Diesel News visited an operation which is carving out a niche hauling local produce out of the Riverina area to the capital cities, mainly Melbourne and Sydney, plus occasionally Brisbane. Jono DePaoli has been working in the trucking industry since he was 16, for over twenty-five years, and his operation, JDP Logistics, based in Leeton, sits close to the Murrumbidgee River itself.
Like many rural operators he likes to run what he would call ‘good gear’, and was proud to display his latest acquisition, a Western Star 4900, at the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association Conference in Griffith earlier this year.
The oldest truck in the fleet is driven by Jono’s cousin, who is a qualified mechanic. He loves it and he does not want to get out of it. It is a bit of an anomaly as it is a Kenworth T904 fitted with a Caterpillar C 15 engine, a pre-ACERT model.
“If those engines ever came back out again, I would certainly buy one,” says Jono.”What that truck has done, it has over 2,200,000 km on it, and it just keeps plodding along. If I get a good truck I keep it, but if something is costing me money, I sell it, it’s as simple as that.
“I use two mechanics and make sure that every week each of those trucks goes over the pit and has been checked out. That’s the only way to do it, it’s too expensive to break down by the side of the road. I won’t muck around, if the mechanic walks in and says something has got a little bit of movement or might have a little wear, I tell them to take it off and replace it. It’s easier to do it here than up the road.
“I actually had Cummins tell me to stop bringing the trucks in for tuneups, because I was bringing them in too early. So I said to them, they are looking over them and will see if there is anything going wrong. Especially with the EGR engines, because we couldn’t get the fuel economy that I was chasing.”
Of course, those engines are now a thing of the past for this fleet. In fact ,the latest additions to the fleet are powered by Detroit DD 13 engines. This was Jono’s first Detroit engine and he reckons he’s pretty impressed with its performance so far.
JDP Logistics run all of the classic North American truck engines, with the C15, a Cummings E5 ISX and the latest additions fitted with Detroits.
“I can’t say anything wrong about that E5, Cummins have done a very good job with that engine,” says Jono. “They get reasonably good fuel economy, but nothing can match that Detroit. When it was pulling singles, it was averaging 2.2 km per litre and running up on its weights most of the time. We average it out over three months, to get a good idea.”
Although most of the work is heading to Melbourne and Sydney, with some Brisbane work thrown in, on the day of Diesel’s visit a truck was heading off to Adelaide with a load. Jono does do some freight into the big city markets, but prefers to concentrate on freight which is consistent 12 months of the year and not so seasonal.
“I reckon, I can say that I am very lucky with the four drivers that I have got working for me now,” says Jono. “As they say themselves, they are old school drivers, it doesn’t worry them what they have to do. If they have to wait then they will wait, they don’t whinge they don’t whine, they are there to do a job.
“They stick to the books, they don’t do anything stupid and that is what we want. The industry is too hard these days.”
Unusually, for an operation in this area, the drivers working for Jono are relatively young. Two are around 40, another is in their late 40s and there’s only one who could be regarded as ‘an older driver’. This is in a clear contrast to his father’s fleet, which has drivers in their 70s, still turning a wheel.