Maxwell Freightlines’ journey to success

In an asset-heavy industry like commercial road transport, building a new business from the ground up has become a feat fraught with financial risk. But when Richard Maxwell, an industry veteran of 35 years, set out on his own in 2008, he knew only a blank canvas approach would allow him to make his vision a reality. The idea was to build a company that would surpass the traditional notion of a transport business and add value to the entire logistical process behind the transport task by providing access to new, technology-based solutions and services.

To lay a reliable foundation for the new venture, which is now trading under the name Maxwell Freightlines (MFL), Richard’s first objective was building a team of experienced professionals that shared the same vision. “I knew that to create a company that would be able to offer more than just carting freight from A to B, I needed the right team in place,” he explains. “We now have about ten staff in our Melbourne office that have been involved with many renowned transport businesses before, and their inventiveness and creativity is what’s setting us apart in the market.”

One of MFL’s most recent team additions is General Manager, Tony Tomarchio, who joined the company in 2015. Drawing on 20 years of industry experience, Tony is a keen advocate of new technology, both in the IT and data management field, but also with view to driveline and trailer design. “The benefit of being such a young business is that we are able to make a strategic decision with every purchase and every hire,” he says. “Richard is empowering us to source the best gear money can buy, which has helped us build a reputation as a tech-savvy and environmentally friendly transport service.”

To ensure the 50-strong fleet – supplied by Mack, Kenworth, Volvo and Vawdrey – remains as up-to-date as possible, Tony says all prime movers are renewed in four-year intervals to ensure the company can take advantage of all the latest technologies and comply with the newest emission policies.

The real point of difference, however, lies in the trailer department. Tony says MFL has long favoured B-double curtain-siders equipped with the latest automated, buckle-free load restraint curtains, but has now moved to take on Performance-Based Standards (PBS) approved A-doubles that could change the game of interstate line-haul.

“After much consideration, we have taken on our first two sets of 30m A-doubles made by Vawdrey Australia, which are able to operate at weights up to 85.5 tonnes,” he explains – pointing out that embracing PBS “made sense” for the tech-focused business. “These high-tech A-doubles are the first curtain-siders of their kind to operate out of Victoria and interstate across Australia’s eastern seaboard.”

Tony adds that these two A-double combinations can replace three B-doubles while drastically reducing emissions – an important advantage in the low-margin line-haul market. “We’ve been working with Vawdrey to create an incredibly efficient unit that doesn’t only do more with less – thus reducing costs – but also has a positive impact on the environment,” he explains. “No one has ever created a unit of that calibre that was also able to cross State borders, so it’s been a complex challenge.”

According to Tony, getting the equipment on the road was a task that took two years to complete and involved the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), VicRoads, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) in New South Wales and Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads, along with numerous local councils across each State – a historical feat in the still young field of PBS. “It’s been an incredibly challenging, but also rewarding, journey, even though it meant getting numerous bridge assessments and road access grants organised,” says Tony. “We were aware that to make history, we had to pave the way on more than one level.”

He adds, “Given recent improvements to the A-double network, particularly in Victoria, this sets us up well for the New Year and we can’t wait to add more A-doubles to our interstate line-haul fleet to provide our customers with what we believe is a real technological edge.”

According to Tony, VicRoads’ new and improved heavy vehicle network map will play an important role in that context, as it is able to provide the company with updates on the smartest routes for its trucks. “What we do is not rocket science, but we’re certainly making use of all the tools that are currently available to us. Integrating online services is part of that package and a reason why we’re so successful.

“By making use of the whole spectrum of tools currently available, we can focus on reducing our trucking movements and our carbon footprint, but at the same time lift our freight efficiency in a safe way,” says Richard. “We understand the technology well enough to go down that route, and have a reliable network of suppliers around us that can help us get access to it.”

Looking ahead to what 2017 may bring, Richard says he will remain just as passionate about infusing new technology in the MFL fleet. “It’s not just about being the guy carrying freight from A to B to make a quick profit. It’s about adding value on every level – efficiency, sustainability and safety – in the hope to create lasting relationships with our customers. We’re more than just middlemen.

“As such, we care a lot about how and where MFL will be positioned in the next 10 or 15 years, and the impact new technologies will have on our professional development. We’ll never stop researching and developing new ways to improve our equipment and innovate our services, no matter how many parties we have to collaborate with. We’ve got the right people and the right supplier network in place to make it happen. Even it means we have to rewrite history.

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