Australia’s biggest equipment hire and solutions provider, Coates, supports industry across a broad range of sectors.
It offers customers quality equipment in compaction, confined space entry, concrete and masonry — and that’s just the ‘C’ section — as well as a host of other segments from dry hire, engineering and training in essential service industries.
One of its core values is ‘Care Deeply,’ a promise Coates extends to customers and stakeholders alike, right through to its criteria for investing in commercial vehicles.
The Coates specification for prime movers is naturally quite extensive. First and foremost, according to Scott Pirie, Coates Transport Compliance Manager, it’s about the safety features of the truck.
That encompasses driver assist technology, fuel economy, together with Euro 6 exhaust pollutant ratings.
“The big thing is around driver assist technology and driver comfort to look after our drivers right down to the basics like tinted windows and livery,” he says.
“Safety, reliability, suitability and lowering emissions and pollutants are a defining criterion when we’re looking at replacement trucks.”
The heavy vehicle fleet at Coates is updated with DAF product with a level of assurance equal to the company’s familiar distinct orange branding. As a relationship it’s relatively steadfast.
Overall, there are some 15 DAF vehicles in the fleet working as either crane trucks, Moffett loaders or prime movers, with three new Euro 6 DAF CF530s, in the latter category, recently deployed in Sydney courtesy of Brown and Hurley Yatala.
Opting for the top of the range in horsepower is about flexibility as much as it is reliability — twin features Coates upholds when it comes to its investment in assets.
“It’s about the equipment that we move and the sites that we go to and just having that extra power and torque with the 530,” Scott says. “It also gives us less stress on the components.”
These trucks, what’s more, can and will end up anywhere in Australia. Coates is ultimately buying a truck that is suitable for all facets, not just running around a metro environment.
That environment could just as easily be the Pilbara or in a city like Darwin, where the conditions and climate bring their own unique challenges.
“We look for something that is multipurpose,” Scott explains. “Just having that extra horsepower available when we need it is why we went to the top of the range.”
As demand often fluctuates, the onus is on the high value of having a dynamic fleet.
“If we see somewhere that is picking up and we need some extra resourcing, we can move these trucks around,” says Scott.
“It’s no different to our hire fleet. We value our ability to be able to put these trucks wherever we need them to better support our customers.”
In the past Coates has supported relief work on natural disasters including providing hire equipment and establishing a 500-bed base camp in just 48 hours for the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) during the 2022 Northern Rivers floods.
More recently it supported the recovery efforts in North Queensland following the destruction wrought by Tropical Cyclone Jasper. To do so it is not uncommon to redeploy trucks from other areas of the business.
Ultimately, having a purpose-built truck that can go anywhere and do most anything is what Coates is looking for.
“In line with our value to ‘Care Deeply’, looking after our drivers is first and foremost what we’re about,” says Scott.
“We do a lot of multi-drops, so drivers are in and out of the trucks all day. The ease of getting in and out of the vehicle is important to our driver workforce.”
The latest Euro 6 range features several important updates, not in the least a fully automated HVAC system which regenerates residual heat from the engine, an MX-13 in this case, to heat the cab when needed and a 30 per cent larger cooling system reducing the time the engine is asked to use auxiliary power for superfluous air flow.
As Coates frequently uses these trucks on multi-drop distribution, drivers are in and out of the cab repeatedly.
DAF has carefully positioned non-slip illuminated steps, well-placed grab handles, large and wide opening doors that extend into the roof, together with the low cab floor for easy access.
There’s even remote-control central locking, a necessary addition given the job profile, which Coates includes on the spec along with autonomous braking, collision avoidance, side cameras, adaptive cruise control and stability control.
Drivers foremost appreciate ease of operation. Visibility and comfort levels of the new DAF FTTCF530s surpasses expectations which are always high.
“All the drivers who have operated the new trucks are very happy with it,” says Scott.
“We’ve had no negative feedback on these trucks whatsoever. We’ve had older models in the fleet in the past and the drivers were happy with them then. Now they have the new updated models, they love them. They’re finding them easy to drive.”
The manoeuvrability of these new trucks, particularly regarding blind spots and getting in and out of the truck is an appreciable attribute to support the work Coates performs.
