Jim Miller, Executive Director of Statewide Refrigerated Transport (SRT) Logistics, one of Tasmania’s three largest truck operators, is a die-hard Caterpillar fan who is not afraid to declare he’d still be buying Caterpillar-powered Freightliner Argosys if this was a viable or, indeed, possible option.
However, back in 2011, when the company needed extra trucks to service its new contracts with Woolworths and Statewide Independent Wholesalers, it was trialling some European brands, including a number of Scania R560 prime movers slotted into the mix.
In something of a surprise to the SRT Logistics team, the V8-powered Scania matched or beat its rivals on key criteria such as on-road performance, fuel consumption, driver comfort and price competitiveness.
Safety equipment and availability of a suite of advanced electronic systems such as Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Downhill Speed Control, plus the fully automated two-pedal Opticruise transmission and Scania retarder all helped sway the decision in Scania’s favour. Added to that was a high level of driver acceptance, which is a vitally important aspect for SRT Logistics. The upshot was that the company bought a batch of eight R560s in 2012 and a further two the following year.
On the first aspect, SRT Logistics driver Tracey Johnson is happy to sing the praises of the R560 she drives between Hobart and Launceston.
“I wasn’t aware of Scania’s in truck Driver Support system at first, but we had Scania driver trainer Allan McDonald over and he showed us how to use the system to improve our fuel economy,” says Tracey. “So I really set about using the training in the new truck. It is challenging and you have to be on your mettle because if you do something wrong, it takes one or two points off the driver’s score and then you have to do the right thing quite a few times before it adds a point.
“My goal is 96 per cent, which is pretty hard because we have a lot of hills down here. It’s not so good in town because if you have to stop for a car or traffic light, your score’s gone. But out on the highway, you can really utilise it by backing off early before the crest of a long, steady downgrade and letting gravity glide you along.”
Tracey’s hard work in keeping her driving score at 96 per cent is obviously paying dividends, with the R560’s fuel economy readout averaging 1.7km/l (58.8l/100km) pulling a B-double set with an average gross combination mass (GCM) of 50 tonnes. And as this is one of the newest trucks in the fleet with only 30,000km up, this figure should improve as mileage accrues. In fact, according to Jim, the original R560s that have done around 1.3 million kilometres are achieving up to 2.1km/l (47.6l/100km) doing the same work.