Michael Harding

Managing Director

Freight Lines Group

When hauling perishable goods, reliability is a key consideration according to Freight Lines Group Managing Director, Michael Harding.

To help service a contract with Australian supermarket giant, Woolworths, Freight Lines Group recently added three Iveco Stralis AS-L Series II prime movers to the fleet, with another three vehicles to shortly join them.

Michael should know a thing or two about the industry, having grown the WA-based transport business markedly since assuming ownership in 2008, transforming the organisation into one of the state’s top-10 road freight and logistics companies, employing over 190 staff and running a fleet of over 100 prime movers.

As well as this recent history, Michael’s involvement with the company goes back much further, with his farther John, actually establishing the business in the 60s as ‘Esperance Freight Lines’, to take advantage of Esperance’s prosperity as a growing agricultural hub.

“When you’re transporting food stuff, it all needs to be at the stores at a certain time, you can’t afford to be late or to have problems with breakdowns,” he said.

“We operate the new Iveco Stralis models on this contract and so far they haven’t missed a beat.”

The three Stralis AS-Ls run Pantech road train trailers between Perth and Albany return six days per week – over the course of the six days, they cover over 5,000 kilometres. Each truck now shows a trouble-free 200,000 plus kilometres on the odometer.

The vehicles feature a Series II Cursor 13 engine producing 560 horsepower and 2300 Nm of torque, and as an added bonus, the engine is covered by market leading warranty package of five years or 1,000,000 kilometres.

Coupled to the power plant is Iveco’s 16-speed Eurotronic II automated transmission, providing a relaxed driving experience while allowing the driver to select from automatic or manual shift control if required. 

On the safety front, the trucks feature front and rear disc brakes with ABS, EBL (Electronic Brake force Limitation) and ASR (Anti-Slip Regulator).

The vehicles are finished in the Freight Lines Group’s red highlight livery and are fitted with bullbar and auxiliary forward lighting for increased safety.

According to Michael, the strong performance of the first three Stralis AS-L units prompted him to place a second order.

“The first ones are doing very well,” Michael said.

“My time behind the wheel has been limited to moving them around the yard but the drivers are certainly happy with them and that’s an important factor.

“Feedback is that they’re a comfortable truck and the power and torque is a good fit for the application – the trucks are usually running at around 40 tonne net payload and they do this easily.

“The Stralis models had the right specification plus provided good value for money compared to some of the other prime movers out there. And while not the main factor in the purchase decision, the fact that they’re developed and manufactured in Australia was also noted.”

The new Stralis prime movers will stay on fleet for around five years in keeping with their operating lease timeframes, a service also provided by Iveco through in-house financier CNH Industrial Capital.