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ISSUE 44 December/January 2012 RRP: $7.95 (NZ $8.95)

ON TEST- NEW ARGOSY,

IVECO POWERSTAR, KW200, SCANIA R730 & WESTERN STAR DD15


DRIVEN

Dave Whyte tries his hand at rigid tipper and dog trailer work with a new Detroit powered Western Star been lucky in my time behind the wheel, having had a crack at a wide variety of different jobs that all come under the “truck driver” banner. One of the things I haven’t done is truck and dog work, so when invited to drive a Western Star truck and dog – fitted with the new Detroit Diesel DD15 engine – I jumped at the opportunity. Having been impressed by the updated DD13, I was looking forward to seeing what the larger 15-litre power plant had to offer, while at the same time experiencing a different combination to those I had driven before. Never a dull day in this job!

virtually no turbo lag. Detroit Diesel is also spruiking the fuel economy benefits of this setup, though our drive was anything but a fuel economy run.

The DD15 is the latest, and largest, offering from Detroit Diesel for the heavy truck market here in Australia. (The 16-litre DD16 hasn’t been officially released yet, though there was one fitted in a Western Star on display at the Brisbane truck show).

Now, as I’ve said, I’m a newcomer to this area, but I still don’t understand the preference for manual gearboxes. The benefits of AMT gearboxes are becoming clearer every day, with reductions in tyre wear, fuel consumption and damage to components such as clutches and differentials. The option of selecting and staying in a certain gear is available on every AMT I have driven, and given the amount of time these trucks spend on the road, versus off the road, surely the benefits of an AMT would be obvious in this field as well. I am open to discussion on this…

Available in power ratings from 475 hp/1,650 lb.ft to 560 hp/1,850 lb.ft, this engine uses a combination of very high fuel injection pressure, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), and a particulate filter to keep emissions within Euro 5 specifications. The use of a non-variable, wastegated turbocharger harks back to days gone by, but combined with the benefits of turbocompounding, delivers good response to pedal input with 18

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The truck we drove was fitted with the 500 hp (368 kW) version, which puts out 1850 lb.ft (2,508 Nm) of torque. A look at the spec sheet shows that the maximum horsepower comes high in the rev range, at 1,800 rpm, while the torque peaks at around 1100 rpm, promising very strong low-down pulling power. Slotted in behind the Detroit was an Eaton 18-speed manual gearbox, these transmissions still being a popular choice among tipper operators.


DETROIT ON DIRT

In the interests of good reporting, we like to put our test trucks to work in the job for which they were designed. For example, for our highway prime mover tests, we do a run (generally Melbourne-Sydney), fully loaded and within realistic trip times. For the lighter rigids, we put them to work around town for a day or two, in their intended environment. This allows us to get past the new truck smell and big chrome pipes, and tell you what really matters – how it performs in the real world. To do this, we occasionally enlist the help of operators who have the right kind of loading for the vehicle in question, and for our tip truck and dog test we were kindly accommodated by the team at Bakers Landscape Supplies, from Cranebrook, just west of Sydney. Bakers runs a mixed fleet, including Western Stars, Macks, Sterlings and a Kenworth, carting sand, rock and garden supplies throughout New South Wales. Our run took us west from Penrith, over the Blue Mountains to pick up a load of crushed rock, before returning to Cranebrook via the Bells Line of Road. As you would expect, the empty run up the mountains was uneventful, with the truck

and dog unit weighing in at just under 17 tonnes and 500 hp on tap from the DD15. Surprisingly, the ride was very good while running empty, with the only drama encountered being a little wheel slip when moving off at the lights due to the wet conditions. After loading at the quarry, and now grossing just under 47 tonnes, the true test of the DD15 really began. The route along Bells Line of Road was deliberately chosen as a test of pulling power, but also to test the engine braking and handling at the same time. Thinking back on days gone by, the one word you would not associate with a Detroit engine is “quiet”. This engine turns that on its head. From idle right through to maximum working load, this engine produces very little noise. Also noticeable is the lack of vibration, with the DD15 running very smoothly until the revs drop to around 1,000 rpm under load. Even at 1,100 rpm, though, the engine is smooth, while still producing maximum torque. Inside the cab, noise levels were very low, making conversation easy, even with a window open. Inevitably, the conversation turned to a comparison between this truck and those in the Bakers’ permanent fleet. Our guide for the day usually operates another brand of truck, with a smaller capacity engine rated at the same horsepower. The difference in torque output between the two was obvious, with the DD15 cresting the hills one and a half gears higher than the smaller powerplant (which would also be well run in, as opposed to the

