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STAR TREATMENT The success of S & C Thomas Haulage depends on excellent teamwork – words and images by Chris Mullett


able to talk trucks with families involved in the transport business so often turns into a major discussion on how a small business can cope with a large transport operator in terms of competitiveness and efficiency. For Scott and Cherie Thomas of Aylmerton, the solution is not only effective, but forms the keystone to the ongoing success of the business. 26

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Scotty Thomas loves trucks, and, in particular, he loves his Western Star. Keeping a truck looking as though it just came off the showroom floor is no mean feat, and keeping it at the level displayed with his Western Star shows just how much time and effort by the family goes into keeping everything looking near perfect. Cleaning becomes a family affair with Cherie being more than happy to help out with cleaning at weekends. But this husband and wife team work at far more than just keeping the truck and trailer in pristine condition.

STAR TREATMENT complete BAS statements and end of year returns. The key to running this business has always been based on knowing our operating costs,” said Cherie. This constant monitoring of operating costs has been an integral component of the success of the business, and is quite a differentiating factor when comparing efficiency against competitors. Despite the fact that the truck always looks immaculate, it should be pointed out that, to Scotty and Cherie, the truck is no show pony, it’s a working truck that’s covered 800,000 km and is out on the road every day. Originally owned by local operator, Darren Broadhead, the Western Star was already 20 months old when Scotty bought it in 2008. At that time, it was painted white and pretty much a standard issue vehicle, hauling a three-axled trailer. It went straight to work with Scott at the wheel hauling grain, quarry products, aggregate and landscape supplies. In April, this year, Scotty headed off to trailer manufacturer Sloanebuilt, where he replaced the bin on the truck, changed the three-axled trailer for a quad-dog trailer and had the whole rig repainted. That’s the background to how it looks today. Also added was a high-end Alpine premium sound system. Complete with a massive sub-woofer, six speakers and additional amplifier – it adds a new dimension to the phrase “surround sound”. “I wanted to go for a quaddog configuration to ensure compliance for overall weight and payload. In the areas we run, we regularly head over the weighbridge at Marulan, and it was important to remove any risk of being overweight,” said Scott.

With a background in accounting and bookkeeping, Cherie has created a computer-based spreadsheet to monitor expenses for both income receivable and accounts payable. “Everything we do with the truck, every job, every payment and every expense is entered each night into the system,” said Cherie. “We monitor fuel, oil, tyres, and fuel economy to ensure we always have the latest information on what it is costing us to operate. “If fuel prices increase, we factor in the price rise immediately so we can predict what profit will be available from each individual job. Using a spreadsheet also helps us to determine GST components, monitor cashflow and also

“Moving to a quad-dog trailer hasn’t made a significant difference to payload, but it has made it easier to stay within legal guidelines. The new bin on the truck is also rock lined for added durability in the type of work we are doing. It gives me a GVM of 50 tonnes, as the truck is not configured for FUPS,” he added. “Sloanebuilt did a magnificent job on the truck and trailer, repainting even the chassis. Other additions we sourced directly from The Chrome Shop in Arkansas in the United States. These included the custom made grille, visor, front indicators plus LED lights just about everywhere. “They have a slogan at The Chrome Shop of: “I’d rather be homeless than chromeless – which sort of sums it all up,” said Scott. Under the bonnet is a pre-ACERT Caterpillar C15 running at 550 hp, and this is matched to a 20-series, 18-speed Roadranger manual transmission with 46-160 axles. Drum PowerTorque ISSUE 49





The launch of the Coronado 114

effectively plugs the final

gaps in the




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up those who remember Ford’s Louisville and, subsequently, the Sterling HX9500. The decision by Freightliner to discontinue the Sterling product was brought about not by any wish to disassociate itself from the Sterling brand, but more a result of a global industry down turn. When times are tough, decisions on long lasting sustainability need to be made, regardless of the pain.

results from five years of development and 35,000 engineering development hours. It also resulted in additional expenditure on tooling for manufacturing of a further $2.2 million.

And pain it certainly produced for Freightliner, because it meant the Australian subsidiary of the giant Daimler Trucks North America Group couldn’t directly compete in the mid to big-bore section of the heavy truck market, be it prime movers or rigid truck and dog trailer applications.

