Container Swinglift and Volvo innovate with PBS

Queensland logistics operator Container Swinglift will soon introduce a PBS-approved B-double, 40-foot container transporter pulled by Volvo prime movers.

Container Swinglift have turned to Volvo for their latest fleet expansion, buying four FM 500s and ordering two FH16 600s. The company specifically chose Volvo Trucks because of their flexibility and suitability to the specific task of carrying containers in a new PBS-based configuration.

“A typical B-double can only carry one 40-foot and one 20-foot container,” says Managing Director Stephen Tapper, “but we've come up with a design under the Performance-Based Standards that enables a B-double to haul two 40-footers. That's a whole extra TEU, or to put it another way, a 30 per cent increase in load.”

Under the PBS system, Stephen's design had to meet stringent specifications, particularly for weight and length.
”Anyone who's been involved in a PBS application knows it's a complex process with a lot of detailed requirements. Our preferred design wasn't possible with our current prime movers – they were unable to do the GCM we required. The Volvo trucks went up to 120t, so it will never be an issue. Plus, there's the length restriction: we had to fit inside 30 metres and the Volvos came in at 29.7 metres. Volvo gave us the flexibility we needed to make it work.”

The new design will make Container Swinglift the first operator to take a 40-40 B-double off the Port of Brisbane island.
”PBS can be a time consuming process,” says Stephen. “But we've put resources into these projects because we believe in the return on investment. Volvo really helped us get it from the design stage to reality, providing all the truck specifications and working with the trailer manufacturers to ensure the length was right. When you're doing a PBS application you almost want the truck to be overkill, and the Volvos had all sorts of features as standard that made a big difference, like EBS brakes and front under-run protection for example.”

The two FH16 600s will run into the hinterland in ‘A-Double' configuration to collect cotton and grain. “On runs like that in particular, fuel consumption is important, and the Volvos have really impressed. I get a report from the Volvo Dynafleet system every Monday that gives me a great insight into all manner of things such as fuel consumption and driver behaviour in two of the trucks. We've got the I-Shift automated manual transmission in all the Volvos, and one Monday after looking at the report, I called one driver and said ‘Just leave it in automatic!’ His fuel consumption went down immediately. If I can cut fuel consumption by just 10 per cent across my fleet, which equates to considerable savings, so I pay attention to this.”

So what was the drivers' reaction to the Volvos?
”The drivers are really happy with them. They love the manoeuvrability; the cabs are user-friendly and very comfortable to drive. From my perspective, I really value the I-Shift: the driver can keep his eyes on the road and his hands upon the wheel. Then you look at reliability, which is very important to us, here the all-Volvo drivetrain makes a real difference. Volvo's aftersales service has been excellent too, they're quick to solve problems and they offer us a replacement truck if they need to keep ours for a couple of days for any reason. Their communications are good too; the salesman can get an answer from an engineer very quickly.”

Container Swinglift have been in business since 1986, when Maria and Roger Tapper started out with just three trucks. Twenty-five years later, Stephen Tapper has taken the family's fleet up to 26 trucks and counting.
”We hit 37 a few years ago, but the GFC had a major effect on business for a while. It's picking up again now, and we're seizing the opportunity to start a whole new way of carrying containers. We're going to expand using the new 40-40 combination, and we'll be doing it with Volvo. Volvos might cost a bit more upfront, but over the life of the truck they more than make up for it. We're a company that's looking to innovate, and I think in Volvo we've found a partner that's working towards the same goal.”

Gary Bone, General Manager of Volvo Trucks says he's proud of the partnership between Volvo and Container Swinglift because they share a commitment to environmental care and innovative technology. “Container Swinglift have embraced Euro 5 compliant engines, and they were the first specialised container transport company to operate from the Port of Brisbane on a 24-hour basis.  It's fantastic that we can work with this progressive company to tailor the trucks to maximise the return on investment.”

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