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PROFILE

There’s

no glass ceiling at S.J. Read Earthworks and Haulage, as Cheryl Read knows only too well. With a combined family of eight children, both Cheryl and her husband, Steve, together with Cheryl’s son, Daniel, spend their week behind the wheel of a variety of different trucks, plant and equipment. Steve grew up working with horses, and as a young farrier he was always working in the family business shoeing or training horses, or providing adjustment and rider education. It was only when he bought a Kenworth, in order to carry hay back to the family property, that life took a different path and he found good reasons for staying behind the wheel rather than on top of a saddle. “I’d been working with horses for 17 years, and we’d run small trucks, such as a rigid tabletop Hino, to cart hay. As demand increased, we upsized to a Kenworth prime mover in order to cart hay in larger quantities back to the local area around Darke’s Forest, south of Sydney,” said Steve. “Up until then it had been horses as a family business with my parents, and with my Grandparents running a fruit orchard,” he added. Trucks and equipment have certainly taken over where horses left off, and today Steve and Cheryl have expanded their business with particular attention on being able to offer a range of services. The company fleet now comprises earthmoving equipment such as excavators and skid steer loaders, a tilt tray for carrying their equipment while also available for general hire, plus a fleet of late model rigid and dog trailers with both aluminium and steel Bisalloy bodies.

continue to work as subbies, but also are now managing our own contracts, and, subsequently, also employing additional sub-contractors,” said Steve. “Although we still cart hay when necessary, our type of work has become more specialised, and it’s not unusual to find that we are providing a full management service and utilising up to 50 different sub-contractors at the one time on a specific work site. That requires good logistical skills to keep your own trucks at work, but you also have to ensure that all your subbies are treated equally,” added Steve. As with many husband and wife teams, the bookwork and paperwork is handled by Cheryl, who is just as capable driving a rigid and dog trailer, or at the controls of an excavator. In fact, after Steve and Cheryl had first met, she bought her own Posi-trac mini loader to help kick off the business after Steve bought the Kenworth. A year later, and with son Daniel trained up on the Posi-trac, she upgraded to a five-tonne excavator, and the business just continued to grow from there onwards. “We are always asking: What can we do? How can we diversify to create different levels of work? How can we become more efficient in what we do and what we can offer our customers?” said Cheryl. “It really is a question of expanding our business over a variety of different areas, utilising plant and equipment and trucks in order to spread the financial risk of such high investment levels. If you concentrate on one area, you can become very vulnerable to sudden variations within each segment,” she added.

“Our business has expanded gradually from our early activities where we concentrated mainly on working with local businesses as a sub-contractor. Today, we

KEEPING IT IN THE

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KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

“Selecting your clients is also really important. We’ll pull our trucks off a job if we get concerned about a particular customer and the way they manage a site, or if we believe they may have problems themselves with cashflow variation. “Another very important aspect is to be able to show a clearly defined paper trail of documentation should your company be audited for compliance with OH&S, Workers Compensation or Superannuation requirements. Dependent on the work you take on, you also have to ensure that all your drivers have been through a proper induction course. Safety and attitude can be a showcase of how you run your business. “We get letters from our customers impressed by what we do for them. But part of that satisfaction comes from having the right employees. That’s what makes all the difference,” said Cheryl. Both Steve and Cheryl are very much hands-on with their day-to-day involvement with in the company. It’s not unusual to find Cheryl adding to her daily workload, of handling all the administration and billing requirements, by heading out on the road in a Kenworth when work demands become increasingly hectic. “I’ve been driving trucks for 20 years now, so it’s become relatively easy for me to make the transition from office to truck, and back again, if it means that we can provide a better service for our clients. Of course, what gets left in the office while I am behind the wheel of a truck has to be caught up with at the end of the day. Fortunately, the tipper business isn’t a 24-hour, seven-day-aweek delivery process,” she added.

