With a business distributing fuel to distributors in rural NSW, in areas such as Inverell, Moree and Goondiwindi, it’s important for Rob Hanneman to keep track of trucks. He started the Maktrans operation 13 years ago after he took over from an existing fuel carting business.
As work increased, a third truck joined the fleet. Then a fourth and fifth when distributors called. This process continued and developed to the point where now, Maktrans work for all of the major oil companies.
Currently, all of the trailers in the fleet run as B-doubles on Higher Mass Limits. The company has been part of the NHVAS mass and maintenance accreditation program from its outset. Maktrans keep track of trucks with all of the trucks fitted with GPS tracking and monitored from the office.
“We have just changed over to MT Data for our tracking,” says Rob. “It’s got a lot of data that we can use. We began to use it for tracking, but now we are putting other things like permits into the system. We are also using the logbook tracking system. It’s not an electronic work diary yet, but it will be at some point. It just complements what the logbook does, at the moment.
“When it is working properly it will be fantastic, because we have a lady here who is checking log books, making sure it is right all the time. Now, when it is all on the computer, you can just pull up the logbook and see if there is any non-conformance.”
It’s good for the driver’s as well. The system will tell them how long they can drive and then how much break they need to take afterwards. It makes it easier for the drivers to be aware of exactly where they stand.
“It’s always been a bugbear of mine,” says Rob. “You can be so close, and you can think you’re going to pull up at this good parking bay, which will be good for the night. Then when you arrive and you’ll find it’s grain season and full of tippers or caravan season and you can’t get a park. Then you have to drive on. What do you do? Of course, you have to go and find somewhere else down the road. Then, all of a sudden, your book’s looking shabby.”
Rob is looking for some form of leeway from the authorities when all of the exact locations and times are laid out in the electronic work diary. He feels they should make allowances because they do know precisely where the driver was and when. The authorities can see that a driver has driven for an extra 11 minutes precisely. The driver is not looking to deceive, they are simply looking for a parking space.
Trucks for the Modern World
“New Mercedes Benz has put some of the driver’s off a little, they don’t want to drive an automatic,” says Rob. “The guy who drives it has got no problems with it, and a couple of the other drivers are saying they wouldn’t mind having a go with it.
“It is better on fuel. It is a 16 litre Detroit engine, for the sake of argument, and everything else in the fleet is a 15 litre Detroit DD15. In terms of fuel consumption, at this stage, we are comparing about 1.75 km/l with 1.95 km/l. That equates to about $20,000 per year. So, we are looking forward to the Cascadia, it’s a bonneted truck with the same running gear as the Benz and a bit more space in the cabin.”
Rob is a dyed-in-the-wool Detroit Diesel fan. his first truck was a Sterling fitted with a Series 60 engine and he has been running with the Detroit brand ever since. When the Stirling brand disappeared, Rob went over to buying Freightliner Century Class prime movers, then he moved on to the 122 Coronado until the 114 Coronado came out, and this has been the standard fleet vehicle for the last few years.
All of the trailers in the Maktrans fleet are made by Holmwood, out of Brisbane. Rob has had a good run with their tankers and the specifications they supply appear to suit the task for which Maktrans are using them.
Both trucks and trailers are all on drum brakes, with the new Mercedes-Benz coming fitted with disc braking. Stability control is fitted to all of the vehicles in the fleet. The decision by NSW to mandate stability control on all vehicles carrying dangerous goods meant Rob began to specify all vehicles with stability control as soon as it was announced and he has had to retrofit the system on a couple of items to ensure compliance.
“I have put the Mercedes Benz on a maintenance contract, because I don’t really understand it as a truck,” says Rob. “You pay so much a month and just take it back to Daimler. For the rest of the trucks we have a road transport specialist on the corner who does most of the basic maintenance work and then the bigger work and the warranty stuff goes back to the dealership.”