27 April 2004
RUGGED TOYOTAS JUST THE TICKET IN SALT FIELD
Nine Toyota vehicles have logged three years continuous operation in the toughest imaginable corrosion conditions - a 7,200 hectare Western Australian salt field.
Two LandCruiser 100 Series, one 78 Series and six HiLux utilities operate at Onslow Salt, the second-largest salt producer in Australia.
Along with three LandCruiser Prado wagons, they spend their working lives driving in brine (saturated salt solution) and salt pavements.
Onslow Salt has a highly managed, highly monitored fleet in which vehicles are regularly washed down and checked for damage.
The general manager, operations, of Onslow Salt, Phil Baillie said the Toyotas had proved to be reliable and rugged in “a fairly hostile environment.“
“Anything less solid would probably fall apart in a short time,” he said.
“To give you an idea of the conditions they face, our vehicle washing plant uses sea water - because fresh water is scarce and sea water is much less corrosive than brine.”
Phil Baillie said the LandCruiser 78 Series, 100 Series and HiLux vehicles are used for personnel transport, maintenance and general operations - such as inspections of crystallisers and altering the flows of brine around the condenser ponds.
“We also have three Prado wagons on site - they’ve been here for two years,” he said.
“There are 60 employees in operations and another 20 are involved in the operation as haulage contractors.”
Onslow Salt (owned by Akzo Nobel) began operations in 2001 and is Australia’s second-largest salt producer.
It produces 2.5 million tonnes per annum from a 7200-hectare condenser area.
The entire product is exported by ship, from a port at the site, to Japan, Korea, Indonesia and China.
LandCruiser 100 Series, 78 Series, HiLux and Prado have the protection of anti-corrosion sheet steel, supplemented by extensive added protection with water-proof tape.
Virtually all major panels of these Toyota vehicles are pressed from anti-corrosion steel sheet.
Maximum use is made of PVC and urethane coatings, and waxes and sealers, to protect the body.
Onslow Salt electrical superintendent Tony Arnold, with one of the company's Toyota LandCruiser workhorses..