The Global UD Trucks Customer Magazine
READY TO ROLL UD Trucks Enters Korea
Rebirth of the first reefer
Japanâ€™s ancient robots
The automatic choice
Keep in touch with UD Trucks, wherever you go
Clean, clear and packed with information: the new UD Trucks website provides smart access to UDâ€™s world. Itâ€™s ready for you, no matter what device you use. Whether you have a giant-screen PC, a tablet computer or a tiny smartphone, the site instantly sizes itself to fit your screen. A smooth, smart way to access a wide range of information on UD Trucks.
1-1, Ageo-shi, Saitama 362-8523, Japan udtrucks.com
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Ready to roll UD Trucks recently entered the highly competitive Korean truck market, with the first customer already anxious to get on the country’s bustling highways.
Listening to you
or those of us who live and breathe trucks, it’s always a pleasure to see the results of our work in the pages of Roads—and to be able to share our excitement with you. After 30 year of working with truck technologies, it’s still exciting for me to see what we have created, what’s possible for the future, and all the places around the world where UD trucks are hard at work. I began my career in this industry as a blue-collar worker: I started out as a test-driver for Nissan Diesel in the early 1980s. I’ve since changed my shirt for a white collar, and have worked through all different areas involved in the technical side of projects and planning as a manager. But I still have my heavy-duty truck and haulage licenses! That first hands-on work with trucks, and also long-term work on noise vibrations, has stayed with me. It helped me to think like the driver, even as I was working in software development, or in cooling system development, or truck drivability or even fuel consumption technologies. Maybe it’s about keeping myself grounded—continuing to think like the operator, and making sure that the technologies we develop actually help operators to do their jobs better. I think there are some similarities with the way we do business in Japan. We like to be bottom-up: good ideas come from the real world, and work their way up through the organization. That’s why it’s very important for us as technical people to be able to listen to our customers. By being on the spot near you, we can hear what you need, what we could do better—and, of course, what you like—and then move this information quickly through the organization and realize it in new products. One of my main projects in recent years has been the new Condor. I’m very proud of this new version of our medium-duty truck. I can tell you that it has a powerful new engine, boasts excellent fuel economy—and the styling is great. It’s a truck that any driver would be proud to drive, and I hope to share more about it with you in upcoming issues of Roads. So please enjoy this issue of the magazine, and I hope that we do have the opportunity to hear more from you about your UD truck!
Kazuhito Hosono Product Development Project Manager Volvo Group Trucks Technology
What’s happening Around the world of UD Trucks.
The first link Japan’s first refrigerator truck was from a predecessor to UD Trucks—and now lovingly rebuilt and on display in Fukuoka, Japan.
At the wheel
Garden Grove expands An Adelaide, Australia, landscape supply company has grown into one of the country’s biggest—and just added a UD truck.
Brave old world Robots aren’t new in Japan—some go back to the 17th century.
Escot-V: a smarter way to shift All about the popular automated mechanical transmission (ATM) found in UD trucks.
Roads is published three times per year by UD Trucks Corporation udtrucks.com Publisher Per Sundström Per.Sundstrom@volvo.com Tel: +81-48-726-7601 Editorial Production Next Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org www.nextinc.com Tel: +81-3-6436-4270 Editor-in-Chief Kjell Fornander Executive Editor William Ross Art Director Koichi Asano Production Manager Kazumi Umezawa Printed in Japan
Contributors this issue: Mark Walker Based in Melbourne, Australia, Mark Walker is a photojournalist who has spent the past 14 years covering various automotive subjects for a range of magazines and books.
Cover photograph Kyung Jun Ha
Long-time Japan resident William Ross is a writer and editor who has been producing magazines and contributing to publications around the world for some 30 years.
Canadian Jim Hand-Cukierman is a Tokyo-based photographer and writer whose work appears in magazines around the world.