“I think our advantage and success is being a husband and wife team. We work well together and understand the stress we can both be under at any time. People who don’t run their own businesses would find it difficult to understand, and probably think that driving a truck can be easy. You can often come home mentally and physically exhausted, especially if you’ve been driving for 10-12 hours on a contract tonnage-rate job. Also, Steve’s continual stress of finding work for everyone, not only our trucks but our subbies as well, is on top of him driving each day. “He doesn’t mind if I get a bit behind with the housework, and I don’t mind if he doesn’t help with the dishes. We try not to put extra pressure on each other, so it works well. (Our kids are a great help around the house and will do anything asked of them),” said Cheryl. Although the company employs a qualified mechanic to handle all service requirements, Steve is often found assisting in the workshop in order to keep downtime to a minimum. “By self-servicing we have managed to reduce operational costs,” said Steve. “I’ve been a bonneted-truck man for most of my life, but in recent months we’ve started to look at options such as the Volvo FH with I-Shift. There are obviously advantages to be gained by reducing overall length and having an improved turning circle. We’ve been operating in yards, recently, where the Volvo can turn around completely on one lock and in one maneuver, while with a conventional rigid and dog trailer we’ve had to reverse and shunt around. “It’s no great additional effort, but it all takes time. This can be a critical factor affecting efficiency, as a faster turn-around might enable an overall gain, by the end of the day, of up to an additional journey,” Steve added.

Driving tippers and dog trailers are just part of a normal day for Sydney operator Steve Read and his wife Cheryl PowerTorque ISSUE 44

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DRIVEN

POWERFUL POSER an amazing concept. Engineering isBasically, it allows us to

sift through the millions of different components available throughout the world, pick the few (or few thousand) we think work best together, and then assemble them into one object. The ultimate aim for this contraption, be it a bridge, a microwave oven, or in this case, a truck, is to perform a given task better than anyone else’s contraption. The interesting thing is that when it comes to selling this said object, basic practicality is only one area of consideration for those doing the purchasing, with many other (often superficial) factors helping to decide where their hard earned cash will end up.

Relating this to our own industry, it’s easy to understand why most manufacturers don’t stick with a single specification for their product. Even within a single model designation, there are usually various specifications available to appease the different preferences of prospective buyers, including cab size, suspension components and, obviously, engine and gearbox options.

demand dictates that they should go back to a previous, more basic specification. A perfect example of this is the Iveco Powerstar ISX Manual. The Iveco Powerstar has undergone a constant evolution since the original “Darth Vader” model in the late 90’s. Australian testing and engineering improvements have ensured it remains a popular choice for those looking for Euro comfort combined with American driveline components and the ride and looks that only a conventional truck can provide.

Manufacturers are on a constant mission to keep ahead of the field, introducing new technologies and components to give them an edge over the competition. Sometimes though, even where a manufacturer has spent millions of dollars on developing or improving their product, customer

It’s big,

imposing and runs with a red engine, despite its European heritage. Dave Whyte takes the wheel of the Powerstar with a Cummins and manual Roadranger 26

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POWERFUL POSER

This model is interesting in that it is the only conventional (bonneted) European truck on the market. The cab itself is all but identical to that fitted on the cabover Stralis, simply adapted to fit behind the Aussie made bonnet, meaning more common parts and so reducing spare parts costs. It is also interesting that Iveco doesn’t build these trucks anywhere else in the world, and stories have been told of European customers buying trucks from Australia and shipping them back home. Regular readers may remember PowerTorque drove the Powerstar ISX with an automated ZF gearbox last year, and were very impressed. When I saw the manual version on the stand at the Brisbane truck show earlier this year, I questioned why anyone would buy it, knowing how good the AMT version was. The response came as a surprise - customers were asking for it. Certain sectors, including livestock carriers and tipper operators, prefer to stick with the tried and tested Roadranger manual gearbox, though, given the technology available in AMT transmissions, I’m not entirely sure why. That’s not for me to worry about, and, as far as Iveco is concerned, it doesn’t matter. If people are going to buy it, Iveco will build it.

The Cummins engine is now engineered by Iveco to match either the 18-speed manual Roadranger or the ZF AS-tronic fully automated manual transmission to suit operator preference.

Inside the Powerstar cab, the environment is very driver friendly. With a flat floor and enough room to stand and stretch your arms above your head (I’m 175 cm tall), the feeling of space is incredible. It’s not all wasted though, with plenty of storage spread around the cab for all of life’s necessities. The dash layout is definitely Euro, with modern shapes and colours that are easy on the eye while keeping the driver up to date with all the important information. Switches and controls are all within easy reach, and are easily identifiable, day or night. An ISRI seat tops off the comfort, offering all manner of adjustments to make any driver comfortable. Something we often overlook, as drivers, is the quality of the air we are taking in while driving. The heating/ cooling system on these trucks is remarkable. In such a spacious cab, it could be hard to maintain a comfortable, regular temperature, but with masses of fresh air being circulated, I found no need to operate the air conditioning over my entire trip. The amount of fresh air through the vents also reduces driver fatigue, and removes the need to have a window open, contributing to the super low noise levels inside. PowerTorque ISSUE 44

