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Man to face multiple charges after low-speed police chase
The left truck the roadway at Hanson Rd onto a dirt track and coming to rest in a paddock at about 5.50am.
Police have charged a 31-year-old Beenleigh man with 12 offences after a truck was allegedly stolen at Marburg this morning.
It will be alleged a man entered a trucking business on the Warrego Highway at Marburg at 5.35am, stealing a prime mover and crashing through a chain wire fence as he drove from the property, causing significant damage.
A police motorcycle officer attempted to intercept the vehicle however it failed to stop and continued travelling towards Amberley.
The truck entered Commonwealth property located on Hanson Rd, Amberley crashing through a locked gate. It came to stop in a paddock at 5.50am and the driver was taken into custody.
A 31-year-old man was due to appear in the Ipswich Magistrates Court this afternoon charged with three counts of willful damage/destruction, and one count each of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, fail to stop a motor vehicle, unlicensed driving, driving whilst relevant drug present in blood, fail to take reasonable care in disposal of a syringe, trespass, enter premises with intent and enter premises and commit an indictable offence.
Stolen truck smashes through RAAF Base fence
UPDATE: A 31-year-old man is assisting police with their inquiries following a traffic crash in Amberley this morning.
Initial investigations suggest a man entered an address on the Warrego Highway at around 5.34am, stole a prime mover and fled in the truck by driving through a fence on the property.
The truck was driven toward Amberley when police tracked him down and followed at low speeds.
The left truck the roadway at Hanson Rd onto a dirt track and coming to rest in a paddock at about 5.50am.
The man was not injured.
Investigations are continuing and anyone with information relating to this matter is urged to contact police.
EARLIER: A man has allegedly stolen a truck from a Karrabin business and fled from police in the early hours of this morning.
A 31-year-old Beenleigh man is assisting police with their inquiries after the truck was allegedly stolen at 5.34am.
Police have pursued the driver at low speeds before he lost control of the vehicle and crashed through a fence at the rear of RAAF Base Amberley on Haigslea-Amberley Rd.
No charges have been laid so far.
Fines, fees and levies targeted
When Brenton Vanstone was holidaying in New Zealand, the local newspaper, The Herald on Sunday, caught his eye.
The newspaper devoted a double-page spread to Australian billionaire David Dicker and his dream to build the world’s fastest track car for mega-millionaires.
Dicker, whose hardware distribution company had sales of more than a billion dollars last year, chose New Zealand for his project instead of Australia because he felt his homeland was “hopelessly restrictive”.
“The ‘red tape’ is getting worse in New Zealand, but it is still way, way better than in Australia,” he was quoted as saying.
Fast-forward to the Wandearah farmer and former Port Pirie mayor’s return to Australia ,,, he is now in the midst of chairing a ‘red tape’ committee set up by Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North.
High on his list of “fines, fees and levies” that need to be disputed is the registration and third-party cost for a truckie operating a B-double.
Mr Vanstone, who is a contender for Liberal preselection for the seat of Frome in Balaklava on Saturday, is outraged that the registration and third-party cost is about $18,000.
“These fines, fees and levies – it is a case of the unproductive preying on the productive,” he said.
He said victims of “red tape” also had to contend with their own deadlines and paypackets.
He knows of a truckie who lives “out of town” and who has a prime mover and various trailers and assemblies with a total bill of almost $50,000 for state government insurance and registration.
“Despite this, we hear the trucking industry maligned,” he said.
“I know ‘red tape’ reduction is a buzzword through government, but we are keen to see what has actually been done about it.”
He said the committee would first seek feedback from businesses and evidence from the public sector about “constrictions and obstructions” that cause undue cost and frustration in daily activities. The Recorder is seeking comment from the state government.
UPS launches drone from delivery van
Workhorse’s Horsefly can carry 4.5kg packages to vans autonomously
UPS has successfully tested a US drone that launches from the top of one of its distinctive large delivery vans, the global express parcel company says.
Its drone system autonomously delivers a package to a home and then returns to the ‘UPS package car’ while the delivery driver continues along the route to make a separate delivery.
The system was tested in Florida in conjunction with Workhorse Group, a battery-electric truck and drone developer. Workhorse built the drone and the electric package car used in the test.
