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HITCH, FUEL, GO

Successful contractors wrestle with a range of factors that impact profitability—weather, tight schedules, government regulations, and labor issues, to name a few. For more than 70 years, Manatts Construction Company, headquartered in Brooklyn, Iowa, has mastered those challenges. Manatts is a diversified construction firm specializing in concrete paving, asphalt paving, and ready-mix concrete. Family owned through three generations, Manatts built a solid reputation for quality and customer service and works to live its mantra every day: “Safely do everything we do better than anyone else.”

While much of the company’s work takes place on more wide-open highways, its Des Moines metro division works largely in residential and industrial developments where space and access is more limited, yet still require a broad outlay of equipment. The highway jobs allow for easy access to larger fuel trucks and trailers, but the company relied on much smaller 110-gallon pickup-mounted fuel tanks for its metro division to navigate the tighter jobsites.

The problem? Relying on smaller fuel tanks required someone to constantly be on the road transporting diesel in the pickup. And, it occasionally led to decisions about how much fuel to put into each machine before the driver would have a chance to get back with another tank.

The solution? A 460-gallon, multi-tank trailer (MTT) from Thunder Creek Equipment that allows the company to keep bulk diesel on site in a compact trailer.

“It’s a 460-gallon diesel cart,” says Rick Hudson, Manatts paving foreman. “We’re all around the metro area. On a given day, it could visit two or three different jobsites. There’s a lot of tight quarters for it, a lot of rough terrain it gets pulled around in. It’s just ideal for the metro paving area.

“It eliminated a big headache off my shoulders knowing that I had fuel on the jobsite and that I had time to get more fuel to replace what we took out. Saved us a lot of time. Saved us a lot of wear and tear on the vehicles going back and forth and not having to worry about, ‘is that piece of equipment about out of fuel?’”

NO HAZMAT REQUIRED

Another significant advantage the new trailer provides is the ability to haul 460 gallons of off-road diesel without requiring the driver to hold a HAZMAT endorsement.

“HAZMAT is a big issue for us,” says Curt Manatt, Metro Division general manager. “Trying to keep that license current and make sure you have the HAZMAT. The fact they did the research and got that approved to be a non-HAZMAT trailer—that’s the first step. The second is quality. I think those are a well-built trailer.”

The ability to haul without a HAZMAT—important in a competitive labor market where talent with that endorsement is hard to come by—is achieved through an innovative, one-of-a-kind design where four separate 115-gallon tanks are engineered into a single trailer, only joined when all four outputs of common manifold are opened.

“Anybody with a driver’s license can drive a pickup and go and fill it up,” Hudson says. “As long as we have a good driver with a driver’s license, they can hook up to it and take it to any location that we need.”

The concept of hauling bulk diesel without a HAZMAT resulted in some skepticism from the industry, but Manatt gained confidence in working with Luke Van Wyk, national sales manager (and an owner) of Thunder Creek Equipment, who personally researched and verified the legality of the trailer in all 50 states. 

“He gave me the comfort factor that, if anybody hassles us, they’ll be there with the documentation showing that we’re okay,” Manatt says. “They went out and did their research and followed through with it.”

ROOM TO GROW

Another advantage that the MTT 460 provides Manatts is easier accessibility when fueling equipment on site. Paving jobs in residential and industrial environments are often a maze of string lines, manholes, and other obstacles. The previous fueling solution was limited in hose length and pumping power—operators had to get as close to the equipment as possible to fuel. The MTT 460 features a 35-ft, auto-retracting hose reel and a standard 25-gpm pump (40 gpm optional) that fuels equipment faster and gives operators greater access and flexibility. 

“One of the things that drove it was, I was out there watching the fuel line of a pickup, and it took forever,” says Manatt. “We’ve got a longer hose on that reel (with the MTT), so we can reach it easier. A lot of times you’ve got to fuel a paver, and you got to get over the string line. So you’ve got a longer hose, and it’s faster. It’s a quicker pump. And, we’ve got some pieces of equipment that take over 100 gallons of fuel. So this has a bigger capacity pump, and you can take it to a job and refuel everything. You’re not making numerous trips back to the plant.”

The front compartment of the trailer is also completely customizable, either with factory-provided amenities such as DEF systems, tool boxes, and additional fluid storage, or each company can outfit it as needed (within the engineering/structural design of the trailer). Manatts outfitted its trailer to include storage for its grease and oils needed to perform daily fluid checks. 

“We keep our grease guns in there, we keep our bulk oil in there, we keep our tubes of grease,” Hudson says. “It’s just one less thing I’ve got to carry around and (it can) be on the job right there when they’ve got to have it.”

The company also opted for a solar battery charger that allows the trailer’s battery to charge without a truck connection.

“The solar power system on it is pretty awesome because we’ve had it for over a year and we’ve never had to recharge the battery on it—it’s always dependable,” Hudson says.

The trailer is also completely modular, meaning various features and systems can be added at a later date, post-purchase, without altering the design or engineering of the trailer. For instance, as the company adds more equipment that requires diesel exhaust fluid in the future, it can add Thunder Creek’s specialized DEF system with minimal hassle.

“I can tack on the lights later, I can put the box on the back later—all of these things can be done later,” Manatt says. “As you evolve into it and decide that you want that, you don’t have to buy it up front.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeremy Scott is the operations specialist at Thunder Creek Equipment. Thunder Creek Equipment manufactures service trailers for fuel and diesel exhaust fluid. Find out more, visit www.thundercreek.com.

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MODERN WORKTRUCK SOLUTIONS: FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE

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