As far as infrastructure projects go, there is none bigger currently in Tasmania than the Bridgewater Bridge.
The 1km long structure passing over the River Derwent in Hobart will involve hundreds of workers, dozens of heavy vehicles and millions of dollars — $786 million projected to date.
Regarded as the largest ever investment in a single transport infrastructure project in Tasmania’s history, the Bridgewater Bridge, funded by both Federal and Tasmanian Governments, is a once-in-a-generation project that has required significant strategic thinking and planning.
The fact that the Hazell Bros’ concrete division has been entrusted as one of the key suppliers to the contract, is testament to the longstanding good reputation it holds in Tasmania.
Founded in 1944 by brothers Donald and Rowley Hazell, primarily as a transport business operating in Southern Tasmania, Hazell Bros now operates quarries, concrete batch plants, a civil construction business, and an asset and industrial services division.
It also operates a civil construction and plant hire business in Queensland, based out of Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and employs over 100 people at Port Pirie in South Australia, working in materials handling at the smelter.
The aspirational plans of the company to grow and diversify over the last eight decades have certainly born fruit.
“Our quarries are supplying to road projects all across the state,” says Mary Mickan, Business Improvement Manager.
“We’ve got our business as-usual projects, our industrial markets area and some big projects taking place in Devonport.”
The business is partnering in a joint venture with Brady Marine on constructing the new marine facilities for Tasports in addition to working closely with Tasmania Irrigation on the Don Irrigation project.
Working with the main contractor, McConnell Dowell, Hazell Bros’ concrete division will be supplying and delivering the concrete.
On the Bridgwater project, it will provide trucks and materials up until March 2024 when the new bridge is scheduled for completion.
The existing Bridgewater Bridge, first opened in 1946, must be raised for any vessel higher than 2.2 metres on an average tide. As this bridge has reached the end of its functional life, the risk of failures during operation of its lifting span have increased, particularly while the new bridge’s foundations are being built close to it.
If it fails to close properly it has the potential to impact traffic travelling on the National Highway between Hobart and Launceston.
Last year new trucks were scouted by Hazell Bros with this project looming and four new UD Quons have been purchased, making them the first of the brand not only for the company but also, at least in the heavy vehicle category for the Japanese truckmaker, to enter the state.
As part of the civil construction arm, two new UD Quon 8x4s are now adding value with the first deployed to Hobart. The second is operating in Launceston where it will be joined by a UD Quon 6×4 pulling a superdog combination later in the year.
Launceston is also where the trucks land before they are floated to Hobart for painting and fitting at the main workshop site, sometimes before being brought back.
A third workshop is based in Burnie. An alignment with Webster Trucks through an existing Mack connection utilised for their tipper and dog applications, helped facilitate the order from UD.
The 8×4 variant in the fleet has, historically, been associated with Kenworth, notwithstanding some sub-contractors. Hazell Bros Northern Tasmanian Concrete Business Manager, Christian Lawrence, sought to explore new avenues with the latest purchase to meet future contractual demands.
Having a background as a mechanic in heavy vehicle workshops, made UD, for Christian, a strong choice to meet benchmarks such as rig stability, fuel usage and onboard safety systems.
“We’d done research on a few bits and pieces and as we happened to be looking at the UD Quon, some units were coming online,” he says. “It was good timing.
Timing is everything right now.” Ordered in September last year, the vehicles were delivered by late December and in service for Hazell Bros the first work week of 2023.
As a mechanic Christian already had some familiarity with the Volvo product, a platform that UD shares much architecture.
“Those safety aspects we saw as an advantage moving forward,” he says. “All in all, so far they’re going really great.”
The new Quon 8×4 fulfills leads of up to 100 kilometres in a day.
On these journeys the Lane Departure Warning System and Blind Spot Information System are necessary advantages when running at 28-tonnes with a payload of up to 6.8 cubic metres of concrete depending on the type of mix.
The business nominally is oriented to the Cesco mixer product. For the new Quon, Christian opted, instead, for a Kyokuto mixer unit imported from Japan. That has produced a lower centre of gravity of an estimated 170mm.
“Couple that with the obvious stability of the UD which has an electronically controlled airbag, and it has produced a really stable truck,” he says. “That’s showing some real benefits for us at this stage.”
In the civil construction wing, the business runs around 70 agitator units. Those numbers include minis and contractors.
The external work on the trucks is carried out at the Hazell Bros Hobart Workshop so that all the process, when it comes to auxiliary items and attachments, remain the same.
“Certainly, power-performance is good. One of the first comments from the driver made to my counterpart down south was the truck pulls really well, straight from the get-go,” says Christian. “When compared to an 8-speed manual paired with a 320-horsepower engine, they go well straight off the bat. That was pleasing to hear.”
The drivers have welcomed the multimedia unit in the Quon as it has helped deliver additional efficiencies.
“They’ve got all their maps and where they need to be on the screen,” says Christian. “It’s a lot more user-friendly in terms of what they are accustomed to.”