NA Roads – driving innovation with Mack
Nick Argyropoulos knows all about solving problems. In his latest attempt to save money and time in road maintenance, the managing director of NA Roads bought three new Mack MetroLiners to transport his new mobile batching units.
We’ve all been stuck in road works and Nick Argyropoulos can feel the frustration more than most.
He’s been in the road maintenance game for nearly 25 years, since he started out with a single backhoe subcontracting to the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority. Nick has seen road works evolve, and in recent years, he’s been at the forefront of that evolution.
As the managing director of NA Roads, based in Padstow in Sydney’s south west, Nick has a strong focus on minimising disruption and finding savings. With his team of 100+ employees and a fleet of over 50 trucks and plant and equipment, he is driven to innovate.
“Better concrete, quicker drying time, reduced congestion,” says Nick, “I want to unclog roads.”
Mobile Batching Units
Recently, Nick introduced a new computer-driven mobile batching unit to maintain roads with higher-quality concrete laid in quicker time.
“The mobile batching plant allows us to batch concrete on-site. The concrete that was available before we bought these units, was just very outdated. We couldn't get a concrete that would set fast enough,” he explains.
The mobile batching unit solves some real problems.
"The concrete needed 4 to 6 hours to dry before it could be opened to traffic. Fifteen years ago, we used to have to shut a road down for fifteen hours at a time. Sometimes even over a weekend,” he says.
The weigh station at Marulan is an example of some staggering results.
"Traditionally, RMS would block a lane at the weigh station at Marulan for up to seven days to get this concrete maintenance done. Using our mobile batching unit, they were able to reduce that down to an 8-hour period. This has significantly reduced disruption to the freight industry," he explains.
On many jobs, Nick can get traffic moving again less than two hours after a pour, and he has worked up and down the NSW east coast – from the Hume Highway south to the Pacific Highway north.
Nick says that he began his search overseas for a solution four years ago, and although he liked the concept of mobile batching, he was uncomfortable with the manual operation of the units.
“I sat down with ProAll Mixers in Canada, and had a discussion with them and told them what I wanted which was a computer-controlled, automated system that would produce repeatable and reliable results," he says.
Once Nick had the technology, he needed the transport. That is where Mack came in.
Working with Mack to customise the trucks
In 2018, Nick bought three new MetroLiners – two of which are dedicated to transporting the units. The trucks are his first foray into Mack and he was impressed with how the company worked with him to get the trucks right for application.
"The MetroLiner is great value for money. Jarrod at VCV Sydney helped us to set the trucks up exactly the way we needed," he says, “He had a strong understanding of what we wanted and they actually spoke to the ProAll suppliers to understand the weight and distribution that we required for our trucks.”
There was a lot of technical homework that went into the customisation.
"We needed a 10-wheeler with a lift-up axle to give us greater weight and better weight distribution. Secondly, Mack were able to custom build them, because we needed a modified Allison auto allow us to run the mobile batching units because they needed to be PTO-driven. Mack was able to give us that,” Nick says.
He says that NA Roads drivers are happy with the result.
"The feedback I have from the drivers are that the Macks are very comfortable. They've got great power for what we need. They’re very driver friendly,” Nick says.
Nick puts down the growth of NA Roads to a relentless search for better solutions. Nick had a head for business from an early age, could spot problems and develop cost-effective solutions.
“It's all about innovation for us. I'm a firm believer that we shouldn't just be doing things because that’s the way we’ve been doing them for the last twenty years," Nick says.
He says that government budgets need to be stretched further. Pouring higher quality concrete which can last for between 40 and 60 years rather than 20 years, and minimising the disruption to the motoring public, are what drives Nick.
“The increase in traffic volumes is a driving force. The window in which we’re allowed to be on the road is getting smaller and smaller. On average, we’re lucky if we get on the road for 6 to 8 hours,” he says.
Nick’s choice of the Mack MetroLiner, and Mack’s ability to customise them to his particular application perfectly complement his innovative search for better solutions in road maintenance.
“If we can get more done for less, that’s what I am trying to do," says Nick, “and the Macks are a key part of our new approach.”