Ready to roll
UD Trucks enter the Korean market Itâ€™s a crowded market, with four import truck brands and two domestic already fighting for market share. But autumn 2012 saw the launch of the Quon into Koreaâ€”and, with its first owner now ready to get on the road, optimism is high for the brand. Text: William Ross Photos: Kyung Jun Ha
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raveling south from the capital city of Seoul, one quickly realizes that this is a country on the move. The highways are broad, four and five lanes in both directions, hosting a constant stream of passenger cars and trucks. Along the way are towering clusters of apartment buildings, the satellite towns being established to reduce the pressure of population in the center of Seoul itself. Korea is not a big country, but it is a big economic and, increasingly, cultural power. Its economy is in the top 15 in the world; it is the seventh largest exporter. That means that it needs a lot of trucks to move things around, and that is why we are at the spacious, new facilities of Sunjin Corporation, about 80 kilometers south of the capital. Here we meet Yongju Kim, a happy, but also clearly impatient man. He’s happy because his new truck is here, ready for Sunjin, one of the country’s best body builders, to put a wing body on his truck, which is now just the cab and bare chassis. The wing body splits open like the wings of a bird, allowing fast access to the cargo inside. He’s impatient because the body isn’t yet completed, and he
01. Multi-lane highways wind into Korea’s capital, Seoul.
02. Yongju Kim, the first UD Trucks customer in the country, in the cab of his Quon.
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01 01. At the unveiling ceremony in downtown Seoul.
wants the work finished so he can get his truck out on the road and working. It’s not just any truck, either: Mr. Kim has, in fact, bought the very first UD truck ever sold in Korea. The official product launch only happened a short time earlier, on September 19, 2012, at a gala event in Seoul; we meet him just about a month later. It’s a bold move, entering a market where there are two domestic companies that dominate some 75 percent of the market, and five other international brands, including family company Volvo Trucks, fight for the rest. But Mr. Kim has some good reasons for making his purchase. “I’ve been driving for 15 years, and I’ve tried them all,” he says. “I’m tired of struggling with the problems with local brands, so I’m really looking forward to driving the Quon.” Like 85 percent of his counterparts in Korea, Mr. Kim owns and operates his own truck; he’s slightly unusual in that he has three trucks, so he could almost be seen as a fleet operator by Korean standards. Most are one-man, one-truck, family-operated businesses, with the wife often the president on paper and the person who handles business inquiries while the husband is on the road. And, on those big highways, they’ll be on the road a lot. “Most operators will drive about 400 to 500 kilometers a day, but I usually go about 800,” Mr. Kim says. He picks up eggs or other agricultural products in Gwangju, in the southeast, delivers them to a bakery plant in central Korea, travels to the agricultural markets of Seoul, then heads back home. “Uptime is critical for me,” he says. “I had heard that these are reliable, durable trucks, so I decided to buy one. If it works well, I’ll replace one of my
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other trucks with another Quon.” Japanese trucks have been imported into Korea in the past, says Youngjae Kim, president of UD Trucks Corporation, Region Korea. “We may not have a lot of experience yet with UD Trucks, but we do with Volvo Trucks,” Mr. Kim explains. “Volvo Trucks established its own marketing company in Korea in 1996, with sales beginning in 1997.” It rapidly grew in the market to take the number-one position in the import truck segment, which also includes Iveco, MAN, Mercedes-Benz and Scania. The domestic producers include Hyundai, the market leader, and Tata Daewoo, a locallymanufactured subsidiary of Tata Motors. Mr. Kim adds that Nissan Diesel (the predecessor of UD Trucks) was imported into Korea in the 1990s by a local partner. “These helped build a positive image of engine quality and reliability, and many are still on the road more than 20 years later!” “We are communicating that UD Trucks are made in Japan as a proud member of the Volvo Group,” says Chang-ha Lee, Director of Vehicle Sales & Marketing. “People do appreciate Japanese technology, and the high level of craftsmanship. They know that UD Trucks also utilizes technology from the Volvo Group, one of the world’s largest makers of truck diesel engines, renowned for their fuel efficiency. We will focus on the durability, reliability and economy of the brand.” Now, with their message in hand, it’s time for Mr. Kim’s staff to start selling those trucks. While they have set some fleet targets, such as a foreign-based company that owns one of the largest chains of discount stores in the country, a lot of the sales work will be with the one-man operators. And that implies creating a very
02 02. President Youngjae Kim, with one of the launch/showcase Quons.
