Since 1993 South West Express has led the way, identifying and adopting new technologies and practices that have continually improved the quality, flexibility and value we have delivered our clients. Some of the innovative technologies and practices that create real value for our clients include the use of multi temperature zone loading trailers, real-time GPS telemetry, and pocket road trains.
Today we are continuing the push for a safer, more reliable and more sustainable refrigerated transport service, which we know can only be achieved through innovative breakthroughs that will change the way we operate.
Pocket Road Trains
A pocket road train is simply a shortened version of a standard two trailer road train which operate in most regional areas of Western Australia. A standard road train can operate up to a total combined length of 36.5 metres, however for operations within the majority of the Southwest, this length has been limited by regulation to 27.5 metres, hence the term “Pocket” road train.
Amongst other changes, South West Express has the wheel bases to our Scania prime movers shortened pre-delivery, which enables South West Express to run a 16 and 20 pallet trailer combination whilst still remain compliant with this 27.5 metre total length requirement. Together totalling 36 pallet spaces in this combination, South West Express gains an extra 2 pallet space capacity over the traditional B-Double (a 5.9% productivity improvement). In addition to this, the pocket road trains deliver an increased load capacity of around 10 tonne per unit in comparison to the traditional 34 pallet B-Double, due to the additional of two extra axles.
This combination of different trailer capacities (16 & 20) is also more compatible to the differing individual store loads volumes that (with planning), has significantly reduced
The previous requirement to perform double drops to stores each day. Unlike a B-Double, both trailers in our pocket road train combinations are completely interchangeable from dog to lead trailer, giving South West Express even greater flexibility in service provision. Due to less moving parts, such as the required load sliding mechanism on a B-Double, the pocket road trains operate on a lower trailer tare weight. Additional to this, the pocket road trains track significantly better when cornering causing less wear and tear on suspension systems and tyres. These facts significantly enhance the longevity of the equipment and reduce their overall operational costs, producing savings that South West Express can then pass onto our customers.
Another unique benefit to this configuration is the ability to incorporate a 12 pallet sliding B-Double trailer, either at the front or in-between the two pocket road train trailers, for use on routs which cater for 36.5 meter application. This configuration is termed a C train and increases the capacity to 48 pallets. This ability provides for 3 separate trailers catering for 7 temperature zones in one truck movement. This has many advantages including the ability to cater for seasonal volume spike increases. Which minimises the use of extra prime movers requiring additional staff or sub-contractors.
In 2008, it was recognised that some pocket road train combinations in WA, posed on road stability issues due to inconsistent spacing’s between front axle of the lead trailer and rear axles of the converter dolly. Main Roads at the time gave notice that all pocket road trains needed to modify and comply with a minimum of 8 meters between triaxle lead trailer and a bogie axle converter dolly. In most cases this would have increased to overall length to greater than 27.5 meters. Subsequent to industry consultation this requirement was shelved due to the onerous consequences of potentially grounding several hundred pocket road trains servicing the South West of WA. South West Express has been proactive in developing spread axle dollies and 16 pallet bogie axle trailers which comply with the proposed dimensions increasing from the standard 1200mm spread to 2000mm. As a consequence SWE has not only noticed massive increases in stability but is also well prepared for any future Main Roads requirements which may pose a dimensional noncompliance.
South West Express 7 temperature Zone C train Ready for action
Through processes of careful engineering and consultation, South West Express has been able to adjust the positioning of trailer kingpins, modify the positioning and spacing’s of individual axles, axle groups and wheel bases, in order to comply with these regulatory requirements. Through these processes South West Express has been able to achieve these desired load capacity outcomes, whilst remaining within the required 27.5 metres overall combination length.
South West Express was the first refrigerated transport company to commission 36 pallet Pantechnicon pocket road train combinations in Western Australia. This is due to our understanding of, and preparedness to work within, the guide lines set by the Western Australian Departments of Main Roads and the Western Australian Department of Planning and Infrastructure.
Multi Temperature Zone Trailers
Traditionally, loading and unloading refrigerated transport required a great deal of planning. With a single refrigeration unit at the front of the trailer keeping the frozen goods frozen, and cool air making its way back through the trailer to fresh and dry goods.
In order to meet the requirements of our clients for flexibility in loading and scheduling approximately half of the South West Express fleet has been configured to support three different temperature zones within the trailer,
This approach offers, total flexibility in vehicle utilisation through the establish up to three fully isolated and independently temperature controlled compartments per trailer. These can be loaded in any order required to facilitate specific customer needs in unloading (freezer, chiller or ambient).
Another key advantage of Multi Temped trailers, is their ability to control the temperature along the full length of the trailer. This is advantage is most evident when transporting a full load of frozen goods. While conventional chillers may have struggled to control the temperature along the full length of a trailer, South West Express’s multi temped trailers handle this requirement with ease.
Cutting emissions, costs and noise pollution with electric refrigeration
Conventional trailer refrigeration units are consume more fuel, make more noise and are less reliable than current generation electric refrigeration units.
This is why at South West Express, we only purchase refrigeration units for trailers that are capable of being placed on electric standby. This approach means that when ever a trailer is parked at a depot for an extended period of time, they are plugged in to either mains or solar power which is more efficient, and produces only a fraction of the emissions that an idling truck would. In the event of a power outage, the refrigeration unit automatically switch over to the on board diesel motor, which drives the on board generator.
This procedural stance by South West Express has not only reduced the overall running costs of these refrigeration plants while storing refrigerated goods, but has also reduced our carbon foot print.
Solar Cold Storage
Operating a cold storage facility takes a lot of power. With the cost of electricity increasing the installation of a commercial grid connect photovoltaic (PV) system made both economic and environmental sense. This is why in 2014 South West Express installed a 24KW grid connect photovoltaic (PV) system at our Bunbury depot.
Today, this solar power system generates 34% of the total power consumed at the Bunbury Depot and will generate an average ROI of 27% per year over the 25 year projected life of the system.
Based on current conditions, this will save an estimated 31 tons of carbon emissions/annum.
This exercise once again demonstrates South West Express’s commitment to reducing it’s environmental foot print.
South West Express has established recycling procedures within all of our business operations and locations. All plastic wrap and cardboard waste produced within our operations is collected at specific points within each depot and is delivered directly to recycling organisations.
Supporting our clients recycling efforts
We also recognise that the logistical headache that recycling can be for many of our clients, with too many businesses deciding to send recyclables to landfill because it is “too hard“. This is why we work closely with many of our clients to collect and store their recyclables at our depots, where they can be then transported in bulk to the appropriate recycling depots.
Separating the waste streams
Where services are available for use, South West Express utilises Council based recycling options to actively participate in the recycling of all other recyclable products such as glass and aluminium.
All waste oil products are collected from service contractors on site in Bunbury and are also presented to recycling companies for processing.
All work activities within South West Express are constantly scrutinised to ensure that the use of all consumable products such as shrink wrap is kept to a minimum, to ensure that all waste is minimised or eliminated from our work place.
Hybrid Drive Vehicles
South West Express has also been examining in detail the utilisation of the now available Hybrid Diesel vehicles for utilisation within our fleet of small distribution vehicles.
The stance of South West Express is to at the first opportunity to trial one of these vehicles in application, and to then (if these trials are successful), initiate a system of rolling these hybrid vehicles into our fleet in line with current small vehicle replacement programs.
Current vehicles available are to a maximum of 8.5 tonne GCM. As such, these Hybrid vehicles are only compatible to replace our current fleet of 3 small distribution vans when needed. As larger capacity vehicles become available, further application and utilisation avenues can be examined and implemented.