"This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far," UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability Mark Wallace says.
"It has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery.
"Imagine a triangular delivery route where the stops are miles apart by road.
"Sending a drone from a package car to make just one of those deliveries can reduce costly miles driven.
"This is a big step toward bolstering efficiency in our network and reducing our emissions at the same time."
Wallace explains his company is not doing away with drivers.
"Drivers are the face of our company, and that won’t change," he says.
"What’s exciting is the potential for drones to aid drivers at various points along their routes, helping them save time and deliver on increasing customer service needs that stem from the growth of e-commerce."
The firms explain that drone project used the Workhorse HorseFly UAV Delivery system, a high-efficiency, octocopter delivery drone fully integrated with Workhorse’s line of electric/hybrid delivery trucks.
The drone docks on the roof of the delivery truck.
A cage suspended beneath the drone, extends through a hatch into the truck.
A UPS driver inside loads a package into the cage and presses a button on a touch screen, sending the drone on a preset autonomous route to an address.
The battery-powered HorseFly drone recharges while it’s docked. It has a 30-minute flight time and can carry a package weighing up to 10 pounds.
For this test, Workhorse preset the route for the drone. But in the future, routes could be determined by UPS’s On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION), which is the company’s proprietary routing software.
"It’s wonderful to see this technology applied in such a practical way," Workhorse founder and CEO Stephen Burns says.
"The drone is fully autonomous. It doesn’t require a pilot. So the delivery driver is free to make other deliveries while the drone is away."
Daimler Trucks Chief refuses contract extension
Daimler Trucks Chief, Wolfgang Bernhard, has indicated that he does not want his contract extended.
Bernhard informed the Supervisory Board on Friday that he would not stay on if offered an extension, according to German magazine, Der Spiegel.
Daimler has since confirmed the development, releasing Bernhard from his duties with immediate effect. Daimler CEO, Dieter Zetsche, will head Bernhard's department until a successor will be appointed.
"We regret this resolution, but we have a number of outstanding managers to succeed. We thank Wolfgang Bernhard for his committed work and respect his personal decision," the company stated.
Last week, newswire Reuters had speculated that the extension of Zetsche’s contract last year is behind the decision, as it effectively ruled out 56-year old Bernhard as a potential successor.
“In February last year, Daimler also promoted Ola Kaellenius, a 46-year-old Swede, to become board member for research and development, a move that company insiders say made him a natural heir to Zetsche,” Reuters explained.
Bernhard's contract was due to expire in February 2018.
Collecting Recycling Waste
Most of the work handled by the Bettatrans fleet from Adelaide involves collecting recycling waste from Coles and Woolworths locations and bringing it into transfer stations. This work is handled by compactors and hook lift trucks, depending on the equipment at each location. The entire fleet comprises just seven compactors, five hooklifts, a front lifter and the semi trailer. All of the trucks in the fleet are running at 6×2, apart from one 8×4.
90 per cent of all of the waste handled by Bettatrans is recycling, with the rest being general waste. The materials recycled include timber, cardboard and plastic. There is also some steel recycling handled by the operation, in a contract with OneSteel.
“We have to be covered by contracts, when you look at the millions of dollars investment we have to make to do the job,” says Chris Cunningham, Director of Bettatrans . “Our whole fleet is now looking good, I think the oldest truck is now three years old. The modern fleet gives a good impression and aids the contractor in keeping the long term contracts with the community.
“This is the first Azmeb trailer in South Australia. We flew up to Queensland to have a look at the trailer. We had looked at walking floors, normal tippers, everything, but this just smashed the lot. The great thing is, it’s so simple, there is very little maintenance on it. There’s just a little bit of greasing and the rubber hinge at the bottom of the door plus a couple of rams.
“Systems like walking floors have to be rebuilt all of the time and takes 40 minutes to unload. I am still amazed, looking at these national companies using walking floors everywhere, and this technology just kills them. We’ve just got one down here , but I have found the Azmeb outfit staggering, that they have been around for 21 years. We found it on Google and went from there. Even the guys at Maxitrans here were surprised to get an enquiry.”
Bettatrans employ 26 people, mainly drivers with other support staff. Several work on one of the last garbage trucks to have a runner on the back, where the team travel around with the truck and load the garbage by hand at night in areas where skips and bins are impractical.
