Down Under Trucking: U.S. invaded by the electric Aussies; LNG trucking underway in WA; Aussie roads awash with pig manure

Big blue sky. Long empty road from nowhere to nowhere. Giant bull bar. Giant Truck. That can only mean one thing. It’s time for Down Under Trucking . But who are the electric Aussies? Why are they invading the U.S.? And why were Aussie roads suddenly and unexpectedly awash with pig manure? You can find out more by reading on…

Down Under Trucking: electric Aussies invade U.S; LNG trucking underway in Western Australia; police crackdown on dodgy waterfront truck drivers; new logistics park for Northline; Australian truck rollovers – roads full of chaos, mayhem and… pig manure.

Watch out diesel America – the electric Aussies are coming for you!

U.S. diesel-heads beware! There’s an invasion of electric Aussies on the way! SEA Electric, a Melbourne, Victoria-based electric heavy truck specialist, has just declared that it has had a favorable response, with multiple orders, to its March 2019 U.S. launch at the Work Truck Show in Indiana.

And so Aussie-electrified heavy trucks may be coming to a city near you… provided you live or work in Detroit, New York City, Philadelphia or San Francisco.

SEA electric retrofits third-party-supplied commercial glider vehicles. A “glider” is a chassis and cab assembly that is typically provided without an engine, transmission and drive shaft. SEA installs its own power-train into the glider.

The company offers five drive trains that can be adapted to a range of light commercial vehicles, buses and trucks. The batteries are mid-mounted for balance and side-impact protection.

At the lighter end of the commercial vehicle market, the company offers the SEA EV4, an electric commercial delivery van. It has a range up to 350 kilometers (km) or over 217 miles, a top speed of 110km per hour (km/h), which is nearly 70 mph, and can operate in a temperature range of minus 20 Celsius to 45 Celsius (-4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit). The van has a gross vehicle mass of 4,000 kilograms (kg) and a payload capacity of 1,300kg and 10.5 cubic meters (nearly 381 cubic feet). The drive-train puts out continuous power of 75kW with a maximum torque of 700 newton meters. The lithium-ion batteries have an 88 kWh capacity, have a life cycle of 10 years, a five-year warranty and weigh about 400kg. The charging equipment on-board is described as “standard” in all the markets in which it operates with 22kW maximum charging within four hours.

At the heavy end of the company’s product range, the SEA Drive 180b is built onto a cab / chassis with an upper gross vehicle mass of 26 tons. It has a range of up to 300km. It works in temperatures from minus 20 to 45 degrees Celsius, has continuous power of 225kW and maximum torque of 3,500 newton meters. The lithium-ion batteries have a 156kWh capacity, 10- year life cycle and five-year warranty. Charging is, again, described as “standard” with 22kW maximum charging within 10 hours.

The company says that its vehicles “cost more upfront” but offer a payback over two to four years. Operators of SEA Drive vehicles include waste management company Suez and also ANC, a last-mile delivery company. ANC delivers flat-pack furniture on behalf of Scandinavian giant IKEA. According to ANC, the SEA Drive-powered trucks save about 36 metric tons of carbon emissions, allow an increase in payload of 400 kg to 500 kg, have a taller cargo box at 2.5 meters which enables 17 deliveries per run compared to 10-12 deliveries per run, and offer an “improved driver experience” through less noise, heat and vibrations as well as a roomier cab.

Mechanical engineer Tony Fairweather said that an “electrical vehicle revolution was pending” in 2013 and the company now has offices in Los Angeles, New Zealand, Asia and Europe in addition to its Australian headquarters.

Liquefied natural gas trucking gets underway in W.A.

Woodside, an Australian producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), has opened a liquefied natural gas truck loading facility inside the Port of Dampier, Western Australia.

Seven truck loadings of LNG will take place daily; each truck will haul 80,000 liters a day which is a total of 560,000 liters. Trucks will likely be loaded in the three-trailer road train configuration, although operation of such heavy vehicles is subject to routing restrictions. That supply could be doubled if the facility moves to 24-hour operations and could be expanded further subject to market demand.

The LNG will be trucked to mining operations and remote communities in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia. Trucked LNG will also be used to supply commercial marine craft that operate on the coast of Western Australia.

Woodside also hopes that the availability of trucked LNG can be used to supply trucks and trains in the regional heavy transport sector and can be supplied to the international dry bulk ocean shipping industry in the future.

“The Pluto LNG Truck Loading Facility is a further demonstration of our commitment to supplying domestic gas, and highlights Woodside’s drive to find new markets for our cleaner LNG. Around three billion liters of diesel are imported into the Pilbara every year, mainly for the mining industry. In addition, the ships exporting iron ore to international markets from the Pilbara consume approximately five billion liters of heavy fuel oil annually. Woodside believes that LNG produced here in Western Australia can replace those higher-emissions fuels,” Woodside Chief Operations Officer Meg O’Neill said.

