Shelling out the apologies as diesel supplies dwindle over Victoria

A massive diesel supply issue in Victoria was caused by a production disruption at the Shell Geelong Refinery.

Production of diesel restarted at the Geelong Refinery on Sunday, and the refinery is ramping up production over the next 24 hours.

The company expects diesel availability at Shell branded service stations to improve over coming weeks as the company increases deliveries – but it will take time for deliveries to reach all parts of the state.

Shell has also quarantined diesel for emergency services, and has made arrangements to get the diesel to areas where it may be needed.

UD announces new vice president

New vice president of UD Truck Sales, Jon McLean.

Jon McLean has been appointed to the position of vice president, UD Trucks Sales, succeeding Erik Andersson who has returned to his native Sweden to take up another position within the Volvo Group.

For McLean, progressing within the Volvo Group’s Australian operations represents an exciting new chapter in his career.

“To join the UD Trucks family in this position is a great honour, as these are exciting times for the company and the industry in Australia,” he said. “Even though much of my past experience has been with the Mack, Volvo and Renault brands, I am incredibly excited by the challenge that lies ahead.

“I believe that within the Volvo Group we all share the one goal and share in the same great passion across each of the brands we represent.”

Currently vice president of aftersales and services, Jon is a veteran of the Australian trucking industry, having joined Mack Trucks in 1980 as a mechanic at the company’s Rocklea operation. He subsequently progressed through the roles of leading hand and service engineer at Mack before joining the Renault Bus Division as its sales/parts/service co-ordinator.

McLean later became the national service manager of the Mack Truck and Bus operation, a position he held for five years.

Following this, he served over 10 years managing company owned dealerships in Adelaide, Darwin and Brisbane. During his time in retail, Jon completed a Graduate Certificate in Management at the University of Adelaide in 2002, followed by a Masters of Business Administration at the Queensland University of Technology in 2007.

Since 2008, he’s occupied the position of general manager, later titled vice president of aftersales and services.

McLean will officially commence in his new role once new leadership is secured for his current position.




Transport ministers agree to PBS upgrade

Australia’s transport ministers have voted unanimously in favour of changes to Performance Based Standards (PBS) designed to boost the scheme’s ability to deliver a safer, more productive and sustainable trucking industry.

PBS was introduced in 2007 as a regulatory framework to enable the use of higher productivity vehicles on pre-approved routes. However, industry participation in the scheme has been limited by problems in gaining certainty of road network access and a lack of operational flexibility.

According to National Transport Commission (NTC) chief executive Nick Dimopoulos, changes to PBS will give truck operators greater certainty of access and operational flexibility and result in a range of benefits to the community.

“The changes will encourage industry to use safer and more efficient vehicles on our roads,” Dimopoulos stated. “With Australia’s freight task forecast to treble by 2050, the PBS scheme will position us well for the future as it will help keep costs to consumers down and reduce road congestion.

“As well as an overall $5.6 billion in savings to our economy, encouraging the use of more innovative and productive heavy vehicles is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3.75 million tonnes and save over 85 lives by 2030.”

Changes to the scheme approved by ministers include:

  • Moving to a national system for vehicle assessment and access decisions for PBS vehicles under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). Currently operators need to negotiate access with individual road managers;
  • Developing a system of modular assessment for PBS combination vehicles to allow a range of prime movers to be used providing they have been PBS approved to match the trailer specifications;
  • Offering the option for manufacturer self-certification to remove the requirement for manufacturers to employ a third party to certify each vehicle.

The changes are detailed in a Regulatory Impact Statement available on the NTC website and will be incorporated in an amendment bill to the Heavy Vehicle National Law which is expected to go to transport ministers in March 2012.

Changes to the scheme, once approved by the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI), will then come into effect when the NHVR becomes operational in 2013.

New truckstops for the Pilbara

Craig Mitchell (left) and Jon Italiano have formed a business partnership to build a network of new truckstops in the Pilbara.

Craig Mitchell, the former owner of Western Australian trucking firm Mitchell Corp, and business partner Jon Italiano are launching a network of roadhouses under the Outback Travel Centres (OTC) banner in the Pilbara region of northern WA.

“Frankly, there are some roadhouses in Western Australia where you wouldn’t be game to use the toilets, let alone buy a meal for yourself or your family,” Craig said. “As a former driver, and someone who employed more than 500 drivers, I have a fair idea of what will work in these locations.

“Oil companies have invested very little in full service truck stops in Western Australia over the past 25 years,” he continued. “They seem to be investing more in unmanned remote filling stations, which take revenue from and put additional pressure on the existing full service facilities and do nothing to improve services for long distance truck drivers or the travelling public.”

The first two Outback Travel Centres are existing properties being redeveloped in Newman and Carnarvon at a cost of more than $36 million. When completed they will offer full refuelling facilities, restaurants, convenience stores, WiFi access and quality rest rooms and shower facilities. The centres will also operate motel style accommodation, with 150 rooms being built at the Newman OTC.

The company is currently finalising negotiations to acquire land for two more OTC facilities in Karratha and Port Hedland.

