When we caught up with Matt Van Dam from Boss Logging, he was on the Princes Highway on the way back to his base in Bairnsdale. But you won’t normally see him on the open road, you’re more likely to find him, his drivers and his three Super-Liners doing what they do best — hauling logs across Victoria’s high country.
Boss Logging has been operating since 2004. Based in Bairnsdale, it has firmly established itself as an important player in harvesting and haulage in Victoria’s far east and high country. To haul his 23-metre B-doubles, Matt has invested in three Mack Super-Liners. He has four drivers, and sub-contracts work out when things get busy. When high country winter conditions set in, work on the New South Wales side of the border means that there’s no rest for him and his fleet.
As for Matt himself, he’s been around since well before 2004. He’s a veteran of 27 years in the trucking business and has been involved in virtually every aspect of harvesting and haulage – from the back roads to the back office.
You could say that, over the years, Matt and Mack have become good mates. Matt talks fondly of his early days in the industry, driving V8 Super-Liners. He admits that there was a period when he felt that Mack lost its way a bit, but he’s in no doubt about where Mack is today: “Mack has found its mojo again.” We asked him why.
“Since they moved away from Renault, they’ve made a real effort to go back to the old Mack style,” says Matt. “I like that they’re Australian-built. That’s important to me, but they’ve not only got a good product. I can’t speak highly enough of the service and back up. It’s great to know that you’ve got people behind you who live and breathe their product.”
Top level servicing from the dealership
He singles out Josh Bailey and the team at CMV Gippsland for particular praise.
“When I took a test drive in one of the Super-Liners with Josh, he answered a lot of my concerns regarding backup and service. The whole team have worked hard to put their money where their mouth is. Any issues with the trucks, day or night, they’ve done everything they can to make sure the trucks are back on the road as soon as possible. But to tell you the truth, there haven’t actually been many problems at all.”
So good is the relationship between Matt and CMV Gippsland that Josh accompanied Matt to the Brisbane Truck Show in May 2017. We’re also led to believe that CMV Gippsland put on a pretty good Christmas spread.
It’s also the toughness of the Super-Liners that draws Matt to Mack. Since September 2016, he and his drivers have been working in the Victorian high country around Moroka, just to the east of Licola. “Moroka is about as tough as it gets — steep inclines, steep declines, corrugated roads, fog, snow. It’s been a great test for the Super-Liners, and they just get on with the job,” says Matt. “Because the conditions are tough, we’ve brought our servicing interval back from 30,000 km to 20,000 km. For us, it’s engine time that we’re concerned about, not mileage. That said, we’re still managing about 1.5 km per litre. We’ve even recently been getting up to 1.7. That’s good for the bottom line.”
“Moroka is about as tough as it gets — steep inclines, steep declines, corrugated roads, fog, snow. It’s been a great test for the Super-Liners, and they just get on with the job,” says Matt.
Managing Driver Fatigue
Matt and his drivers can spend up to four nights a week on the road. That’s why he got the team at CMV Gippsland to fit out his fleet’s cabins with custom-made, larger mattresses. As Matt says, he wants his drivers to surface refreshed and ready for whatever the high country conditions are going to throw at them. But overnight comfort isn’t the only thing that keeps the drivers alert. It’s what happens on the road as well.
“At the wheel, the Super Liners are quiet,” says Matt, “and they’re comfortable. That’s good for all my drivers.”
For Matt, fatigue management is acutely important.
“You’ll never get rid of fatigue,” says Matt, “but you can always be on the lookout for things that will reduce it.”
The mDRIVE, Mack’s automated manual transmission system, is part of the package that does this for him.
“It helps with fatigue management because the transmission and the engine talk to each other,” says Matt, “it helps to take some of the work off the driver.”
Like all changes, Matt says that some drivers have found it a bit of a challenge to move away from conventional manual transmission systems to the mDRIVE.
“It’s different. It’s probably a question of technique, but the drivers really like it once they’re used to the change,” says Matt. “Most swear that they’d never go back to the old manuals”.
Right now, Matt has no immediate plans to expand his fleet, but Mack will be high on his list when the time comes.
“It’s a good product, and I have had nothing but great service from people at CMV Gippsland who are passionate about their product.”
For Matt, Mack delivers the whole package and is the best it’s ever been.
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