Five years in the planning, and with thousands of hours engineering and research work having gone into the project, the 114 is a firm indication of Daimler’s intent to invest and grow the Freightliner brand in Australia. Given that Western Star is a major success in this segment already, and is also part of Daimler Trucks, it shows that each brand is expected to stand on its own merit.

For a company keen to grow its market share, but not being able to offer a perfect solution in this segment, it meant missing out on 15 percent of the available market for vehicle sales each year. But, with the launch by Freightliner of the Coronado 114, the gameplan is about to change. The plugging of the last major gap in its product line could not have come at a better time for Freightliner. The segment running up from 475 hp through to 530 hp, on the Australian market, is now accounting for just over one in three of all heavy truck purchases, settling in at 36 percent of the market. The segment growth has all materialised from 2010, as sales increased, achieving a growth rate in the total truck market of 121 percent year-on-year with 2012. For 2012, the total market growth has been sustained, and, in what might be considered a rarity, it is not at the sole behest of the West Australian mining industry. In year-on-year terms for 2012, peak total sales growth actually took place in Victoria, where volumes are currently running at 132 percent over the previous 12 months. For Queensland, the current market is performing at 127 percent compared to 2011; for West Australia, the figure is 136 percent; South Australia is at 126 percent; and the Northern Territory is at 141 percent. NSW is almost on par, having a current sales volume, by comparison, of 96 percent, with Tasmania at 93 percent. Into this buoyant market, and amidst predictions that growth will continue through to 2015, comes Freightliner with its Coronado 114. The 114-inch BBC conventional design enables Freightliner to aim for an objective of 28 percent of the set forward conventional medium-duty segment – some 300 vehicles per annum. It effectively plugs the gap for Freightliner in the medium-bonnet, set-forward front axle market that’s been missing since the demise of the Sterling, and

This new truck is much more than a Sterling replacement. It’s purpose-built for the Coronado badge, using unique componentry, and is certainly not a replica of the previous Sterling. It’s new, it’s innovative and it addresses many of the concerns present with the earlier product.

Engine options are confined to one make, the Detroit DD15, and it’s available in power ratings of 475, 505, 530 and 560 hp (354, 377, 395 and 418 kW), with torque ratings of 1,650–1,850 lb-ft. Transmission options consist of the Eaton Roadranger manual gearbox or the UltraShift Plus automated manual. With the set-forward front axle, medium-conventional market currently contested by three manufacturers (Kenworth, Mack and Western Star), it is anticipated that the success of the Coronado 114 will more likely be at the expense of the existing competition, rather than by creating incremental growth. A brief comparison of the available competition shows Freightliner has done its homework well. Using Western Star as the benchmark, the Freightliner is claimed to be some 538 kg lighter in approximate tare weight, beating Kenworth by over 100 kg, and bettering the Mack offering by 60 kg. Freightliner has chosen to offer drum brakes, front and rear, as the standard specification, but disc brakes are available on special order. ABS is standard and Freightliner has yet to introduce electronic braking systems as a standard item. The Detroit DD15 engine, at 14.8 litres with its 1,700 sq. inch engine-mounted radiator, ranks well against the chassismounted radiators of Kenworth’s 1,600 sq. in, and Mack’s 1,435 sq. in alternatives, losing out in capacity to that of Western Star at 1,875 sq. in. There are obvious benefits of choosing an engine-mounted radiator position, as the designer can reduce the distance between the engine fan blade tips and the radiator itself.

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is a busy time in the global truck launch cycle. Driven by the cohort shift that is Euro VI, all of the OEMs that play within the European market have been getting busy. In the run-up to the change to Euro VI – due on 1st January 2014 – the OEMs have been launching their next generation products. First came Mercedes-Benz with Actros, then Iveco with Stralis, and now it’s the turn of Volvo, with the renewed FH range, which lands on Australian shores in late 2013. The new FH generation replaces a range that has lasted well. Launched originally in 1993, Volvo’s cabover has sold in significant numbers – 650,000 units – over its 19 years, and now accounts for every forth heavy-duty truck in Europe. But, it is AB Volvo’s corporate chronology that deserves revisiting here. In 1993, AB Volvo still had a car business (sold to Ford in 1999), had no relationship with Renault (acquired in 2001) or Nissan Diesel, nor with UD Trucks (purchased in 2006). In the United States, Volvo was still functioning as a JV, formed in 1988 with GM Heavy Truck Corporation, while India and China existed as mere names on a map.

