Riordan: The new standard of transportation

Celebrating the company’s 15th anniversary in 2011, Jim Riordan has not lost sight of the qualities that helped him write a story of success – a passionate ethos and personal discipline. “You have to believe in the way you have chosen, even if you receive a setback,” he says. “And you need to find people who share the same vision.”

Since 1996, Jim Riordan’s vision has comprised of a quest for a more profitable way to transport grain. “In cooperation with affiliates all around Australia, we are constantly looking for innovative concepts to increase payload and improve working routine.”

It is no surprise that Riordan Grain Services welcomed the introduction of Performance Based Standards (PBS) in 2007. Set up by the National Transport Commission (NTC), Performance Based Standards is a nationally agreed process for assessing innovative heavy vehicle alternatives that provide substantial productivity gains not possible under general access guidelines.

“PBS focuses on a vehicle’s on road performance rather than on its length and mass, ensuring that the vehicle complies with all standards of stability and rollover risk,” explains Craig Wallace, General Manager of Hamelex White, a company that has kept a watchful eye on the advancement of PBS regulations since the Council of Australian Governments announced a national reform agenda concerning the domestic transport industry. “The implementation of PBS enables each combination to carry more freight, offering the potential for heavy vehicle operators to achieve higher productivity and safety through innovative vehicle design.”

In the search for a vehicle to master the increasing strain of the annual grain harvest, Riordan Grain Services decided to collaborate with Dandenong based Hamelex White in 2010. The company ordered a PBS approved rigid and 5-axle dog combination custom built to outperform a classic B-double configuration. “Hamelex White demonstrated intimate knowledge of the agricultural industry,” says Jim Riordan. “And they delivered a 63 tonnes GVM combination capable of outperforming a standard B-double that will revolutionise our fleet. These gains are typically not available under conventional ‘one size fits all’ prescriptive mass and dimension rules or the state-based permit system.”

“The new aluminium combination maximises both flexibility and payload, so it is a better option than a common B-double,” says Riordan Transport Manager Joe Strawford. “It requires less set-up and running cost, but provides a similar payload to a usual B-double. And the configuration is not as complex as a B-double; hence not as expensive. At the end of the day, it will earn the company more money per tonne.”

The new vehicle tips the scales at 63 tonnes, achieving a payload of 43 tonnes. “The result is due to Hamelex White expertise and the advance of PBS regulations,” says Joe. “At the moment, they are at the forefront of PBS compared to competing trailer manufacturers. They know more about PBS applications and already have experience with grain specific equipment.”

Compared to a quarry configuration, a grain trailer needs to comply with specific demands. “As we’re swapping products all the time, the trailer has to be as contamination free as possible,” Joe explains.

“In the agricultural environment, we need the body to be user-friendly, with safety being high on the list. This is why the trailer is equipped with access doors, enabling the driver to enter the inside of the trailer and wash it out from a safe working level.”

Besides, not having to uncouple a B-double to unload will not only save Riordan precious time, but also improve OH&S standards. “As the vehicle remains coupled, we’re eliminating any risk from uncoupling a trailer. The unloading times compared to a B-double were reduced from 40 to about 15 minutes.”

Delivered in December, the new combination is operating throughout regional Victoria. “It is working fantastically and handles a lot better than I thought it would. It is also very stable on the road,” says Joe Strawford after comparing Hamelex White’s PBS design to a standard B-double.

Back in 1996, Riordan Grain Services started out transporting grain, fertiliser and other bulk commodities with only one tipper truck in the Lara region. Soon the business began to flourish, carting fertiliser from the old Victorian Bulk Handlers (VBH) site at Lara to New South Wales, and transporting grain back to Geelong and Melbourne. After Jim Riordan purchased the VBH site, adding silo and shed storage to the business, the story of success commenced. Storing and transporting malt barley, the business grew in volumes and extended into a grain trading business. In 2003, Riordan began to pack containers for export clients, which in peak periods saw the Lara site receiving and packing grain 24 hours a day.

Today the company has many facets and operates a fleet of 11 company trucks and 30 trailers. Dispersed among three major divisions – Grain Trade, Grain Storage, and Transport – Riordan employs 35 people. The in-house container division is packing up to 9000 containers per annum with grain for export markets; acquiring international renown for being a specialist in wheat and malt barley marketing; and the supply of grain, pulses, protein meals and grain-related services. The company’s main site in Lara allocates 25,000 tonnes of storage space, as well as short-term storage options in 8 x 400 tonne silos. In addition, Riordan operates 7500 tonne silo storage at Lake Cargelligo in northern NSW and 22,000 tonne silo and bunker storage at Balliang 60km west of Melbourne.

“A tremendous growth compared to the humble beginnings of the company,” says Joe Strawford. “15 years ago, Jim Riordan started out with one combination, and today Riordan Grain Services maintains a large transport fleet of modern, mass management accredited vehicles. On long distances, we rely on Kenworth, and in a local context, we use Freightliner.” One fifth of all prime movers are Freightliner, whilst 80 percent are long-range Kenworth models. Equipped with both CAT and Cummins engines, the average age is four years; “and the turn over is about 800,000km,” Joe says.

Moreover, the company operates a range of B-double aluminium tippers by Lusty Pumpa Engineering and Supa Lightweight container trailers built by Vawdrey, fitted with BPW disc brakes. “It is no secret that we only use equipment capable of standing the test of time – being maintenance free, safe and user-friendly to service grain producers throughout the country,” Joe reveals. “Therefore, our fleet is equipped with satellite navigation technology which enables us to monitor and plan truck movements from the office in the most time efficient way. Using this system, trucks can receive their load instructions without a phone call and send their weight details back to the office after each job, where information is processed immediately.”

To complement the in-house transport division, the company has access to over thirty various sized trucks, sourced through subcontractors to cover periods of increased demand. “Having our own transport division allows us to provide an efficient on-farm harvest pick-up service. Therefore we do not stop exploring new opportunities to add benefits to the business,” says Jim Riordan. “We’re looking for new PBS applications all the time, trying to make the development of special equipment work along with the authorities. According to the NTC’s Twice the Task report, the land transport task will almost double until 2020. Off-the-shelf one-size-fits-all vehicles will not be able to cope with this development.”

In fact, Jim Riordan is already looking forward to the next 15 years. “Riordan will not stray off the path, but stick to the values that have brought us this far. At the end of the day, we all strive for one goal – less trucks on the road for the same freight task, improved road safety, less transport emissions and a more competitive domestic economy.”

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