Waste management company Ellwaste has long understood that versatile equipment is key to improving productivity in the field. So with the advent of the Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme, a new avenue opened for further productivity gains. Looking to add an extra hooklift container bin to each of their loads, Ellwaste called on the expertise of Freighter to conceive a new design. They were rewarded for their forward thinking, freeing up an extra day each week thanks to the new trailer.
Voted the ‘Best Trade Business’ at the 2004 Gannawarra Business Excellence Awards, it’s no surprise that Cohuna-based Ellwaste in Northern Victoria sees itself as an innovator in the waste industry, with recycling at the forefront of its operation. But the subsequent need to boost the performance of its fleet prompted the company to explore ‘left field’ options – including the concept of PBS, which factors in the trailer’s actual performance on the road instead of focusing on size and length only.
“For the past 10 years, we have talked about the concept of a larger skel trailer that could hold multiple hooklift container bins,” says Stephen Elliott, Operations Manager at Ellwaste. “We wanted it built in such a way that the vehicle would perform like a B-double combination, but handle like a single trailer, which wasn’t possible with a one-size-fits-all solution.”
Fascinated by the idea, Stephen deferred back to Ellwaste’s six-year partnership with Freighter. “At the beginning of 2010, I was in the process of signing off on a new B-double EziLiner combination we purchased from them. That’s when I began pitching some ideas to Brett Smith from our trailer dealership, MaxiTRANS Victoria, about a large skel trailer combination that could accommodate a hefty payload and maximise productivity,” he recalls.
“In response Brett mentioned the concept of PBS, which I’d heard about previously in regard to logging and quarry applications, and he took the concept to Freighter’s engineers. I was apprehensive at first because I didn’t really understand how it would apply to our industry, especially since we wanted our trailers to be as much as 25-metres long. We knew what we were asking for was a stretch, but Freighter’s team were more than willing to listen and eventually they educated us on how PBS would function within our new trailer.”
Those discussions continued as Stephen and Brett worked with Freighter’s engineers to perfect the design. Freighter also took care of the entire PBS application, dealing with the industry regulatory bodies to have the new vehicle approved. By January 2012, Freighter would have Ellwaste’s PBS-approved vehicle specced and ready for operation throughout not only northern Victoria, but also Melbourne, Bendigo, Maryborough and Swan Hill.
Looking back, Stephen says it was worth the effort to get their first PBS-approved trailer on the road, made all that much easier thanks to the help of the Freighter team. “Of course with PBS applications you have to factor in more than just the usual engineering work,” he says. “You have to reach certain benchmarks with regards to weight, length and performance; including acceleration, turning, frontal and tail swing, as well as trailer stability. We also knew that the design had to be equipped with PBS–tested tyres, so Freighter suggested fitting 11R sizes. Air-operated locking pins would also have to be incorporated into the design to lock the hooklift bins to the unit.”
In the end, Freighter would deliver upon Ellwaste’s 25-metre wish, producing a 15-metre six-axle dog skel, carrying two 6.1-metre hooklift bins with a capacity of 36-tonnes. To complete the combination, an existing Mack truck was fitted with another bin along with a 20-tonne hooklift.
The six-axle solution is based on a Meritor airbag suspension system to provide optimum driving performance. As Stephen points out, if a driver wants to perform a manoeuvre like turning or changing lanes, the trailer will effortlessly follow suit. “It gives us more stability on the road and keeps the bins in check. That kind of difference is evident especially when stopping or turning in tight spaces and on rough roads such as those found in and around transfer stations.”
According to Stephen, this type of combination is giving the company plenty of flexibility. “Now, the unit effectively increases productivity by 33 per cent. From two bins to three, we can increase the weight since the rigid and skel combination is classed as a single trailer,” he adds, noting that the vehicle has also altered the company’s work schedule.
“In addition, our operators have gone from a three-day trip of collecting waste from transfer stations, councils and private contractors down to just two days. In a five day week, we now have that extra day to pick up more jobs, and that’s where we see the value of PBS raising productivity levels.”
More than a year later, Stephen says the PBS-approved combination is just what Ellwaste needed to achieve the company’s objective for ‘boosting payload and creating more efficiency’. He says working closely with Freighter on the best possible solution was time well spent.
“The PBS approval process took some time to pass through VicRoads and the Truck Industry Council due to the length of the trailer and the fact that this combination was the first of its kind, but Freighter managed the entire application process, investing their own time into making sure our trailers were approved. Once the regulators gave it the all-clear we sent the combination straight into service,” he recalls.
“With the implementation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator this year, that PBS process will become much faster should we choose to add another combination, which we will strongly consider going forward given the success of the current one.
“Overall, the PBS scheme is about safely increasing productivity and creating efficiencies within the transport industry. With Freighter’s ingenuity and guidance, we managed to capitalise on these opportunities, ensuring Ellwaste will retain its reputation as an innovative company and leader in the waste and recycling industry.”