strong personal bond with them. “It’s definitely very much about building warmth, trust and respect,” says Hyunchul Lee, Manager of UD Trucks’ Marketing Communications Team. “We always talk to the people respectfully, and we never call them ‘driver’! We always call them ‘operator’ or ‘president’ (Mr. Lee is referring to Korean usage, in which it’s common to append the job title to the person’s name, such as ‘Lee-Manager’). You have Hongkun Kwak, dealership director. to remember, a truck can be an investment that’s worth more than an apartment!” And, he says, he and other sales people even have truck driver licenses. “I’m working on my trailer certificate right now,” he says. “That way we can talk to them on the same level; they know that we can drive, too, so they respect us for that.” “We’re also looking at this in the long run: it’s a marathon, not a 100-yard dash,” Youngjae Kim says. “The UD approach is going to be different, and we’ll talk a lot with people about the total profitability over the truck’s lifetime—that the initial cost, which will be higher, is offset over the long run.” The relationship between driver and truck is even clearer at the dual-branded Volvo/UD workshop in busy Incheon. Near the port, the airport and industrial areas, it’s a prime location for taking care of trucks. As Hongkun Kwak, Director of what is known as the “own dealer network”—dealership directly owned by the Volvo Group, walks through the spotless new service area,
worried-looking driver/operators peer over the shoulders of service staff. “We would prefer if they stayed in the customer part of the building (which is equipped with everything from coffee and canteen meal service to a sleep area and lounge with cameras displaying everything going on in the service bay), but we know how concerned they are. The trucks really are their life. When they’re down, they’re not making money.” The Incheon workshop is already flying UD Trucks flags, and has the UD logo fixed to the side of the building. “I expect that the brand will do well, because customer expectation is growing,” Mr. Kwak says. “People ask, ‘What is UD?’ when they see the logo, but there also is understanding spreading in the market that this is a sturdy, reliable truck. So we’re really excited to get going with UD.” They will be ready as more UD trucks enter service in Korea: eight workshops have completed training programs and added UD parts, a number that will rise to 15 by the end of the year and 25, including three own workshops, in 2013. If the new buyers are anything like Yongju Kim, it should be a very pleasant process. Mr. Kim personally drove to the predelivery inspection (PDI) station in southeast Korea to pick up the truck himself, before driving north to Sunjin. “It was a very good experience,” he says. “The truck was very simple to operate and easy to drive—a good, solid feeling.” He’s curious about future technology as well, already asking about the possibility of an automatic transmission (see the story on page 18 for more on this). “So now I’m just pushing, pushing these guys to get my body done,” he says, then smiles. “I just want to get it out on the road— and I’m the only one who gets to drive the Quon!”
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UD TRUCKS NEWS
New dealership system means top service in Thailand
hese are exciting times in Thailand and the surrounding region. UD Trucks is expanding its presence in the country, as well as in other countries in the immediate area (see the story on Myanmar which follows). Thanks to a new, more responsive dealership system, new and existing UD Trucks customers now look forward to enhanced service throughout the life of their vehicle. “Thailand is not a small nation,” says Valery Muyard, Vice President, Aftermarket Commercial & Retail Operations, Volvo Group, Region Thailand. “It’s about the size and population of France. As the UD Trucks presence continues to grow in the country along with the Volvo Group, we needed to rethink how best to serve many different kinds of customers.” The first step was to create a more
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decentralized system, one that could serve the special needs of the many kinds of customers in Thailand, from individual owner/drivers to large fleet operators. The company decided to dramatically increase the number of dealerships in Thailand, from 10 to 17, “so that we can provide more professional support for our customers than our competitors,” Mr. Muyard says. The dealerships will also be multi-brand, serving UD Trucks, as well as Volvo Trucks. A very clear symbol of these new developments came with the grand opening of the new multi-brand dealership in Khon Kaen, an important regional city in Northeastern Thailand, at the end of October 2012. The sparkling new center will handle UD Trucks sales and service, as well as for Volvo Trucks.
At the opening of the new Khon Kaen dealership (top); on the road to the facillity (center); the exterior (above).
