AS THE NAME suggests, Australian Radio Towers (ART) assembles the radio and communications towers. This involves work with environmental monitoring systems, meteorological studies, the renewable energy sector, and communications for industries such as mining, defence and emergency services.
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This year, the ART team upgraded to a new Isuzu FYJ 300-350 twin steer truck, outfitted with a high-powered PK 14402-EH Palfinger crane, assisting to construct the towers which can span up to 160 metres high.
“We’ve got a hooter of a crane on this truck, it turns heads and makes it unique,” Chris Ratcliff from ART said. “Wherever it’s parked, people come noticing.” It makes for an impressive rig paired with a 6.8-metre-long twin-axle dog trailer, which just happens to be the exact same height as the FYJ’s tray allowing for better load sharing.
AUSTRALIA’S CHANGING NEEDS
Before the pandemic, ART focused on temporary radio towers at music festivals and events – that industry has shifted
not only with reduction of events but also the introduction of permanent radio towers for mobile and Wi-Fi communications.
Nowadays, this forms only a part of the ART offering. The main point of difference from their competitors lies in the team’s end-to-end expertise: from drafting and design of a wide range of products such as masts and towers, stand-alone power units and rapid-deploy solutions, through to their manufacture, transport and installation in remote locations.
ART are based in Murwillumbah in Northern New South Wales, with a few strategically placed depots across the country and a warehouse in Victoria. The business has customers all over Australia and even into the Pacific Islands.
“We’re unique in our game, providing a turnkey solution for guide masts and towers that covers design, manufacture, supply, transport and install… there’s not too many companies that will do all of that in-house,” Chris said. “Australian Radio Towers has grown from a small company that had six or seven people working for it to what it is today with over 140 people on staff.”
TWIN STEER STRENGTH
An ageing crane truck purchased in 2017 had put in the hard yards but was ready for retirement, Chris detailed. They turned to the team at Brisbane Isuzu to organise a fresh set of wheels and struck up a strong relationship with sales representative Julian Walker from the Archerfield dealership. Chris said they selected the FYJ twin steer model specifically for its weight bearing and load sharing advantages.
With its four axles, the FYJ provides maximum support and load distribution for the crane, which needs to lift five tonnes or more at close range and just under a ton at a range of 17 metres. Featuring a Gross Vehicle Mass of 30,000 kilograms and a hefty Gross Combined Mass of 45,000 kilograms, the FYJ 300-350 8×4 is more than capable of carrying the powerful Palfinger crane behind the cab, plus a load on the tray and dog trailer safely.
“We went with the FYJ twin steer and bogie axle, with a tandem trailer because that setup suits what we do,” Chris said. “It gives the option to take the truck to site, or we can take the truck and trailer and leave the trailer out on the road if we need to, it just gives us versatility.”
IN FOR THE LONG HAUL
The FYJ 300-350 offers more than enough power for ART’s needs, but it happens to be the perfect wheelbase length when combined with a trailer – for coming under a very specific 19-metre length restriction.
“We carry equipment that takes up a lot of space, but not a lot of weight,” Chris explained. “As you can imagine,
a radio tower takes up a fair bit of room, but it doesn’t have a lot of weight because it’s got to be streamlined and efficient to be able to go up to 160m in the air.
“The setup can be a bit more awkward to get around tight corners, but it gives us more carrying capacity and with the front mounted crane, allows load sharing over the twin axles at the front.
“One of the other reasons that we decided on this model was that we were advised by our mechanics to avoid AdBlue and burn cycle engines,” he continued.
“This truck has DOC which tends to be more reliable… it’s not going to slow down on the side of the road and hold us up.”
This refers to the FYJ’s Euro 5 compliant emissions control system, which features cooled EGR with exhaust Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) eliminating the need for other fuel additives.
The team have been flat chat with their new crane truck and trailer combination and are finding both productivity gains and the capability to take on more jobs than ever before. The truck has a weekly run from North Queensland to the bottom end of NSW, with additional jobs as far as Mount Walsh near Rockhampton. “The team love the inside of the cab on the FYJ, it’s modern, luxurious and everything works so well.
It’s perfect for us, absolutely perfect. It has already done over 20,000 kilometres since we picked it up in early 2023. It hasn’t let us down yet. “That’s the reliability we are looking for.”