One-Stop Transport Shop
Along with its highly experienced and qualified drivers, Blue Lightning Freight’s strengths are its modern, well-maintained fleet and state of the art Ezy2c satellite tracking system in its vehicles. Benefiting clients, drivers, and the company, the Ezy2c satellite tracking system enables BL Freight to monitor and prioritize its fleet…
By Robert Hoshowsky, Business in Focus magazine
On mine sites, offshore oil rigs and construction zones, a broken piece of equipment can not only cause formidable delays, but cost these and many other industries thousands of dollars every hour in lost productivity. Drill rigs and other machinery are meant to work around the clock, and when they stop, other activity halts until the part can be replaced. When it comes to fast and reliable transportation of essential equipment to sites across Australia – no matter how remote – businesses call Blue Lightning Freight Pty Ltd.
When Blue Lightning Freight was created by Founding Director Stephen Eaton back in 1996, it was based on his many years working on offshore drilling rigs, where he would see rigs break, and machinery sit idle and unproductive until the right parts came, often days later. Seeing time and money wasted, Mr Eaton came up with a unique idea: instead of oil rigs waiting two or three days to get the part, why not start a courier-type business where replacement parts could be delivered as soon as possible using trucks and whatever means necessary, even aircraft?
A family-owned business, Perth-based Blue Lightning Freight is well-known across Australia for its capabilities to transport mine and offshore equipment. dangerous goods and explosives, controlled waste, and even radioactive substances across the nation. As pioneers in HotShot freight services, express freight and oversize loads, Blue Lightning Freight has proven its speed, efficiency, reliability, customer service, and dependability to countless customers working in major industries. From the smallest parcel to massive sections of mining equipment, new and repeat clients trust Blue Lightning Freight to get it there on time, every time.
“We like to consider ourselves a one-stop shop for transport,” says Kevin Gibson, Transport Manager for Blue Lightning Freight. “We do radioactive materials, and have licenses for radioactive materials, transport waste from sites, along with explosives, ammonium nitrate, and virtually anything anyone asks us to do.” Passionate about the transportation industry, Mr Gibson spent years working on mine sites, operating trucks, and building his experience when it comes to finding fast shipping solutions.
Hotshot: When it Has to Get There Fast
Blue Lightning’s Hotshot freight services are unlike any other kind of ultra-fast shipping service. As the first HotShot Company in Western Australia and now the largest in the nation, the company is able to HotShot items from a small, one-kilogram parcel or satchel all the way up to a triple road train, with the necessary trucks, trailers, experience and manpower necessary.
Unlike some other companies which consolidate parcels and depart overnight, Blue Lightning’s HotShot service is immediate, saving considerable time. “With HotShot, a customer will ring, give us all the details of where we’re picking up from and where it’s going,” says Mr Gibson. “Then I or someone else in the office will get two drivers in, we’ll go and pick up the part, and then it goes straight to site. We don’t consolidate freight in the depot. In the transport industry, everybody knows it as a HotShot, because it’s red-hot urgent, and that’s it. It’s got to get there. Blue Lightning Freight is renowned Australia-wide: if you give us a call, we get the job done with a minimum of fuss.” With HotShot delivery service, no job is too big or too small. Operating 24/7, 52 weeks a year, the two-driver, non-stop service works from pick-up point to a client’s required destination, not just depot to depot.
Many mining and oil companies value Blue Lightning’s Hotshot services for a number of reasons, says Mr Gibson. Recently, the company was contacted by a drilling company. A small part worth only about $100 dollars had broken down, but the price to the company of the drill rig being inoperable was about $150,000 an hour in lost revenue. In this case, the urgency was so great that Blue Lightning Freight chartered an airplane, and saved the drilling company a fortune. Customers pay a premium for the service, but it is a small price compared to the alternative: losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits due to broken machinery. “Sometimes you have a piece of equipment break down,” comments Mr Gibson, “You are on one side of the country, and the necessary part is on the other side of the country. What we do is get that part to you quickly to get your business up and running, and meet your deadlines. We get it there as quick and as safe as humanly possible.”
