Timms’ Cats purring

Timms Haulage is the primary contractor for some of the largest infrastructure projects in Queensland and runs around 120 vehicles across some of the toughest conditions known to both truck and man.

The company runs around 20 of its own vehicles on tipper and dog operation with a large subcontractor base making up the rest of the numbers, and has a replacement program which sees vehicles disposed of at three or four years of age depending on their work history.

Fleet numbers vary according to customer demand and Timms Haulage has operated 40 vehicles at the height of demand, but it recently decided to pull back on fleet size through a purely economic decision, reflecting the number of large projects nearing completion and uncertainty on the commencement of others.

But like all trucking operators, the company could see the need to buy new units as its trucks were at the stage where replacement was deemed necessary in line with the company policy to continue a reputation for reliability and service.
New Cat trucks and four axle dog trailers filled the bill nicely and that order to date has been the largest single customer order for the brand.

Timms Haulage does things somewhat differently to others, placing large truck orders. Price was never a consideration, the decision to go Cat was based on the established reputation for reliability, quality and backup service delivered by Caterpillar earthmoving equipment that the company owns and has had experience with.

“Naturally we looked at other makes but the experience we have had with Caterpillar, both in equipment and trucks with Cat engines has been excellent, so the decision was made to give them a go in our operation,” says Mark Timms, who established Timms Haulage in 1991.

The order was placed early this year and the first two units were delivered in May when bodies were built and four axle dog trailers to make up the combinations were completed. On delivery it was decided frontal clearance on the two units was possibly too low and both trucks returned to Hastings Deering in Brisbane to have the three leaf front spring packs altered and raised, a job carried out rapidly and completed in under three days from initial delivery date, impressing Timms management. Units delivered since, all offer higher clearance and there has been no problem in the uneven terrain the trucks are required to operate on.

All trucks bar one, a water tanker, have the same specification – Cat CT 630 models with C-15 Acert engines rated at 550hp, 18-speed Eaton transmissions, Rockwell R46160 differentials with a ratio of 4.3:1, diff and cross locks and riding on Hendrickson Primaax suspension.

The unit specced for watering duties is a CT 610 with the C-13 Acert rated at 485hp.

According to Timms’ Keith Jones, the specification suits the application extremely well with adequate power, good axle articulation across the rough terrain and a high level of driver comfort.

“Driver acceptance has been exceptional with drivers saying they appreciate the power, comfort and vision from within the cab. The trucks take on some demanding tasks and they have handled all areas very well,” Keith says.

It’s a hard life for the Timms trucks when you consider the projects they are and have been involved in, notably the Airport Link tunnel that has seen the units at work 24 hours, six days a week, with driver changes, removing huge tonnages as the project continues.

“It is not a walk in the park as most of our operations are in very rough conditions and with the number of hours they are doing, a two year old vehicle has done the work of a four year old truck, and then some,” Mark points out.

“If it is has anything to do with earthworks, we are there and we have been involved with the major Gateway Motorway project for three years, the Airport Link, Gympie bypass, Northern Busway plus working for general companies carrying out housing subdivisions and the like, usually major and large projects.”

Timms Haulage has been in operation for over 20 years and bases its business on customer service, and according to Mark the Cat trucks are the ideal spec for tipper duties.

“The drivers look after their trucks. If you give them a unit they like they will look after it and take pride in not only the truck but the job they do. I consider the Cat to be a good looking truck and so do those who drive them, and feel the right decision was made in selecting the trucks. It wasn’t a decision made quickly or lightly, rather we thought about it for a long time, but so far we are very happy with the result,” he says.

Timms Haulage selected Shephard Transport Equipment to supply bodies and trailers, the association with the company starting from day one when Mark put the first unit into operation.

“We have an extremely good relationship with Shephard Transport Equipment and have experienced outstanding service from them too. When the order for the Cat trucks was placed, Shephard knew we needed bodies and trailers available within a tight time frame –  and they delivered,” Mark tells.

“Obviously we had an order for trucks that was urgent and Shephard, as usual, went out of their way to make sure our needs were met, working with us closely.”

What was required were a number of steel bodies and dogs plus aluminium equipped with rock sheets. The very basis of the work on tunnelling projects sees some heavy rock cartage involved in the time critical operation the Timms company is renowned for, and plans were met with supply as required.

The water truck is also a Shephard Transport Equipment product and has been designed to increase efficiency in a number of ways. It has the latest spray and valving technology that allows it to fill and discharge in under 10 minutes due to the variable hydraulic controls.

“We worked closely with Shephard on this to ensure we achieved the best productivity possible. It has been designed to save money as it can do individual jobs rapidly and move to the next site, complete that and run to another,” Mark says.

“If you look across our operations, a water truck is required on most sites to keep dust down and roadways clear of debris, and this water unit has a powerful canon and rear spray bar that can be easily controlled to exacting specifications and then move to the next area that needs attention.

“It delivers a huge increase in productivity and efficiency and enormous cost savings. Having a water truck at each site is an expensive exercise and we do the best job available to meet environmental requirements, but this single unit will deliver the required results across a number of the areas we work in,” he says.

The two vehicles completing the 16 Cat truck order includes the water tanker, but the last of the CT 630 trucks has had some special additions. This tipper differs from the others due to the role played by its driver, a long term and well respected operator. This unit has been fitted with a host of goodies resulting in a very personal touch that sets it apart from others in the fleet.

As a mark of recognition, management decided to add dual exhaust stacks, chrome side extenders fitted with LED lights, custom steps, a sunvisor boasting 10 LED marker lights and on the bonnet a large Cat sticker – very much an individual unit for an individual driver.

The Cats have entered service in the largest projects undertaken by the Queensland Government and Timms Haulage, to date, has had an excellent run from every truck in the upgraded fleet.

“Again we own a lot of Cat equipment, owing to reliable product quality and reliable service, and that includes Caterpillar truck engines. There is no reason to suggest the trucks will be different in any way,” Mark reiterates.

Marketing a new truck on the Australian market is never an easy task and since Cat Trucks carried out its global launch in November last year, sales have been steadily increasing, but the tide is finally turning as customers like Timms Haulage, take a close look at what is available and the support systems that are in place.

There is plenty on the Cat horizon and Australia features very close to the top of the product development list. Cat is marking its territory!

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