Finding the Best Balance
A proven specialist in transporting sensitive freight on rugged terrain, Coogee Chemicals is a strong advocate of solid craftsmanship and sturdy vehicle design. Hence it is no surprise the company’s latest fleet addition, a Byford-built double road train, was specced to last as well.
Established in Rockingham Beach just south of Perth, Coogee’s road transport fleet has to transport what is classified as ‘dangerous freight’ in some of the harshest environments on earth – so every piece of transport equipment bearing the acquainted ‘CC’ logo must be able to take a hit or two over the course of its service life and still provide the same high level of safety. Since July 2012, when Coogee acquired Brisbane-based Chlor-alkali business Elite Chemicals from GE Corporation, the privately owned company is also servicing the Queensland market, an environment that can be equally challenging as WA – especially in the hinterland. To expand the company’s local fleet, Coogee therefore added a custom-built Byford double road train to the mix – designed to provide the right balance between ruggedness, weight and modern safety technology.
“As critical as it is to have the latest technology on board of a tanker, when you are transporting dangerous chemicals, safety is still the most important aspect,” says Steve Connor, Coogee’s Transport Manager in Queensland. “And in our business, safety and stability go hand in hand.”
As in every transport business, payload is key to every purchasing decision, so Coogee tried to maximise the size of the combination while avoiding any compromise on safety and accessibility. “At a first glance, it’s a simple equation – if you want to carry more, select the largest tanker possible,” says Steve. “But there’s more to it. Obviously the focus on safety, but also including modern technology and staying within the framework of Queensland road restrictions, making it somewhat of a challenge to find the right equipment.”
To guide the team at Coogee through the local regulation jungle and find the right vehicle for the job, Steve entrusted Byford Equipment with building the new combination. “The bigger the combination, the more it limited it is in terms of accessibility,” he says. “That’s why we wanted Byford to specifically build us a double road train. A triple would have made sense if we only had one client and one route to cover, but we needed the extra flexibility.”
With a combined total of 24,500 litres in one compartment, Byford found what Steve would call “the ideal compromise” between flexibility, size and payload. “Its primary use is to freight sulphuric acid, which is used in a wide range of applications including batteries and cleaning agents. Because sulphuric is a highly corrosive product, the tanker barrel was constructed of 6mm stainless steel,” Steve says. “In addition, the pipes and pumping system installed have improved the flow when we load and unload the acid.”
To ensure maximum safety, Byford also installed emergency pump switches located on both front and rear of each tanker. “These pump stops are mandatory on all our tankers,” Steve says. “We also use a system connected to the brakes – when they are not on, the safety handrails located on the tanker barrel won’t operate, which means the pumping system cannot function.” To ensure the combination is ready to be used in outback Queensland, Coogee opted for a heavy-duty axle and suspension layout and drum brakes from BPW. “We’ve only ever fitted drum brakes on our tankers, as we believe they can handle the heavy loads and the debris from the dirt roads better than disc brakes,” Steve says, revealing that he ordered a second set only three weeks after the first unit arrived.
In fact, the performance of both road trains has now prompted him Steve to consider bringing more units on board over the next 12 months. “Our drivers enjoy the ease of control and the sturdiness of the tankers. There’s not a lot of rattling, particularly once they hit Queensland’s dirt roads,” he says. At the moment, Coogee’s Queensland division operates 16 prime movers, eight B-double combinations and two triple road trains. The addition of the double road trains marks the first time the company has done business with Byford, but according to Steve, that’s only just the beginning.
“Byford have proven they understand where we’re coming from. As a WA business we are used to running sturdy equipment, but we also need something that will work within the local Queensland legislation and meet our payload target as well. Byford managed to find the right balance and help us bring more flexibility to our new operation.”