The facilities and services offered by Outback Travel Centres have been modelled on the operations of the Pilot Flying J service stations across the United States. This company operates more than 550 travel centres or truckstops across North America, catering for professional truckers and other drivers.

“Those guys have refined their offering over 30 years,” Craig said. “They do a great job at catering for long distance drivers with quality, clean facilities and a broad food offering.”



‘Down Under’ test bed for Cummins

The all-new 13 litre Cummins engine is undergoing durability testing in Australia.

It’s official: The land ‘Down Under’ is now the centre for global field testing of Cummins truck engines. This has been confirmed by the current testing in Australia of an all-new 13 litre engine for global markets, and an enhanced 15 litre ISX power plant due for North American release in 2013.

“Australian operating conditions challenge product reliability and durability like no other market,” said Sean McLean, general manager – automotive products for Cummins South Pacific.

“The combination of high gross weights, high average speeds, frequent engine brake use and extreme climatic conditions is the ideal formula for accelerated reliability and durability testing.”

The 2013 ISX currently being tested in Australia is based on the existing 15 litre engine sold in North America which uses a combination of EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) and SCR (selective catalytic reduction) to meet US EPA ‘10 emissions regulations.

Unlike the dual overhead cam ISX engine currently sold in Australia, the North American version has a single overhead camshaft and common rail fuel system known as XPI that as the acronym suggests delivers extremely high injection pressures.

“The reworked ISX engine using a combination of EGR and SCR is a potential solution for the next round of emissions law inAustralia– ADR80-04 – which is likely to come into effect in 2016 or 2017,” McLean continued. “Depending on test results, this engine could well be released in Australia before the introduction of ADR80-04.”

On the other hand, the 13 litre engine is a completely new design using SCR for emissions reduction. It is the product of a 50/50 joint venture between Cummins and Chinese company Dongfeng and will be built in China. 

Two 13 litre units rated at 525 hp with peak torque of 1850 lb ft are currently undergoing local testing hauling B-double combinations.

“The global testing being conducted inAustraliais recognition of Cummins South Pacific’s engineering capability,” Sean added. “The technology available today for data monitoring also means it is easier for global testing to be carried out effectively in remote locations such as outback Australia.”



Daimler defies economic downturn

(L to R) Daimler Trucks boss Andreas Renschler, Daimler chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche and Bodo Uebber, head of Daimler Financial Services.

Flying in the face of current economic woes beseiging much of Europe and other parts of the world, Daimler AG has announced a record net profit for 2011 of €6.0 billion, eclipsing its 2010 result by €1.3 billion.  

“In 2011 Daimler Group achieved the best-ever results in its 125 year history for unit sales, revenue, EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) and net profit,’ stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG.

“In total, we made the anniversary year also into a year of success for Daimler. This performance shows that with its strong portfolio of cars, trucks, vans, buses and financial services, the Group is strategically very well positioned. We are now putting all our efforts into continuing this success and achieving our targeted rates of return on a sustained basis as of the year 2013,” emphasised Zetsche.

The excellent earnings for the year 2011 primarily reflect the very good situation of unit sales in the divisions. In 2011, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks and Mercedes-Benz Vans significantly increased their unit sales compared with the prior year in the major regions. Daimler Financial Services profited in particular from the lower cost of risk.

Special factors connected with the natural disaster in Japan resulted in total charges for the Group of €80 million. Insurance compensation has been taken into consideration in calculating this figure. Charges were also recognised from the impairment of Daimler’s equity interests in Renault (€110 million) and Kamaz (€32 million).

Daimler sold a total of 2.1 million vehicles in 2011, surpassing the prior-year figure by 11 percent, and each of its automotive divisions contributed to the increase. Group revenue rose by nine percent to €106.5 billion; adjusted for exchange-rate effects, this denotes a rise of 10 percent.

The net liquidity of the company’s industrial business amounted to €12 billion at December 31, 2011, up from €11.9 billion in 2010.

The generally positive business development led to an increase in the number of people employed worldwide to 271,370 as of December 31. This was 11,270 more than at the end of 2010. In Germany, the number of employees increased to 167,684, up from 164,026 in 2010.

Due to Daimler’s success in 2011, the Board of Management and the General Works Council have agreed that the workforce’s performance will again be rewarded with a high performance participation bonus. In Germany, each eligible employee of Daimler AG will receive an amount of €4100 at the end of April 2012.

Freezex trials UD GK 400

In a bid to maximise efficiencies across its truck fleet, refrigerated haulage specialist Freezex has been trialling a single-drive UD GK 400 prime mover in its local distribution operation. So far, it’s all good news.   

Focusing on the storage and local distribution of perishable foodstuffs, Freezex operates a 20-strong truck fleet from its MarsdenPark (westernSydney) cold storage facility. With the help of sub-contractors and an affiliate network, the company delivers over 500 pallets of products to more than 80 destinations daily.

