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Firm Foundations

Its no surprise that concrete is one of – if not the most – commonly used construction material. With more than 24 million cubic meters produced annually around the country, transporting it is big business, especially in Western NSW as Howard Shanks discovered.

When Inland Truck Centre’s Brenton McKay invited us to join him a on a run from Wagga Wagga to Griffith to visit some of his customers we eagerly accepted. Griffith is a bustling rural city and like Canberra and nearby Leeton was designed by Walter Burley Griffin. The town was primarily established in 1916 as part of the New South Wales State Government's Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) project to supply irrigation from the Murrumbidgee River in western New South Wales to be used for farming. The main dam was the large Burrinjuck Dam between Gundagai and Canberra, which stored water to be released down the river for irrigation. Griffith is now situated in one of the most productive farming regions in New South Wales, with citrus, rice, grapes and wheat farms found throughout the shire.

Today, we are calling in on Michael Jeffery, Plant Manager of Aera Pre-Mix who had recently taken delivery of their second Kenworth T359A 10x4 with a nine cubic meter barrel.

Michael told us that Area Pre-Mix was established in 1996 with firm foundations to complement Milbrae Quarries’ offering of products and services.

“The move to set up Area Pre-Mix was a natural progression for us,” Michael revealed. “We started with one concrete plant in Griffith, in the NSW Riverina. Now, we have plants in Narrandera and Leeton, as well as a mobile batch plant, to support your larger on-site developments.

“We’re your one-stop concrete shop,” Michael contined. “Beyond ready-mix, our expertise incorporates concrete pumping, reinforcing, concrete panel construction and decorative concrete.”

Michael cites good old fashion family service as one of the key factors in the company’s success and growth. Another factor is their meticulous attention to the fleet maintenance and reliability along with the back up service he gets from his Kenworth trucks and the ‘Inland Truck Centre’.

Michael told us that these 10-wheelers, really deliver their greatest efficiency when they are feeding large concrete pumps and on long haul runs.

“We have about 30 per cent of the concrete market in this region,” Michael explained. “We deliver concrete to surrounding towns up to 150 kilometers away which means we have some long leads and that’s where these Kenworth T359A 10-wheelers really earn their keep. We can get up to 9-cubic meters into one of them which means we are delivering more concrete with one truck and that’s a huge saving not only for us but also our customers,” Michael added.

The T359A builds on the success of the original T350A concrete agitator. The T359A range is available in 6 x 4, 8 x 4 and these 10 x 4 axle configurations. Its primary purpose is to provide all the characteristics for which Kenworth is renowned in a lightweight and versatile package. With a good turning circle and exceptional driver visibility it offers optimum payload and maximum concrete carrying capabilities.

The T3 series is an ideal choice for these high capacity metropolitan applications. The tight turning circle and short bumper-to-back of cab measurement makes the T359A a versatile performer with great maneuverability and visibility.

The T359A is approximately 530mm longer than typical cab-over competitors. Practically, this will usually represent no compromise on payload, turning circle or trailer length, while still delivering the benefits of a bonnet configuration for ride, engine serviceability and safety.

Kenworth’s attention to detail in the T359A concrete agitator extends to every facet of engineering – such as the small things, like the way the electrical cables and hoses are separated off the chassis, so there’s less chance that they can be damaged or for potential rust and rubbish to get behind them. And, the large things: like the sheer size of their radiators. The T359A provides up to 15 per cent better cooling capacity than competitor models in the range.

The Kenworth AirGlide suspension in the 10x4 configuration has 12 air bags compared with six bags used by other manufacturers. According to Kenworth, this gives the T359A Agitator better load sharing ability, control and a quicker response time to level out or equalise the weight. The Kenworth-designed suspension system uses two level sensors and large, one-inch airline connections into the airbags that provide rapid response to equalise the weight. Conversely, other vehicles in this class use only one level sensor, which takes an average measure of both sides and smaller airline ports that deliver slower response times.

We’re told that the leveling out of weight is critical to the safe operation of an agitator. That is because with the barrel constantly turning, a lot of weight is being transferred from left to right. The weight of wet mixing cement can shift dramatically, causing some trucks to lean, not so with these Kenworth 10-wheelers.

The system will also enable operators in some states to take advantage of mass management allowances for road friendly suspension and carry an extra half a tonne under permit.

The ease of access and safety around town of the bonneted T359A puts it in a class of its own. The T359A has ergonomically designed wide steps, with no wheel arch constraints, to make cabin access simple and safe. This is particularly vital in the urban distribution environment, where drivers are required to get into and out of the cab frequently on their daily route.

Once in the cab, drivers are treated to the comfort and functionality of the air suspended driver’s seat, sun visor, main spotter mirrors and air-conditioning – all as standard.

The T359A has new engine options from Cummins ISLe5 ranging from 280 to 380 HP. It also comes with greater driveline configurations, 6 x 4, 8 x 4 and 10 x 4, offering more flexibility in more applications. Standard Daylite doors promote excellent visibility, as do the one-piece curved windscreen and sharply sloping bonnet.

This truck was equipped with the Cummins ISLe5 380HP @ 1254LBFT torque, an Eaton RTLO16918B 18-Speed transmission. Rear axle is DSH40 with a 4.56:1 final drive ratio mounted on the Kenworth AirGlide 400. This 10-wheeler is fitted with the larger 150-litre fuel tank and 70-litre adblue tank.

This 9.0m3 Davcron Concrete Mixer is the biggest in their standard range. Davcron trace their roots back to the Snowy Mountains scheme. This engineering project proved a major opportunity for Australian innovation to excel in the design and manufacture of truck mixers, with feats never achieved before anywhere in the world, such as, efficiently handling low slump concrete, widening the drum mouth for fast charging and discharging, mixing concrete uniformly meeting the most exacting standards, using transit Mixers as Central Mixers on major civil constructions.

In fact, the unique blade design and presses were perfected from the extensive research and development work undertaken during the Snowy Mountains project.

9.0m3 Davcron barrel has an 8mm Dished End with intensified wear resistant high tensile with 4mm Back, Nose cone and centre band all in intensified wear resistant high tensile.

Other features of the barrel include a 200-litre pressurised water system, slump and water meters and double-acting remote chute jack. The barrel can be controlled from either the rear of the truck or in the cabin via the centre console-mounted controls or the remote control unit outside the truck.

We also noticed another couple of noteworthy features with the Kenworth T359A during our test run: the maneuverability of this 10-wheeler around town and building sites is surprisingly easier than we had anticipated. The power of the Cummins engine is transferred willingly through the 18-speed to the drive wheels and the traction is firm and sure-footed even with the addition of the lazy axle at the rear. The operation of the barrel is simple enough too, with the various controls available.

“We’re more than happy with our Kenworth trucks and the service we get from the Inland Truck Centre,” Michael concluded.

Australian made Heavy Duty trucks. 

February 28, 2017 | Posted in: Articles



Australian Trucking Quarterly