The tipper semi is a new departure for Bettatrans and an area in which the operation expects to expand. The prime mover is a 4×2, the relatively light recycling material cubes out well before the single drive is overloaded. The tare mass of the truck and trailer is around 20 tonnes, giving the truck a GCM of 32 tonnes out on the highway.
Its a UD Quon and it’s fitted with the 11 litre UD GH11 engine and uses the Escot 12 speed AMT, both of which are derived from elements in the Volvo driveline. Most of the other vehicles in the fleet have been sourced from UD.
“The UD Quon is amazing,” says Cunningham. “The fuel efficiency is almost as good as on the UD Condors we have in the fleet.”
Compactors are the core part of the fleet, Bettatrans change over the cab chassis at 4-500,000 km. This is due to the stress powering the compactor puts on the truck, the hydraulics run directly off the truck driveline. The compactor bodies are expected to last long enough to be fitted to two cab chassis. According to Cunningham, he expects the side tipping trailer to last at least twenty years.
Bettatrans are looking to expand and take their successful business model outside of the Adelaide area. Perth looks to be one area where expansion is possible. The company are also examining the prospects in other centres
“People tell me, if you can make things work in Adelaide, you can make them work anywhere,” says Cunningham. “There’s no density here, and a lot of players in the market. You’ve got to be really, really efficient to make it work. You have to cover a big metropolitan area, where there is no density in the middle of town. Everything in the waste industry is about density and pick up rates.”
“The entire fleet is linked into the Vtec telematics system to keep an eye on what’s going on and record journeys and specific parts of the runs,” says Cunningham. “We have just swapped over to a new management system called WasteEdge, so all of our run sheets are on iPads in the truck cabs.
“Where we load the big tipper, the shed has a camera on it and it’s connected to wifi. It looks onto the conveyor and into the truck. As the driver arrives and backs up, the iPad, automatically, hooks up to the camera. He can then watch it load on his iPad. He will move forward and back using the iPad to make sure it’s loaded evenly.
“When we first got the truck, we put a camera in the truck to watch the load, but it didn’t’t work. When loading, the dust made it impossible, we had to clean it every hour. That’s when we came with this other solution.”
Smart thinking and driving hard for efficiency are the name of the game in many transport businesses. It seems this principle is also working for Bettatrans, as the company seeks to expand both its experience and capabilities.
Buyers increasingly choosing IVECO models
RACING AHEAD: IVECO marketers say they are claiming more market share.
IVECO reckons it's done well in the Australian market through the past 12 months with its revitalised product range combined with increased management stability and growing professional Dealer Network.
This has reflected extremely positively in Australia and New Zealand, with IVECO achieving a combined full year volume growth of over 25 per cent in 2016.
IVECO New Zealand recorded its best sales performance on record, with a 45 per cent volume increase on 2015 full year results.
In Australia, IVECO achieved a 6 per cent full year volume increase, the brand's best sales performance since 2013.
IVECO Australia Marketing Manager Darren Swenson said the company was pleased with the result as it marked a turnaround for the brand and would help build a foundation for additional future growth.
"The last two to three years has seen considerable change at IVECO, a new management structure has been implemented, our manufacturing facility has undergone restructuring and there has been considerable time and effort devoted to better meeting the needs of our customers,” Mr Swenson said.
"Wholesale changes of this nature obviously take time to effect, so it's exciting to already be seeing some early benefits as an organisation as well as for our customers.”
Boasting one of the widest product ranges of any manufacturer in Australia and New Zealand, from car-licence van and cab chassis through to road train-capable prime movers (Australia only) and an off-road range second to none, IVECO will continue with its new model releases and product upgrades into 2017.
Due for launch this year is the award-winning Euro6 Eurocargo, International Truck of the Year 2016, while Daily van, cab chassis and Daily 4x4 models would also benefit from upgrades along with selected Stralis variants to name just a few.
Exciting new products aside, Mr Swenson also nominated the brand's continued investment in its Dealer Network and promoting its aftersales products and services, as key priorities for 2017.
"The Dealer Network has grown markedly over the past 12 months and now encompasses over 60 outlets comprising of full line, light duty and parts and service outlets,” he said.
