Diesel stops: meeting a need in thirsty trucks

Diesel stops: meeting a need in thirsty trucks

The new Port Kembla facility saves truck drivers time when refuelling

Truckies generally don’t like having car drivers around when they’re filling up their rigs, and vice versa. It usually takes 15 minutes to fill a truck with 1,200 litres of diesel, and congestion aused by large vehicles on forecourts can slow up the refuelling process for other customers or turn them away.

Truckies generally don’t like having car drivers around when they’re filling up their rigs, and vice versa. It usually takes 15 minutes to fill a truck with 1,200 litres of diesel, and congestion caused by large vehicles on forecourts can slow up the refuelling process for other customers or turn them away.

That’s just one of the reasons Caltex will be opening new purpose-built “diesel-stop” facilities around the country in coming months, says Phil Dunbar, Caltex Petroleum Services (CPS) National Operations Manager.

More importantly the concept presents Caltex with a potential business opportunity. Freight transport, projected to expand at 3.5 percent a year until 2015, is an area which is under-served by Caltex. “At present the configuration of our depot, truck-stop and convenience store network isn’t entirely suitable for increasing our share in this market,” says Phil.

However, the upside is good. Caltex Energy Queensland has operated the Yatala unmanned diesel stop near Brisbane since 2004 and returned good results.

Retail sites are typically ill-suited to serving this segment because most have low-flow diesel pumps, lower canopy heights and limited truck access. Trucks can also cause significant damage to retail forecourts and, often, only one vehicle has access at any given time.

Attractive proposition

That’s why diesel-stops are an attractive proposition. They feature ultra high-flow pumps and multiple truck bays which allow tanks on both sides of the vehicle to be filled simultaneously with the swipe of a card. They also have significantly upgraded pollution controls and safety features.

Most of the planned diesel stops will be near heavy industrial and commercial zones on the outskirts of metropolitan areas and in regional towns. Many will be unmanned. At others, depot fronts will be converted to serve as diesel stops where lubes are other services will also be available.

Port Kembla stop – ‘just what truckies want’

The first of the new facilities has already opened at Port Kembla depot, 80 kilometres south of Sydney, adjacent to a port expansion. It’s the result of a diverse Caltex team comprising employees from reseller, engineering, property services and operational excellence.

The Port Kembla diesel stop is designed to deliver 1,200 litres of diesel in five minutes, which is just what truckies want, says Greg Smyth, CPS Business Development Manager.

“And because of recent changes to fatigue management legislation, the time a driver takes to refuel a truck is now deemed ‘work time’. This allows drivers more time for proper rest breaks,” adds Greg.

The aim is to attract a greater slice of the “intermodal” commercial vehicle refuelling business. This typically involves two forms of transport coming together, like rail to road, or ship to road, and daily back-to-base truck operators travelling short-haul.

“These purpose-built diesel stops are smaller than truck stops, so urban site locations can be economically viable, and they cost less to build and run,” says Phil Dunbar.

“Results in the first weeks of operations at Port Kembla were in line with initial volume expectations while competitors and customers continue to show strong interest.”

One or two more diesel stops are due to be completed in 2009, with another 20 potential locations under investigation, says Phil. “We need to get a few more built before we can completely evaluate the concept.”