the truck needs to be specced with both I-Torque, which is the latest iteration of Volvo’s driveline, and I-See, literally an all-seeing route memorisation package. “I-See is a software package for the I-Shift transmission,” explains Claes Nilsson, president Volvo Truck Corporation. “It stores information about hills as the truck drives along. The next time the truck uses the same route, I-See operates the accelerator, gears and brakes to ensure that progress is as economical as possible. Thanks to I-See, the haulage firm can cut fuel consumption by up to five percent per vehicle. “Volvo I-Torque reduces fuel consumption by up to four percent. Together with I-See and other minor improvements, the result is that fuel consumption drops by up to 10 percent. This corresponds to 4100 litres of fuel a year for the average truck,” added Mr. Nilsson.

In 1993, AB Volvo was western Sweden’s largest truck manufacturer. Today, on the basis of 2011 figures, Volvo ranks number four, globally, for production of trucks in excess of six tonnes GVW. It is now a very different company operating in a very different world. If there is only one headline to choose from the new FH, it is one that is located in – unsurprisingly – fuel efficiency. Volvo claims that, when specified with a selection of new features, the new FH at Euro VI level will be capable of returning a ten percent improvement on fuel efficiency, thereby raising the stakes in terms of the fuel efficiency debate. Naturally, devils lurk within these details. To get to an annual ten percent saving – 4100 litres, or, by AIP reckonings, AUD$ 6123.90 per year –

A SCANDIN European correspondent Oliver Dixon watches as Volvo launches its FH replacement


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A SCANDINAVIAN SAGA I-Torque is an interesting development, as it continues the trend towards consideration of an engine and a transmission as a de facto single unit. Whilst much of the debate concerning driveline consolidation has been based upon economics as opposed to efficiency, Freightliner’s Cascadia Evolution product demonstrated the optimisation benefits of designing a consolidated engine and transmission package. I-Torque develops this theme, takes the I-Shift 2 transmission and adds to it a dual clutch assembly. The new I-Torque engine (a turbo-compound common-rail combined SCR/EGR Euro VI unit rated at 460 bhp) has been optimised to operate in a very narrow rev band – between 900 and 1200 rpm – necessitating a dual clutch assembly in order to expedite shifting, as one input shaft is always preselecting the next gear required. The result is, according to Volvo engineers, more-or-less seamless gear changes and minimal loss of power between them. There is an opportunity for some cynicism here. In an industry in which savings are now measured in microincrements, a ten percent saving on an operation’s single biggest input cost is going to grab the attention. So, quite why

Volvo is delaying its introduction to Autumn 2013 is something of a mystery. Granted, the racehorse analogy seems a fair one here – it’s either working incredibly well, or fit only for the dog food plant – but that aside, we have to take Volvo at their word here. “We work continuously to cut consumption, drop by drop. But reducing it by 10 percent like this in one single move – that’s nothing short of a revolution,” says Mats Franzén, head of Volvo Engine Strategy. No doubt, but it’s a revolution that many hard-pressed truck operators would like to see sooner rather than later, and delaying now-launched technology by a year seems a strange move. Volvo’s adventures in YouTube, along with high wire acts and Croatian highways, may seem, on first visit, as being proof positive that you are best advised to keep marketing departments away from the medicine cabinet. However, this is all about the other highly significant feature of the new FH product, namely the availability of independent front suspension. Some three years ago, within these pages, we mulled the necessity of IFS adoption as a likely prerequisite for the fitting of the additional cooling capacity demanded by the EGR/SCR Euro VI units within the established four-metre European height limit. IFS, we mused at the time, would allow for the engine to be mounted lower down within the aperture and would thus free up additional space for the forty percent additional cooling capacity deemed likely for the new engines. But, IFS is an option – initially on left-hand-drive product only – for the new FH, and it’s all about ride and handling. At this point, we should point out that Volvo has ground to make up here. As, despite its many charms, the handling characteristics of the outgoing model are idiosyncratic at best, and, at times, maintaining stately forward progress in Gothenburg’s finest has been akin to managing an irascible pinball. Improvement was certainly required in this area.






