Scania’s emissions technology is leading the build-up of its fleet presence in the wide-open, windblown spaces of Western Australia, but probably as much for fuel efficiency as it is for clean air.
The international ructions from the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change don’t count for much on a two-hour grocery cruise south of Perth, but saving increasingly important litres of fuel does.
Mark Mazza’s South West Express, based in Bunbury south of Perth, has always reflected that fuel focus in the make-up of its Scania fleet and driver training. But additionally, both the company and customers share in the fuel efficiency benefit when the fuel component of the company’s rate is calculated.
The business sets its rates with a fuel baseline price of 105.75c/litre. For every cent the diesel price exceeds that baseline, the company wears three quarters of it, while the customer gets billed the remaining quarter as a levy.
That’s why Mark’s customers are as interested as he is in the fuel gains Scania technology brings to the transport task. And it’s also why Mark sticks with Scania for his fleet purchases – to stay at the forefront of emissions and fuel technology.
South West Express’ Scanias were the first Euro 5 fleet in WA, and that trend has continued with its latest fleet additions. Four G 490 Euro 6 prime movers joined up recently, replacing R 500 V8s that had completed their five-year tenure in largely metropolitan work.
The new trucks are capable of handling occasional regional work with multi-trailer rigs, but most of those tasks will be allocated to the fleet of R-series trucks. As well as being a banner fleet for Scania in terms of on-the-road exposure, the company’s service contracts are also establishing real-time evidence of efficiencies.
Mark and co-owner, wife Andrea, have opted for Platinum service contracts with all their trucks, and they are one of the first operators to sign full-service contracts for the entire fleet.
The contracts deliver bumper-to-end-of-chassis service and back-up for the five years each truck remains on fleet. The average cost is around $1,800 a month per truck, but it varies according to rating and distance travelled. For example, the new G 490s Euro 6 rated at 50-tonnes and set for suburban work cost $800/month, while a 130-tonne R 620 that clocks up the biggest distances, costs $3,600/month.
Towing expenses are covered if a truck has a major failure, however Mark has structured the fleet to allow for one truck to be in service at any time. The contract also requires Scania to fix an unscheduled breakdown in 24 hours. If it can’t, it pays its customer $500 per day until the truck is back on fleet.
Certainties such as these have allowed Mark and Andrea to commit their trucks to the tight schedules demanded by customers with perishable supplies.
The Scania efficiency bug has spread to more than just the truck fleet. A 24 kW solar array sits on the warehouse roof, cutting power costs and grid dependency by 51 per cent.
Mark’s business kicked off in 1993 when, in partnership with Andrea, he bought a ten-year-old Atkinson with a 350 big cam Cummins and a 15-speed direct gearbox that clattered its way to 90 km/h after Mark fitted an overdrive kit.
The operation was incorporated two years later, and Andrea has been “the administrative backbone of the business” since. It’s a family affair with four offspring hard at work – Justin is the line haul manager, Carl is the maintenance manager, Jenna the head receptionist and Ryan drives a road train.
Growth has been steady and uninterrupted, and the Scania connection has been a significant part of that. From servicing a couple of supermarkets in the south-west, the business now services nine stores for Woolworths, plus a wide range of other customers in the food industry.
Over time, Mark has zeroed in on the R 560 V8 as the perfect blend of performance and efficiency for the load and range profiles on his major routes. He has tried most of the horsepower options, evaluating less horsepower for economy, then more horsepower for trip times. Ultimately the R 560 configuration is the best all-rounder for the multi-role tasks the business demands.
South West Express’ eye-catching yellow logos and signwriting are a common sight on highways south of Perth. The company Scanias tow 48-pallet capacity B-double and dog combinations that stretch out to 38.5-metres, 36- to 46-pallet capacity road trains, 34-pallet capacity B-doubles, a 32-pallet rigid truck and dog trailer and 22-and 24-pallet semi-trailers.
When contracts are being tendered, the technology level of the South West Express Scania fleet has played an important role in securing ongoing business. Mark’s Scanias have the highest level of telematics, safety and environment features available. Constantly pursuing the latest emissions standard has clearly paid off in real terms.
Mark’s General Manager, Tim Keays, says that every driver is trained by the Scania driver training team, but Scania’s fuel management engineering plays the biggest role here. Fleet statistics reveal that economies of 1.4 to 1.5 km/litre from five years ago are now running at around 2.0 km/litre on the same load profile, a serious saving. Drivers who use the Scania driver training module on board are shaving a further 0.1 km/litre from the fuel bill.
In a straight comparison of Euro 5 vs Euro 6, the new trucks are delivering additional fuel efficiencies of between 0.2 to 0.3 km/litre.
Recently, Mark has been able to optimise his fleet utilisation with the addition of a back-loading contract for refrigerated freight back to Perth. Critical to that contract has been the configuration of his fleet of trailers. Half of the 46 freezer trailers from FTE in Dandenong are multi-temp three-zone units that allow independent temperature control in each zone, allowing a freezer section, a chiller section and a section at ambient temperature, or just cool.
As one of Scania’s key fleets, South West Express is a success story that underpins good management with the very latest truck technology.