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FEATURE able to re-stock these stores continuously. That means they hold smaller inventory, can operate without major warehousing and reduce their fixed costs to make their operations more profitable. “The UK principle that we operate is vastly different from that of Europe where stores hold sufficient stock to last them for up to 18 days. When you start to evaluate the finance that’s involved in sustaining that level of stocking, and the space required for its warehousing, you can then appreciate why our logistics ability to supply on the JIT system means better utilisation, lower operating costs and improved profit ratio for our customers,” said William.

you drive north from London on the M1 motorway in England, there’s one common denominator about the freight you see moving south. Apart from the fact that every prime mover is a cabover and there’s not a bonneted truck in sight, it would be hard not to notice that the Eddie Stobart fleet dominates the freeway. The prominent livery of green and white certainly helps to identify an Eddie Stobart truck and trailer, but it’s only when you meet the management team and visit the company depot at Crick in Northamptonshire that the sheer size and complexity of the organisation becomes apparent. Rather than describing the company as a trucking operation, the term used is that of “multimodal logistics company”, and that starts to define just what the differences are between the Stobart Group and a typical British haulier. The company was started in the 1960s, as an agricultural business distributing fertilisers, and today has grown by adding interests in transport and distribution, owning an airport at Carlisle and a shipping terminal, as well as having extensive rail transport operations. Today, the business is run by William Stobart, the son of the founder, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Andrew Tinkler. Both men are related through marriage, having married twin sisters. In 2004, William and Andrew made the decision to purchase the business from William’s father, Eddie, and his brother, also called Edward. PowerTorque caught up with William at the company headquarters to discuss just what makes the group different from any other haulier in both the UK and Europe. For starters, the size of the company fleet is certainly impressive. With 2,200 vehicles and 4,000 trailers, the business is centred on providing UK transport, but also operates into Europe, running about 450 vehicles continuously across the English Channel. Efficiency isn’t just something that’s talked about. It’s the sole reason why the Stobart Group excels above others in the same business, as it provides “just in time” deliveries for supermarkets and wholesalers. This contributes to overall profitability by enabling the retail outlets to reduce inventory. “Delivery of goods takes place day and night on a “Just in Time” principle (JIT),” said William Stobart. “The UK stores work on a stock basis that’s only capable of satisfying customer demand for 24 hours. Our ability comes from being 38

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The database links between the supermarkets and the wholesalers are now so well defined that stock is reordered as a direct result of it being sold and datalogged at the cash register. This results in the replacement


TIME MANAGEMENT stock order being accessed instantaneously, after closing time, and the load being prepared for collection from the warehouse and delivery to the store. The other big advantage is that deliveries can be made to the premises by a Stobart truck during night hours when the store is closed to the public. The need for a highly accurate and responsive vehicle tracking and management system has resulted in the Stobart Group developing its own IT system that ties in to satellite tracking and data transfer between the various operational control centres and the vehicles on the road. It’s possible to view upwards of 1,500 vehicles on screen at any time, and to determine their status of being on route, stationary whilst delivering, running empty or loaded, plus, of course, their speed and exact location.

Drill down into the individual vehicle management and you find that each group of approximately 25 vehicles has a designated trip planner that works with the drivers to control their daily work task. These planners continuously monitor the progress of their teams, individually, determining where and when loads may be collected and delivered and making sure that each vehicle is utilised to its absolute maximum potential. To highlight whether the vehicle is laden, unladen or travelling between deliveries, the icon relating to each truck changes colour on the route planner’s monitor. This level of involvement is particularly important when you consider the maximum driving time per employee is limited to a legal driving day of just nine hours, a far cry from the average 14 hours of an Australian driver. It’s the limit imposed by a standard European driving day of nine hours that determines how the company utilises its fleet, bringing in drivers on a shift basis to keep the trucks

Chris Mullett reports

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DRIVEN

ARGOSY UNRAVELLED

A

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ARGOSY UNRAVELLED

Dave Whyte finds the New Generation Argosy sets a new standard for itself amongst the latest caBovers

