Industry Insights

The Shire Of Esperance Hard At Work In Paradise With Isuzu

Located on the southern coast of Western Australia (WA), Esperance is one of Australia’s best beach holiday destinations in addition to being a quiet, charming farming town—almost like paradise on earth. And under the Local Government Act, the Shire of Esperance was established on 1 July 1961, tasked with governing, maintaining and servicing the Esperance community within the shire.

The Shire looks after approximately 5,000 kilometres of road, where 4,000 kilometres of it is gravel—imagine the bumps! For the Shire, one of their biggest tasks is maintaining the gravel roads to keep their community moving, the transport running and the farmers happy. And when you’re tasked with taking care of paradise, you need the tools to match: here enter the Shire of Esperance and their Isuzu fleet.

“We did a road survey with ground-penetrating radar; we went and surveyed all the unsealed roads to show the depths of the gravel on the roads so we could then determine where further maintenance and repairs were needed,” shared the Shire’s Asset Planning Manager, Neil Husbands.

With the large proportion of unsealed roads in Esperance, the Shire’s biggest challenge is maintaining those heavily travelled roads, which takes up a significant share of the budget.

Keeping in mind their budget and the scale of road maintenance required, Neil got down to evaluating the best truck options for the Shire and their needs.

“We have a process, we’ll request quotations, look at the whole-of-life cost and then rank the vehicles on their cost, suitability for the application and safety,” Neil said.

“We had the option to choose from different brands, but Isuzu came out on top and it has all worked out.

“For us, it also came down to dealership support. The closest major town is 400 kilometres away, and we’re 700 kilometers away from Perth, so it’s important that we have local dealers who can service the trucks.”

They found that dealership support from Goldfields Truck Power, who supplied the Shire with two Isuzu FVR 165-300 MLWB trucks with automatic transmission, specified for road maintenance. The two trucks were also custom-fitted with headboard trays and tipper bodies.

Neil said, “These two Isuzu trucks are in our rural road maintenance crew.

“One maintains all the gravel roads, carting tyres, carting fuel—it’s an all-purpose vehicle set for anything that could happen on those roads.

“The other truck works on sealed roads. This has a slightly larger tipper and a shorter headboard tray so it’s better designed for our bitumen road repairs.

With a gross vehicle mass of 16,500 kg, a power of 221 kW @ 2,400 rpm and a torque of 981 Nm @ 1,450 rpm, the Isuzu trucks easily handles the task.

“Both the trucks are required to tow as well, so they had to meet the payload and towing capacity requirements,” Neil explained.

Handling any vehicle on gravel roads is tough—the chances of skidding and unpredictable tyre behaviour increases, and the gravel road you drive on today can be different tomorrow.

This means the FVR’s anti-lock braking system combined with Meritor Q-Plus, dual-circuit, full-air, S-cam front and rear drum brakes (with auto slack adjusters) becomes more important than ever.

And with Esperance situated in rural WA, being able to rely on your truck to make it through the day, day after day, is paramount.

“We’re fairly isolated and the drivers can be out and about driving up to 100 kilometres away from the nearest point of support, so we need something that’s reliable.

“There have been no issues with downtime due to the reliability of our Isuzu trucks,” Neil said.

Of course, the Isuzu reliability is only further complemented by the trucks’ comfort.

“It’s dusty work and it can get really hot… the further north you go of Esperance, the hotter it gets, getting up to the mid-40s.

Our drivers spend about nine hours a day in the trucks, and we haven’t had a bad word from anyone,” Neil said.

Are more Isuzus on the cards for the Shire in their work to keep paradise moving?

“Yes. I can’t see us not buying… There’s no reason not to buy them.”