Having successfully operated a number of V8-engined Scanias over the years, a Melbourne-based operator is now finding the six-cylinder Scania G 500 and R 500 New Truck Generation (NTG) prime movers ideal for a diverse multi-trailer container carting and line haul fridge van operation. The never-ending quest for improved fuel efficiency provides the six-pack powertrain with a compelling case.
Nick Apostolovski, with the help of his wife, Daniela, runs a diverse haulage business called NAD Transport. The work is divided between two companies and consists of container cartage for Owens Transport and refrigerated haulage for Karras Cold Logistics.
Nick explains that he recently went through the exercise of installing telematics incorporating satellite tracking to all the Scanias except the R 580.
“Now I can track every aspect of each truck’s operation and review how they are being driven and, most importantly, how much fuel they are using,” says Nick. “Each driver has their own tag which they use to log on to whatever truck they are driving. I can then see, for example, if one driver is scoring 90 per cent and another 30 per cent doing the same work. Then we can work out what is going wrong and rectify the situation.”
Nick, who regularly drives the G 500 on dayshift, goes on to explain that he loves Scania’s star rating and driver tips that come up automatically on the dash. He says he is often locked in battle with one of his ‘star’ drivers to see who can achieve the highest rating at the end of the day.
“Whoever designed this system, hats off to them because it definitely makes you a better driver,” saysNick. “Almost without realising it you become more attentive to your driving style and surrounding conditions because you’re constantly striving for the best rating.”
Nick says he plans to further incentivise driving excellence by offering a monthly prize to the highest scoring driver.
“At the end of the day it’s not going to cost me an arm and a leg and if it means I can drop my fuel usage by five per cent it will definitely be a worthwhile exercise,” says Nick. “The cost of fuel is a killer when you’re running trucks.”
Another significant impost on truck operation is maintenance and Nick says he is keen to see how Scania’s Repair and Maintenance (R&M) Agreement stacks up with one of the newest trucks in the fleet.
“My G 500 pulls an A-double hauling containers around Melbourne so the weight is often high and there’s a lot of stop/start wear and tear,” he explains. “So I decided to put it on the five-year full R&M package for ultimate peace-of-mind.”
This is Scania’s most comprehensive assurance package that comes with an on-road guarantee including 24/7 national roadside assistance and, if required, towing.
For a monthly individually agreed fee, Scania offers bumper-to-bumper cover encompassing everything from major components to climate control, cooling system, steering and suspension and cab/chassis components.
This provides full coverage for wear and tear failures and includes the Max24 on-road guarantee whereby if the repair takes longer than 24 hours Scania compensates the owner on a daily basis until the truck is back on the road.
Further to this, Scania is revolutionising truck maintenance with its Flexible Plans. Utilising real-time operating data from the truck via the Scania Communicator telematics system, service intervals and maintenance requirements are tailored to the unique requirements of each truck.
This means that instead of service intervals based on set kilometres and standard pre-determined service sheets, vehicles are called in for servicing when the operating data specifies it’s necessary, ensuring the vehicle is neither under nor over serviced.
The beauty is that operators don’t need to keep track of when each vehicle needs servicing because they are contacted by Scania and informed when and for how long the vehicle will be needed.
Scania Australia says it currently has over 2000 of its customers’ trucks connected via Scania Communicator which enables the use of flexible maintenance plans. Others can be retrofitted with the required hardware to take advantage of this massive leap forward in vehicle maintenance.
This and another interesting adjunct known as Driver Reward potentially add to the resale value of the vehicle and further reduce operating costs.
With the driver having a major impact on the fuel burn and wear and tear of a truck, Driver Reward provides the operator with not only an increase in uptime but also a potential reduction in monthly service agreement fees.
For example, a vehicle with an average driver score above 85 per cent (classed as Elite status) incurs a five per cent rebate on annual servicing costs.
Proving he understands the concept of horses for courses, Nick says he put the two R 500s on a three-year basic maintenance plan due to their much easier operating environment compared with the G 500.
“The R 500s are consistently doing Melbourne to Sydney pulling semi-trailers on the fish run so they are mostly in cruise control on the freeway with very little stopping and starting, pretty much ideal conditions for longevity and minimal wear and tear,” he claims.