Looking for a robust off road truck to handle the tough conditions a Western Australian logging operation add Astra to their all wheel drive working fleet. The Astra brand has had limited visibility in Australia, but elsewhere in the world has proven a useful add-on to the Iveco brand in some of the more rugged country’s truck markets. For example, it has been the top selling truck brand in Iceland.
Harvesting timber requires a unique type of vehicle, especially when the plantation tracks are steep, slippery and muddy after rain, it’s an environment where 8×8 traction makes a world of difference.
It was for these demanding conditions that last year, Plantation Logging Co of Bunbury WA, purchased an Iveco Astra 8×8, and now with around 120,000 kilometres on the clock, the truck from Iveco’s specialist all wheel drive arm seems to be delivering the goods.
Started by Jeff Loton in 1994, Plantation Logging Co has expanded to become the largest pine tree harvesting and log haulage contracting company in the state, employing around 100 people.
The shift to Astra came about due to some problems arising with the current fleet.
“We’d been using another European brand truck for this short lead application, 80 kilometres from headquarters to the plantation sites but began having some longevity issues with them,” said Jeff Loton, Plantation Logging Managing Director. “This led us to start taking a look at the alternatives, we wanted to see what else was out there that could do the job and the Astra looked like it had everything we needed, it’s performed very well in the time we’ve had it. The Astra is excellent at dragging a heavy dog trailer around.”
Set up as a rigid, towing a low profile six axle dog trailer, the Astra works 10 to 12 hours a day, five days per week, the combination normally operates at 68 tonnes (concessional loading on trailer applies), delivering the logs from a range of pine and blue gum plantations to sawmills in Bunbury.
“With a 520hp (2400Nm) engine, the Astra has an extra 40hp available compared to the other trucks we use, despite having more power, fuel efficiency is on par,” said Jeff. “Our driver really enjoys having access to additional power, it’s noticeable in how the truck performs. The Astra’s transmission (16-speed Eurotronic AMT) also has another four gears to provide better spread of ratios for the conditions.”
If the conditions require it, the Astra features hub reduction to all axles and the combination of a high tensile steel chassis and parabolic spring suspension provides articulation and traction.
On the inside, the Astra features many of the benefits of its road-going Iveco counterparts to provide a comfortable ride both on and off road. The features include a spring suspended cabin, electric windows, air conditioning, a detailed multifunction instrument cluster, ergonomically-designed dashboard and 3-way adjustable, air suspended driver’s seat.