“We’ve seen live bottom trailers before, but never used them. They’ve been around for years but they were never cost effective enough and couldn’t carry the load we needed them to,” explains Kevin Murphy, owner of Victoria-based transportation firm Spudo Haulage.
The company specialises in delivering a range of asphalt and quarry products throughout the state, and has historically stuck with the traditional truck and dog trailer combinations common to the transportation industry.
However, as the availability of high-quality live bottom units in the Australian market began to expand through the growth of manufacturers, so too did industry demand for the product.
“We’ve been working with Fulton Hogan in Melbourne and they asked us to start looking at live bottom trailers as they’re going in that direction because they’re so much safer,” says Mr. Murphy.
Fulton Hogan Southern Region’s fleet of asphalt sub-contractors currently include five state-of-the-art Trout River manufactured live bottom trailers, which, according to Peter Curl, Fulton Hogan’s General Manager Industries – Southern Region, are fast becoming the new industry standard.
“Over a year ago we started to incentivise our sub-contractors to move to live-bottom vehicles with rebates as we recognised there were a number of inherent safety benefits in using them on our sites,” explains Mr. Curl.
“Live bottom trailers have a significantly reduced risk of contacting live overhead power lines or roll over of the trailers while tipping. The fact they require fewer truck movements to unload also ensures improved safety on the job site as they don’t require drivers to unhook trailers on site.
“In turn, this benefits the business by allowing for greater productivity and improved logistics,” he adds. “This new live bottom design has been so successful that Fulton Hogan are now encouraging all sub-contractors to move to these trailers in the near future.”
Spudo Haulage is one such Fulton Hogan sub-contractor to take up the benefits of live bottom trailers. It investigated different manufacturers around the country, ultimately deciding on Victoria-based firm Trout River Australia. “We heard about Trout River through word of mouth and through recommendations from Fulton Hogan. Pretty much they had the only live bottom floor capable of doing what we need them to do,” explains Mr. Murphy. “Rod Wells [Trout River Australia General Manager] ran us through what the options were on the trailers and we went with pretty standard units.”
Spudo Haulage took delivery of two 28-foot tandem live bottom trailers from the Hallam-based manufacturer in May this year. Mr. Murphy says the company hasn’t looked back since.
“They are fantastic. The build quality on Trout River is second to none,” he says. “The paint work is spot-on and there are no external parts that can be knocked off them.
“Our truck and dog combinations are always getting damaged, especially on the sides, because of the close proximity required when unloading onto other machines.”
Mr. Murphy says the live bottoms mitigate the dangers associated with material transfer using tippers as the operator no longer needs to worry about power lines, overhanging trees or even getting covered in material in process.
“With your typical tipper, the operator can sometimes get covered in asphalt, oil and other material being moved. The live bottoms keep the guys so clean they could wear a suit if they wanted.”
Spudo Haulage’s two live bottom units are fitted with working lights either side of the tub.
“Because we do a lot of airport work and a lot of night jobs, they light up the area for our guys as well as any traffic passing by,” explains Mr. Murphy. “It’s also got cameras at the back so we can see the product being fed into the machines, and a camera on top so we can see how much material is left in the trailer.”
The company is utilising the new live bottoms for everything from hauling sand and asphalt to raw quarry materials, as well as major infrastructure projects around Victoria. It even has another unit on order with Trout River.
“We’re doing part of the Monash Freeway upgrade for Fulton Hogan at the moment and we’re out there every day. These trucks are so unbelievably easy to operate – you can get in, unload, and out again quickly and safely,” he says. “Our operators have always had truck and dog combinations. Now, they’re pretty much fighting over who gets to drive the live bottoms. We’re getting such a great payload on them for what they are. I won’t be going back to truck and dog trailers.”