UD to begin assembly in Myanmar market
D Trucks will be more directly entering the country of Myanmar, through an agreement for production within the country. The positive economic developments now taking place in Myanmar have made a much better environment for investment, says Jacques Michel, President of Volvo Group, Region Thailand. “This calls for assembly of semi-knock down kits (SKD) or complete knock-down kits (CKD) in Myanmar,” Mr. Michel says. “We are aiming at the start of production in mid-2014.” The production will include both UD Trucks and Volvo Trucks models. UD Trucks, in fact, is already the most popular truck brand in Myanmar, due to the huge import of used vehicles—some 600 units annually. With the start of
Jacques Michel (left) with HE Klas Molin, Ambassador of Sweden to Thailand and Myanmar and Kiwi Aliwarga of partner company UMG Myanmar, at the agreement ceremony for production in Myanmar.
production, customers in Myanmar will now be able to purchase new vehicles as well— another step in the growth of the country’s economy. Myanmar is a nation of more than 48 million people, “and one that represents a
huge opportunity for the future,” Mr. Michel says. “With the outlook for growth in the future, it is very important to invest at a very early stage to be able to participate and support the development of the country.”
UD Trucks showcases strength at Indonesia International Motor Show
D Trucks made a major statement at the 2012 Indonesia International Motor Show (IIMS), held from September 20 to 31, 2012 at the Jakarta International Expo. This is the largest annual automotive event in Indonesia, and UD Trucks was there with a booth located right along the route taken by show visitors— all 350,000 of them. The trucks were the visual
UD Trucks’ bold exhibit at the Indonesia International Motor Show.
highlight, of course, with the PK215R, CWM330HM, CWA260M and CWA260HT all on display. The display area was more than just about the products, however, as the company made a strong appeal for its service network across Indonesia, and of the importance of using Genuine UD parts to realize the lowest cost and longest uptime over the life of a truck. UD Trucks stands in a strong position in the Indonesian market, and is one of the leading makers in the country, particularly in the very important mining industry.
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apan is at the cutting edge of cold-chain technology—the skills needed for supply chains that keep products within a certain, usually cold, temperature range. The nation’s government has long worked with Unicef to improve cold-chain infrastructure in the developing world, something essential for effective immunization programs. But what is the root of Japanese expertise in keeping things cool?
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It all started in Fukuoka with an enterprising woman and a truck made by UD Trucks’ predecessor, Minsei Diesel Industries. Shizu Torisu was born in Nagasaki Prefecture in 1909. At 24, she married Kotaro Tominaga, whose family business was amimoto—a fishing enterprise. The couple moved to Fukuoka in hopes of tapping a larger consumer market. But hopes soon took a backseat to the harsh realities of
the war years. It was during that time that Kotaro Tominaga succumbed to illness. “Shizu was left with the amimoto business,” says Taisuke Tominaga, her grandson. “And she had to continue it. But fishing is unstable: it depends on the weather, or even luck in a given year. So you look for ways to expand, and it just happens that our family decided to go into transport.” In 1956, Mrs. Tominaga founded 01
A Fukuoka family business took a Minsei Diesel (predecessor to UD Trucks) truck, added a refrigeration unit, and opened up a whole new era for transport and cool storage in Japan Text & photos: Jim Hand-Cukierman
01 Fukuokaunyu Co., Ltd. (combining the city/prefecture name with unyu, meaning “transport”). Little did she know that, in partnership with Minsei Diesel and another Fukuoka firm called Yano Special Purpose Vehicle Co., Ltd., she was about to embark on a journey that would dramatically change Japan. “It was 1957,” says Mr. Tominaga, who became Fukuokaunyu’s president and CEO earlier this year. He’s speaking in a meeting
room at one of the company’s offices, the late afternoon sun peeking through the blinds. “The Occupation was over, but the US bases remained. The military was delivering fresh food between bases on its own. But that year they decided to outsource the task to a local company.” There was just one problem: Refrigerated transport didn’t exist in Japan. “The military had connections with Japanese delivery companies, which it
02 01. The first truck, back on the road: the beautifully reconstructed T80 and FB-7 refrigerated compartment. 02. Shizu Tominaga, who made the move into the transport business.