According to the company’s co-manager Ben Howard-Bath, the acquisition of a semi-automated GK 400 prime mover was essentially a trial of the single-drive prime mover configuration. Yet even at this early stage it’s shaping up as the prime mover of choice for the business in the future.

“Comfort, cost and manoeuvrability are the big things for us,” Ben commented. “Lower registration costs when compared to a tandem drive prime mover, and fewer tyres to wear out. And the manoeuvrability of that truck is awesome; you can get into really tight driveways because it basically ‘turns on a dime’.

“This first truck has been a trial for our business, and it’s really paid off.”

Ben and his brother Luke co-manage the Freezex business, and their typical hands-on approach saw Ben get behind the wheel of the UD for its test period. Accordingly, one of the stand-out features of the prime mover is the nine-speed semi-automated (ESCOT II) transmission.

“The creature comforts are great,” he enthused. “In particular, I appreciate the semi-automated transmission because it just makes the job that much easier. It also broadens the field when we are looking to put on new drivers.

“We haul dairy products over to the northern beaches and there are quite a few hills on the way. It makes a massive difference to the comfort of your day when you don’t have to push the clutch in at every change.”

While this particular unit is the first new UD to join the Freezex fleet, the company commenced a fleet renewal program four years ago and says the rewards have been flowing ever since.

“We have moved away from running old gear with the associated big repair bills and it has transformed our business,” Ben explained. “It’s certainly put paid to regular mechanical breakdowns and down time.”



Recall for Freightliners with DD15 engine

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has posted a recall notice on behalf of Mercedes-Benz Australia/ Pacific regarding a potential electrical fault with Freightliner Coronado and Argosy trucks fitted with Detroit Diesel DD15 engines.

According to the ACCC notice, on Freightliners equipped with DD15 engines the bolt attaching a rubber isolator to a support bracket may come loose and back out, potentially contacting an unfused starter cable and creating a short circuit.

The potential problem is said to involve 175 vehicles powered by the DD15. Cummins powered trucks are not affected by the recall.

A letter has been sent to owners of the affected vehicles who are urged to contact their nearest Mercedes-Benz dealer as soon as possible so the fault can be rectified.



The Road Ahead visits Nowra Show

The Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) travelling truck safety and industry exhibition, The Road Ahead, will open its doors at the Nowra (NSW) show on February 10 and 11 this year.

The Road Ahead is a semi-trailer filled with displays informing viewers about the trucking industry including industry careers and, most importantly, how to drive safely around trucks. More than 65,000 people have visited the exhibition since it was launched in 2008, with plenty more expected over the course of the Nowra show.

A regular visitor to schools across Australia, The Road Ahead exhibition aims to improve road safety around trucks through education.

According to the chief executive of the ATA, Stuart St Clair, “In most incidents involving trucks and cars the car driver is at fault, often because they are unaware of the disparity in vehicle dynamics such as braking and handling between the different sized vehicles. Through The Road Ahead program, we aim to teach everyone how to drive safely around heavy vehicles.”

One such important tip is that the ‘DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE’ sign applies at roundabouts too, as trucks will often need to use both lanes of a roadway when negotiating smaller roundabouts.

“We have a local community that would benefit from the education provided by The Road Ahead,” said James Thomson, president of the Nowra Show. “With heavy vehicle traffic on local roads set to increase with the upgrading of the Manildra ethanol plant, it becomes increasingly important that our young and inexperienced drivers in particular can receive information on how to coexist safely on the roads with heavy vehicles.”

To find out more about The Road Ahead, visit

Isuzu notches 23rd year at the top

Continuing its extraordinary domination of the overall Australian truck market, Isuzu Trucks has recorded its 23rd consecutive year atop the sales charts with total market leadership in 2011.

Official T-mark industry reports reveal Isuzu finished 2011 with a total of 6617 units delivered and a market share of almost 24 percent – 3283 units and 11.8 percent ahead of its nearest competitor.

The brand positively blitzed the light-duty segment selling 3320 units for the year. This represents a 37.6 percent share which is more than the combined shares of respective second and third placegetters Fuso and Hino.

Isuzu also comfortably led medium-duty truck sales with a total of 2553 units denoting 40.7 percent market share. This result left Isuzu more than 17 percent clear of Hino in this segment with a volume buffer of over one thousand units.

The brand also performed admirably in the heavy-duty market – with a 7.9 percent market share and volume of 744 units confirming Isuzu’s position as Australia’s favourite Japanese brand in the heavy-duty class.

Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) director and chief operating officer Phil Taylor said the brand had remained resilient despite last year’s demanding business conditions and the impact of natural disasters in Japan.

“Given the challenges of 2011, we are very pleased with the outcome,” Taylor said. “The combination of a challenging business environment coupled with the flooding in Queensland and Japanese natural disasters – which subsequently affected vehicle production – made for an extremely demanding year.”

He went on to confirm that the company remained positive about the year ahead.

“Our business analysts predict upwards of four percent growth in the truck market this year,” he stated. “While this will still leave the industry and broader economy some way off buoyant pre-GFC levels, it will nonetheless provide a positive trend for a gradual return to stronger growth in the medium to longer term.”