“That’s one of the big selling points that we look for,” says Scott. “Drivers are very happy with the way that it handles.”
At any given time, Coates has had at least a dozen DAF units running in different cities in different configurations, whether as prime movers or as twin-steers. The 8×4 application is prevalent in Brisbane and Sydney for crane trucks.
Shoring and other temporary engineering products are carted with these DAF FADCF530s.
The Hiab cranes are quite large requiring an eight-wheeler, with its extra carrying capacity, to safely spread the load across the axles.
“Some of the items being moved are six-metre-long steel struts so we need to have the eight-wheeler configuration to make sure we’re not exceeding any axle weights and still have the ability to have a decent size crane,” explains Scott.
“We’ve just built four new ones and put some tag along trailers behind them with ramps. That makes them a very diverse vehicle where we’ve got a crane truck but also the ability to put mobile tracked and wheeled equipment onto the trailer. It just gives us better opportunities to service our customers with a multi-purpose truck now.”
The tag trailers are built by FWR Australia in Brisbane. Turnaround time on individual DAF units is about seven years.
In rare circumstances Coates might look to extend the life of the vehicle before replacing it.
The Coates trucks don’t amass major mileage in metropolitan environments, but engine hours are high with lots of idling time given the stop and start nature of operations.
“These trucks are running 10 to 12 hours a day five days a week, sometimes six,” says Scott.
“We have an ability to be fluid, so if we have a truck with low kilometres and we have a truck with high kilometres we can swap them around to keep everything ticking along nicely. They’re always in good condition when we decide to sell them because they’ve done low kilometres.”
For truck repairs and maintenance, Coates adheres closely to the OEM recommendations. Part of Coates’ consideration is the availability of repair and service facilities around Australia.
“As we don’t just operate in metro environments, we have to look at that dealer availability when we’re looking at the product regionally,” Scott says.
“Generally, we stick to the OEM schedule unless we’re in a harsh climate and need to manage extra servicing which is always in consultation with the dealers.”
These trucks have been delivered by the team at Brown and Hurley Yatala, who are set to deliver a DAF FADCF530 8×4 next month with a 7.6-metre-long tray, side fall protection webbing and weigh scales on each axle.
It will be used to support, once it arrives, the traffic management and temporary works engineering services businesses at Coates.
“We do have the ability to spec up trucks in a different manner depending on where they’re moving to or where they go to within Australia,” says Scott. “We’ll modify the specs to suit the best application that we can.”
In the temporary works engineering division Coates has recently launched a new product called Quadshore.
Developed as part of a multi-year R&D collaboration with Monash University, Quadshore is a world-leading lightweight heavy-duty propping solution for temporary construction works.
Structural props are commonly used to provide temporary support to resist gravity loads from structures during construction.
The infrastructure boom in Australia is perpetual, for the moment, with the construction industry growing at around 10.6 per cent, demand for temporary works is similarly set to rise.
The award-winning propping system is tested and certified to relevant Australian standards and consists of the heavy-duty Quadshore 150 and the medium-duty Quadshore 50.
Scott’s team is tasked with transporting the product to customer sites. The growing trend around providing greener equipment choices has been embraced by Coates.
In June 2022, the company launched its Greener Choices range of lower-emission and more sustainable equipment, including hybrid, battery-electric and solar models, as well as non-road equipment with low pollutant engines (USA Tier 4 Final / EU Stage 4 and 5), biofuel compatibility, energy efficient appliances and LED lighting.
“That’s where the future is taking us,” says Scott.
“Coates is well and truly working towards short-term and net-zero targets for Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, continuing to invest in our Greener Choices range, and looking at other products and innovations to help our customers fulfill their own net-zero commitments.”
In keeping with this, Coates positions itself as more than just a hire service — namely, as an end-to-end solutions provider.
There’s an inherent reliability, it has found, that naturally proceeds from being a trusted one-stop shop and it’s something the company takes immense pride in when it comes to customer service.
“We’re bringing new trucks into the fleet which allows us to deliver exceptional service to our customers,” notes Scott. “Customer-focused is another important priority at Coates, which is why we continue to partner with DAF.”