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Making the right impression means coordinating every aspect of the business for Select Quarry Materials
It’s been two years since the merger of Central Quarry Materials and The Good Soil created the new business entity of Select Quarry Materials. But for joint managing directors Mark Allen and Michael Sultana, it’s been an exciting journey as they establish the brand on the basis of customer service excellence.

“Michael and I have known each other through working together in the earthmoving and quarry products business for around eight years. We realised that in order to take the next step in growing our individual businesses our best option would be to pool our resources and invest together in the future growth. That’s basically how Select Quarry Materials came into being. We could both see the synergies of working together.
“Together we have been able to invest in substantial growth that has seen us increase our fleet to 35 vehicles. We are not purely a cartage business, we supply and deliver raw materials, which is over 50 percent of what we do,” said Mark.
The decision to adopt a new, highly distinctive corporate identity by duplicating the Select Quarry Materials logo across each entire side of the truck and tipper bodies creates a significant impact on all those that see the vehicles on the highway. The appearance is so distinctive that a casual onlooker could easily be convinced that the fleet comprises at least double the number of vehicles, as each truck and trailer stands out from the crowd.
“Our fleet ranges from three-tonne tippers and single-axle and bogie-drive rigid trucks used in the retail distribution of soil and landscaping products, right up to 6×4 rigid tippers with four-axle and five-axle dog trailers,” said Mark.
Kenworth is the predominant truck brand, and of the total 35 vehicles in the fleet they make up around 60 percent, compared to the other 40 percent, which is based on Mack with two Volvo FMs and one Western Star.
Recent purchases include ten Kenworth T409s, each powered by the Cummins ISXe5 engine rated at 550 hp and using SCR and AdBlue. These join a couple of earlier T409 models powered by the Cummins ISX EGR engines with DPFs. The MACK Tritons are running at 535 hp with the Super-Liners rated at 600 hp.
“We also have 10×4 rigid tippers and these enable us to capitalise on their effectiveness for maximum payload where access into a work site may be limited, precluding the use of five-axle dog trailers,” Mark added.
“There are additional payload benefits when moving from an eight-wheeler to a ten-wheeler, and not towing a trailer means the speed of turnaround is better.
“We are putting the 10×4 Metro-Liner on shorter distance work where we would traditionally use a rigid and dog trailer, especially when we are very busy. It’s a quicker unload time. We find that because we have a varied customer base, a tight job that asks for bogies can take a 10×4, which increases payload operation from 13-14 tonnes payload on a 6×4 to a 20 tonnes payload on the 10×4.
“When I first started working in this industry the standard type of vehicle was a 6×4 rigid tipper with a three-axled dog trailer. With the formation of Select Quarry Materials the company was one of the first to run a truck and five-axle dog trailer in Sydney, and we currently operate four of these combinations in the fleet.
“In our type of work we don’t find a great differences in fuel consumption between the engines because of traffic conditions and even driver variations.
“The Cummins product, and the after-hours service we get from them, is pretty much unbelievable. Both the Kenworths and the Macks are doing the job well. One thing that stands out is that with the technology in the Mack product there can be niggly things that come up that you can only identify by plugging in to the appropriate computer link, so they have to be sent back to Mack.
“We are increasing our intake of automated manual transmissions and currently around 70 percent of the Kenworth fleet is fitted with the UltraShift PLUS Eaton transmission, with earlier units using the AutoShift. A couple of the Super-Liners are fitted with manual Eaton gearboxes.
“Having a combination of rigid vehicles and trucks and dogs, we have found it advantageous for us to initiate our own driver training programmes in order to encourage younger drivers to join the industry. As we encourage a new employee to drive, we train them from the car licence or light rigid category to progress through to a medium and heavy rigid licence.
“Once they progress to their HR licence they spend an average of six months gaining experience with the support of an older driver as a trainer and mentor before they can then progress to their MC licence.
“It’s vital to make sure the right training is provided together with the encouragement to enable a driver to move perhaps from a general freight background to become proficient in rigid and dog trailer work.