AS

I write this article, I am chowing down on a huge slice of humble pie. I am in a very privileged situation, whereby I am handed the keys to all manner of brand new trucks and asked for my opinion. This makes it very easy to condemn any vehicle that is less than perfect, or just simply not as good as last week’s ride. For a long time I have maintained that the Freightliner Argosy was a good truck, but only after you turned off the key and could utilise all the space and comfort that was on offer. This was based on a drive I did in the last generation Argosy, where it simply didn’t make a significantly good impression. When matched to its competition, it didn’t perform so well on the ride, noise and fit/finish criteria. While the truck itself had no trouble doing the job it was designed to do, it just wasn’t as “polished” as some of its competitors. Having said that, the huge number of Argosys running our highways is testament to the fact that it had plenty to offer operators, and the price was right. Go forward a few years, and things have changed. The latest incarnation of the Argosy was previewed at the Brisbane Truck Show a few months ago. Being parked inside a glass box, and out of the reach of show-goers, my immediate thought was that behind the big new chrome grille, there was probably little difference from the last model. Sure, this truck had the latest engine from Detroit Diesel and a bigger cooling package, but it would likely still be noisy and rough inside the cab, with plenty of rattles and squeaks to annoy the driver. Frankly, I could not have been more wrong! Freightliner has done a massive amount of work to improve the Argosy. It literally starts with the chassis rails, which now come standard with 106-tonne road train GVM rating. That’s no misprint, and it’s not an option or upgrade, but standard. This gives a good indication of how serious Freightliner is about the Argosy being a truck for all applications. It also forms a solid platform for the other engineering improvements, including the massive radiator fitted to allow cooling of the Cummins ISX or Detroit Diesel DD15 powerplants.

The truck we drove for this test was the 110” Raised Roof on a 4350 mm wheelbase, set up to pull a 32-pallet B-double combination while still coming in at under 26 m. With 1600 litres of fuel on board, and all the living space any driver could need, this truck was a definite long haul, highway spec truck. I won’t go on about the environment inside the cab, Chris can tell you all about that (Pages 54-56), but I will say that this is a huge cab, and would be ideal for two-up work, given the ample storage and fitment of two full-size bunks. While the lack of noise inside the cab surprised me, I can’t help thinking that what was underneath played a big role in keeping things quiet. The DD15, in this case, rated at 560 hp (418 kW) and 1850 lb.ft (2508 Nm), was the topic of conversation for a large part of our trip. There has been a lot of hype around the release of this engine in Australia, with American operators reporting very good results from the same platform. The first thing to strike me about this engine was the lack of noise. In fact, at idle, the warmed up DD15 sounds more like an idling fridge motor. There are several factors at work here, from the amplified common-rail, super high pressure fuel injection, to the other end of the exhaust where a diesel particulate filter (DPF) helps keep the volume down. Amazingly, this is the case even when the Jacobs Brake is working at full strength. The noise is so low, that I felt quite comfortable rolling through Tarcutta with the engine brake working without disturbing the peace. Don’t let the quietness fool you though, this is an engine that is more than happy to work. Grossing around 58 tonnes, the DD15 had no trouble getting things moving, or maintaining momentum. Matched to an Eaton 18-speed AMT, operated by the Freightliner Smartshift paddle, the combination worked well, with the only exception being that the AMT would change from 18th-16th at around 1200-1250 rpm, while the DD15 would happily lug to 1000 rpm. This was fixed by switching the transmission mode to manual, and holding each gear a little longer before pushing down on the paddle to make the gearchange. The trick then is to remember to switch it back to auto before coasting down the other side. This issue could probably be rectified by a tweak in the gearbox software, and may well be done when the engine is a little more run in.

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NO TIME PROFILE

TO WASTE

MacDonald Johnston shows how major restructuring secured its future

All

too often we read of companies outsourcing or moving their manufacturing base offshore, usually on the premise that no matter how efficient their processes may be, the labour costs of the developed world are unable to match the expected salaries of third world countries. This explanation of a lack of commitment to Australian manufacturing may well satisfy the ever hungry shareholders, keen to extract the highest possible dividends from the stock holdings. But, it does nothing to promote technical ability within the ranks of our own employees or maintain skills on our shores. Once the manufacturing base has moved offshore we lose the reasons to promote industry skills. And when that occurs, we then become dependent on overseas manufacturing, and our own industries die on the vine, leaving our population to become simply consumers rather than creators. But fortunately, there are companies based in Australia that see their future as dependent on the ability of our workforce, and don’t swing their investment out of Australia in order to pay higher rewards to senior management. PowerTorque recently joined MacDonald Johnston, of Clayton in Victoria, to see how a company that seven years ago was facing bankruptcy, has made a startling turnaround. In seven years, the company has grown its business by 40 percent, and with improved efficiency and profitability has achieved an annual turnover of $100,000,000, without any increase in its original workforce of 302 personnel.