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used for normal parcels,” Mr. Tominaga continues. “Yet when it approached these companies about chilled transport, they declined the opportunity.” Mrs. Tominaga accepted. And this is where Yano and Minsei Diesel entered the picture. Fukuokaunyu needed a refrigerated box and a truck capable of carrying it. Mr. Tominaga suggests that, as fellow Fukuoka business owners, his grandmother and Yano founder Koichi Yano made natural allies. They agreed to tackle the project together, with Mr. Yano’s firm taking charge of the refrigeration system. Minsei Diesel, meanwhile, was able to provide 7.5- to 8-ton trucks, which Mr. Tominaga notes were large for the time. The stakes were high for everyone involved. “If they failed in building the truck,” Mr. Tominaga stresses, “Fukuokaunyu could have gone out of business. Someone at Minsei Diesel said to our company, ‘This could be suicide for both of us.’” That concern was not enough to stop the trio from pressing ahead with a process that resembled assembling a puzzle—without being quite sure what it was supposed to look like. The refrigeration compressor proved the most vexing. “You would think,” Mr. Tominaga says, “that if the US had compressors, it would have simply been a matter of importing them. Things were not so straightforward back then.” By late 1958, they had created a
refrigerated truck, but they had not yet ironed out all the compressor issues. “Finally, they found a solution,” Mr. Tominaga says. “They managed to acquire old US military compressors.” They had been uncertain about what they should do, but then received a helping hand from the US military. The US forces had a number of old refrigeration units destined for scrap, but kindly gave Fukuokaunyu one compressor that was still useable. The compressor was not the only roadblock. Another was the Transport Bureau’s reluctance to register the MinseiYano refrigerated trucks, which were anything but standard. Yet Mrs. Tominaga managed to persuade the bureau, and Fukuokaunyu Reefer Service—a name suggested by a US commander—was born. Soon, the Japanese government would embrace chilled transport wholeheartedly. In 1965, the Science and Technology Agency announced its intention to promote the cold chain. By 1967, the Reefer Service had a fleet of 120 trucks. “This technology drastically changed the economy,” Mr. Tominaga says. “The combination of cold transport and the spread of home refrigerators definitely
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changed the food business and the Japanese diet.” Call it a kitchen revolution. Fast-forward to the present day, and Fukuokaunyu not only offers refrigerated service, it specializes in it. Using a proprietary computer system at bases dotted around the country, the firm can deliver everything from food to medical supplies, maintained at precise temperature zones. “It’s not all about the technology,” Mr. Tominaga stresses. “It’s how you use it. Say you’re delivering a box. It’s no good if the box is damaged, even if what’s inside is fine. That has nothing to do with temperature, but I think this illustrates the Japanese approach to transport.”
“I believe Shizu’s gut instinct told her this would benefit Japanese society“ Taisuke Tominaga
Fukuokaunyu is now in the process of building up its collection of UD trucks, with 28 currently on the road. Just as the companies are bound together by history, they’re heading into the future together. The transporter and the truck maker further cemented their bond in the run-up to Fukuokaunyu’s 50th anniversary in 2006, when UD Trucks was still Nissan Diesel. “To celebrate the big milestone, we asked Nissan Diesel to rebuild one of the original refrigerated trucks,” Mr. Tominaga says. The first step was to find a Minsei T80 chassis. “Even if Nissan Diesel found one, there was no guarantee the owner would sell it,” he recalls. “The first one they found, the owner refused to part with it, since it’s a collector’s item. The second one would have been too hard to restore.” Nissan Diesel searched for about a year before hitting the jackpot in Hiroshima.
01. The original truck, and the Fukuokaunyu team, in the early 1960s. 02. Taisuke Tominaga, thirdgeneration leader of Fukuokaunyu. 03. The sparkling front end of the reconstructed truck. 04. The original Minsei Diesel badge. 05. The UD mark is there as well, on the truck’s steering wheel. 06. The stylized snowflake mark that is still part of the company logo.
Even then, Mr. Tominaga says, “The Hiroshima company only agreed to sell us the T80 because it had two!” Mr. Tominaga is full of praise for Nissan Diesel’s restoration effort. “It was like a skill Olympics for the workers,” he says. “There were holes in the cabin. It was in pretty poor condition. “ But the team at the company did a Herculean effort, he says, to return the battered truck to a like-new condition. Using blueprints, Yano Special Purpose Vehicle pitched in and rebuilt its FB-7 refrigerated compartment. The result was a pristine, drivable replica truck now housed in a massive glass display case outside Fukuokaunyu’s office. Although 2006 was a festive year for Fukuokaunyu, it was also a sad one. That May, Shizu Tominaga passed away at 97. Mr. Tominaga tells of a rather fitting
coincidence: Nissan Diesel and Yano Special Vehicle finished the replica that June, one day before Fukuokaunyu was to hold a memorial ceremony for the founder. “We had the truck there for the ceremony,” he says. “A lot of people from the old days came, so we wanted them to see it.” More recently, Fukuokaunyu, Minsei Diesel and Yano Special Purpose Vehicle officially entered the annals of Japanese innovation together. On Sept. 11, 2012, the National Museum of Nature and Science registered the first refrigerated truck as an Essential Historical Material for Science and Technology, alongside world-changing inventions like the Sony Walkman. The museum’s pamphlet dates the chassis to 1961 and the FB-7 to 1960. The question remains: What made Mrs. Tominaga take up a challenge others saw as too daunting?