As a new brand launches onto the Australian market, we look at how the structure of the market will change


industrial might of China is awesome by comparison to long established European and North American vehicle manufacturers. The growth of car, truck, and bus and coach manufacturing, has all occurred within one lifetime, in direct contrast to the gradual growth of the industry on a global basis. However, it’s the speed at which the automakers have assimilated the knowledge to compete on the global market that is unprecedented in our understanding of the auto market. Largely through the formation of joint ventures, gained through the offer of lower priced production in exchange for technology transfer, the carmakers, in particular, have proved they now must be taken seriously. Estimates for total production in China, for 2012 alone, are suggesting the market could peak at 20 million vehicle sales, up from the 18.5 million of 2011. Not everything has gone according to plan for China. The global financial crisis has also impacted on this rapid growth level, with monthly heavy-truck sales dropping from 130,000 in March 2011, back to 49,786 units in June of this year. It’s been a similar story in the medium-truck sales segment, with March 2011 showing a figure of 31,654 dropping back to 21,147 in June 2012. In the light-truck segment, sales peaked in March 2011 at 220,637 units, dropping back to 137,139 sales in June of this year. The micro truck segment showed similar drops, from the 57,762 of March 2011 to 39,554 sales in June 2012. Into this period of spare market capacity, JAC trucks is launching the first prong of its attack on the Australian truck market. It starts with a range of three light-duty trucks, covering the 4.5 tonnes to 7.5 tonnes segment, but will extend through the next 12 months to include medium-duty trucks. On paper, the range is both interesting and impressive. The engines are all sourced direct from Cummins, with 2.8-litre and 3.8-litre versions of the ISF engine, matched to five or six-speed manual gearboxes. An Allison automatic will become an additional option online within six months. For the first time, in this light-truck category, the braking systems (for all but the entry level J45) are full air S-cam designs with automatic slack adjusters and a spring park brake. The J45 entry-level model, with its GVM of 4495 kg, features a standard hydraulic braking system.


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As if that isn’t sufficient to provide buyer appeal, service intervals are set at 20,000 km periods, and importers, WMC Industries, are backing the product with warranty support of three years/400,000 km periods. The engine supplier, Cummins, is also confidently stating the projected life of the ISF in both 2.8 and 3.8-litre versions is a full 500,000 km. The JAC products come into the Australian market through a network of 20 well-known pre-existing dealerships to handle sales, service and parts supply. There should be no shortage of supply, with the aforementioned downturn of the Chinese domestic market, outlined above, providing spare capacity, but bearing in mind that the total manufacturing production ability of JAC is estimated at 430,000 vehicles per year.

Stand by for a Chinese invasion of products that range from light trucks through to heavy vehicles as the global competition shifts to include the Asian market production.

The big appeal to kick off the introduction of JAC Trucks into the Australian market will be price. Importers, WMC Industries, have already announced the retail pricing structure will be, on average, some 20 percent under that of comparable Japanese products. The word to watch here is “comparable”. Just how comparable the Chinese product is to that of its Japanese competition, from Hino and Isuzu, depends on much more than just the on-road price. It’s here that a buyer has to compare the dynamics of the vehicle, and just how much a manufacturer has learned through, perhaps, 25 years of truck building, versus a newcomer. The fitment of Cummins ISF diesel engines is certainly not a compromise. Made in China, under a joint venture with Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company, these engines are manufactured in one of Cummins’ latest facilities to the same exacting standards as one would expect to those from North America. The same comment also applies to the use of Alison automatic transmissions. Using the Japanese light truck as an example, the availability of independent front suspension, disc brakes and parabolic leaf spring suspension alternatives, do provide a definitely superior ride to that of an eight-leaf spring pack. These more sophisticated suspension systems are not yet part of the standard Chinese truck specifications, but, judging from the speed at which the Chinese companies can react to demands, it may only be a question of time before they come online.

