Above the Rim

Moffatt Fresh Produce as part of its centenary celebrations has added a new Kenworth T610 SAR with a showstopping livery to its fleet of prime movers.

Located in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, the Scenic Rim region, south of Brisbane, has been home to Moffatt Fresh Produce for generations.

The fifth-generation family business, in fact, marks its centenary this year and is located six kilometres west of Aratula, a township of little more than 500 people on the Cunningham Highway.

The agricultural foundation of the town is reflected in a local playground situated, not coincidentally, at Moffatt Park.

Travellers, especially caravaners, who come through the area on their way to the Gold Coast, would have likely seen one of the eight Moffatt Fresh Produce trucks that travel around the region commonly delivering carrots, celery, onions and pumpkins to market and the Port of Brisbane for export.

The fleet is in the main comprised of Kenworth trucks. These vehicles primarily service Moffatt’s requirements from farm to factory and from factory to market. Of the Kenworths there are two T409s, one T909, a T610 and two T404s.

Moffatt Fresh has, up until recently, favoured a combination of 32-pallet B-double refrigerated trailers. With the introduction of a new Kenworth T610 SAR that is all set to change.

“We’re very focused on simplifying and maximising our freight efficiencies through the PBS systems,” says Steven Moffatt, Managing Director.

“What we’ve done with this particular truck is we’ve gone from running a T909 with a 32-pallet FTE configuration B-double refrigeration unit and we’ve gone to PBS and we’re going to take out the nonsense of hooking and unhooking the second trailer on such a short run because this truck will run predominantly back and forth into Brisbane servicing our chain store business and market business.”

The 28-pallet single, in addition to removing the need for an extra trailer, involves less running gear and less refrigerated motor requirements. That’s one less unit on the whole combination and two less axles.

“There’s a lot less fatigue on the prime mover not having to tow the combination and the payload is not that much different,” says Steve.

“It’s role thereafter will be to cart produce from our factory, predominantly doing carrots and some other vegetables we grow for the supermarkets and fresh markets and the international markets — that’s what we do.”

Moffatt Fresh Produce single PBS approved trailer.
FTE’s 28-pallet single trailer.

Moffatt Fresh Produce is a 12-month of the year operation.

Aside from the Scenic Rim, Moffatt Fresh Produce grows at sites in the Southern Downs, the Lockyer Valley and the Granite Belt.

The geographical spread in area enables growing conditions ranging from 100 to 1000 metres above sea level which allows Moffatt to capitalise on differences in temperatures and manage seasonality across every month of the year.

Truck movements span north and south by about 250 kilometres and east and west by about 120 kilometres.

That has come about by concentrating its main base in the Scenic Rim, a strategic move that goes back to Steve’s grandfather Alan “Scott” Moffatt, whose legacy today looms large in the family business, having had the foresight, along with his father to see the area’s great potential for farming and transport.

“We were strategically placed for the central markets particularly up here with the Roma Street markets in Brisbane in the early days,” says Steve.

“But today, we’re overnight to Sydney, we’re short-haul to Brisbane. It’s only 1.5 hours southwest of the Port of Brisbane which complements our international trade. The Scenic Rim is a perfect fit for our business. The decision-making of grandfather and the great grandfather is testament to that.”

Kenworth T610 SAR.
Kenworth T610 SAR with mural.

By way of testimonials, there can be no better one, at least not in the trucking game, than the standout mural dedicated to Alan “Scott” Moffatt on the new Kenworth T610 SAR.

“We wanted to do something special for the centenary but also something special for the guy who made it all very well happen albeit he was a second-generation part of the business,” explains Steve.

The new truck runs a 28-pallet single quad axle trailer built and fitted out by FTE in Melbourne.

Like the prime mover, it too features a stunning continuation of the mural. The combination debuted in the fleet this February just gone. Steve and his team brought the initial concept to Matthew Lin Art, who does other work for Moffatt’s including much of its marketing materials.

“He was good enough to put it down on paper and bring it to life so we could see something we were really happy with,” recalls Steve.

“He superimposed everything from truck to trailer and it couldn’t have worked out any better than what it did. He was a large part of the success of the project. We’re not ones to skite and blow our own trumpet but we wanted to do a nice tribute for the old fellow and it has far exceeded our expectations.”

The impressive graphics on the prime mover cab were created by Robert Rundell from Belair Truck Spray Painting. With a GVM of 27.83 tonnes, the Kenworth T610 SAR features a Euro 5 Cummins X15 550hp engine that can achieve 431kW at 1800 rpm, maximum power. An 18-speed RoadRanger gearbox feeds Meritor MT21-165GP drive axles on a 4:30 ratio.

The sale of the truck was co-ordinated by Michael Oliver at Brown and Hurley Darra. The Moffatt Family have a long association with Brown and Hurley that goes way back to 1964, where they purchased their very first truck, an Albion Revier.

“Michael Oliver is very good to deal with. He understands our specific needs in relation to what we do as an agricultural customer if you like,” says Steve. “He’s always on the ready to deal with any of the questions we ask in relation to the best way we have to set up the vehicle to suit our needs. And he’s more than accommodating.”

Moffatt Fresh Produce runs a fleet of Kenworth trucks.
Moffatt Fresh Produce is celebrating its centenary this year.

Part of the motivating force behind the decision to buy the new truck is the shrinking labour market. Having a truck of this build standout on the road won’t hurt Moffatt’s chances in attracting drivers during an industry wide shortage as Steve sees it.

“It certainly is something we have put out there to encourage drivers to want to drive our equipment being that it is second-to-none,” he says. “It’s about attracting that style of driver who wants to be professional and grow with our business.”

The driver of the new combination has come to the T610 SAR from a Kenworth T909.

Along with the different driving features, the shorter bonnet and superior vision better suits the application.

Steve, in addition to getting more longevity out of the new truck, wants to make life as easy as possible for his drivers.

“They’re the heart and soul of the back end of the process,” he says. “We’ve got the front end covered as far as the farming and processing goes and the transport is the back end of it. It’s an important part of our operations. I can see it as something that grows internally within the business.”

For the moment that is limited largely to refrigerated transport. In time, Steve can foresee the team utilising the PBS system from what he calls farm to factory. For overnight freight into Sydney and Melbourne, Moffatt Fresh Produce outsources linehaul duties to Nolan’s Transport, for whom it has an ongoing arrangement.

Nolan’s, according to Steve, have been helpful in its decision-making, especially around heavy vehicles and PBS.

“In terms of the application Flea Nolan has helped us to get our head around PBS,” he says. “He’s been a great help there. We have a great partnership with the Nolan family and have done for many years.”

Head office is at Tarome, a small farming community found at the bottom of Cunninghams Gap, the section of road notorious to many a long haul driver over the decades with its sharp angles and steep descent. These days there are far less incidents involving trucks traversing the ‘Gap’ as there once was.

“In the past there were always some heavy vehicles coming to grief up there — it was infamous,” recalls Steve.

“Not to disparage the old school, but these days the push on drivers is a lot less to make it all happen and they’re very professional at what they do. It’s probably a credit to the broader general population of drivers that are doing a really good job.”

Even so, engine wear is at its greatest coming over the rise when the retarder is deployed.

“The Cummins motor provides a really good environment for that and the way that Michael has set the transmission and gearbox up, it works really well in that environment,” says Steve.

“At the end of the day it comes down to the driver doing what they’re good at and the running gear we operate probably complements that.”

Mural by Belair Truck Spray Painting.
Belair Truck Spray Painting carried out the mural.
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