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Hallet Silbermann

''The trust in a Broshuis low loader is just big...''

Established in 1946, Hertfordshire-based Hallett Silbermann is one of the most respected names in heavy haulage. Bob Beech visits the company to find out more about how it approaches the complexities of operating in London and how it came to choose its latest heavy haulage rig.

The Client

Established in 1946, Hertfordshire-based Hallett Silbermann is one of the most respected names in heavy haulage. Bob Beech visits the company to find out more about how it approaches the complexities of operating in London and how it came to choose its latest heavy haulage rig.

Hallett Silbermann was founded as a modest enterprise by the late John Silbermann, a natural entrepreneur who grew the operation in many directions, creating a number of companies in numerous sectors under the umbrella of the Brent Group. The company was purchased by another well-known family owned transport operator, R Swain and Sons, over two years ago and is now part of the Swain Group Special Projects Division.

Specialist transport has been part of the company’s core activities almost from the start and it has gained a reputation for operating first-rate equipment with well-organised, capable staff who really understand the heavy haulage business.

The company has always been based in the south east but is active throughout the UK – and beyond, if required. Being close to London, the organisation probably has more experience of transporting oversize loads in the capital than any other haulier. This process has become considerably more complex in recent years, with the rapid increase in weight restrictions, route restrictions, driving bans, environmental controls and other legislative hurdles. The many major construction projects and other developments taking place in the region create many opportunities but also many problems for heavy haulage companies, and real headaches for traffic office staff.

The Challenge

Director Jon Hugill, who has been with the company for over thirty years, outlines some of the main issues. “The business of running into London and surrounding areas has become more complex for all operators but we in the specialist sector have to contend with further tiers of regulations and bureaucracy that can be well-meaning, but conflicting,” he says. The Metropolitan Police rules, which only allow big loads into London in the late evening and before the morning rush hour, are a perfect example, he suggests, as they are often in conflict with various local authority bans.

On top of that, of course, many individual construction sites have strict environmental conditions that forbid work before 8.00am and after 5.00pm. “We often have to deliver large piling rigs and heavy cranes to these sites – equipment that is vital to the project – but the jumble of rules and regulations mean that we cannot always comply and get the job done when required,” admits Hugill.

“At the same time, many of our customers are trying to meet strict time windows, to avoid the penalties imposed by many large developers,” he continues. “That often translates into working within very tight timeframes which can change at very short notice. “We manage to deal with these problems due to a mixture of experience, forward planning and occasional good fortune – but the process could be made less complicated,” he says.
An increasing number of major routes in the south east are becoming subject to weight restrictions, says Hugill, with concerns over bridges, culverts, old sewers and rail tunnels leading some authorities to impose strict 44-tonne limits. Little regard, however, has been paid to alternative routes for heavy loads, he suggests.

“As a company, we always abide by the regulations. But diverting around a problem area can add considerable time and cost to a journey and some customers object to this and will look for an alternative haulier. Because there are lower levels of enforcement in certain areas at present, some operators are taking a chance and taking such loads through these weight restrictions.

The Solution

Talking of new equipment, one of the main reasons for our visit was to find out more about the thinking behind a new Scania/Broshuis heavy haulage combination that has recently entered service on the Hallett Silbermann fleet to reinforce its heavy transport capability. Great care, unsurprisingly, was taken over its specification to ensure the best possible fit with the company’s needs and to anticipate any potential future changes in legislation governing heavy haulage combinations.

Hallett Silbermann MD Matt Swain and heavy haulage specialist Dave Dewberry spent many hours researching and discussing the project, looking at the product offerings from numerous manufacturers before arriving at a conclusion. Dewberry, in particular, has more experience than most in this sector, having started his career with Peterborough Heavy Haulage back in the 1970s – a company that invested heavily in high-spec equipment well before many others.

Much care was put into the new eight-axle Broshuis low bed trailer specification in order to achieve a matched combination, says Dewberry.

The Benefits

“We spoke to a number of manufacturers to find the best specification. We have Nooteboom, Faymonville, Broshuis and some other makes in the fleet at present, but only Broshuis was able to build exactly what we required,” he says. “As with the tractor, we wanted more axles carrying less individual weight per axle and the best possible manoeuvrability. We wanted a three bed five layout, with a relatively short extendible bed and an additional removable extension piece for long loads. The main bed is 5.5 metres long and extends by a further 3.0 metres, which is plenty long enough for the majority of machines we carry. In fact, when the bed is closed, the trailer is no longer than a two bed five layout. We can also separate the bed from the rear bogie and use a joining piece to make an eight-axle flat top for concentrated loads,” he says.

“The complete trailer rides on pendle axles for maximum steering angles, suspension stroke and axle weight capacity, and the extra capacity of the three-axle front dolly means that the imposed load on the tractor is only 25 tonnes, though this obviously can be increased if required,” adds Dewberry.

“Also we can lift any individual pendle axle off the ground in case of tyre trouble and still maintain legal axle loadings at 150 tonnes gross. We have electro-hydraulic and separate diesel powered systems to ensure full hydraulic control in case of a failure. Other operational advantages are the facility to measure individual axle loadings on both the tractor and trailer via the respective air and hydraulic suspension systems; and the ability to raise or lower the tractor and trailer when clearance is an issue.

The concept of lower axle weights is well proven in Europe, he points out, and means the equipment is never overworked. “As a result, there is less rolling resistance, tyre, brake and component wear is reduced and the outfit can run safely at higher speeds,” he explains.

“If there are further restrictions placed upon the movement of heavy loads in the UK, particularly in cities, the way to counter this will be by using more axles to spread the weight,” adds Dewberry. “We feel this outfit gives us the opportunity to move forward and be prepared for the future,” he concludes.