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New It’s all good news for the Moller family at Clermont, near Mackay in the Central Highlands of Queensland


may well be the first thought of industrial nations, but, for much of Queensland, the true history of an area is more than likely centred, not on mining, but on cattle. If you head out south-west from Mackay for around 275 kilometres, you’ll come to the junction of the Gregory and Peak Downs highways, and there you’ll find Clermont. Named after the French town of Clermont-Ferrand, it’s a good three and a bit hours drive from Mackay.


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It’s an area steeped in history. Ludwig Leichhardt passed through in 1845, but the town itself was not proclaimed until 1864, three years after the discovery of gold. Copper was also discovered, and this led to a temporary boom that saw the population of Clermont swell to over 4,000. Although Clermont is a major hub today for large coal mines, such as Clermont Mine and Blair Athol, PowerTorque’s visit was concerned with horsepower of a more reserved nature.

NEW RECRUIT Our trip was all about cattle and horses, the people that nurture the land to breed their cattle, and the history that goes with the handing down of cattle stations between generations of families. Ian Hoffman looks after the truck sales side of Westco Trucks, the Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner dealership based in Mackay. With a diesel mechanic background before taking the cleaner option of selling trucks, Ian was heading off to see how one of his recent sales deliveries was performing, at firsthand. PowerTorque went along for the ride, realising from the start that a casual visit to a customer for Ian involved a round trip further than some folk go for their annual holiday.

Meeting up with Ian at Mackay, we headed for Clermont in Ian’s ute, carrying spare jerry cans of fuel, a slab of beer for the customer, and a big bag of lollies for the kids, as we aimed for a cattle property called Recruit. If Recruit appears on a map, we haven’t found the right map yet. But, if you know the area, it’s a case of getting to Clermont, then heading out towards Alpha, and then deviating a bit more every now and again for a further 66 odd kilometres. After about four and a half hours, the scenery and landmarks started falling into place with the directions Ian had been given by Craig and Christy Moller, the owners of Recruit.

The land is rich and ripe for cattle, and, by visiting Recruit, we were able to join Craig and Christy to take a look at the 2,500 head of Santa Gertrudis cattle they run as their livelihood. This year the family celebrates 100 years of running the property and being the fifth generation to work Recruit station. Craig had recently taken delivery of a brand new MercedesBenz Axor 4x2 rigid that had been fitted up by bodybuilder, Leader of Toowoomba, with an excellent cattle and horse crate. For Ian Hoffman, it was the first chance to catch up with Craig to see how the truck was going and to make sure that customer service means what it is supposed to mean, no matter how far you may be from the supplying dealer. PowerTorque ISSUE 49





year’s NatRoad conference provided the perfect venue for Freighter general manager, Rod Cunningham, to address delegates looking for solutions when transporting equipment for the mining boom.

WA-based Tri-State Transport operates an average of six road trains each week across Australia, and needed a B-double set with a drive-through capability.

“Freighter has purpose designed the Outback Series of trailers for just this requirement – carrying heavy equipment on terrain of varying quality,” said Rod.

The final design has bi-fold hydraulic ramps on the back, retractable ramps between the drop-deck sections on the tag trailer and Freighter’s purpose-designed half-moon bridging decks between the tag and the lead trailer. This gave Tri-State the complete drive-through capability they needed, at the same time meaning they would never have to unhitch the trailers to load them.

“We sent a team out into the harshest parts of the country to find out what operators need from their trailers in order to survive the tough conditions of the Australian outback. Reinforced mainrails with more cross-members, heavy-duty combing rails and heavy-duty tow couplings are just some of the features we’ve incorporated to increase durability. We then tested and tweaked the design to get to what you see today.” “Freighter has a history of making tough trailers for tough conditions,” said Cunningham. “One great example is some 25-year-old Freighter semis we found recently working in the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea. These are some of the harshest conditions in the world. Trailers are bouncing down the road loaded with heavy equipment every day, and, 25 years later, they’re still active. The Outback has used and built on that history, to provide a stronger, more reliable trailer for Australian industry. As part of the commitment by Freighter’s parent company, MaxiTRANS, as a Gold Sponsor of the NatRoad Conference, Freighter worked with NatRoad to offer an Outback drop-deck semi-trailer for sale at auction during the event. Another interesting development from Freighter has resulted in a B-double trailer combination with permanent half-moon bridging decks between the trailers, resulting in an easy-touse and time saving drive-through trailer combination.