“There’s no reason these days why female drivers could not progress along the same career path as with rigid tipper and dog trailer work. There are no requirements for a person to be of a particular size or possess specific physical strength. We don’t get too many applying, approximately one in fifty, but we would certainly not dissuade any female employee from working as a driver.
“Our driver training programme means that a new trainee can work with an experienced operator that has been with us for ten plus years and learn from them.
“If female drivers want to contact us we would be very open to employing them. We have a brand-new, modern facility with spotless amenities and an employment culture that focuses on the abilities of all employees. We have started drivers with MR licences and new employees can start with the small three-tonne tippers delivering sand and soil to landscape and building projects. If they show an interest, we would encourage that.
“Compared to line haul driving there are obvious advantages of working in a local transport operation through being home each evening. We also operate a two-shift system where we can balance our allocations to suit a driver that may not want to work maximum hours. We have about three trucks on night shift at the moment, and it’s all about meeting the demand with workload and managing fatigue. This enables some drivers to do an 8 or 10-hour shift rather than working a 14-hour day.
“We recently became accredited with NHVAS for maintenance and mass requirement and we run a night-shift workshop. Certainly in our industry you need to be attracting the right people and have the right equipment with the experience behind you to go for those bigger contracts. It takes a lot to get from the 15-truck level to the 35-truck level that we are today.
“Prior to the merger, The Good Soil company had five truck and dogs that were all on contract maintenance with service requirements being taken care of overnight at our local Mack dealership at Huntingwood. This worked well, and to simplify dropping off vehicles and their collection we stationed a company ute at the Mack dealership so that a driver could drop off their truck, travel home in the ute, and then return to collect the truck at the start of their next shift.
“With a fleet of that size, contract maintenance works really well. Now the fleet is larger, the management of service and maintenance requirements becomes easier if we complete everything in-house.
“There are not many dealerships apart from Mack and Volvo that run a full night shift. Other dealerships have a time line where they finish. Having our own mechanics mean that if something needs fixing we can cope with that and ensure the truck is ready for work in the morning.
“The headquarters of Select Quarry Materials has undergone a complete refurbishment and the result would be the envy of many transport operators. The workshop is fitted out with a full-length in-ground service pit long enough to accommodate full truck and trailer combinations. Oil and grease supplies are piped along one side of the service pit area and a brand-new rolling road brake tester has also been installed.
“With the maintenance team working on a night shift, each vehicle is rotated through on a regular service schedule that includes regular brake efficiency testing every two weeks. This is endorsed by the printout from the brake tester that is attached to each individual maintenance record. All vehicles undergo either an A-service, a B-service or a C-service each two weeks.
“The diversity of the fleet requires the Kenworths to undergo oil drain intervals of 20-30,000 km, whereas on the recommendation of Mack the oil drain intervals can be extended to 40,000 km, dependent on engine idle time and PTO operation.
“We have incorporated everything we think we might need within the refurbishment plan for the depot, including installing a wash bay with all the hoses held captive off the ground and mounted so they can travel on a rail attached to the wall of the wash bay and not run the risk of being damaged. Our aim is to have vehicles washed at night through the week in order to keep the fleet as clean as possible.
“We have continued to invest in the growth of the business with the purchase of additional land adjacent to our headquarters that will be developed for truck parking and also for fuel bunkering.
As Michael Sultana explained, “A good relationship with suppliers and customers is how we expand our business.”
“We have satellite tracking on own fleet, but with subcontractors we can look at the introduction of compatible systems in the future together with an automated allocation system. It’s something we are in the process of doing now, with devices in our trucks and those of our permanent subcontractors,” said Michael.
“One important thing we are doing in the future is that on each truck we are installing a four-camera set-up with front view, side view, and rear views. It can be hard to determine who is at fault after an accident, and we see that as being an important way to support our drivers.
“In line with our growth we are also for the first time employing a permanent compliance specialist to support our operation. That moves us into a new level by being able to benchmark our operation from the ground up. Some of our competitors simply don’t have the level of compliance that we deem necessary,” added Michael.