Mr. Tominaga takes a moment to contemplate the question. “It’s difficult to say exactly why she did it. At the time she had a child, my father, who was in school in Tokyo. She was the president, but she was also a mother. And as a mom, she thought about delivering fresh food to her son. I think that was one reason.” Another factor seems to have been her visit to a US base, where she saw a refrigerator for the first time. “I believe her gut instinct told her this would benefit Japanese society.” Thus, Mrs. Tominaga’s vision, Minsei’s chassis and Yano’s refrigerated box combined to create the first link in Japan’s cold chain. And now those links are stretching abroad and benefiting global society as well.
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Garden Grove Expands with UD Trucks
01 It’s hard to drive around the streets of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, and not see a Garden Grove truck passing by. Situated on the city’s northern outskirts, Garden Grove has grown from almost accidental origins to become one of the country’s leading landscape supply companies. As it has diversified its business, the company has seen incredible growth in its transport division, which now has a fleet of some 100 trucks—including its first UD truck. Text & Photos: Mark Walker
rad Carraill, Garden Grove’s Managing Director and son of company founder Jim Carraill, oversees the continual development of the business— including the recent addition of a UD Trucks GW470 to the fleet. From road trains all the way down to small tippers, the company has the flexibility to meet any need. Originally a farmer, Jim Carraill also drove a tipper carrying deliveries from quarries in the Garden Grove suburb of Adelaide, the roots of the company name. “Basically,
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Garden Grove was out in the middle of nowhere in the early 1980s,” Brad Carraill says. “Dad was carting garden supplies out to other landscape depots, and occasionally bringing a load back to base as well. Sometimes he would only have a half load on board, so instead of taking it back, he would just dump the supplies in our front yard. People would see the products lying around, and make enquiries about buying them.” Later on, Mr. Carraill says, major housing developments began springing up in the Garden Grove area. “With a lot of houses
being built, our retail and landscaping opportunities grew.” Today, the business uses every available piece of land on the 10-acre property surrounding the family house where Brad Carraill grew up. Complete with a retail nursery and garden store, the facility also stocks all manner of sand, soil, mulch, metal, lawn, pavers and building supplies, catering for small domestic projects right up to massive commercial contracts. The largest of these contracts can see the long-haul fleet travel to every mainland
At the wheel
02 01. The company that began with one tipper; Garden Grove’s brightly colored trucks are a familiar sight in Adelaide. 02. Garden Grove’s first UD truck takes off for another landscaping run.
state, with the journeys taking in distant destinations such as Darwin in the Northern Territory, a 6,000-kilometer round trip. Garden Grove’s UD truck, however has been set to work on more local routes, with its current daily run an across-town shuffle from a quarry in Garden Grove to the Bolivar Sewerage treatment works. The 40-kilometer return drive takes in several major hills, with often loose dirt roads at either end. The fully laden truck takes in all of these obstacles with ease. In the first 12 months of operation the UD has racked up a trouble free 150,000 kilometers of service. At the start of its tenure at Garden Grove, the GW ran overnight trips to Ceduna, some 770 kilometers to the east of Adelaide. These
days however, while mated to a four axle dump trailer, the outfit is utilized on stopstart city roads. One area which sets the Garden Grove fleet apart is the presentation of the vehicles and trailers, with stand-out vinyl wraps and decals which were used before the practice became the norm. With the trucks finished with polished aluminum and additional running lights, drivers typically find their vehicles equipped with GPS tracking and navigation, reversing cameras, two-way radios and mobile phones. The company has a general preference for manual transmissions, but Mr. Carraill admitted that, “The next time we look at a UD Truck, we would definitely consider the automatic option.”
