Sugar beet harvest: two Arocs in continuous use
Young entrepreneur Thomas Forestier has a tremendous amount to do in both the autumn and winter. During the sugar beet harvest, he personally gets behind the wheel of his Arocs.
“When we are not busy with the sugar beet harvest, we work for the family's own construction company and a quarry.”
Thomas Forestier, self-driving entrepreneur
The red sugar beet harvester is taking a break. It and both the yellow Arocs tractor units standing close by on the farm track are the only friendly touches of colour on this grey and rainy day. The fields have been harvested and appear to reach to the horizon.
Typically, the machine takes between seven minutes and a quarter of an hour to load a tractor/semitrailer combination with 30 tonnes of sugar beets. Both Arocs 1851 belong to Thomas Forestier. Following his university entrance diploma and technical college, the 27-year old completed a haulage contractor apprenticeship and got his truck driver's licence at the same time. Now the technical college diploma proves his ability to manage a transport company. Both his father and grandfather were entrepreneurs and his uncle and cousins also work in the family's construction and transport business in Tingry, several kilometres south of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Six to seven runs a day.
Thomas preferred to go out on his own and founded a new company: Forestier 3G, whereby 3G stands for “third generation”. “When we're not busy with the sugar beet harvest, we do a lot of work for our family's own construction company, whose construction sites we deliver to. However, I have now also managed to get the contract for the quarry at Bolonnais,” says Thomas. There, there is a huge gravel and sand quarry from where he transports breakwater stones to Calais where they are required for extending the port. This assures one of the two dumper trucks six or seven runs a day. “The contract is for more than three years,” says the young entrepreneur happily.
Thomas has already secured return freight to Boulogne-sur-Mer. At the port he can stock up sand and gravel waiting for shipment. In the autumn and winter he is under contract for Tereos Sucre France, a sugar factory. During the five-month long beet harvest, his trucks transport beets which the red sugar beet harvester has removed from the ground to the Tereos factory in Attin, a village close to Le Touquet with a population of 700. There, the vehicles drive over weighing scales and unload the beets on to an open space where the dumper trucks stage a true dance. The volume to be transported is so great that Thomas's dumper trucks have to run shifts. “We start every morning between 3 a.m. and 3.30 a.m. I take over the second shift at 1 p.m. The factory is open until 11 p.m.”
A complex transport job.
Taking on transport jobs during the beet harvest is not easy. It gets dark early in the autumn and winter months. They have to drive along farm tracks with the tractor/semitrailer combination to get to the harvester and there isn't always space to manoeuvre. However the vehicles are used to such a capacity that it is too good an opportunity to pass up. Luckily, Thomas Forestier has found a good driver with whom he can share this difficult work.
Photos: Hans Müller