"This number will expand in 2017 with additional strategic appointments and the further evolution of existing outlets.
"Similarly, through our successful 'Trusted' messaging, we'll further promote the brand's aftersales offerings in an effort to increase buyer awareness of Dealer servicing and our range of extended warranties, program maintenance contracts and related products.
"A big thank you to all the buyers who supported IVECO in 2016 - rest assured that the company is focused on continuing to meet their transport requirements well into the future.”
CGU and Suncorp focus marine insurance in NTI
Three firms consolidate hull, cargo and goods in transit coverage
The equal owners of National Transport Insurance (NTI) are ensuring it lives up to its name, joining their marine offerings with its marine cargo product.
Better known for its deep focus on the trucking industry, NTI entered marine cargo coverage in March 2014,
Now joint owners IAG’s CGU and Suncorp’s Vero have launched a new entity, Marine Protect: Powered by NTI,
"NTI is already a leader in delivering insurance solutions for the heavy motor and logistics industries and it will now become the truly definitive holistic freight logistics insurer in Australia," Anthony Day, Insurance CEO at Suncorp, says.
From April, marine insurance specialists from CGU and Vero will move to NTI’s Marine Protect.
Marine Protect will be led by ?Suncorp’s present executive manager corporate and risk managed underwriting Andrew Kidd, with senior leadership support provided by CGU national underwriting manager Chris Kelsey and CGU national marine claims manager Mike Sullivan.
All three organisations are working together to ensure key relationships stay in place and intermediaries and customers continued to be serviced by the same experienced teams.
NTI will be contacting intermediaries in the coming weeks to provide more detailed information and support.
Asked if there was any likelihood of the partners rationalising their commercial vehicle coverage in the same way, a Suncorp spokesperson played down the chances, saying its vehicle offerings were wrapped up with broader deals with particular customers.
Alarm at flood damaged regional road network
Federal emergency funds call to cover arc of destruction through north and west of country
Western Australian and Northern Territory freight industry bodies have called for urgent federal funds to tackle road and related infrastructure damage from widespread floods.
Bridges and sealed and unsealed roads have borne the brunt of unrelenting heavy rains and resultant floods in a broad crescent between eastern NT and eastern WA.
Parts of the Pilbara, Goldfields-Esperance and Swan Valley have reportedly been declared disaster areas
NT Road Transport Association (NTRTA) president Michael Swart said trucking operators are feeling the financial impact of the wide spread work restrictions and yesterday it emerged that Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) has temporarily closed its Livingstone abattoir due to lack of stock as cattle stations are isolated.
"With so many Territory roads now closed this will have wider ramifications for the local economy," Swart says.
"The flood damage may not have come about due to a cyclone or natural disaster but it is imperative that the Federal Government urgently directs funding relief to undertake urgent repairs of critical regional roads, which are the lifeblood of the Territory."
NTRTA executive officer Louise Bilato says the sight of so many trucks parked up at the Daly Waters road house due to the temporary closure of the Stuart Highway "sent a shiver down the spine of most Territorians reliant as ever on road trains for their freight supplies. It also served to highlight the precarious balancing act between meeting freight demand and protecting our precious, water logged, road infrastructure.
"However, the bulk of our unsealed road network remains closed after an unprecedented, heavy and very persistent rainfall since late December."
Bilato commends the "swift actions" taken by the Territory’s Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics in difficult circumstances to divert road funding and allow urgent flood repairs to get underway on critical roads.
"It’s unlikely any unsealed road could have withstood the heavy drenching and steady top up rainfalls experienced over the past six weeks but it is the sheer length of time that the Tanami road has now been closed, which is causing the greatest disruption for local communities and pastoralists as well as the Granites gold mine," she says.
While much of the focus has been to the north of the country, eastern parts of WA have also been hit hard.
WARTA is calling on the federal government to provide immediate funding assistance to both the state and local governments to accelerate the repair of freight routes.
"Major damage to both sealed and gravel roads that form the arteries of WA’s freight logistics distribution have been severely damaged in many places from the Kimberley to Esperance," executive officer Cam Dumesny says.
"It is completely unrealistic for many regional and rural shires to fund the immediate repairs required."