With such a large and active fleet on the roads, servicing is of utmost importance for the company. On site is a fully functioning workshop, which is complemented by fuel bowsers and Ad Blue storage tanks. “We have our own workshop here; it doesn’t quite run 24 hours a day, but it runs two shifts, as a lot of the major servicing is done in the evenings and the weekends,” Mr. Carraill says. “We try not to take too many trucks off the road during the week.” So how has the UD Trucks trial gone for Garden Grove? “It’s gone quite well!” he says. “We were only just talking to the dealer the other day about getting a quote on another one. We’re definitely considering getting more in the future.”
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Brave Old World
Japan’s love of mechanical men goes back more than 200 years Text & photos: Jim Hand-Cukierman
magine: A robot brings you a cup of tea. You take it, drink the tea, and return the cup to its saucer. The robot turns around and takes the cup away. Now imagine you are living not in the 21st century but the 17th. Japan’s passion for robotics is no secret. Besides cutting-edge manufacturing systems, the country’s researchers are continually creating humanoids that seem ever more, well, human. But even as science fiction becomes reality, Harumitsu Hannya believes it’s still worth pondering Japanese androids’ ancestors: karakuri ningyo, or mechanical dolls. “Young people tell me this is old technology,” Mr. Hannya says at his workshop in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture. “But I ask, what can we learn from it?” Adapting clockwork and other mechanisms from China and the West, Japanese craftsmen put their own spin on automata during the Edo period (1603-1868). They created three types of mechanical dolls: dashi (festival float) karakuri, used for religious rituals; butai (stage) karakuri, which influenced Kabuki and Bunraku theater;
and zashiki (tatami room) karakuri, designed for home entertainment. Today, at 70, Mr. Hannya is one of only a few craftsmen keeping the tradition alive. While such skills are often passed from parents to children or mentors to apprentices, Mr. Hannya is a self-made artisan. In 1962, he joined what was then the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. A decade later, he decided his destiny lay elsewhere. “I was amazed that something like this chahakobi (tea-serving) doll existed in the Edo era,” he recalls while removing one of his figures from a case. “To be precise, there’s a record of this technology being presented to the emperor in 1658. I wanted to know all about it.” Back then, karakuri ningyo engendered such awe that makers enjoyed the support of patrons. But that support dried up during the Meiji era (1868-1912), and by the Showa period (1926-1989) the craft was practically a memory. “There was no one who could teach me, so I started from scratch,” Mr. Hannya says. He did, however, have a guide: Karakuri-Zui (Illustrated Mechanisms), a book compiled by
01. Karakuri-Zui, a book published in the Edo era, is a how-to on mechanical dolls. 02. A small tea-serving doll. 03. Mr. Hannya, in his workshop. 04. Mr. Hannya’s Karakuri ningyo.
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master craftsman Hosokawa Hanzo Yorinao and published in 1796. The three-volume compendium contains designs for numerous clocks and mechanical dolls. How to cut the wooden parts, how to fashion a spring mechanism using whale baleen, essays on the spirit of the art— it’s all there for anyone with a knack for complex systems, steady hands and plenty of patience. “I’ve been doing this for 37 years,” Mr. Hannya says, “and I still learn new things from this book.” Mr. Hannya reckons he has made some 800 dolls. When he’s not in his workshop he’s out giving lectures about karakuri. And of course he sells his creations: A TV station bought two to present as gifts to Steven Spielberg. Mr. Hannya says he does worry about passing on karakuri ningyo to the next generation, noting, “It would be a shame if it ends here.” Most of all, however, he wants people to draw inspiration from Edo-era technical wizardry — and recognize how the dolls paved the way for the Japanese service robots of today and tomorrow. “Compared with Western automata, karakuri ningyo tended to be more about interacting with people, such as by serving tea,” he explains. “That was very Japanese. I believe that’s the origin of the robots you see in Japan now.” Mr. Hannya sets one of the dolls and lets it scoot across the table. “In the future,” he continues, “we’ll face new hurdles. Today’s young people are going to have to clear them. And I think it can help to look at how yesterday’s masters overcame obstacles.” Yet he says there’s also a cautionary lesson to be gleaned from karakuri ningyo. “This contraption here, it brings joy. But the key is you can control it. We shouldn’t cross the line where robots become unstoppable.” Mr. Hannya touches the doll’s white forehead. “That’s what I’ve learned from the technology of the 17th century.”
