Based at Beresfield near Newcastle, AJM Transport is specialising in express freight along the eastern seaboard between Brisbane and Melbourne. The company also runs an express freight service to Darwin, employing a two-up driving team operating the flagships of the fleet – a pair of Kenworth T909 conventionals. The two do opposite legs with one hauling a quad road-train and the other a B-triple.
While using this proven formula to drive the success of the business, Anthony Mansell, Director of AJM, mentions that the company is also, within reason, open to providing drivers with other options to suit their individual preferences.
“We still have some drivers who like to go away and prefer the one-truck-one-driver scenario but they are probably in the minority these days,” he explains. “The two-up teams who run to Darwin are a good example of this and we have some others who enjoy the away work, but certainly shuttles and changeovers make up the majority of our work.”
As the conversation turns to trailers, Anthony reveals a preference for Vawdrey that has grown from the early years of the business through to today.
“When we started the business we were using another brand but we’ve been gradually increasing our number of Vawdrey units and they are performing really well,” he says. “Vawdrey is a family-owned company the same as ours and we have a solid business relationship with (Company Director) Paul Vawdrey, who is always willing to help when it’s needed. He understands the needs of our business well and in my view goes the extra mile to make sure the Vawdrey products are suitable for the intended application. Today we are running in the vicinity of 85 to 90 Vawdrey trailers.”
In recent times, AJM Transport has elected to largely standardise on Cummins-powered Kenworth prime movers because it knows and trusts the products inside out. This is not an unusual choice here in Australia. There is indeed an eclectic mix when you consider the sheer diversity of trucking operations in this country. While many share similarities in the kinds of work they do, inevitably there are nuances unique to each operation.
It’s a similar story with the various prime mover brands. While each is designed to primarily perform the same task of hauling trailers, again there are minor differences in the way each is engineered, built and tested to ensure performance and durability in our harsh operating climate.
Of course, cost is a major consideration too. Far from just initial purchase price, it’s imperative that a company can ascertain whole-of-life costs right up to and including the residual or resale value of the unit after it has finished its useful life in its primary role.
After purchase price, the next biggest cost of running a truck, apart from fuel and drivers’ wages, is servicing and maintenance. This is the critical area where a truck, regardless of its purchase price, can make or break its owner’s business. Put simply, a truck that is regularly off the road for repairs or servicing is a dead loss to any firm which is relying on keeping the wheels turning to turn a profit. This is the main reason why savvy operators won’t run old trucks. They understand the business sense of regularly investing in new equipment.
There’s no question that a considerable proportion of Australian truck operators in the heavy-duty realm consider Kenworth trucks to be the best choice for their businesses. Frankly, the new truck sales figures don’t lie and for a long time Kenworth has consistently averaged around 20 per cent of heavy-duty sales in this country. This is a formidable figure given there are at least 10 other technically-similar heavy-duty brands vying for market share in this hotly contested segment.