Bettatrans - Recycling and Productivity

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Prior to receiving their new PW 24 280, Bettatrans meet with Disel Magazine to talk about how the world of waste management is no longer about collecting and dumping only. Sub- segments like recycling now need fast and effi handling solutions to cope with an increasingly complex supply chain

This article was originally published in the 2017 edition of Diesel Magazine

Much like the road transport industry as a whole, the waste supply chain is largely invisible to the general public. Everyone is aware of the side-lifter trucks making weekly visits to the roadside on our street, but this is often the limit of our knowledge.

Beyond everyday waste collection, however, the supply chain can be just as complex, and as competitive, as the rest of the trucking industry. Productivity is king and specialist, often expensive, equipment is needed to get a contract over the line. One operator in this segment is South Australian company, Bettatrans. The Adelaide firm has a reputation for getting the job done in the most efficient manner possible and is committed to growing its fleet with the latest equipment. Even though it has been in business for only a few years, it is already an integral part of the Adelaide waste disposal scene.

In line with its commitment to customised, modern equipment, the company has recently invested in state-of- the-art trailers from Azmeb, a MaxiTRANS-owned company that specialises in the design and manufacture of side-tippers designed to handle bulk waste. The trailers are being used on a contract with waste industry giant Visy and typically move waste from a transfer station in the suburbs to a processing plant in a major industrial area for processing.


The truck we meet up with during our visit is pulling the new Azmeb gear and assigned to the night shift, moving six or seven loads of recycling each night between Clifton and Wingfield. The journey from transfer station to processing plant takes 30 minutes, so loading and unloading times need to be minimised to ensure productivity.

Part of the solution is a fast and efficient tarping system. A truck can now pull in to a site, unload and leave in one minute. The whole process is automated on the Azmeb trailers to ensure it is is done in the right order, safely and efficiently. “We have to come up with the most efficient way to collect the customers’ material,” says Chris Cunningham, Director of Bettatrans.

“Obviously, they’re always after the dollar, like every big company. You just have to be on your toes, be the most efficient operator, with the most fuel-efficient set-up.”

Visy’s unloading site is simply a large shed in which the waste is dumped and then handled by front loaders. Where floor conveyors used to be used, now processing plant hoppers are set higher above the ground. The trailers can be unloaded in a number of ways to suit the site at which they are delivering.

For maximum visibility, all Bettatrans’ trucks are fitted with on-board weighing systems. While they are not normally needed in recycling transport, general waste will often push the load to the maximum GCM, so flexibility is key for Bettatrans.

That’s also true for the operation at large. Bettatrans covers a wide area of the more populated parts of South Australia, including the city of Adelaide, and the stretch of land from Gawler in the north to Victor Harbour in the south, and across to Murray Bridge in the east.

The company works as a contractor to a number of waste operators including Visy, Veolia, TPI and EcoBins, explains Chris, covering most major waste operations in Adelaide.“We haven’t got a lot of our own customers, just a few who ring us now and then. We set the business up to subcontract to the big waste operators.”

Chris says 90 per cent of all of the waste handled by Bettatrans is recycling, with the rest being general waste. The recycled materials include timber, cardboard and plastic, often collected from Coles and Woolworths locations, while a contract with OneSteel also sees the odd recycled steel load.

“I’ve been involved in Bettatrans for three and a half years, but the business has been going for 16 years,” Chris says.


“When I took over it had seven trucks, but the recycling business is gradually growing. Even the general waste we are taking to the dumps, 80 per cent of that is recycling.”

Most of the trucks in the fleet today are rigids, with the semis only used for the transfer between large sites. Some of the work is also handled by compactors and hooklift trucks, depending on the equipment at each location. The entire fleet comprises just seven compactors, five hooklifts, a front-lifter and the semi trailer. All of the trucks in the fleet are running at 6x2, apart from one 8x4.


“We have to be covered by contracts, when you look at the millions of dollars investment we have to make to do the job,” says Chris. “Our whole fleet is now looking good, I think the oldest truck is three years old. The modern fleet gives a good impression and aids the contractor in keeping the long-term contracts with the community.”

Chris says the focus on new and efficient equipment also extends to the semi-trailer: “This is the first Azmeb trailer in South Australia. We flew up to Queensland to have a look at it. We had looked at walking floors, normal tippers, everything, but this just smashed the lot. It’s so simple, there is very little maintenance on it. There’s just a little bit of greasing and looking after the rubber hinge at the bottom of the door and a couple of rams.”

The tipper marks the departure into a new area for Bettatrans, Chris points out, and will not be the last of its kind. “Systems like walking floors have to be rebuilt all of the time and take 40 minutes to unload,” he says. “I am still amazed when I look at these national companies using walking floors everywhere, this technology just kills them. We’ve just got one down here, but I have found the Azmeb outfit staggering. We found it on Google and went from there.”

The prime mover in front of the new unit is a 4x2 UD Quon, and the relatively light recycling material cubes out well before the single drive is overloaded. The tare mass of the truck and trailer set is around 20 tonnes, with a GCM of 32 tonnes out on the highway.


The prime mover is fitted with UD’s 11-litre GH11 engine and uses the company’s Escot 12-speed AMT, both of which are derived from elements in the Volvo driveline. Most of the other vehicles in the fleet have been sourced from UD, too, Chris explains. “The UD Quon is amazing. The fuel efficiency is almost as good as on the UD Condors we have in the fleet.”

Despite the semi-trailer success, compactors are still the core part of the fleet, though.  Bettatrans changes over the cab chassis at 400,000-500,000km, mostly due to the stress powering the compactor puts on the truck as the hydraulics run directly off the truck driveline. The compactor bodies are expected to last long enough to be fitted to two cab chassis, so Chris expects the side-tipping trailer to last at least 20 years.

With so much positive feedback, Bettatrans is now looking to expand and take its successful business model outside of the Adelaide area. Perth looks to be one area where expansion is possible, Chris says, but the company is also examining prospects in other centres.

“People tell me, if you can make things work in Adelaide, you can make them work anywhere,” he explains. “There’s no density here, and a lot of players in the market. You’ve got to be really, really efficient to make it work. You have to cover a big metropolitan area, where there is no density in the middle of town. Everything in the waste industry is about density and pick up rates.”


One tool that has helped Chris succeed in Adelaide is a modern telematics system. “The entire fleet is linked into the Vtec telematics system to keep an eye on what’s going on and record journeys and

specific parts of the runs,” he shares.“We have just swapped over to a new management system called WasteEdge, so all of our run sheets are on iPads in the truck cabs.

“Where we load the big tipper, the shed has a Wi-Fi-connected camera on it, which looks onto the conveyor and into the truck. As the driver arrives and backs up, the iPad automatically hooks up to the camera. He can then watch it load on his iPad and move forward and back using the iPad to make sure it’s loaded evenly.

“When we first got the truck, we put a camera in the truck to watch the load, but it didn’t work. When loading, the dust made it impossible, we had to clean it every hour. That’s when we came with this other solution.”

Smart thinking and driving hard for efficiency is the name of the game in many transport businesses. It seems this principle is also working for Bettatrans, as the company seeks to expand both its experience and capabilities in an industry that has long ago moved on from a simple ‘collect and dump’ mentality.