04 #03 | 2012
Escot-V A smarter way to shift A world-leading transmission system, made possible by Volvo Group technology. Originally developed by the Volvo Group and launched in 2001, this automated mechanical transmission (AMT) has been developed over the years. Today this epoch-making AMT, in variants adapted for each brand, is serving on trucks and buses around the world, increasing driver efficiency and reducing fuel consumption and wear. Text: William Ross Photos: Yoshito Shiba
T Anders Larsson Vice President, Powertrain Engineering
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he image of a heavy-duty truck being driven—at least in the popular Hollywood view—is of a big, burly guy sweating and shifting through the many gear changes needed to get the big vehicle moving. It’s a great image for the movies, but hardly the way anyone would want to work (even big, burly guys). Since 2010, the majority of Quon trucks sold have the answer to a smarter, smoother shift: the Escot‑V automated mechanical transmission (AMT). This remarkable Volvo Group technology does a lot of things for both the driver and the operator—starting, perhaps most visibly, by removing the clutch pedal. “Up until recently, there have been many attempts at AMTs, but usually with the third (clutch) pedal,” says Takemi Murata, Manager, Subsystem Drivelines & Hybrids, Powertrain Engineering. “With the Escot-V, we have only two pedals, like a car. This makes it much easier to drive.” “The system gives the good sides of both a traditional automatic transmission that everyone is familiar with, and the advantages of the manual transmission as well,” says
Anders Larsson, Vice President of Powertrain Engineering. And, he explains, removing that third pedal really was one of the big challenges. ”Selecting the gears is not a difficult challenge, but removing the clutch pedal, and the control it gives, and still be able to operate the truck in all conditions, including mud and snow, is the tough part.” The first such transmission appeared in the 1980s, Mr. Larsson says. “There have been a lot of developments and a lot of improvements over the years. Today though, we’re at the point where the system is very popular in Japan, with between 70 to 80 percent of all our trucks now purchased with the Escot-V.” In fact, Mr. Murata says, a recent survey in Japan showed that the Escot-V is the most popular AMT in the country. “The Japanese market has its own unique challenges, in narrow roads and congested terminals, where drivers
“With 100 driver the number-one what about the
have to back the truck up very carefully to the gate. Truck drivers were used to using the clutch pedal to gently ease back the trucks to a very gentle stop right at the gate, but earlier AMTs just weren’t sensitive down to millimeters. But, with the creep mode of the Escot-V, the accelerator acts more like the clutch pedal. So we were able to answer the needs of the Japanese market.” It’s not only the drivers who have come to embrace this 12-speed AMT, though; Mr. Larsson explains that fleet operators also have good Anders Larsson reason to appreciate this automatic truck transmission. “A big advantage is that it makes all drivers better. With 100 drivers, there’s always the numberone driver who may be extremely efficient with a manual transmission—but what about the other 99? The Escot-V makes the average driver much better. We also provide full control over the clutch, its wear and maintenance, because the use patterns are predetermined.” It has been shown
s, there’s always driver—but other 99?”
that the smooth, smart shifting of the Escot-V also provides increased fuel economy, reduces stress on driveline and tires, reduces maintenance—and makes driving a whole lot more pleasant and less stressful for the person working in the cabin, increasing safety. Those patterns are determined in no small degree by the software involved, because of all the control that software has over the operation of the engine, the transmission, and many other areas of truck operation. A big advantage for the Volvo Group is that the development of both engines and transmissions is done in-house. “Some of our competitors source many of their components, such as the electronic controls, from suppliers” Mr. Larsson says. “That always means compromises later. It’s much better if you have the system and software engineers yourself, as we do in the Volvo Group. They can be coding in the morning, and test driving can happen in the afternoon.” Which means that they can even further improve and serve this and other markets with what has already become the leading AMT in Japan.
Takemi Murata Manager, Subsystem Driveline & Hybrids, Powertrain Engineering
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One of our main projects in recent years has been the new Condor, our medium-duty truck. It has a powerful new engine and boasts excellent f...
Published on Aug 17, 2015
One of our main projects in recent years has been the new Condor, our medium-duty truck. It has a powerful new engine and boasts excellent f...