WARTA says it has previously been critical of successive federal governments for on-going trend of declining maintenance funding of the WA regional and rural freight routes that support 40 per cent of Australia’s export income.
"The Federal Government needs to respond immediately with funding assistance to enable repairs to start as soon as practical," Dumesny says.
Just Desserts with Scotty Douglas
Scotty weighs in on the sort of rubbish we cop from people who have no idea. "Trucks should be limited to 90"..... yeah righto
I’m constantly amazed at how often people use the word "just" when referring to their job. Maybe it’s a blue-collar thing; maybe it’s that Aussie not-wanting-to-blow-your-own-trumpet thing. But, I’ve never heard anyone say, "I’m just a CEO." Except maybe if they’re in court that is.
But I’ve heard plenty of people say I’m "just" a cleaner, or I’m "just" a mechanic, or even more concerning "I’m just a teacher."
And I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard the phrase "I’m just a truck driver."
It’s like we’re kind of embarrassed to admit it. Like the dog catching you with your willy out, you end up inexplicably embarrassed and self-conscious, even though you know it shouldn’t matter.
When did we get to the point where unless we have a high-flying corporate gig we feel we have to apologise for what we do?
The most memorable self-deprecating job description I’ve come across was from a bloke who worked for an artificial insemination company. At a Barbie one day I asked him what he did for a living, he replied deadpan around a mouthful of sausage and bread, "I wank bulls."
But it’s probably a good thing that I don’t get out very much. Because when I mix with the general public I tend to get easily riled by the assumptions that people make about being a truck driver.
"Really? Wow, how do you stay awake on those really long drives??" This is code for "Do you take lots of drugs?" Little do they know that the real answer is that I actually sing along to Madonna’s Greatest Hits at the top of my lungs with both windows down. Sometimes I’m naked.
But the one that really makes me lose my shit is, "So I thought trucks weren’t meant to speed, do you speed?" and "I get passed by speeding trucks all the time on the freeway."
This is the time to take a deep breath and embark on a futile explanation that usually guarantees that the listener will lose interest after 5 seconds. The vast majority of trucks on our highways aren’t speeding anymore. Trouble is cars have gotten slower. The wholesale revenue grab that is the speed camera industry has made sure that automotive manufacturers ensure that the speedos on their products read fast, in fact it’s a legal requirement.
Trucks are speed limited via the ECU. There’s actually an Australian Design Rule that describes this and it involves the amount of revolutions a standard 11R 225 truck drive tyre does in a kilometre. Asleep yet? Most people usually are by this point which is probably why no one gives a shit.
It is very f**king difficult to persuade some people that the speedo on their new Camry is reading as much as 6 km/h out. Again nobody gives a shit.
And then we end up with that old chestnut, "trucks should be speed limited to 90." Well you can blow that idea out your arse because I’m not taking a pay cut for anybody.
If the company you drive for chooses to mandate a 90km/h limit and you are properly paid for the extra time that you job takes then fine, more power to ya.
But to get all warm and fuzzy about saving fuel and being an eco-emissions warrior while your drivers have to spend longer in the saddle. That’s just wrong. Pass on the savings and maybe I’ll wear it otherwise it’s just a cynical money grab wearing a clown suit as far as I’m concerned.
And then there’s the safety argument for f**k’s sake! What’s safe about driver’s driving for longer to get to their destination?
I even had one bloke (not a driver) tell me that that he was only alive because a well-known local company had a widely advertised 90km/h speed limit. This conversation did not end well, and yes beer may have been involved in this exchange. Apparently he was driving down a country highway and was confronted by 2 trucks heading towards him side by side. The one being overtaken was doing 90, the other I’m assuming was doing a dollar. Apparently if the driver of the truck doing 90 hadn’t hit the skids and let old mate around the person telling this tale wouldn’t be here today.
As glad as I was to see this person had survived this brush with death and was saved by this slow moving truck. The fact remains that if the 90 speed limited truck had’ve been doing a dollar the other truck wouldn’t have been on the other side of the road in the first place!
On country highways people will break their necks to get past slow moving traffic. The more frustrated they become the more reckless their overtaking maneuvers.