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MacDonald Johnston manufactures street sweepers, plus front and side-loader garbage and waste disposal equipment. A second division, which operates under the name of J.D. MacDonald, specialises in industrial standard bathroom and washroom equipment such as hand driers and dispensers. The company’s 20-year history of building side-loading compactors speaks for itself, but, in fairness to the company today, it hasn’t rested on its laurels, only to find its product range outdated. It has continued to look to the future, refining its designs and bringing new models into the market place, even when faced with global recessions and a national future of economic uncertainty But success for MacDonald Johnston wasn’t always assured. Managing Director, David Waldron, was well known to PowerTorque for his association with the truck industry prior to joining the company. With extensive management ability gained from working with PACCAR Inc. and as General Manager of its Kenworth/DAF dealership at Derrimut, David joined MacDonald Johnston at a time of great uncertainty for the company. Fortunately, with his own expertise, and the ability of the team he brought together at MacDonald Johnston, the future outlook changed from one of pessimism to that of optimism. And, as they say in all good stories, it all got better from that point forwards. “We called our reorganisation strategy Reaching New Heights,” said David, “and it related to how we intended to take control of our own future, both as a manufacturing company and as a supplier.


NO TIME TO WASTE

“There’s been a strategy developed to enable us to bring forward new products and activities to the marketplace. In partnership with out parent company, Booker Industries, we wanted to maintain manufacturing in Australia rather than moving offshore. “In 2004, the company has hit a crossroads where it could either go into liquidation or continue for a short period and then go broke. Sales were good and product acceptance was high, but profitability was almost non-existent. At that time, it made just $1.00 for every $100 earned, or one percent of profit in relation to turnover. No company can survive on that low level of profitability.

“We had Occupational Health and Safety Issues around the factory, we had the potential for serious accidents, our housekeeping was poor and our facilities needed overhauling. “The previous management was in disarray, and our product range, in some areas, was totally outdated with poor technology application. “Our dilemma was whether to walk away completely, or to start a long-term vision for the company. Communication became the key to our success for both staff and management. We discussed how we were tracking, and how we needed to confirm our intention to manufacture within Australia.

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DRIVEN

One

of the classic situations on many Aussie construction sites is the bogged small tipper or tradie’s ute. The vehicle gets in there okay, but then can’t get out, and many’s the vehicle that’s been damaged by over-zealous attempts to extract it. Enter the Isuzu NLS 200, which is an all-wheel drive version of the NLR range and comes as a cab/chassis, crewcab/chassis and a short-cab tipper. Because Isuzu already has a high-ground-clearance, lowrange-geared truck range with its NPS models there’s been no attempt to make the NLS a go-anywhere machine. Rather, it’s an NLR with additional traction capabilities, for when the terrain becomes loose or slippery. This derivative of the NLR family employs Isuzu’s narrow cab, atop a three-litre, four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual box, driving to a dual-tyred rear axle, but there the similarities end. The NLS has a unique front suspension that’s

SLIP

independently sprung, like the NLR’s, but with forged upper and lower arms. The springs are torsion bars that run aft to the lower control arms from front cross member anchors. This suspension design provides plenty of free space for front drive half-shafts to connect to freewheeling hubs. Drive to the front chassis-mounted differential comes from a single-speed transfer case with viscous coupling unit. Front axle drive in the NLS is activated by a simple push button dashboard switch and verified by a light in the instrument panel. (The more off-road-oriented NPS model has two-speed transfer case and mechanical front axle engagement.) At the rear end, the NLR’s drive axle is retained, but it’s slung under the leaf spring pack to improve the truck’s belly clearance. Also retained is a transmission parking brake. With 110 kW and 375 Nm pushing it along, the fully loaded NLS 200 Tipper had a handy turn of speed and easily kept up with Melbourne’s traffic. Peak torque, on paper, isn’t all

&SLOP

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Allan Whiting reports on Isuzu’s latest off-road performer, the NLS 4x4


