B-quad breaks barriers for road transport
AUSTRALIA has its second B-quad combination and South Australia its first with South Australian company Symons Clark Logistics earlier this month taking delivery of its first B-quad combination from Southern Cross Trailers.
Symons Clark will operate the new combo for Virginia Farm Produce, running daily between Bordertown in southeastern South Australia and Adelaide.
Carrying fresh produce - predominantly potatoes and onions - it will run five and sometimes six days a week, covering approximately 800 kilometres on each return journey.
Southern Cross Trailers' sales manager Andrew Schipper said the new B-quad is a "significant national milestone" for the road transport industry.
"This is the first of the next generation of high- productivity freight vehicles to be approved for operation in Adelaide, so it is a significant 'barrier breaker' for local councils and road authorities," he said.
Because of its impressive length, the B-quad is mostly limited to road train routes although Symons Clark has been able to negotiate approval from local road managers to use additional arterial roads on its route.
Each trailer in the combination runs a triple-axle configuration and three of the four - the first three behind the prime mover - are identical and therefore interchangeable. The rearmost trailer is unique.
This newest trailer configuration is being billed as one of the country's most ultra-efficient truck and trailer combinations with a load capacity roughly equivalent to two B-doubles, but running costs not much higher than one.
Because of that, the B-quad promises higher productivity and, with four trailers, fewer trucks on the road.
In terms of load capacity the B-quad was designed to carry 50 pallets distributed across its four trailers in a 10-10-10-20 configuration or 100 with a mezzanine floor option, well ahead of the 44 pallets that could be carried by two B-doubles.
Symons Clark Logistics' Jason Clark said the B-quad also wins hands-down over the B-double again in terms of tonnage. With a gross combined mass of 110 tonnes (with Kenworth's K200 prime mover doing the lugging) it is estimated the four-trailer unit gains an extra 30 tonnes of payload compared to a B-double.
Phil Ramos, Southern Cross Trailers' Performance-Based Standards expert, said the B-quad was designed to meet the growing demand of businesses without compromising existing infrastructure and roads.
PBS vehicles have been instrumental in improving road safety with the combination engineered and tested to conform to all requirements, resulting in a sophisticated heavy vehicle combination with superior trailing, tracking and roll-over resistance.
To that end, Symons Clark Logistics has opted to run SAF-Holland electronically- controlled disc brakes and road-friendly suspension across the combination.
Jason Clark is not measuring the new B-quad in pallets or tonnes though.
For him it's all about produce bins and the company's new toy can carry almost double the capacity of its B-double predecessor, between 64 and 68 of them compared to the 32 carried on a B-double.
"Realistically we're looking at a 40 per cent overall gain in efficiency or a 40 per cent reduction in truck movements so it is definitely a good thing for everyone involved in the supply chain," Jason said.
"For road users and the general public there are a lot less road movements for the same amount of freight being moved and the equipment is all state-of-the-art so it's really positive from a road safety perspective."
The B-quad combination makes for a big footprint, the Kenworth and four tri-axle trailers standing 36.5 metres nose to tail, the same length as a road train.
Travelling into largely uncharted waters also raises the question of how the prime movers will cope with the extra mass and higher load potential, and whether or not a lower final drive ratio will be needed.
Jason Clark said the Symons Clark Kenworth's driveline is, at this stage, largely unmodified, although the Cummins engine has been upgraded to deliver 600-plus horsepower to better handle the task of pulling four laden trailers.
While he acknowledges there may be a need at some point to change the gearing so the Kenworth can better manage the extra weight, Jason said the company is yet to play with driveline ratios.
That will happen, if necessary, after the vehicle has completed a trial period and the business is able to review the date.
Symons Clark Logistics is expected to start making regular runs with its B-quad later this month.