And then I find myself driving a Toyota Yaris down a metropolitan freeway today, it’s not something I’m proud of but it’s cheap transport okay? And lo and behold I’ve got a Freightliner Argosy sitting so far up my arse that the driver could clean my teeth. In fact if I had of so much as turned the AC on in the little eco-turd I was driving I would’ve been splattered over a kilometre of the Monash Freeway.
But before you ask, yes I was in heavy traffic and no I wasn’t in the fast lane doing 90.
And it occurred to me that this is what most people remember about trucks. Not the hay run for struggling farmers, or the just in time delivery of their new TV from another capital city.
Most people just remember the looming bull-bar in the mirror on their annual Christmas holiday trip. Sure there’s a damning lack of education about sharing the road with trucks, but really most people don’t care unless the rear axle group of a tag trailer is climbing over their bonnet at a roundabout.
Unfortunately it always falls to us to drive for everyone else on the road.
There are a lot of unjust justs out there, but maybe If we keep thinking of ourselves as "just" drivers then we can’t really expect to be treated much different.
Western roads closed following plane crash in Melbourne
Tullamarine and Calder Freeways have been temporarily closed following the crash this morning
A plane crashed into DFO, Essendon Fields, earlier today killing the five people on-board and causing road chaos.
According to reports, the crash was likely caused by catastrophic engine failure.
VicRoads closed the Tullamarine Freeway in both directions between Moreland Road and the Western Ring Road following the crash.
The Calder Freeway was also shut temporarily in both directions between McNamara Avenue in Airport West and the Tullamarine Freeway interchange.
Bulla Road has also been closed near Essendon Airport.
Victoria’s emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley spoke to media a short time ago, outlining that the outbound lanes are now open.
"The outbound lanes are now open, however the inbound lanes will stay closed for a number of hours, until that can be cleared and understood to collect evidence for the investigation, but also clear it from any impacts that it may have had," Lapsley says.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has called this the worst civil aviation acccident in Victoria in 30 years.
The Essendon Airport is a major freight hub in and out of King Island and Tasmania.
Truck fleets under pressure to adapt to autonomous technology
Autonomous truck technology is likely to follow a similar path to acceptance as smartphones, according US traffic safety expert, Dr James Hedlund.
In an interview with Heavy Duty Trucking, Dr Hedlund said we could “start to see early adaptors start to work with autonomous vehicles … within the next five years” – with legislation the biggest hurdle to overcome.
“The technology is moving very quickly – much faster than the regulatory and legislative efforts – and we need to be really flexible on this front. We don’t need to be taking five years to pass laws based on concepts and technology that was cutting edge 10 years ago,” he said.
According to Dr Hedlund, truck fleets are under great pressure to move materials quickly and efficiently – forcing them to be more open to technological change.
“Autonomous technology can help them do that in a somewhat more controlled manner. Also, in an industry plagued with liability issues, autonomous technology can help them run safer.”
Dr Hedlund, a consultant working with the US Governors' Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a not-for-profit body representing the US state and territorial highway safety offices, has published over 60 research studies, conference summaries, research syntheses, and guides on a variety of behavioural traffic safety subjects over a 30-year-career in the industry.
Be a part of Australia’s biggest truck survey
Australia’s trucking industry can now have its say on all matters related to the commercial road transport market by answering the first-ever customer perception survey.
Conducted by Prime Creative Media and apd Australia, the country’s leading truck industry research and consulting firm, the survey will give respondents a voice with the truck industry brands in the Australian market.
As part of completing Australia’s first-ever customer truck industry survey, respondents will have the opportunity to secure an amazing prize, including one of 50 x 12 month subscriptions to Prime Creative Media’s four leading industry publications - Prime Mover, Trailer, CRTNews and Diesel Magazine, and also go into the draw for one of two $500 J.B. Hi Fi vouchers, redeemable at any J.B. Hi Fi store or online.
Driving New Cascadia
Diesel News’ US Correspondent, Steve Sturgess, driving New Cascadia from Freightliner in the US, took the truck on a 125-mile route heading out into the Mojave Desert to the south of Las Vegas, then looping back around to join the main artery into Las Vegas from the south (Interstate-15). This loop encountered Interstate and two-lane driving and a significant climb over the mountains at Crescent Peak. The Cascadia is scheduled for introduction into the Australian market, in the next couple of years.