SLIP AND SLOP

that flash, but there’s ample lift-off grunt from idle, making progressive speed build-up effortless. The synchro’ box combined with a light clutch that had good friction-point feel to make town driving a breeze. Isuzu sought very flexible constant velocity joints for the front drive-steer arrangement, giving an excellent 35-degree wheel cut angle on the inside wheel at full lock, so manoeuvrability wasn’t compromised. Handling on smooth surfaces was flat and predictable, and ride quality on broken-up secondary bitumen was excellent. ABS-controlled, disc/drum braking was powerful and stable on slick surfaces. At this point in our evaluation, the NLS 200 Tipper felt the same as a 4x2 model. We ventured onto wet, corrugated dirt, en-route to our off-road test course at Rob Emmins’ Melbourne 4WD Proving Ground, and, as expected, the truck moved around through the effects of bump steer and tyre-grip reduction. Time to check out the 4x4 system.

Isuzu has fitted free-wheeling hubs to the front axle, so that the front differential can be isolated when not required. We locked the front hubs and, once under way again, pressed the dashboard 4x4 control button. Directional stability was immediately improved and the steering had much more feel. There was no noticeable noise increase and no vibration. Although this is a part-time 4x4 system, there’s a viscous coupling in the front axle transfer case, so the NLS 200 can be driven with 4x4 engaged on all surfaces and at all speeds. Drive an NPS like that and you’ll experience ‘wind-up’ in the driveline and also risk transmission and axle damage. The only penalty from full-time 4x4 operation, in the case of the NLS, is a slight increase in fuel consumption. At the Proving Ground there was typical construction site mud that made access by 4x2 vehicles quite impossible – an ideal test situation for the NLS 200 Tipper. We appreciated four-wheel-drive traction on the slippery downhill slope to the site area, as the truck adopted a slight sideways attitude. Thankfully, the exhaust brake combined with 25:1 gear

Thanks to a viscous coupling in the front axle transfer case, the Isuzu NLS 200 can be driven with 4x4 engaged on all surfaces and at all speeds.

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TRAILER

TORQUE It’s the high degree of specialisation that makes Lusty EMS a standout manufacturer in the tipper market

In

recent years the trailer market has seen some activity from overseas manufacturers keen to market their products in Australia. You’ve got to admire their natural enthusiasm and commitment to search for new markets, but in the main, this desire to sell to Australia soon becomes tempered when they realize the loads we carry and the roads over which they travel are not quite the same. While truckmakers are themselves largely running an import operation, the unusual legislation and the need for durability levels far higher than those built into trailers overseas has seen our market develop its own solutions, thanks to Australian ingenuity based on a deep knowledge of the industry. Lusty EMS is one such brand that embodies the best ingredients for surviving the conditions experienced everyday by Australian operators. The company was originally founded when Graham Lusty joined in a partnership with father and son Bob and Jim McDonnell and their EMS engineering company. Originally the manufacturing focused on providing solutions to the mining industry and with the manufacture of screening equipment. A demand for trailer remanufacturing and rebuilding soon led to the company into producing its own designs in a niche market for aluminium tippers as the grain harvest developed. Once its reputation was established, the orders kept coming and the business continued to develop.

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From those early days in 1996 the company continued to grow but by 2003, and with the grain industry in decline, it was obvious that its profile had to change and production needed to diversify. This led the company down a different path to that of providing for the specific needs of the waste industry. It was at this time in 2003 that MaxiTRANS acquired Lusty EMS, moving it soon after to its current modern manufacturing facility from what was previously a series of sheds. MaxiTRANS has made very significant capital investments in facilities and tooling at Lusty EMS to improve operational efficiency, production volumes and, importantly, worker safety while maintaining high quality. Key to the development of Lusty EMS was the Stag B-double trailer design for tip over frame ability without decoupling. The unique design of the Stag trailer has since developed further, growing from the initial 19 metre lengths now to offer a variation of units with overall lengths to 25 metres. Rick Child, National Sales Manager for Lusty EMS told PowerTorque the decision to extend the length of the Stag combination out to 25 metres has been a significant success. “It now means the Stag design is suitable for a far wider range of loads. From the original haulage of grain, the Stag trailer is now suitable for gypsum, sand and gravel. It’s not just


