KTrans WA expands fleet to include Super-Liners
When KTrans WA landed a linehaul contract for the Perth-to-Pilbara return run they were after a truck that offered driver comfort, reliability and fuel efficiency. The Mack Super-Liner ticked the boxes and the company added three to become a new member of the Mack family.
Wade Jolly runs a tight operation, and when you deal with the sheer distances and range of applications they perform, in his role as Managing Director of KTrans WA, you need to know your vehicles.
As a line-haul company that runs more than sixty trucks out of Perth, KTrans WA has five different arms to the business, including contract line-haul services, container cartage services, pre-cast concrete and building supplies transport for WA construction sector, general line-haul across Australia and specialised waste transport.
Perth to Pilbara
Wade says that they bought the three new Super-Liners for the Perth-to-Pilbara run, which he describes as, “high utilisation with distinct set-and-forget rosters – a bit like Groundhog Day,” so having reliable and fuel-efficient trucks are key.
In what is essentially a numbers game, the run involves 1,650 kilometres each way, a 36-hour return journey with two drivers on 5-hour on and off shifts, all repeated after a 12-hour break five times per fortnight. Each of the three new Super-Liners will do 420,000 kilometres per year on this run.
Like the road up north, the schedule is relentless.
The two-up haul means that fatigue management is vital and Wade says that his team is happy with the cab and sleeping arrangements in the Super-Liner.
“It’s about trying to have a reliable truck that’s smooth and comfortable and allows the resting driver to go to sleep without getting thrown around the bunk. When you’re doing those sorts of miles and you’re on a set roster of five hours on and five hours off, it’s about making sure that when you get the opportunity to rest, you do so in a comfortable situation,” Wade says.
“You've got the other passenger’s life in your hands. You need to make sure at any time you’re fit for duty,” he adds.
Isolation is also a factor.
“When you travel where we do, you need to have some of the smarts that some of these trucks have now, for example Bluetooth radios, because there are some pretty long and lonely roads out there. Sometimes we’ll go for hours without seeing anyone,” he says.
Wade, 37, who is a majority shareholder in the company along with his brother-in-law Sam and father Craig, has been around trucks all of his working life. He bought the 20-year old company five years ago and has only recent become a convert to the Mack brand.
“I went through the Mack factory at Wacol in Brisbane recently,” says Wade, “because they wanted to show me how they build them. In recent years, we've used a lot of Volvos and naturally, as they’re now using the similar engine and gearbox, we opened up a discussion about Mack.”
"It was good to see the amount of Australian input that goes into a Mack truck. They’re renowned as being an American truck, but they’re certainly put together here in Australia,” says Wade. “I didn’t realise they are so customisable, and we may take advantage of that down the track,” he adds.
Understandably with such a wide range of operations, Wade has a strong focus on getting his trucks fit for application. It might be fuel efficiency for long distance, weight for load or cab configuration for comfort.
“Every application is different. The new Macks are for this specific run up to the Pilbara. On these trucks, the way we spec’d them up, we’re chasing fuel returns and efficiency,” he says.
“The Super-Liner is quiet. It's got plenty of power and it's been reliable. For the contracts that these trucks are on, fuel efficiency and reliability are the two most important factors. You’re always trying to reduce your on-road cost basis,” he says.
Wade says that the company uses the Dynafleet telematics system to measure how drivers are tracking against their peers. The company uses that information to plan for driver training.
“We gather data on a per-application group. We compare our drivers on fuel economy and braking and point score against their peers. It is a good dashboard for us to be able to look at each driver, especially new drivers as they come into the business and we assess how they’re going against some of the trusty regulars,” Wade says.
He sees a strong relationship between training and the type of application.
“We’re always asking ourselves what sort of training do we need to get into them? How best can they drive in that application?” says Wade. “Of course, every application is different and if you come out of short haul and into long haul, you have to learn to drive the truck completely differently.”
Wade points out that a truck is only as good as its driver, and maximising the fuel efficiency of the Super-Liners on the long haul to the Pilbara comes down to training.
“It’s about making sure we can assess how the driver is performing and that we’re in a position to talk to them and plan for further training. Dynafleet helps us do that.”