Rising port cartage company, Clenton’s Transport, has been approved for its third A-double combination it confirmed this week.
The 85 tonne gross combination was approved by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for operation in the Sydney metropolitan area and involves having 30 amended routes to its original network.
Pulled by a new Volvo FM13 540, the trailer combination consists of two skels from Freighter with a new dolly fixture, marking a slight deviation in design from the five-axle dog trailer it had opted for previously.
Managing Director of Clenton’s Transport Jason Clenton disclosed the details of the latest high performance freight vehicle introduced to the fleet.
“This particular vehicle combination can go virtually anywhere across the city within reason,” he told Prime Mover.
“It’s been approved at 85 tonnes although the mass does vary according to the requirements of every road manager individually depending on the area we want to operate in,” said Clenton.
As every council road manager understands HPFVs differently, each application for consent is now tailored to reflect this before it goes through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Portal.
It also speeds up what can be a long approval process. Clenton knows from experience. His first A-double approval took the best part of 12 months.
“We’re finding efficiencies through those channels by working through local road managers and the RMS in order to gain direct access to the port. By doing that we are reducing the number of trips we would otherwise require with a single trailer or B-double,” he said.
He added, “We were the first business over 12 months ago to get road access from Port Botany to Smeaton Grange where our yard is.”
Based at Smeaton Grange, near Campbelltown, the A-doubles have access to the surrounding area and Minto which connects through a main corridor back to the port.
The approved road network for Clenton’s Transport spans Port Botany, Wetherhill Park, Horsley Park, Greystanes, Marsden Park and Penrith.
As the new Volvo FM13 features a smaller cabin it rides lower to the ground, a desired specification to improve visibility for drivers given the 30-metre long combination weighing up to 85 tonnes is traveling through the busy Sydney metropolitan area.
Of its many features the Lane Assist, Emergency Braking and EBS are considered compulsory for the kind of transit environment it is moving in.
Satellite tracking and dashcams, according to Clenton, are fitted to all commercial vehicles.
“By having the smaller cab we’re now much lower to the ground. To judge from the driver feedback that was an aspect which was both welcome and necessary,” he said.
“As it’s only two steps instead of three, for a big guy like me one less step is always good.”
Clenton, who operates the vehicles when he’s not in the office, confirmed the Volvo FM handles upwards of 70 tonnes easily providing European luxury and comfort.
“The set-up has been key to us. It all comes down to design from an engineering point of view,” he said.
“We work on that directly with the manufacturer prior to taking delivery. When it comes time to order a new one we always make sure that it’s got the right fuel pack.”
Being as that Clenton’s Transport operates six days a week, all year around, it’s important therefore to maximise use of the truck.
“By having a bigger fuel pack our productivity is increased and we’re not always en route to a service station. It’s one of the boxes I have to tick as I discuss delivery of our next Volvo which will be our tenth.”
Since they first embarked on operating HPFVs, Clenton’s has, in close collaboration with MaxiTRANS, changed the way its trailers are being designed.
The latest one has a recess chassis on the back of the lead and rear trailers so they can be interchangeable.
“By having the recess backend on each trailer we’re finding we have better access for turning circles and it gives us more flexibility especially in regard to sites with restricted access,” said Clenton.
“It gives us a better swing to turn these combinations. We’ve worked with the engineering department at Freighter within MaxiTRANS over a long period of time and we now spec up these designs with 3D images so we can cover every angle to weigh up what gains we’ll eventually have,” he said.
Clenton recalled on one diagram the where trailer combination would gain an extra 18 per cent swing by having the back of the trailer recessed proved persuasive.
“We still had the 40-foot pin in the right position but where you connect the trailer was recessed underneath with everything set back which enables a greater swing and more flexibility,” he said.
With the economy so consumer driven port cartage has, as can be expected, seen somewhat of a decline in recent months given the global impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As a business owner Clenton is confident it will turn around sooner rather than later.
“We have a stable government and that gives me confidence. I’m not scared to make investments in the business. We do this all the time.” he said.
“People try and paint the direction of the country in a really negative light and it needs to stop. I think people need to be more positive and as a company some of them will have to take a risk. A reward doesn’t normally come without a risk. I’m not scared of that and I am confident we’re being led in the right direction and that’s happening at the top through the Federal Government.”