Licence to Carry

Over the last 23 years CKC Haulage has built a solid reputation as a premium general freight transporter in Queensland. A newly acquired Isuzu FXR is helping the company expand its top-shelf service to customers.

It’s generally agreed that one of the pre-eminent keys to any successful venture is having the right tools for the task.

In the case of CKC Haulage, Managing Director Kevin Cooper acknowledges the vital role a group of smaller trucks play for his business in collecting the freight which is then consolidated onto B-doubles and roadtrains for the longer journeys.

Similarly, Kev says, when an item weighing six to eight tonnes needs to be transported over a long distance to a mine site, a suitably specified smaller truck such as the company’s new Isuzu FXR can be assigned the task.

For CKC Haulage, a number of Isuzus, of varying vintages and guises, has been performing these tasks admirably over the years. So it seemed only natural that the company would turn to Isuzu for its latest acquisition.

With depots in Brisbane, Townsville and Mackay, CKC Haulage prides itself on being a one-stop-shop for customers moving general freight from Brisbane to Far North Queensland and out to the mines in central Queensland.

The company transports just about anything from cartons, pallets, timber and steel to roofing, machinery, IBC tanks, floor coverings, tiles, pavers and shipping containers. It is also licenced to transport dangerous goods.

CKC Haulage has 18 items of trailing equipment including two dollies that enable roadtrain operation on the inland highway during busy times. The remainder are B-double compatible including curtainsided A trailers and flat-top B trailers. There is also a full curtainsided B-double with mezzanine decks.

There are six linehaul prime movers comprising five Macks and a Western Star, while the fleet of seven smaller trucks includes two 6×2 and three 4×2 Isuzus including the new FXR.

According to Kevin, Isuzu trucks have been a part of the operation since its inception. In fact, the first Isuzu five tonner the company bought second hand is still earning its keep at the Mackay depot today.

“I couldn’t tell you what model it is, but it is more than 25 years old. We bought it from a glass replacement company and put a tray body on it,” says Kev. “That was our first pickup truck in Brisbane. We’ve had such a terrific run from it that it seemed foolish not to keep buying Isuzus in later years. Isuzu is the pick of the Japanese trucks in my opinion. In terms of reliability and longevity you just can’t beat them.”

Given he uses the new FXR to regularly travel on gravel roads to mine sites, Kev had originally wanted a 4×2 eight tonner.

“This truck does a lot of dirt road running and coming back empty would tear the tyres off a tandem rear axle truck,” Kev says. “That’s why I wanted a single drive unit.”

The FXR 1000 is fitted with a 12-pallet tray body and according to Kev is ideal for transporting 6.5 tonne generators to the mines.

He mentions that hauling this amount of weight is a doddle for the FXR, thanks in part to highly respectable gross vehicle and gross combination mass limits of 16,500 and 36,000kg respectively. It’s also well-endowed in the grunt department, with the 9.8-litre six sporting respective power and torque outputs of 345hp (257kW) and 1,049lb/ft (1,422Nm).

The transmission is a ZF nine-speed synchromesh unit with a repeat H shift pattern and a super-low crawler ratio of 9.48:1. At the other extreme, ninth gear is a 0.75:1 overdrive.

This feeds into a Meritor drive axle with a ratio of 4.55:1 and a 10,400kg capacity, supported by multi-leaf main and helper spring packs. An important standard inclusion that’s handy when negotiating muddy mine sites is the driver-controlled diff lock. The steer axle is also Meritor and boasts a 6.6-tonne capacity with suspension by way of taper leaf springs.

Another useful feature of the Isuzu FXR, according to Kev, is the 22.5 inch wheels which take the same 11R22.5 drive tyres as the prime movers.

Further features that make life more comfortable for drivers of the FXR are the coil sprung cab suspension and Isri 6860 air suspended seat with integrated seatbelt.

There’s also cruise control and anti-lock braking, front and rear stabiliser bars, a driver’s airbag and seatbelt pretensioners.

While Kev concedes it’s only early days, he is, nevertheless, very pleased with the operational performance of the FXR so far and says his drivers love driving it, too.

“I particularly like the fact that it doesn’t need Adblue and doesn’t have a diesel particulate filter (DPF) that needs to be burned at regular intervals,” he says. “I think that is a real selling point of these larger Isuzus.”

As for accessories, Kev says he had a number of extras fitted for protection of the drivers and truck during operation over long distances to mines in the unforgiving Queensland outback.

“We fitted the usual bullbar, stoneguard and sunvisor as well as rotating beacon lights attached to roof-mounted racks,” he says.

The company employs 15 drivers altogether, with three local drivers who share the longer distance driving of the FXR to the mine sites. Kev says he has a good crew of drivers with most willing to go the extra mile when required.

CKC Haulage was founded by Kev about 23 years ago when he bought a semi-tipper truck and started working for Aztec which was owned by Boral at the time.

“That work died off, so I swapped to pulling fridge vans for a while, but because I’d been around general freight for most of my life, I thought bugger it, I’ll give that a go,” Kev says.

That was effectively the genesis of the current business and according to Kev, growth came organically with bits and pieces here and there until the company just got bigger.

Interestingly, most of the company’s linehaul work today involves backloading scrap metal from North Queensland, which Kev says ensures the efficiency of the operation.

“A lot of people don’t want to touch scrap, but we’ve been doing it for 20-odd years without too much drama,” he says – adding that it’s the reason why the company operates mostly flat-tops with gates as second trailers on its B-doubles and roadtrains.

Kev cites consistent and honest communication with clients as key to the success of CKC Haulage, and it’s for this reason that he doesn’t want to grow too big and lose the personalised service that the company offers.

“If we can’t send a truck for some reason, we ring the client and let them know as soon as we can,” he says. “There’s nothing worse in their eyes than a truck not turning up when they’re expecting it.”

He concurs that dependability and consistency in customer service go hand-in-hand with utilising equipment that can be relied upon to deliver the goods day in and day out.

With the majority of CKC Haulage’s medium-duty truck fleet – proudly headed by its new flagship FXR – comprised of the ever-reliable Isuzu brand, the company has this aspect of its operations well and truly sorted.