First Step? Quantify It

If you think you have a problem in a business, the first step? Quantify it. With all of the data now available, there is almost always a way of putting a figure on it. Fleet management is one of those things that was unquantifiable in the past, but is now something which can be translated onto a spreadsheet to be pored over by the bean counters.

The introduction of the new Hino 500 Series models came around the same time as the rolling out of the Hino Traq telematics and monitoring system – an opportunity to test-drive the two new offerings side-by-side using the Traq system to see how well or how poorly Diesel Editor, Tim Giles, performed out on the road, but, more importantly, how the trucks fared.

Stepping into the high-powered FM 2635 is a profoundly interesting experience. Yes, they give you lots of power at 350hp, but also plenty torque, up to 1,422Nm. However, you have to pay for this and actually do the gear changing yourself. Luckily, this is not such a chore with the new Hino M009 nine-speed manual box, using the classic four-over-four layout with a range changer.

There is definitely enough power available. Taking a loaded truck up the Toowoomba Range saw it keep over 41km/h and only drop to fifth gear for a limited period. The engine needed some encouragement and relatively high revving, but did show off its European-style design to a certain extent.

Coming down the range saw fifth gear and the engine braking hold the truck within the speed limit, with the help of a few small brake applications, par for the course. The engine brake seems to be at its best around 1,900-2,000rpm.

At the end of the test drive, the people at Hino made the data generated in driving the trucks available. Just log in and the data you are allowed to see is available to look at on the web, or to download in the form of spreadsheets for further analysis.

The data can be broken down into individual trips from key on to key off, or look at a period of time concentrating on the driver’s performance, or the truck’s. Either way a distinct picture of the entire driving experience can be laid out on a spreadsheet or fed into a monitoring system looking for results outside of defined parameters.

In terms of high rpm running the 350hp manual showed what not to do. On several sections high rpm was the norm and low rpm running rare. The result is higher fuel consumption than is necessary.

The conclusion is clear, the driver needed re-educating and to be trained to go a lot easier with the right foot, especially when driving a manual. Being confronted with these real-world figures does make this driver think about some bad habits built up over many years.

The other clear conclusion from these numbers is the way the Allison auto mitigates this bad driving and keeps fuel use on an even keel. This is a clear illustration as to why so many operators in the medium-/heavy-duty distribution business are turning to the auto in all of their trucks.