Switching from traditional hydro-carbon fuels to LNG (which is, itself, a fossil fuel), could reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by 30 percent and reduce the local air pollutant nitrous oxide by 90 percent. It would also pretty much eliminate emissions of sulfur dioxide. That’s good because sulfur dioxide hurts animal and human lungs and damages agriculture and forestry because it is the prime ingredient of acid rain.

Pluto and Zina, its sister field, were discovered off the Pilbara coast in 2005 and 2006. Together, they contain over one trillion cubic feet of dry gas. Pluto generates about 4.9 million tons of LNG per annum and it has created over 400 ocean-borne LNG cargoes since opening in 2012.

The “natural gas” in LNG is mostly the chemical compound methane, which takes the form of a gas at room temperature. It is cooled to minus 260 Fahrenheit (minus 161 degrees Celsius) and then liquefied. The liquid state of methane is 1/600th of the volume of the gas state of methane. That volume reduction and transformation of methane into LNG makes the commodity economically viable for transport.

New A$30m facility for truck operator and freight forwarder Northline

Truck operator and freight forwarder Northline has opened its new A$30 million distribution center in Perth, the capital city of the state of Western Australia.

The center can take B-doubles (tractors with two semi-trailers) and road trains (tractors with three or more semi-trailers subject to local routing regulations). The facility is 30,000 square meters of which 19,525 square meters is under cover. About 11,000 square meters is warehousing. The facility is near to Perth Airport and the Kewdale Freight Terminal. Northline has depots in Adelaide, Darwin, Brisbane, Townsville, Sydney and Mackay.

Cops crackdown on dodgy waterfront drivers and trucks

Local police carried out roadside checks on over 440 vehicles (and 100 marine vessels too!) at the port of Portland in the western part of the state of Victoria.

The crackdown was to check that heavy vehicle operators were complying with road safety laws. Dockside cargo checks were also carried out. During “Operation Crossway,” 67 heavy vehicles were checked. No trucks were taken off the road. Police breath tests on 221 people and 72 oral fluid drug tests did not find anyone over the limit. But one driver did return a positive roadside drug test result.

Over 12,500 vehicle number plates were scanned over three days and that revealed 70 unlicensed drivers, 22 unregistered vehicles and “75 vehicles of interest to the Sheriff’s office.” A large number of maritime security checks on international shipping containers were also made.

Western Region Inspector Dave Reither commented that, “the Portland dock precinct is one of the main hubs in the west of the state for heavy vehicle activity and so it’s only natural that this would be an area of focus… fatigue, speeding, illicit drug use and unroadworthy vehicles remain the biggest contributors to serious collisions involving heavy vehicles, and that behaviour can have fatal consequences. An unsafe truck, a driver willing to take unnecessary risks and an employer happy to engage in unsafe work practices puts an enormous amount of people in the community at risk. This operation is not just about enforcement but also hopefully means that by highlighting the fact we are actively targeting this activity, it prevents some drivers and operators from taking these risks.”

Australian truck rollovers: chaos, mayhem and… pig manure… lots and lots of pig manure

Heavy truck rollovers have again caused massive traffic chaos and mayhem around Australia. Road users in Perth, Western Australia were urged to avoid a crucial road traffic area after a truck rolled over on Monday, April 15 at 04:30 a.m. (local time). The cause of the crash was unknown and the truck driver escaped with minor injuries. Local electricity infrastructure wasn’t so lucky – the prime mover destroyed a light pole and electrical wires. Photographs show a pretty badly bashed prime mover and electrical pole. Congestion immediately built up and it took hours upon hours to relieve the backlog.

A truck driver near the remote regional town of Beaufort, in the state of Victoria, had a lucky escape recently, walking away from a rolled truck. The vehicle (configuration unknown) rolled at or about 07:50 a.m. in mid-April. The truck was carrying a load of fuel, however, and fortunately, the load did not escape during the roll over. Local emergency services attended.

Meanwhile, in New South Wales, near the regional town of Kiama, a cement truck rolled over while delivering a load on what appears to be a narrow, steep hill at some point just before 07:30 a.m. Diesel from the truck spilled onto the road but emergency services personnel used the spilled cement to create a steep bund to prevent the diesel from spreading. The truck driver was taken to a local hospital.

And finally, what most folks do not want on their morning drive is a road full of pig manure. But that’s exactly what users of the Hexham-Woorndoo Road got in the eastern part of the state of Victoria. Local police said that the truck, in a double B configuration (tractor/semi-trailer with fifth wheel/semi trailer), rolled while it was taking a corner. The truck driver was unhurt. However, the rolling truck could not hold onto its load, dumping it over the road.

“I think it will be rather fertile on that side of the road,” a policeman quipped to the local media.