Maximum flexibility for maximum efficiency
The composition of the Select Quarry Materials fleet reflects the considerable knowledge of both Mark Allen and Michael Sultana, and their pooling of experience has resulted in different truck and trailer applications to suit varying requirements.
“When I started Central Quarry Materials back in 2006, Sloanebuilt Trailers was my preferred supplier for all truck bodywork and trailer requirements.
“At that time, the relationship with Sloanebuilt was particularly important to us because of its expertise and involvement in our PBS-compliant trailers. It went without saying that, as we created Select Quarry Materials, we would be working with Sloanebuilt.
“We have continued a very solid long-term business relationship for over ten years, starting with truck and three-axle dogs, then to four-axle dogs, and it continued as we became one of the first operators of five-axle dog trailers and 10×4 rigid tippers in Sydney,” said Mark.
“For those interested in payload and efficiency comparisons, the standard 6×4 rigid tipper and quad-dog trailers are running under HML and PBS requirements at 57.5 tonnes.
“The use of quad-dog trailers provides a high degreeof flexibility as they can operate at 57.5 tonnes one way on a PBS approved route, but then still operate on a non-PBS approved route at the lower gross weight of 50.5 tonnes.
“The four-axle trailers are more advantageous for us than a five-axle. Running a five-axle you need to have the work that can accommodate those vehicles for access into worksites on a daily basis. Depending on what product they are used for depends on whether we can supply that with a truck with five axles. Moving to a six-axle trailer would give us far too many access problems,” said Mark.
“There’s no advantage to consider other designs such as moving to a rear-discharge trailer when compared to four or five-axle dog trailers. You can’t go past them from an application point of view, but you do need specific types of work for the functionality of using a five-axle trailer,” Mark added.
A typical specification for a 6×4 rigid Sloanebuilt aluminium tipper body that is NHVR approved and PBS compliant includes the mandatory fitment of ABS anti-lock braking systems.
The body length of 4650 mm with a height of 1670 mm, when manufactured from 5.0 mm single piece aluminium side panels with 6.3 mm thick front sheet and a 5.0 mm thick tailgate, combines with an 8.0 mm floor to produce a 17.6 cubic metres capacity.
With an EDBRO CS13 24T hoist fitted with an additional anti-burst valve, the PTO equipment is by Powauto operated through in-cab controls. Hella lighting is used throughout the body. Automatic onboard weighing systems include three cab-mounted, SBT digital air gauges, and the tailgate is fitted with a single grain chute.
In similar fashion, the typical Sloanebuilt specification for a matching aluminium four-axle dog trailer includes body dimensions of 8230 mm in length and 1670 mm in height, with identical material thickness to that of the rigid tipper body.
Because of the larger 31.5-cubic-metre capacity, a higher rated EDBRO CS 17 hoist is fitted featuring a capacity of 40 tonnes. The tailgate also contains a single grain chute.
Fitted with Hendrickson INTRAAX air suspension, with auto slack adjusters operating with the electronic braking system, the tare weight is approximately 7200 kg.
“We keep to drum brakes rather than disc brakes because we find it more viable to stay with drum braking, but we are running 7HXL Hendrickson suspension with bigger brake drum and lining dimensions, plus we include bearing indicators on each axle,” said Mark Allen.

“Having our in-house service and maintenance facilities give us the resources to make sure that all our equipment is regularly maintained and that checks and balances are in place to ensure everything is operating efficiently and safely.
“Sloanebuilt Trailers continues to work closely with our workshop, and as part of its customer support programme it maintains a consignment stock of OEM parts located at the SQM workshop to cater for regular service requirements.
“The inventory is monitored and replenished by Sloanebuilt direct, to ensure that stocks are on hand, such as brake shoes, brake boosters, slack adjusters etc., complementing the tyre stock of new tyres already mounted on alloy rims and other parts such as filters and lights.
“In quieter times, our service team is also able to work with Sloanebuilt to undertake refurbishment programmes for older trailers, making sure that all our equipment incorporates the latest in technology upgrades. The overhaul gives even an older trailer the ability to remain in service behind a new truck and bin with good reliability as well as maintaining the very high level of fleet presentation we require,” added Mark.
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