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The ability to drive a vehicle up the ramps, onto the tag, and then all the way to the lead trailer, makes these trailers a ‘built-for-life’ pairing and significantly reduces loading and unloading time.

There’s no shortage of new ideas when it comes to trailer technology

As the mining industry continues to demand new solutions for transport, Lusty EMS has developed its latest release, the Off-Road Side Tipper. With a 180-tonne carrying capacity, the new tipper is designed for 100 percent off-road use, making it perfect for operations carrying heavy loads across large sites, such as coal and iron ore mines.

Tri-State Transport is using half-moon bridging decks between trailers to speed vehicle loading and unloading (left and above). Rod Cunningham, GM of Freighter, speaking at the NatRoad Conference (Below).

A Hardox steel tub provides the ability to carry a number of different materials. It is supported by heavy-duty spring suspensions across each axle, LED mine-spec lights, and polyurethane two-pack paint. Built to suit the customer’s specific requirements, the design flexibility covers the requirements from a single trailer up to C-triple configuration. The tubs can also be built to differing heights, dependent on the density of the load. Also new from Lusty EMS is a solution for transporting waste from Curtis Island, off the Queensland coast near Gladstone, where the only access is by ferry. PowerTorque ISSUE 49



CLASSICAL There are advantages to having LNG that may increase its overall appeal


has an abundant supply of natural gas reserves, providing natural advantages in terms of supply security and pricing stability when compared to diesel.


When we think of gas, we probably are all guilty of considering all gases as equal, in much the same way as we just refill the gas cylinder we plug into the barbeque. However, there are differences. As we head into an explanation of

what is available for truck operators looking to save the environment, their fuel costs, or both, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what is up for discussion. LNG is a clear, colourless, non-toxic liquid that is produced when natural gas is cooled to minus 161 degrees Celsius at atmospheric pressure. Being 600 times the density of natural gas, and three times the density of compressed natural gas (CNG), LNG is the most efficient method of transporting and storing gas. LNG is vaporised or ‘reconverted’ back to its natural gas state when required for use in applications such as industrial applications, power generation, heating and transport.

LNG processing plants could provide Australia with considerable benefits when compared to the advantages of oil-based alternative options.


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CLASSICAL GAS LNG as a fuel delivers the best outcomes for companies operating long haul fleets over medium to large distances. There are several environmental benefits over its oil-based counterparts. Compared to diesel, natural gas burns more cleanly and with lower carbon emissions. Accessing the many benefits of natural gas as a transport fuel is now easier, following the partnership of Kleenheat Gas’ EVOL LNG, and engine technology company American Power Group Inc. The two have teamed up to bring the patented V5000HD natural gas/diesel dual-fuel technology to the Australian market, offering operators of medium and heavy-duty vehicles a simple, yet efficient, conversion that can provide reduced emissions levels (up to 12 percent CO2) and running cost savings without loss of power. The aftermarket conversion is available from EVOL LNG and can either be set-up as a diesel/LNG (liquefied natural gas) or diesel/CNG (compressed natural gas) conversion.

Dual fuel technology is now available from Kleanheat Gas’ EVOL LNG division in association with American Power Group Inc.

The V5000HD system burns diesel and natural gas simultaneously, typically at an average 40-50 percent diesel fuel substitution rate. Peak substitution can be much higher. After the conversion, the vehicle can either operate on the two fuels, simultaneously, or shift seamlessly to run on 100 percent diesel, should the vehicle be away from the re-fueller network. Simplicity is one of the key features, providing a reliable and low cost system. All conversion hardware is mounted externally of the engine and does not interfere with the engine integrity or design. The technology has been developed to maintain OEM specifications of all engine parameters, including coolant, oil, exhaust gas and intake air temperatures. Kleenheat Gas general manager, Graham Smith, said the V5000HD system had undergone extensive testing and product improvement, needed for Australian conditions, prior to its commercial release. “This technology is US EPA-approved and is available in the United States,” Mr. Smith said. “Our own testing and customer trials in Australia have been extremely successful, giving us confidence in the suitability of the conversion for Australian conditions. “Operators and fleet owners can also rest assured in the knowledge that they are dealing with an experienced, professional and reputable company in Kleenheat Gas, a division of Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers,” he added. The V5000HD system is suitable for fitment onto a wide range of diesel commercial vehicle engines, however, prior to converting, EVOL LNG will review the suitability of the dual-fuel system to a customer’s specific application.

