Livestock Transportation Gains Reduced Operating Times and Increased Safety
Livestock transportation company moves millions of livestock each year
Established 73 years ago, Frasers Livestock Transport may well be the oldest substantial livestock trucking business in Australia still under original ownership.
Frasers today runs a fleet of 50 prime movers and 150 trailers operating as single, B-double, B-triple and roadtrain configurations. Home base is at Warwick in Queensland and the company transports more than four million head of livestock a year between cattle properties, feedlots, sale yards, abattoirs and ports.
Ross Fraser is managing director, with trucks and livestock having been locked permanently into his life for many years. In fact, he has been directly involved in the family business for over 50 years. His brothers Les and Peter were also bred into the trucking business, and they play key roles in the day-today operations as directors.
Their parents, Charlie and Edna Fraser, started the company in 1944 with a LendLease Ford carting poultry, grain, wood and hay in the Warwick district before focusing on livestock transport.
Cross-loading safety awards to cut time and increase safety
Cummins South Pacific managing director Stephanie Disher was recently introduced to the Frasers business, watching the company’s cross-loading in action with a module system that won two Queensland Safe Work Awards and also a National Safe Work Australia Award for ‘Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue’.
“The dangers of cross-loading cattle between roadtrains are enormous. It’s one of the most dangerous activities in the cattle transport supply chain… we needed to do something that didn’t put our drivers at risk,” says Ross Fraser.
Frasers designed and custom-built a cross-loading module, a simple but highly functional piece of equipment that provides significant improvements to animal welfare, driver safety and stock handling efficiency. It removes the need for drivers to work within the stockcrates, or climb or stand on them. The module incorporates a series of elevated platforms, over-trailer walkways, sliding gates and barriers.
“The acceptance has been unreal,” says fleet manager Mark Collins, pointing out the company now has three cross-loading modules, at Toowoomba, Roma and Rockhampton.
He also reveals big time savings: “We recently transferred 42 decks of cattle from Curley (Cattle Transport) to seven of our triples in Roma and it took 2 hours 10 minutes. Without the system it would have taken us half a day at least.”
Frasers success leans on its long-standing employees
In an industry as fiercely demanding as livestock transport, staff are a key component to business success, and Frasers has a long list of long-standing employees.
“You can’t run a business like livestock transport from a boardroom. You need the right people on the ground. Bringing people up through the business is a huge advantage,” says Ross Fraser.
“How many multinational companies are involved in livestock transport? “
None, because it’s too difficult. Nearly all livestock transporters are family businesses and they have that close affinity with animals.
“Recognising the value of having the right people working for you is critical. We’re no different to anyone else. Being away from home a lot puts pressure on families… but we have good driver retention – we actually have a third generation driver here – and we value that retention greatly.”
Mark Collins has been with Frasers for 35 years. He started as a mechanic, had a stint as a driver, and is now fleet manager.
“We’re lucky having Mark,” says Ross Fraser. “He’s taken an interest in industry issues. It’s important that people who are involved in the industry associations have had experience on the ground and use that experience to run a strong agenda for the industry.”
Ross Fraser has always had a close affinity with associations. He was chairman of the Australian Trucking Association from 2004-2006 and is also a past president of the Australian Livestock Transporters Association and Livestock Transporters Association of Qld.
Special demands need special equipment, like Cummins-powered Kenworth trucks
Cummins-powered Kenworths dominate in the Frasers fleet today while Byrne is the favoured trailer brand. “We bought our first new Kenworth in 1986 and have continued buying Kenworths. Product reliability and service support are important… we know that the right part will turn up when we ask for it,” says Ross Fraser.
“It’s not in our interest to put another brand into the fleet. That would be inefficient. We like the T650 series Kenworth. It’s easy to work on, it’s easy to change a gearbox, and the cab sits higher on the chassis for better air circulation.”
Frasers’ relationship with Cummins extends back to the early 1980s, and today there’s a mix of Signature Gen II, ISX EGR and ISXe5 engines in the fleet. Again, service support geared to the special demands of livestock transport operations has been a key element in the preference for Cummins.