It’s not unusual to hear trucking companies talk about how they provide high-quality service to customers, and that they strive everyday to meet their needs and expectations. In the case of Brown Transportation, those goals are being met with an apparently successful approach.
“We’re very diverse, which helps us weather any changes in the business climate,” says company president Wayne Brown, who purchased Brown Transportation from his uncle in 2010. “We provide sand for the oil industry, for example, but that business can go up and down, so we are prepared to switch to delivering aggregate and rock for highway construction projects.”
Brown Transportation, based in Ardmore, Okla., is a privately held, family-owned and operated aggregate transportation company servicing a seven-state area, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, Arkansas and New Mexico. The company’s fleet hauls bulk aggregate, rock and sand for public and private customers from facilities in Davis and Oklahoma City, Okla., and Krum, Texas.
On the equipment roster at Brown are 80 Kenworth tractors, including 43 late-model Kenworth T880 trucks purchased in 2015 or later. The carrier also fields a mix of CPS air-ride, lightweight belly dump, Manac bottom dump, MAC aluminum end dump and pneumatic, and CPS half-round steel trailers.
“Whether it’s a 175,000-ton wind farm project in Oklahoma, one load of rock or a delivery that has to be made to meet a strict deadline, we have the ability to mobilize our fleet to any job location at a moment’s notice,” Brown says.“Our fleet moves a variety of aggregate materials efficiently and safely every day, and due to our size we can often put more trucks on the job and complete a project in fewer days than our competitors.”
The payload factor
One of the main factors in Brown Transportation’s vehicle choices is payload capacity. Its latest Kenworth T880 models, notes company vice president Chad Brown, weigh in at nearly 900 lbs. less than the Kenworth W900 models it spec’d previously. “When you run fully loaded four to 10 times per day to a rock crusher, that extra payload adds up,” he says.
“We’re also getting better fuel economy by spec’ing PACCAR MX-13 engines and Eaton UltraShift automated manual transmissions,” Brown continues. “Our trucks average around 100,000 miles annually. With the better fuel economy we’re seeing with the T880s, each truck is saving us close to $10,000 in fuel costs per year. That factors into our total cost of ownership.”
Brown Transportation also sees safety and driver comfort as key factors in keeping its cost of operation low. To that end, the carrier cites its choice of automated manual transmissions for their ability to reduce driver fatigue, as well as the air disc brakes it began spec’ing on its newest T880 trucks.
“On our T880 trucks, we’re running 52-in. mid-roof sleepers,” Brown says. “While our trucks are domiciled so we’re in the center of our main operating region, we might have a job lasting a week that’s 100 or more miles away. In those cases, it doesn’t make sense to deadhead back to one of our facilities every day. The 52-in. sleeper gives our drivers the comfort they need while they stay on the job until it’s completed.
“The quality and quantity of drivers available in our service areas is always a concern,” Brown adds. “We work very hard on employing the best drivers we can find and on making sure they have the right truck to get the job done.”
According to Chad Brown, consistency in tractor and trailer specs also pays off in lower maintenance costs. “Over the past five to 10 years, as trucks have become more sophisticated, we have made changes to our warranty coverage on new units in order to fix our maintenance costs over their service life in our fleet,” he says. “Standardizing also helps our shops predict what maintenance will be needed and control the parts inventory we need to carry.
“With standard specs,” he continues, “our technicians are better prepared to fix problems faster and keep our fleet on the road providing better service our customers. Down trucks in the field are always a priority, and we can respond very quickly with our Kenworth T370 service truck when a unit is in need of repair.
“As a regional fleet, our maintenance operation has the ability to see our equipment daily in some cases, and even units that only come into a facility weekly can be serviced at specific service intervals without fail,” Brown adds. “That frequency also gives us the advantage to see small problems and take care of them so they do not become larger issues down the road.”