This requires a stiff pull up from the desert floor at around 2,000 ft (600 m) to close to 5,000 ft (1,500 m) and a long and relatively steep downgrade which was a good test for the three-position engine brake on the 400-hp/1,750-lb-ft (300 kW/2,372 Nm) DD 15 engine.
The fuel economy was not rigorously tested but we did take readings from the dash which showed a remarkable 9.6 mpg (24.5 l/100km) at the turn in Searchlight. This had deteriorated to 7.2 mpg (32.7 l/100km) when we did a driver change after scaling the mountain, still very creditable. We did a driver change with the second truck going from a 6 x 2 to a 6 x 4 yet despite this managed to roll back into the Resort hotel with a 10.2 mpg (23 l/100 km) on the dash.
Most impressive is the low noise level at cruising speeds of 65 mph (105 km/h). At full bore, the noise rises only about 2db(A) on my test meter to a 62 db(A) reading. The new door seal and quiet package really do the job. Also the softer ride for the front suspension contributes to the comfortable driver environment.
The really cool thing about the revised control layout with the controls on the steering wheel and the adaptive cruise control, it’s possible to drive without using other hand or foot-operated controls, maybe with exception of the retarder. But even this is located on the manual override shift on the steering column. Being able to dial in the three levels of retardation made negotiating the steep downgrade from Crescent Peak a safe, fade-free experience despite being at the States’ rather silly 36-tonne gross combination weight.
The two interior trim levels , Elite and Professional, provide driver-friendly comfort with either easy clean-out or car-like levels of luxury accommodation. The automated DT 12 transmission makes progress down the road both easy and safe, allowing you to concentrate on the size of the truck and its position on the road without the complication of shift decisions and the practice of shifting.
The removal of the windshield splitter and the side-glass channel may seem trivial, but on the road count for much improved visibility. And the repositioning of the new mirrors also gives a comprehensive view to the rear, complemented by available bonnet-mounted safety mirrors.
The new Cascadia features a new layout of gauges and switches in the driver compartment to a more convenient configuration in the sleeper area, including a new Driver’s Loft configuration.
The wraparound dashboard includes switches and more steering wheel controls to allow drivers to work without leaning and stretching. In the instrument cluster, digital smart gauges and driver selectable information displays keep drivers involved as they drive.
Improving on the Classic Cascadia Evolution, one of the quietest trucks on the road in the US, the new Cascadia is even quieter, thanks to new noise abatement technology in door sealing and sound deadening materials. To further improve the truck’s interior sound level, Freightliner engineers have developed an optional insulation package using 3M Thinsulate technology.
Additionally, a new engine mount design provides better vibration isolation and the engine tunnel cover is now constructed using Quiet Steel technology.
Available in a variety of cab configurations, the new Cascadia is all about customisable living-space options to address the realities of drivers while they’re on the road. The sleeper area has been redesigned to include more cabinets, as well as larger spaces to accommodate standard appliances.
For entertainment, a television swivel bracket can hold up to a 26-inch flat panel TV. Double-bunk and dinette options are also available. A new cargo shelf option allows drivers to store containers or duffle bags easily. If an upper bunk is spec’d, it will come standard with an easily released telescoping ladder, making getting into the upper bunk much easier than the step built into the cabinets.
A new sleeper design, the Driver‘s Loft, features a dinette table/work table and opposing seating set at an angle so that legs won’t tangle under the table. Table and cushions can easily be folded down flat to allow for a murphy-style bed to swing down in as little as six seconds in the launch demonstration. The Driver’s Loft also comes standard with aircraft-inspired LED ambient lighting on a dimmer switch so drivers can set their own light levels.
Cascadia’s all-LED lighting includes the low beam, high beam, daytime running lamp, park lamp and turn signal lamp. All LED provides an impressive field of view in nighttime and bad weather conditions, says Freightliner.
The one-piece windshield design increases wiper coverage by 12 per cent over the current Cascadia, and is specially constructed to provide increased resistance to breakage. Both the one-piece windshield and one-piece door glass provide an unobstructed view to the mirror and road.
What is the most significant feature of the new Cascadia? My response was, who are you asking? Maintenance staff will respond to one feature; drivers to another. New owners will like the operational opportunities from the new connectivity. And everyone will love the eight per cent jump in fuel economy. The real success of the new model is not the new, sharper styling but all the fleet-wide deliverables under that sharper look.
