West Australian tank manufacturer, Tanks West, is finding the advantages of having UD Trucks in their fleet.
Faced with some of the toughest conditions in Australia, Tanks West require high performance vehicles to get the job done, with country work on dirt roads pushing the usually city-bound medium duty trucks to the limit.
“Most of our trucks basically go out through the country, probably a good 90 per cent of the time, and they would spend about 40 per cent of their lives on dirt roads,” said Tank West’s Stephen Thompson.
“We leave our local metropolitan deliveries to couriers. Our own trucks are really long haul trucks and they cover all of West Australia. We go as far as Port Headland, Broome, Esperance, through the Gold Fields, Pilbra, stations, mine sites, everything,” Mr Thompson said.
In operation now for 20 years, Tanks West produce a wide range of products, from water tanks, liquid fertiliser storage, chemical storage, aquaculture, and custom design tanks, for rural, mining, industrial and domestic use at its Canning Vale premises.
Tanks West currently have five UD MK 280s in their fleet, and are looking to run a complete UD fleet with the addition of two further vehicles in 2013.
Thompson says that the standard six-speed manual is the transmission of choice, with long highway stretches the norm. “It's got plenty of torque, so out on the open highway it just cruises along at 100km/h. If you've got a bit of a head wind you might have to drop it into fifth, but with a tailwind you're fairly well laughing,” he said.
All of the various tanks are built on site, with systems in place to ensure time certain and hassle free delivery. “We make to order, we don't make stock,” Thompson said.
“The trucks come in, they load their own gear. They use forklifts to load but can manually unload by hand on site with loading ramps. There are special techniques to offload. There's no forklift, we just roll them off the back and flip them into place. There's no weight in them, they're a big bag of air, so they just roll off. It usually takes about 45 minutes, and then they go off to the next delivery point,” said Mr Thompson making the process sound easy.
Tank West use special lightweight trailers and the whole combination with the truck and pig trailer is 19 metres long. For Tank West, it’s not weight that is the issue: it’s more the height and wind resistance of the tanks that affects the trucks’ performance.
Stephen Thompson says that the company drivers think highly of the UDs.
“Some of the drivers we've got have been with us for 10 years, they've had all sorts of trucks. We've even had the old UDs, the MK 235s back in the mid-1990s. Now we've jumped back in with UD again and it's been good. We're very happy,” he concluded.