28 March 2022


Ayrshire – based Hillhouse Group is now part – way through a multi-million pounds investment into a brand new in-house tipper fleet, replacing a handful of previously owned trucks with no less than 23 new Volvo 8×4 FMXs – all fitted with HARSH front end tipping gears and HARSH front to rear sliding sheets.

Responsible for the specifications of all the company’s new trucks, Transport Manager Ema Allan says “Having our own vehicles to complement the large number of subcontractors we use gives us a significant level of additional flexibility and versatility” noting too that “no two days are ever the same in this business, so what really counts is our ability to quickly react to changing requirements and customer needs. An in-house fleet really adds to that capability.”

Hillhouse finds that the traditional combined ram and tank tipping gear is unbeatable for its compact size and space efficiency whilst also ensuring minimal pipework and requiring no layout alterations to any components on the chassis rails. As to the HARSH sheets, Ema comments “we really like this front to rear sliding design – not just because it fully protects the load but also because when retracted up to the headboard with the body open it reduces any potential for damage when loading – from either side of the truck. As an added benefit, it’s also the best sheet for retaining heat when carrying hot tarmac. We also like the fact that both the tipping gear and the sheet come as part of the overall body package produced for us by Thompsons over in Edinburgh.”

Of particular interest, these bodies are a bespoke multi-purpose design  for Hillhouse combining insulated aluminium sides with a heavy duty steel floor – thereby offering the maximum possible versatility when carrying everything from hot tar to stone and aggregates. Further, the new Volvos also offer an easy 19 tonnes payload too.

As Ema says “whilst we get paid by the weight of what we carry, the trucks we really need have to be versatile and robust enough to cover a full range of tasks. Going for an ultra-light specification would inevitably compromise this ability, along with all the likely added costs of extra maintenance and downtime. We’re fully confident that the combined Volvo / HARSH / Thompsons spec is the ideal solution for all the work we do.”

Founded back in 1907, Hillhouse has steadily grown into one of Scotland’s leading businesses in the supply of aggregates, readymix concrete, pre-cast products and road surfacing materials, all backed up by highway maintenance services, civil engineering and operated plant. Now with six sites and over 200 employees, the company’s operations span everywhere from southwest Scotland, through the Central Belt to the north side of the river Forth and even west to the offshore islands.

In late 2019 Hillhouse added another significant string to its bow by acquiring the well – established business of MacAsphalt in Paisley. Supported by an extensive number of subcontractors, Hillhouse is now moving in excess of 100,000 tonnes of product a month – and that figure is ever growing.

Given that the new Volvos will inevitably be worked hard, their servicing and maintenance requirements are catered for by the Volvo Gold R&M package, with all work being carried out at Volvo’s branch in Ayr. Assistant Transport Manager Claire McCafferty notes that “company policy is that all its trucks will be less than five years old. This ensures that our fleet operates with the highest standards of performance, efficiency, fuel economy and safety. Our aim is simply to achieve ‘best practice’ in whatever we choose to do.”