Sludgebusters, DAF keeping regional Victoria sludge free

liquid waste

Greg Butler’s family first entered the liquid waste game back in 1966 when they purchased their first vacuum tanker to service the family piggery.

Greg took this to the next level in 1989 when he started Sludgebusters, which has grown into one of Central Victoria’s leading liquid waste businesses.

“Servicing domestic septic tanks was what we started off with, and that’s still the core of the business,” Greg says. “But today, if you have any liquid waste issues, we can sort it out.”

Now with 10 employees – including Greg’s son Harrison – Sludgebusters offers a full range of liquid waste and related services including septic and water tank cleaning, servicing and cleaning of domestic wastewater treatment systems, hydro excavation, and under shearing shed clean outs.

Whatever the job, the primary tool of the liquid waste trade is the vacuum tanker. Sludgebusters now runs a fleet of six of these tankers, which are mounted to DAF trucks supplied by PACCAR Australia.

Greg says he was introduced to DAF trucks through the team at Vacuum Truck Supplies in Mansfield, Sludgebusters’ vacuum tanker supplier. 

“Adam at Vacuum Truck Supplies told us DAF were well suited to their builds,” he says. “And we quickly figured out that they suited our application too. 

“We purchased our first DAF about 10 years ago, and had a really good run with it, and good support over the journey. That’s why I’ve kept purchasing them.”

The latest models in the fleet are two DAF CF450 FAT 6×4 rigid trucks, of which Greg says Sludgebusters has another soon to be delivered, and another on order.

The DAF difference

Greg says there are a range of reasons Sludgebusters has stuck with the DAF brand in recent years.

“One thing that really stands out with DAF is the fuel economy,” he says. 

“Good fuel economy is always the first thing that DAF salespeople want to spruik – but that’s because it’s true.”

With the CF450, this is achieved in part by PACCAR MX-11 Euro 6 engine, as well as the CF range’s lighter tare build of the DAF CF range.

One of Sludgebusters’ DAF CF450s fitted with a liquid vacuum tanker.

“Our vacuum tankers are pretty heavy, and that’s before you put 10 tonnes of waste in them,” Greg says. “But the lighter tare you start off with, the better off you are.”  

Greg says Sludgebusters has always endeavoured to keep ahead of the technology curve as far as tracking data – something he says is becoming more the norm across the waste industry.

“Like with all parts of this industry, rules are getting tighter – things have to be trackable, and we’re  expected to be more accountable,” he says.

One way DAF trucks supports customers in this regard is through the PACCAR Connect-powered Driver Performance feature, which coaches drivers on driving behaviours to help optimise fuel efficiency. 

“We can keep track of how drivers are managing fuel economy on a particular journey,” Greg says. “We can closely monitor fuel usage, which can also help us work out pricing.”

Greg says given the ground Sludgebusters covers across Victoria, this can make a big difference to the bottom line. 

Safety is another theme that runs through the DAF CF truck range. Drivers can enjoy the peace-of-mind offered by newly optimised side mirror placement, as well as side cameras to cover any blind spots when changing lanes.

“Having good backup support is also important,” Greg says. “The few times we’ve had something go wrong with a DAF, we’ve been able to sort it out quickly and get back on the road.” 

Greg says that while many waste streams in Australia are evolving and changing, the business of liquid waste isn’t likely to dry up any time soon – particularly in regional areas. 

“Once people have septic tanks installed, they often stay there for 50 or 60 years,” he says. “The only big change that has come in over the past 20 years is home wastewater treatment systems. They’re bigger and a bit more complex, but they still need desludging every three or four years.

“So, as long as people keep flushing, we’ll be there. Your waste is our bread and butter.”  

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