Truckin' Around Tassis: Charlie Ivory
"WELL I've only been driving professionally now for five months," Charlie Ivory from Devonport told us the other day when he dropped in to the Forrest Caltex. "But so far I'd have to say I am loving it! I reckon it's just a great job, and I'm working for a great outfit, with a good crew, and getting lots of help and assistance from some of the old hands like Irish Bower!"
Charlie was a bit carried away with his new profession.
"Look it's my first job on the road, and seriously I reckon this was my best choice ever and I seriously don't have a single regret," he told Big Rigs.
Driving a 2002 Argosy sitting on top of a 500 Series 60 Detroit up front at the time, Charlie was picking up a trailer at Epping Forrest to go to Devonport.
Asked about how he spends his time off, he said "I just enjoy kicking about with the family, and taking it easy".
Freight firms bank on rail reopening after WA floods
Cargo backlog grows as service remains at standstill after five days while grain logistics is in flux
Rail-reliant freight firms are on tenterhooks awaiting the reopening of the flood hit east-west rail line but the exact timing remains unclear.
Five days after the lines was cut, Pacific National, which looks after Linfox rail freight, hopes that will be tomorrow.
But Brookfield Rail, which is responsible for the Eastern Goldfields line – the Western Australia side of line that carries about 80 per cent of east-west containerised freight traffic – tells ATN this is a provisional timing in an uncertain situation.
"It’s likely to be tomorrow afternoon and we have advised customers this is an estimated opening time based on current knowledge," a spokesperson says.
"However, given we are dealing with a natural disaster and recovery efforts are heavily dependent on weather and other environmental factors this can change very quickly."
Other lines yet to reopen are the Great Southern Railway, from Narrogin to Cranbrook, and southern grain lines from Wagin to Newdegate and Lake Grace to Hyden.
Reopened are the grain lines north of Northam, the Leonora line from Kalgoorlie to Leonora and the section of the Great Southern Railway from Northam to Narrogin.
"There has been extensive damage to the rail network, including embankments, track structures, and access roads," the spokesperson explains.
"Brookfield Rail’s teams are working to assess the extent of the situation and plan for safe restoration of the railway and train operations as soon as possible.
"Where conditions have allowed site preparation activities and recovery and restoration works have commenced and operations have resumed on some lines.
"In some areas the extent of the damage to rail infrastructure is still unclear because of continued rainfall and the volume of water and as a result some sections of the freight rail network will remain closed until further notice."
A Pacific National spokesperson tells ATN its services to and from Perth halted on and hopes had been held that the line would reopen at 1pm today.
"It’s incredibly frustrating for our managers," the spokesperson says adding that they will liaise with customers and working through the backlog will take some time.
While the floods came after a record harvest, storages are full and much grain remained to be transported to port, an issue for agribusiness CBH, which looks after most of the grain logistics in the state.
"Over the last four days CBH Group has been working with Brookfield Rail and Main Roads to determine the extent of damage across our network and minimise any impacts," a CBH spokesperson tells ATN.
"One of our receival sites received significant flooding.
"With waters having now receded, we are currently working with insurers to ascertain the extent of any damage to both infrastructure and grain.
Over the next few days we will be outloading grain held on site which will help us understand how much grain may have been lost."
The grain in storage and the infrastructure is covered under insurance, so any impact of this extraordinary weather event will not be passed on to growers but the floods have been indiscriminate in damaging transport infrastructure for both modes.
"Our main concern is the impact the floods have had on both road and rail networks," the CBH spokesperson says.
"The Albany zone has endured significant rail damage which is expected to take some time to repair, although an exact timeframe is not clear at this stage.
"Similarly, Kwinana has also been impacted however we expect normal operations to resume later this week.
"The floods have caused significant damage to roads in the Esperance zone, however we have been able to operate road programs in the central and Eastern part of the zone.
"Across all zones we are making the most of the road networks we have available.
"We also have a significant stockpile of grain in storage at port which has kept the most immediate shipping programs underway.
"There may be slight delays to the next wave of shipping schedules, however we are continuing to move grain from upcountry sites via both the road and rail networks which remain available."