Getting Smart About Repairs

For some workshops it’s all about straightforward servicing, for others, handling more repairs can strengthen the business. Diesel News has been talking to one such workshop in Adelaide.

South Australia is tough on trucks. They pull high masses at high average speeds for long trips, this makes plenty of work for repair shops. Engines, turbos, diffs and transmissions need to be replaced and if the truck does crash at high speed the body shop has a major task on its hands.

Wakefield Trucks, based in the northern Adelaide suburb of Salisbury, next to the major freight routes heading for Port Augusta and Mildura, is the representative of the Penske organisation in SA. The forecourt displays the Western Stars and MANs the company sells.

The workshop is currently going through a transition as previous Workshop Manager, Kieren O’Brien, hands over the role to his successor, Jason Soteriou. Kieren is taking a more strategic role in the business, while Jason sees to the day-to-day running of the workshop.

“There’s some bigger projects which fall under a dealer development role, which I am trying to focus on,” says Kieren. “In the past, if I got sidelined into a major project, workshop management suffered, which is not what we want.”

Some of the fleets using Wakefield Trucks’ services run trucks for 500,000km per year. They are hitting 1,000,000km by the end of the second year. These are often working on time-sensitive produce work and the customer demands good preventative servicing to change out components before they are likely to fail.

However, the nature of some of the tasks handled by trucks in SA – running at masses over 100 tonnes and at high average speeds on flat country – means the company has seen brakes on some of the truck it services running out to 800,000km.

A lot of the fleets Wakefield Trucks deals with on a week-in-week-out basis are at the smaller end. Adelaide is home to many small- to medium-sized fleets, but the bigger players tend to be based elsewhere, normally Melbourne. Another factor is the fact the dealership sells Western Star, a brand often favoured by the small fleet and owner-driver market.

This demographic has had an effect on the business. These smaller fleets are more price conscious and tend to run their trucks out for longer, requiring more major repair work on the main components. They are also more conservative buyers, relying on long-term personal relationships rather than aggressive business decisions.