Bickleys schmick chick transporter

Live chicken hauler, Bickleys, has invested in a purpose-built Vawdrey flat-top road train set which is providing a significant boost in productivity under Performance-Based Standards in the five-to-six-day per week operation.

In what amounts to yet another Performance-Based Standards (PBS) success story that’s well outside the burgeoning truck and dog box, Goornong (VIC) based Bickleys Transport recently commissioned a high productivity road train comprising two 45’ Vawdrey semi-trailers linked by a tandem converter dolly to significantly enhance productivity in a role that was previously the exclusive domain of B-doubles.

Bickleys is a family-owned operation with a diverse and somewhat vertically integrated line of work, specifically involving the haulage of general haulage, hay and live chickens.

The company has a long-standing working arrangement with Lockwood-based Hazeldene’s Chicken Farm, a fellow family-owned enterprise that has been operating for more than 80 years.

“We’ve been transporting products for Hazeldene’s for over 30 years,” says Bickleys owner and Managing Director, John Bickley.

“About 15 years ago out of the blue they asked me to do a load of live chickens to help them out one night and from that one load we have gradually built up to between 20 and 25 B-double loads per night, depending on demand.”

In recent times, like many operators, John realised the potential benefits of PBS in the quest to increase productivity and set to work, with the help of Vawdrey, finding out what he could do to maximise payload capacity in his live chicken haulage operation.

“We initially discovered we could get two 40-foot trailers over the line without a worry, but the increase in payload didn’t justify the expense and all the hoops we had to jump through with PBS,” John says. “So, we decided to push the envelope and see if we could gain approval for two 45 footers.”

One of the main challenges with the design was an overall height restriction of 4.1m that goes hand-in-hand with the gross combination mass limit of 79.5 tonnes and overall length limit of 36m, but Bruno was able to meet this requirement using several features including low-profile tyres to achieve the desired low deck height with the trailers.

Other key features include a full complement of BPW axles riding on BPW air suspension, including self-steering units on the rearmost position of both tri-axle groups, and a tandem-axle converter dolly linking the two identical trailers.

John explains that the whole process took an entire year from inception to having the vehicle operating on the road, but that the massive effort and wait were well worth it.

He says the critical aspect was gaining approval from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and various road managers to operate the combination on designated routes in country Victoria at night, enabling it to transport chickens from a number of farms to the Hazeldene’s processing plant at Lockwood.

“I’m very, very happy with the outcome – it’s surpassed all my expectations,” John says. “The tracking of the combination is absolutely amazing, virtually the same as a B-double – within 100mm – which means it can easily access all the places where we load without a problem.”

In fact, route access-wise John says the main limiting factor compared to a B-double is the considerable payload advantage which necessitated specific route planning to avoid a couple of bridges that were deemed inappropriate for the extra weight.

The trailers were custom-built for the cargo with robust steel headwalls and freight locators welded to the floors which, along with straps, prevent the crates from moving under normal circumstances.

John has high praise for the design and manufacturing teams at Vawdrey, saying everything worked exactly as planned on the combination’s maiden voyage.

“It was pretty satisfying to see it loaded for the first time and everything working as it should,” he says. “I don’t think there are any other road train combinations doing this sort of work at this stage in Victoria and we hope to put another one on the road next year.”

With a payload capacity of 50 tonnes, around 25 per cent more than a B-double on Higher Mass Limits, Bickleys’ new chicken-carrying road train is a superb example of what can be achieved with co-operation between the NHVR, road managers, an ambitious operator and a switched-on trailer builder such as Vawdrey.

 

Fast Fact: Bickleys has relied on the far-reaching expertise of trailer builder Vawdrey to supply a road train set of trailers with a 50-tonne payload capacity used to haul live chickens.