The conversion can be performed in a matter of days by EVOL LNG certified installers, leading to minimal downtime. Initially, certified installers will be located in Perth and Melbourne. EVOL LNG also offers LNG training, advice, service, trouble shooting and repairs if required. A further benefit of the V5000HD is that it can be transferred to another vehicle should the original truck’s lifecycle be complete. Up until now, the benefits have been outweighed by the availability, but an improved access to LNG refuelling stations has moved a step closer in Victoria, as the result of an agreement between Kleenheat Gas’ EVOL LNG and the Victorian Government. This results from the announcement of a $2.5 million Regional Development Victoria (RDV) grant to support the construction of five new stations, starting in Wodonga. PowerTorque ISSUE 49 83


you might think about workshop design and the infrastructure necessary to provide the highest level of customer service to your clients, the world of engineering just became a better place. In 30 years of reporting on infrastructure investment, the PowerTorque team has never seen anything like the new WesTrac site at Tomago, near Newcastle. It’s huge, it has everything imaginable by way of equipment, facilities and opportunities, and it’s going to change the way the industry does business. This showcase facility cost around $160 million to develop and forms the backbone of the WesTrac enterprise on the East Coast. Not only is it the NSW/ACT operational headquarters of WesTrac, it’s the new location for the training facility to be known as the WesTrac Institute. The total complex at WesTrac Northbank covers 12 major purpose-built facilities, interconnected by a central spine, and including secure buildings, extensive hardstand areas and landscaping.


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The 560,000 cubic metres of buildings span 700 metres from front to rear, plus there are additional features such as a 12,000 square metre parts and distribution centre as well as a dedicated highway truck centre, component rebuild centre, a general workshop and machine wash bay. This is investment on the grandest scale imaginable. The workshops have overhead cranes over each bay to facilitate work on even the largest rear-end dumpers or D10 dozers and excavators. Lubricant supply is piped

THE WORLD OF WESTRAC throughout the complex from a central storage area, and waste oil is pumped to a collection and settlement tank for subsequent disposal. Vast underground water storage tanks collect rainwater from the roofs of the buildings for use at the facility, separate wastewater to ensure against pollution or contamination, and enhance the green eco approach present throughout the site. On-highway trucking operations are also well supported, with a separate service centre that also offers genuine parts sales and a well-equipped drivers lounge, restrooms, kitchen area and bedrooms for those staying overnight. The workers themselves at the site benefit from an extensive cafeteria on site, able to supply all member of staff with a complete meal service through the day.


The complex is now officially open, and PowerTorque was on

hand to witness just how the company launched its latest investment to its customers and future clients. The guest list read like a Who’s Who of the mining and resources industries, with a massive turnout for the evening event, which was hosted by Kerry Stokes AC, chairman of WesTrac, and Jim Walker, CEO of WesTrac. Flying in from Peoria in the United States, Caterpillar’s Stu Levenick, group president of the customer and dealer support group, was quick to show his total support, and that of Caterpillar Inc. to WesTrac, for the massive investment taking place to service customers of the American company in Australia. Managing directors and CEO’s of most of the major mining and resource sector companies also attended, as did James Packer and numerous local dignitaries, including Aboriginal elder, Uncle John of the Worimi People, the traditional custodians of the land and waters surrounding the Northbank site.

of WesTrac The opening of a brand-new $160 million WesTrac site for

Newcastle sets the tone for future growth

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5.8 metres long, 2.4 metres wide and with an overall height of 2.3 metres, this 7,000 kg runabout is being developed by defence contractor, THALES, to provide increased protection in warzones around the world.

“Subject to further discussions with the Commonwealth, the development contract would enable the Bendigo protected-vehicle manufacturing capability to take the prototype through to a production-ready vehicle that fully meets the specifications set by the Australian Army.

