to Brisbane and trained the drivers in the loading and unloading of the cement tankers.
“Half of the drivers we employed to operate the new units had no previous pneumatic tanker experience, so we really appreciated Peter’s help with this,” Tony says. “And the drivers who had previous experience said their eyes were opened as to ways they could do things better.”
As for the reasoning behind choosing Convair tankers, Tony says the company has been using them in its Victorian and South Australian operations for several years with great success.
“The general word around town is that Convair is at the pinnacle in the bulk cement tanker realm,” he says.
“Before I started looking into the tankers for our operation, I was under the impression Convair was a super-duper international company. They’re actually a small Victorian company doing a magnificent job.
“They’ve been very helpful – any issues have been promptly dealt with and they’ve offered various tips and information to help us get the best out of the tankers.
Tony says Convair was very helpful when it came to the design and spec of the tankers, guiding and advising Hy-Tec at every stage of the builds.
“Peter was really good at the planning stage – if we suggested something that we thought would work if he knew it wouldn’t, he would very politely say ‘we’ve tried that before and it didn’t work, so it’s not worth wasting your time going down that path.’ He came across in a way that really made a lot of sense. All up, it was a $2 million project, so we needed to get it right.”
As part of the business model for the new operation, the prime movers and tankers will reportedly have lifecycles of four and eight years, respectively.
“Even though they are double shifted they are not doing huge kilometres, probably around 120,000km per year,” Tony explains. “Although the engine hours will be a lot more because the engine runs the blower that discharges the cement. It’s not hard work though, and they run at about 1,100rpm to do that.”
All up, the diversification into cement haulage looks set to be a successful venture for Hy-Tec. Utilising top-shelf equipment including Kenworth trucks and Convair tankers – both of which are widely acknowledged as among the best in the business – is a sure-fire way to ensure an efficient and profitable operation over the long term.