Transforce Bulk Haulage goes green

Transforce Bulk Haulage is a young transport company based in Dubbo NSW, providing the agricultural community with a range of services – all of which are now officially carbon-neutral.

Managing Director, Steve Fieldus, has grown the business from one truck to a fleet of 10, and engages the services of 16 fulltime subcontractors, with growth structured to continue in-line with customer requirements delivering agricultural commodities.

“Transforce Bulk Haulage started in 1999 with a Kenworth and a quad-dog trailer, when myself and a business partner identified an opportunity in bulk transport. We grew the company through a very tough drought period by diversifying our services into landscape supplies and virtually anything bulk,” Steve says.

“We started growing the fleet with truck and dog combinations and then added a couple of B-doubles to the mix as well – a 19-metre and a 26-metre, carting more diversified commodities such as woodchip. In 2010, I bought my partner out and decided to change direction in a number of ways, looking at where we go for the future,” he says.

Looking for ways to maintain growth, Steve is constantly monitoring the equipment market and the vehicle combinations available to provide the best in service – for example by converting a standard a b-Double into a road train, recognising the performance of high productivity vehicles.

In fact, Steve bought the first quin-dog trailer to be registered in NSW under IAP and PBS, and another acquisition was a Mack towing a quad-trailer operating at 57.8 tonnes with a 38 tonne payload under PBS. “High productivity vehicles suit our work exceptionally well and certainly increase productivity and efficiency for our customers. I continually monitor every aspect of our operational requirements and those of our clients to see where we can make improvements,” Steve says.

While this is all part of his seeking improvements for the future, so too is his recognition of the need to lessen road transport’s impact on the environment by substantially lowering emissions. A little over 12 months ago, he attended a Carbon Farming conference as a matter of extending his marketing activities. At the conference he was able to see the benefits of joining the quest to become carbon-neutral, not only for his business, but also for the future of Australia – and so began a journey to make his fleet the cleanest and greenest in the country. “If we are to have a future, we have to get to know which impact carbon, and the carbon tax, will have on our industry and where we fit into the need to reduce our carbon footprint,” Steve points out.

“I went to the Carbon Farming conference and saw they had some really good stuff going on and saw I had every possibility of offering carbon neutral freight. I admit I didn’t know much about it and what was involved, so I simply asked, What I should do?” he says.

Low Carbon Australia, established to partner with Australian business to encourage action on energy efficiency and cost-effective carbon reductions, had never had a road transport company express interest in the scheme at the time, so the interest from Transforce Bulk Haulage was embraced. “Low Carbon Australia and the Carbon Farmers Association are firmly focussed on making a difference and continual planning is part of their strategy. Our company is reliant on the farming and agricultural industry and becoming a carbon neutral carrier is a perfect fit,” Steve tells.

But there was plenty of work to be done. The first stage was to establish what the transport carbon footprint was across every part of business. Obviously the biggest part of emissions is diesel fuel burn and according to Steve it accounts for 92 per cent of that footprint. “Fuel burn is really the starting point for emission reduction then we looked at waste oil solutions, recycling water from our wash bay, tyres and buying power as green energy from our electricity supplier,” Steve tells.

“One of the first things we did was implementing a driver incentive program when it comes to fuel consumption and the results here have been very successful. It was important to re-define the systems in place and our first year target was 250 tonnes of carbon. With a business that is growing our baseline methodology in 2011, this has changed somewhat, in line with enhancing our systems, and we are still measuring our carbon footprint. It is all about the amount of carbon we emit to move one tonne of freight.”

Part of the equation is linked to vehicle combinations. Steve points out that the quin-dog and truck has the capacity of a B-double but less impact on emissions output. “We keep the fleet as modern as possible and new technology is certainly playing its part. We focus on Cummins across the fleet, for instance, apart from the Mack, which has an MP10 engine. All trucks are kept at peak performance, it is all about saving fuel and we look to any option in this regard. We keep working towards a better outcome for road transport,” he says.

“One of the actions was to buy carbon credits and while this comes at a high cost, it does account for lowering emissions, but it is an involved process, you can’t just go out and buy carbon credits. We bought our first credits from a forestry scheme in Kenya due to the fact as Australian farmers cannot claim credits from the carbon in their soils as yet, but we expect this to change in the near future.”
Steve addressed a carbon conference recently and urged the Federal Government to approve a methodology to allow farmers to sell credits based on soil carbon. “This will have to happen, farmers are very active in addressing the environment and need to be able to source carbon credits. They are storing carbon in the soil, not only feeding the nation but doing much to clean it up as well. Crops and pastures are dragging carbon from the air like any tree does and they are putting it in the ground,” Steve points out.

There is no doubt he is passionate about reducing emissions from the Transforce Bulk Haulage fleet, but says others in the industry, while taking an interest, continue to ask why he set along down the carbon neutral transport path. “A lot of guys ask why I got into it. I care about how our company is positioned in the next 10 or 15 years and the impact it will have on the environment. If we don’t start cleaning up after ourselves it is going to cost us a lot of money in the future,” Steve says.

The quest to become Australia’s first carbon neutral is not only lauded by Steve Fieldus himself, but all those working in the operation. There is an acute awareness of the results so far achieved by the company and that more can be done exhibited by drivers, office, workshop and truck cleaning staff at the Dubbo headquarters.

“All of our people have embraced the idea and are doing everything they can to further our aims. The fact we are the very first carbon neutral transport company in Australia has really given them incentive and pride,” he says.
Not that pride goes unnoticed, rather Steve was quick to adorn Transforce vehicles and trailers with the Carbon Neutral Certified logo and number plates on prime movers include NILC02 and CO2FRE, clearly identifying the company’s achievements. And, the certificate signifying the company has met carbon neutral certification hangs proudly on the office wall.

“This is just the start of what we are trying to achieve. Our business plan is to reduce our carbon footprint each year, it is at the top of our priority list and every measure we can introduce to achieve this will be implemented. We want to be seen as a leader in cleaning up the environment and encouraging others on road transport to get on board to deliver a cleaner industry and a cleaner future for the country,” Steve says pointedly.

He will tell you his journey to becoming carbon-neutral has not been easy and it is an expensive process, but benefits far outweigh any costs associated with certification. “We will recoup our investment with a cleaner Australia, a sustainable future and definitely a better regard from people who see road transport as a polluter. By doing what we can to assure a better environment we all benefit and that is a plus for everybody,” Steve says.

The Transforce Bulk Haulage fleet operates across NSW and Southern Queensland and takes its place as Australia’s greenest transport company yet. And, it has opened the door for others to follow.

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