Terrain MAN

Forget about glamour when you look at the essential off-road truck operation required by electricity supply companies, oil and mineral exploration, infrastructure building and repair, and a myriad of other applications where bitumen is not only unheard of but in reality hundreds and, at times, thousands of kilometres away.

Australia dishes up some extremely tough operating conditions due to not only the tyranny of distance but the very nature of our country and there is an increasing need for trucks providing transport services in some of the harshest areas known to modern man. Pardon the pun, but MAN is meeting the challenges and paving new paths throughout the country.

The tough German bred trucks are tackling some of the most challenging roles with a line-up of all-wheel-drive vehicles put to the test in some of the most impossible terrain – and winning!

One of the most renowned companies servicing the requirements of the electricity industry in construction and repair, bridge maintenance and other challenging access jobs is LinCon Hire and Sales, which operates Australia-wide.

LinCon specialises in elevated work platform (EWP) hire using the very latest technology from around the world. The company operates in regions where the going is more than tough, it is actually near impossible, and it is justifiably proud of its reputation for completing tasks on time and in the best manner possible.

The secret to success is the equipment and people, and LinCon is extremely particular in its selection of both. Reliability and expertise are trademarks of the company and it closely monitors technology gains to keep at the forefront of every facet of its business activities. A case in point is its preference for Palfinger work platforms. So impressed with their quality and durability, in 2003 LinCon became the Australian agent for the range of products.

But you can’t get to some of the challenging areas of the country without wheels and LinCon is a big user of the MAN product, running 13 of the tough all-wheel-drive trucks to all parts of Australia.
“The oldest MAN in our fleet is a 2003 model F2000 while the newest is a TGS that is just four months old,” says Fleet Manager David Hird. “We don’t keep the trucks for a specified period, rather it depends on the service role of individual units – but we keep a totally modern fleet in line with our continual commitment to maintain reliable service. If you look at the oldest truck it has spent around 95 per cent of its life in the bush and we continually monitor all units to eliminate downtime.

“The trucks are a mixture of 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 and if you look at power transmission for example, the lines are not placed next to roads, rather they go into and over tough terrain through some amazingly difficult access areas. One of the toughest jobs we have carried out is the transmission line between Townsville and Cairns in North Queensland where the MANs went to work in areas where four-wheel-drive utes could not handle conditions.

“The terrain was challenging with steep ranges, deep valleys and numerous creek crossings. We had seven units on this job and our crews were away for months in an operation where helicopters were used to take them in and out as the transmission towers were built.

“It was extremely difficult going and had to be completed before the wet season arrived, but it was completed on time without problem and the MANs didn’t miss a beat regardless of the country they had to negotiate,” David says.

The company provides some of the longest reach units to be found in Australia including three 55 metre and a 60 metre mounted on MAN 8×8 trucks. The fleet encompasses reach capability from 32 metres mounted on MAN TGM 4×4 trucks to 103 metres, the specialised equipment covering a variety of construction, repair and maintenance tasks.

The company is known for its work in ‘live line’ repair and maintenance, using systems to work on lines without turning power off resulting in, as David says, no inconvenience to customers. He points out that it is simply not an option to interrupt power supply.

“Everything is built then it has to be maintained and this too can be very tricky. We do a lot of under bridge work and this is changing constantly as pedestrian walkways become wider and suicide barriers are made higher.
“Versatility is all-important in our business. Our company has been a leader when it comes to specialised equipment, for starters LinCon was the first in Australia to offer the bare hand live line units and we remain the only company in Australia to offer this. When we introduced the under bridge inspection unit, it was the largest in the world at the time and we have the largest under bridge work platform. Our 103 metre PWP is the largest in the country and we continually look to improve our service offerings with equipment. For example, we have extending platforms with a 600kg carrying capacity to allow workers and tools to be carried.

“We stick to quality German equipment, we take no shortcuts. We are heavily involved with design and have input into development of new products,” he says.

We stick with the MAN brand simply because we have had no major issues with the trucks since we have had them. We have received good service from MAN people right across the country. Because the vehicles are off-road we do have some problems but they are only minor such as air lines to the diff locks or something like that because they have been bogged down and there have sticks in the mud.

“MAN is pretty good as they listen to what we say and if we do have a problem they send that piece back to Germany for investigation. They are a good, tough truck that lasts the distance and that works well for us as we work off-road all the time. They do what we ask of them, go where they have got to go, and in this business we need that.

“You need quality equipment. If you are on a power line construction job and have a crew of people involved, if that unit stops six to eight people stop. We have our maintenance people go out to jobs to service the trucks when they are away for long periods of time. We fly our mechanics to the site and usually send equipment by road to ensure the trucks are meticulously maintained,” David remarks.

Tackling some of the biggest projects in Australia and offering a substantial range of services, LinCon Hire and Sales is continually expanding its areas of operation, with trucks sent to a variety of regions as required. Conditions vary immensely but one thing remains the same – it is never easy going for trucks and those operating them.

The MANs are pitted against some incredibly tough going and reliability is an all-important factor due to the nature of both the country and work carried out. As David Hird indicates it is the reliability factor that keeps the company coming back to the MAN product, illustrated by the fact 11 new units have been ordered by LinCon. The trucks will be fitted with the latest Palfinger equipment in Germany, a task taking approximately 12 weeks and the complete trucks will be delivered over a three month period from the beginning of next year.

LinCon Hire and Sales was established in 2001 and has rapidly become the leader in its field due to its diverse range of unique access equipment meeting difficult requirements and a high level of expertise delivered under the most difficult of conditions. MAN plays a considerable role in every project.

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