In for the long haul
Woody Scott’s truckers are the masters of heavy lifting at National Group.
In June 2021, National Heavy Haulage moved three Hitachi EX5600-7 mining excavators from Brisbane to the Goonyella Riverside Mine in Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
National Heavy Haulage received the excavators in shipping form at the Port of Brisbane. Hitachi assembled the excavators at their Wacol and Mackay facilities and NHH moved them to Goonyella mine in North Queensland. Each move took three days and required various police, pilot and Hi Load escorts.
“We moved the excavators in the biggest possible configuration to save labour time and resources on-site at Goonyella,” says Woody Scott, General Manager at National Heavy Haulage. “The move required a lot of planning between Hitachi, governing bodies and NHH to simplify the commissioning of these new machines.”
An EX5600-7 weighs 533 tonnes, is 8.6 metres high and 9.6 metres wide. “The truck driver needs a lot of experience and skill to move equipment like this,” says Woody. “You have to get the load right and make sure you are not hitting height or width obstacles along the way. Also our drivers need to take into consideration local traffic and the general public along the route.”
Planning the EX5600-7 move was all in a day’s work for Woody. He is one of Australia’s most experienced road heavy-haulage experts, having driven trucks for over two decades. Woody began driving trucks at age 17, starting in his family’s livestock-transportation business.
In October 2015, Woody joined National Group to expand its National Heavy Haulage division. The business hasn’t looked back. It now has 10 Kenworth trucks and Drake trailers and will add another four trailers this year. The heavy haulage division is also recruiting more experienced staff to cover the increase of workload and new customer demands.
“With support from Mark (Ackroyd), we have restructured our National Heavy Haulage division from the ground up and made changes to how we do things to make our business a superior, safety orientated and professional provider for any client,” says Woody. “That involved hiring the best drivers and administrational team, implementing a range of safety and other procedures, and introducing new technologies to the business. The hard work has paid off: we’re now a preferred supplier for many of the world’s leading mining and civil companies.”
Expert transportation service
National Heavy Haulage specialises in transporting oversized machinery for the mining, construction, energy and government sectors throughout Australia. Since its inception in 2011, National Heavy Haulage has moved thousands of tonnes of machinery and equipment in a safe and reliable manner.
The division has master supply agreements with leading Australian mining companies. If you’ve seen an oversized piece of mining equipment on the back of a truck on an Australian highway, there’s a good chance it’s a National Group move.
“Over the years, National Heavy Haulage has done some complex moves to the most remote mine sites in Australia,” says Woody. “We’ve transported giant pieces of mining equipment on dirt roads to the middle of nowhere, in harsh driving conditions.”
Woody has just finished organising and moving 280 loads of underground mining equipment to coal mines in the Bowen Basin. National Heavy Haulage supplied 10 trucks to move underground roof supports (each weighing 34-74 tonnes), six days a week, to the mine for one of their valued clients.
That’s part of some 700 loads on the books for valued clients to be delivered by February 2022. And it doesn’t stop there.
“It’s been a busy time,” says Woody. “There’s a lot of equipment that needs to be moved after Covid and plenty of activity generally in the mining industry.”
Woody says experience is National Heavy Haulage’s great strength. “We’ve carted a lot of different equipment over a long period. We know the best methods to get equipment to a site in the fastest, safest way possible to minimise downtime. We know which Australian Government department and international authorities (Customs, Excise etc) to deal with. And we know how to work with shippers and wharves to coordinate large shipments of oversized machinery.”
Woody leads the planning for large equipment hauls. This can involve surveying project sites and surrounding environments; identifying and evaluating any geographical, meteorological or infrastructure restrictions on the route; and evaluating route surveys with GPS devices.
National Heavy Haulage also provides detailed cost estimates to help clients analyse the viability of an equipment move; full AutoCAD drawings and detailed lift plans where required; and written and verbal daily updates on the progress of a haul.
“Some people are surprised at the amount of planning that goes into a big load,” says Woody. “But when you are moving equipment that might be 10 metres wide and take up the entire road, you need to plan every last detail. Community and driver safety is paramount.”
National Heavy Haulage has an innovative safety-first approach. This includes regular ‘toolbox talks’ with drivers on safety issues; random alcohol and drug testing; in-person training and inductions; and the customised Assignar App, which allows National Heavy Haulage drivers and managers to distribute current and relevant documents, licences and certificates with ease.
‘To my knowledge, we’re one of the few heavy-haulage companies that has a detailed load-checklist procedure which ensures we cover our COR responsibilities ,” says Woody. “We have a process to ensure drivers measure every load correctly, and that they know exactly how wide and long their load is. We take nothing for granted, but are proud of National Heavy Haulage’s safety record, given the complexities of our moves.”
Woody likes being part of National Group. “I respect the leadership, support and guidance available from the company Director, and we are fortunate to have a really good group of drivers and administration staff who know what they are doing and the can do attitude shown from all on a daily basis. We pay higher rates than a lot of other heavy-haulage companies because we want highly skilled, committed, professional drivers.”
Woody enjoys the planning and leadership aspects of his role but sometimes misses driving trucks. “It’s a great lifestyle. There’s nothing better than being in the middle of nowhere in your truck and cooking dinner on the side of the road after a long drive. Our trucks all have airconditioned bunks, TVs, fridges, outside showers and water tanks under the cabin. You need to be self-sufficient when you are driving long distances to mines in remote communities.”