Concrete delivery specialists Austmix are massively expanding their fleet of concrete agitators, with ten new Metro-Liners on the Mack production line this year following on from 21 new Metro-Liners delivered last year and a further ten more on order.
After upgrading their plant in Pinkenba to a twin-alley, and opening a new single-ally plant in Burleigh Heads, South-east Queensland’s Austmix are expanding their fleet to match their output.
“We got tired of saying ‘No’ to people because we didn’t have enough trucks to deliver orders,” said Managing Director Jim Venn, “and when we won the contract for the Gold Coast Light Rail we had no option but to expand.”
When it came to choosing a new agitator, the brand was never in doubt for Jim.
“I’ve been using Macks for over 25 years,” said Jim, “and I’ve consistently found them to be the best truck for the job.
“Mack Metro-Liners are robust, dependable, comfortable to drive and they can get in and out of places other makes can’t.
“When you’re carrying a product like concrete that simply has to be delivered on time, those things count.”
The Metro-Liner is popular choice for agitators for several good reasons.
“The height of chassis rail on the Metro-Liner is perfect,” said Jim, “when you’re putting a rotating barrel full of a moving semi-liquid on the back, a low centre of gravity is critical, and the Metro-Liner is a very balanced truck.”
Jim also found the Metro-Liner to be an ideal fit with his personal favourite barrel, produced just a few kilometres away by another home-grown manufacturer, Cesco.
“The Metro-Liner takes the Cesco barrel beautifully,” said Jim, “the wiring harness in truck has everything pre-configured so it fits perfectly with the cameras and other hardware.”
“Mack have a lot of experience with agitators and they’ve thought this stuff through. It’s all pre-built in there if you know where to look.
“VCV Australia have also been fantastic partners. They have taken the time to really get to know our business and I feel like one of the family.”
When ordering the new trucks, Jim and his team worked with VCV and Mack, making small adjustments to the design.
We wanted to make life easier for the drivers, so we asked Mack to switch the position of the radio in the cab and fit stiff blocks in the suspension.”
One such change sounds trivial but is critical to the whole operation of delivering concrete.
“Trucks these days are configured to turn themselves off if they’re idling for more than a few minutes,” said Jim.
“You can’t have that with an agitator—that barrel has to keep turning—so Mack tuned the new Metro-Liners so they won’t turn off. This is a small detail, but it shows the attention to detail and Mack’s understanding of the business.”
Jim also prefers the Metro-Liner’s configuration.
“On an agitator you want the barrel as close the cab as you can get it,” said Jim, “because it makes it easier for the driver to negotiate the tight spots we have to get into.
“When it’s raining, and you’re on steep broken ground it can get quite challenging, delivering dependably is key and that’s what the Metro-Liner gives us in these situations: dependability.”
Vice President of Mack Trucks Australia, Tom Chapman said Austmix is a great example of Mack’s commitment to application expertise and the power of effective partnerships.
“Jim is a true example of an entrepreneur, and his extensive experience in the concrete industry combined with his love for Mack Trucks, has given us invaluable insight into this application. It’s allowed us to challenge innovations, establish optimal agitator specs and implement ideal driver conditions to suit.”
“Being able to completely customise products from our factory in the western corridor of Brisbane is something we’re really proud of, and we’re equally proud to work with the team at Austmix to deliver their 100% Australian owned and operated, quality service,” he continued.
“It also doesn’t hurt hearing the feedback on Austmix’s good-looking fleet - we look forward to seeing more of these pop up around the Gold Coast area.”
Austmix find the Macks so dependable that they have just one mechanic servicing thirty-four of them.
“The new Macks only need routine maintenance,” said Jim, “and we’ve got three months’ of spares and our own mechanic so we’re pretty self-reliant.”
Some of the old Macks being retired have put in more than twenty years of service in a tough grind.
“An agitator chute gets washed down with acid every day to get rid of the concrete,” said Jim, “and as you’d expect that starts to affect the drivetrain and the chassis. For these Macks to last twenty-plus years in those conditions shows just how tough they are.”
The drivers at Austmix all agree that the Metro-Liner is the truck for the job.
“Our drivers start and finish the day feeling refreshed because they’ve been in a Mack,” said Jim.
“The power, comfort and ease of driving the Mack Metro-Liner makes it really popular with all our drivers.”
“Importantly, we don’t struggle to get drivers because they all want to drive a Mack.”
With business booming, Jim is confident his new fleet is up to the task.
“We’ve been working with Mack Metro-Liners for over twenty-five years,” said Jim, “we’ve tried other makes and models, but the Macks are a stand-out.
“The Metro-Liners are more reliable and have withstood the rigours of delivering concrete better than the rest. So, am I happy I’ve bought Macks? Am I ever.”