A leading supplier of HotShot and Express Freight services to mining and other major industries Australia-wide, Blue Lightning Freight – better known as BL Freight to its many customers – continues to grow and evolve. Incorporated in 2002, the company has developed a new purpose built yard in Newman, and has moved into larger premises in Kewdale, with access to depots in Karratha, Pt Hedland, Kalgoorlie and Kununurra and all capital cities. Additionally, the BL Freight fleet of vehicles has grown at a steady pace to meet the demands of Australia’s industries, and now includes a range of trucks and trailers, including one tonne vans and utilities, six tonne rigid trucks, eight tonne rigid trucks, 12 tonne rigid trucks (with dog trailer), 50-130 tonne rated prime movers, and the ability to make any trailer combination including drop decks, B-Doubles, floats and tautliners.
Highly Trained Drivers
At Blue Lightning Freight, the company realises that its drivers serve as ambassadors of the road, and are the face of the business to customers. Hiring only the best drivers available has been a policy since Day One. Along with having the necessary current licence, all BL Freight drivers must have a current police clearance, up to date medical certificate, a successful drug and alcohol screening, comply with all aspects of the Owner Driver Fatigue Management System – including completion of the Worksafe training course – and sign a driver’s agreement relating to terms and conditions before commencement of work.
“We pay a premium rate for our drivers, and we have a number who have been here over 10 years,” says Mr Gibson. “We look for honesty, reliability, and integrity. As you can appreciate, our drivers are out there, and they are the ones who represent the company Australia wide.”
At BL Freight, all drivers are employed on a casual basis and are required to be on call, due to the nature of the company’s business. The company covers the cost of lessons for successful applicants on fatigue management training and on handling dangerous goods and explosives. With a full 99 per cent of the company’s deliveries outside of the Perth metropolitan area to mine sites and other locations, drivers are usually away for one or two nights per job, and being dependable is essential.
“When someone rings up and says they want two explosive boxes moved from Perth to Dampier, I don’t want to say, ‘I’m sorry, we cannot do that.’ So it’s a matter of: ‘yes we can, yes we will, and when do you want us to pick it up, and here’s the price.’ There is nothing worse than saying you can’t do something. So we have a 24/7 phone number, fully manned all the time. Out motto is: One call and BL Freight will do the rest for you.” It is this can-do attitude that has earned the company considerable amounts of repeat business over the years. “As long as we have all the details, all transport is organised by us. Customers don’t want to be bothered about it, or they’d be doing the job themselves. They ring us up, and we’ll get it done, period.”
In all areas – from extensive driver training to occupational health and safety and handling of dangerous goods – Blue Lightning Freight is the first place mining, construction, oil, and resource sector customers call. The company’s highly experienced drivers hold licences to transport Bulk Dangerous Goods, Explosives and Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC). Additionally, all of the company’s trucks from six tonne up hold current Class 1 RAV oversize period permits, while 12 tonners and prime movers also hold Class 2 and 3 RAV and Supplement permits, and can obtain over height and/or over mass permits and pilots/escorts as required. Other trucks are equipped to handle dangerous goods and explosives. Licensed Controlled Waste carriers with an active Spill Management Plan and Clean-Up Service Provider, the company also have three Radiation Safety Officers on staff to manage the transport of Radioactive Substances.
Along with its highly experienced and qualified drivers, Blue Lightning Freight’s strengths are its modern, well-maintained fleet and state of the art Ezy2c satellite tracking system in its vehicles. Benefitting clients, drivers, and the company, the Ezy2c satellite tracking system enables BL Freight to monitor and prioritize its fleet, while two-way text messaging keeps the company in constant communication with drivers Australia-wide 24/7, even in areas inaccessible by mobile phones. In the event of a breakdown or emergency, the operator can activate – with the press of a button – an emergency response system which links to management mobile phones, emails and the web interface, forming an integral part of the company’s Dangerous Goods Emergency Response plan.
Along with these features, Ezy2c satellite tracking allows the company to inform customers of a truck’s precise location via computer, inform them of delivery times, see reports on vehicle speed, where trucks stopped and for how long, and more. “That’s what mining companies want nowadays,” says Mr Gibson. “They will ring me up, and I can tell them exactly where their freight is – that’s one of the many reasons people use our services.”
In the coming months, the company will be introducing a new transport management system which will be computerised to streamline bookings. “It will do everything through the computer, and does away with paper copies and notes,” says Mr Gibson of BL Freight, which puts profits back into the company to increase its technology, profile, and make life easier for its customers.
Offering HotShot and fast, efficient, and dependable transportation services to remote areas, Blue Lightning Freight will continue to serve the nation’s mining, construction and other demanding industry sectors for years to come.