Its all-terrain ability is stunning by comparison with conventional all-wheel-drives, featuring an approach and departure angle of 45 degrees, plus a ramp over angle of 147 degrees. It will travel sideways along slopes of 40 degrees and happily climb up a gradient of 60 percent. With a GVM of 10,700 kg, it’s no lightweight, testimony to the amount of personnel protection it carries, but, so far, this innovative project has won Australian Government funding for further development, with the announcement at the close of last year by the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, that Hawkei had been downselected under the LAND 121 Phase 4 program. “This is a fantastic achievement for our engineering and production team, our partners and the 120 Australian firms that are part of our manufacturing supply chain,” said Thales Australia CEO, Chris Jenkins. “Up against the best vehicles in its class from US and European manufacturers, the Thales Hawkei has come out on top, which is a great vote of confidence in the skills of Australian defence industry.


“The Hawkei prototypes were developed in only 18 months, and have completed more than 40,000 km in vehicle testing. They have been subjected to more than 10 blast tests to prove the protection levels of the crew compartment. 96

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“It is a truly innovative, highly mobile, highly protected, 7-tonne vehicle, with in-built vehicle systems to make it a real fighting platform for Australian troops. The Hawkei has been developed with Vehicle Electronic Architecture to be mission system ready,” added Mr. Jenkins. Power comes from a STEYR 3.2-litre, six-cylinder, turbocharged M16 SCI engine that produces 200 kW (268 hp) at 4,000 rpm and maximum torque of 610 Nm (450 lb-ft) at 2,000 rpm.



It’s called the next generation in light protected-mobility vehicles, and, if you are part of our nation’s defence force, it’s something that you may find very close to your heart Hawkei uses air overhydraulic, outboard disc brakes on all four wheels, with ABS and EBD. There’s also a central tyre inflation system. Capable of being airlifted and dropped into a location, the Hawkei has a unique level of protection and survivability through its mobility and crew protection cell. Ballistic and mine blast protection levels, and further options, are available, together with additional water carrying of 250 litres, four-wheel steering, run flat tyres, winch mounts, and, of course, the almost obligatory weapons system up to a 0.50 cal heavy machine gun remote weapon station. For deployment where speed and mobility is paramount, there’s also a lightweight version that offers higher cross-country mobility while carrying more armament, as in the form of three weapons systems mounted front, centre and rear. It’s basically a stripped down version of the Command version that has doors removed and higher run speeds. In June this year, Thales Australia displayed the Hawkei in Europe at the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris, one of the world’s largest defence industry events, where it drew the interest of visitors from around the world.

Using a six-speed, ZF 6HP280 transmission, there are two ratios available through the transfer case: a high of 1.075:1 and a low of 1.916:1. The suspension system uses Axle Tech 3000 series fully independent progressive coil spring with double wishbone and outboard planetary reduction hubs, and there are three, air-operated diff locks at the front, centre and rear. With 200 litres of onboard fuel capacity, the range is estimated at 600 km, on-road, and, with a maximum speed of 130 km/h, the Hawkei is no slouch. For braking efficiency, the

A mission-ready combination of survivability, mobility, payload and high levels of protection, the Hawkei features an innovative B-kit armour application that can be installed by troops on operations in less than 30 minutes, without the need for specialist tools. This straightforward and effective approach has been developed with Plasan, a recognised leader in specialised armour solutions, while Boeing Defence Australia is providing overall vehicle through-life support services. On board, visitors to the show saw an innovative Vehicle Electronic Architecture (VEA) that is the result of an extensive joint development program between Thales in France, the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Australia. This allows the vehicle to be mission systems configurable, with surveillance, communications and Battle Management System able to be displayed on a single screen, and able to meet rapid re-tasking at minimal cost and effort. PowerTorque ISSUE 49





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PowerTorque Issue 49 October - November 2012  

A bumper issue for October with a full review of the latest Freightliner to join the Australian market, the Coronado 114.If you like to read...

PowerTorque Issue 49 October - November 2012  

A bumper issue for October with a full review of the latest Freightliner to join the Australian market, the Coronado 114.If you like to read...