Cochrane’s keep the remote settlements that dot the vast spaces of Western Australia supplied with goods of all kinds. We spoke with owner Barry Cochrane about his recent decision to buy four Mack Super-Liners.
“The sleeping arrangements for the long distance drivers was a better option for us, since we have specialised in two-up operations in the West,” Barry added.
For forty years, Cochrane’s Cartage Contractors have hauled overnight freight up and down the coast of Western Australia from their Perth base. It’s tough work on man and machine. At times it is an unforgiving landscape marked by sheer distance and relentless heat, where night and day melt together in the long sunrises over the eastern desert horizon and the hot sunsets over the Indian Ocean.
Endurance surely comes with the territory of being in the freight game in Western Australia – perhaps the longest of the long distance games.
Barry Cochrane, Manager of Cochrane’s Cartage Contractors, says that he is proud to preside over a growing family company where the loyalty of its 42 drivers stretch about as far as the west coast line.
“We've got over 11 drivers with 15 years of service, and 4 drivers who have been with us for over 25 years. One of the things that makes our work here enjoyable is that we have an awesome crew,” he says proudly.
If the quality of a company is measured by time and distance, then Cochrane’s Cartage Contractors has earned its place among the sandgropers’ top transport services linking Perth with the rest of the state. In December, it marked its 40th anniversary with low-key celebrations, and its regular runs are measured in the thousands of kilometres.
“We do daily runs to places such as Broome, Karratha, Geraldton and Port Hedland. Derby is our farthest destination at 5,010 kilometres. We leave on the Sunday and we get into Derby on Monday night. We do our drop and then we’re back on the Wednesday morning. The truck then turns around and goes back again on Thursday,” says Barry.
With a land area of 2.5 million square kilometres, but a population of just 2.6 million scattered far and wide, delivering things like mail and urgently-needed supplies is no easy feat.
Cochrane’s sixteen trucks are on the road 24 hours per day. Most of them are running on a two-up driving system where one driver is driving, while the other sleeps in the spacious cab of the Mack Super-Liner, refreshed and ready for the next shift. Each driver usually does two shifts per week.
Barry is a new convert to Mack, adding four Super-Liners and one prototype trial truck to the fleet in 2016. He says that the Super-Liner complements his need to cover long distances in short periods without refuelling. With its huge fuel carrying capacity and the comfort of the sleeping arrangements, the Super-Liner is ideal.
With Cochrane’s being contracted to some of Australia’s leading overnight freight providers on some of the longest stretches of road in the world, endurance and comfort were key in providing a reliable service to his company’s clients.
“There were a few factors in our decision to move to the Macks this year. They hold more fuel on board with the bonneted truck. We can carry 2,100 litres which obviously suits our business,” he says.
With the Macks spending most of their time on isolated roads hundreds of kilometres from the nearest settlement, reliability is also fundamental. Since the purchase of his Macks in April, Barry says that each has clocked over 200,000 kilometres in their first seven months of operation.
He says that the A-grade suspension with the front rear disc brakes added to the smooth ride – an important consideration given the need for his drivers to be well rested.
Cochrane’s has a proud tradition in Western Australia. It’s unique among trucking companies in the country for its longevity and gruelling schedule in servicing its customers. And in at least one way it’s a first among equals.
"We were the first accredited company in WA for main roads. Our main roads accreditation number is 0001 which is something I am pretty proud of,” says Barry.