TRAILER TORQUE the versatility of the load that makes it attractive. It’s the speed of discharge without the need to uncouple,� said Rick. On general access routes a typical rigid and dog trailer on four axles can operate at a GCM of 50 tonnes. On a B-double route the Stag trailer can extend this load efficiency out to a GCM of 57.5 tonnes when running on mass management. The changing face of the transport industry is reflected in the type of demand for trailers. In 2005, probably 70 percent of trailers sold by Lusty EMS were to operate as 19 metre B-doubles. Today that figure has changed dramatically and with new designs that enable universal compatibility with different prime movers, the interest from operators is now centred on 25 metre B-doubles. The range of products available from Lusty EMS is extensive and includes the Grainmaster aluminium tip-over-axle semitipper and the medium duty, moving floor design of semitrailer. The moving floor design is particularly versatile, offering the choice of carrying bulk products such as woodchip or mulch, sawdust, grain or corn and alternating these with palletised loads. The Multi-Loader 19 metre B-double offers the versatility of a tipper with the added advantage of side opening doors, again adding the versatility to carry bulk loads or palletised loads. Additional options up to 25 metre B-doubles are also available for all tipping operations.

From moving floor trailers to semi-tippers and 25 meter Stag trailers, Lusty EMS has the industry covered.

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LAUNCH

SAFETY CONSCIOUS “Safety is the key selling point for this truck,” says Alex Stewart – Hino Australia’s divisional manager – Product Strategy.

Usually

the glitz and the glamour of a new truck launch centres on high horsepower prime movers with massive GCM ratings and trucks that carry more bling than an America rap artist. But down at the light truck end of the market Hino has been busy setting some new targets, and with the accent on safety, the new models being launched are just as significant as their larger siblings. Japanese trucks all used to be rather similar. In addition to being painted white, they offered bouncy and often uncomfortable seating, steering that was never able to be described as being precise, braking systems that were adequate but never state-of-the-art, and a level of sophistication that rivalled a fridge. Indeed, most of them were about as exciting and innovative as the white goods lineup at Bing Lee. But right now, if you thought progress was just confined to linehaul trucking, you’d be very much mistaken. The irony of the Hino 300 Series launch is that these little trucks, which offer transport solutions for drivers who, in the main, don’t have truck driving licences, come with more safety features as standard than any of the North American heavy trucks currently on sale in Australia. They also conform to stricter exhaust emissions pollution standards and they incorporate better electronic equipment for engine management, navigation and entertainment. The Hino 300 Series line-up of 45 different models, eight of which are hybrid, brings with it an enviable standard safety spec that includes dual SRS airbags (driver and

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passenger), fourwheel ventilated disc brakes, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and, for the first time in a light truck, vehicle stability control. Thanks to a more efficient cab styling package, aerodynamic efficiency has been improved by 25 percent over the previous cabin design. This improved aerodynamic package, suggested as being 30 percent better than its competitors, also contributes to lower noise levels inside the cab, a major benefit when aiming to lower fatigue levels. The windscreen is also now bonded into position, increasing the overall strength of the cabin assembly and again lowering wind noise. The four-cylinder diesel engine is all new, and, at 4.0 litres, it’s not only fully ADR80/03 compliant, but also conforms to the EEV (Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicle) standard, currently accepted as the highest emissions legislation in the market.


SAFETY CONSCIOUS

have been achieved through careful attention to engine design, turbocharger pressures with a new variable nozzle turbocharger, a new intercooler, and the high pressure, commonrail electronic fuel injection. Mr Stewart said the Hino engine has the best Diesel Particulate Active Reduction System (DPR) system in class, with an 800,000 km service interval and an automatic self-cleaning system that begins when the filter is only at 30 percent of overall capacity. Other advantages include the added reliability of three fuel filters, including two with water separators mounted on the chassis, and a main long-life filter mounted on the engine. All models have an 80 Amp alternator for optimum reliability. Standard cab versions feature a slightly de-rated engine with 110 kW of power produced at 2,500 rpm and with peak torque of 420 Nm rated at 1,400 rpm. The wide cab versions run with 121 kW of power and 464 Nm of torque, both outputs being rated at an identical engine rpm. According to Alex Stewart, Hino Australia Divisional Manager, product strategy, the gains in power, torque and efficiency, when compared to the previous 300 Series engine,

For a market segment that almost prided itself on being boringly uninteresting, Hino has also added a revised version of its hybrid drive that’s substantially better than its predecessor, and, for a relatively small additional financial outlay, it can bring definite fuel consumption cost savings as it reduces the vehicle’s appetite for distillate. There are many factors that have driven Hino to introduce a higher level of technical sophistication into its light-truck range, and one of these is obviously the incoming numbers of Chinese light trucks that aim to take some of the market PowerTorque ISSUE 44

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