Prime Mover Magazine

The vital ingredient

The vital ingredient

For family-owned and operated transport company, Vitale Transport, the importance of maintaining strong relationships extends further than just family – business partnerships fall into that category, too.

Over 50 years ago, Francesco Vitale started F Vitale & Sons with  a need for trucks to transport its own manufactured plaster products around Victoria. During the 1970s and 1980s it began to also work for Linfox, Ipec, TNT and Uncle Ben’s Pet Products to name a few. In the late 1980s, F Vitale & Sons began to cart Gyprock for CSR around Victoria and this became the focus of the transport division, aiming to grow the relationship and service level to this main client. One truck led to two and over time this operation grew to several trucks and B-doubles that service CSR Gyprock to this day, both locally and interstate.

For almost 20 years, the renamed Vitale Transport division focused mainly on its undertaking with CSR Gyprock as its main client, building and maintaining the relationship based on a dedication to honest customer service.

Looking at Vitale Transport today, a lot has changed. In the last decade, the company has grown from two trucks to 35 – predominantly Kenworth prime movers – and the cargo has diversified to include a mix of freight including Gyprock, beverages, timber, general freight and building materials. The destinations have also expanded outside of Victoria to include linehaul runs to South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

Now, the third generation of the Vitale family is running the show, with Frank Vitale as Transport Manager working alongside numerous cousins across a variety of roles within the business, which is also involved in construction, plastering, and the sale and distribution of building materials from its warehouses.

One thing that hasn’t changed however, is the value of relationships. Just as his grandfather before him, Frank believes that family isn’t restricted to those related by blood, but also those related by business. “For us, it’s important to be in partnerships with other businesses,” Frank says. “We don’t believe in the old ‘you use us, we use you’ way of thinking. It’s more important to work together.”

That outlook was what helped the company expand from two trucks to 35, Frank says, as when demand for transport services grew at Gyprock, Vitale Transport increased its fleet to meet the needs of its client. As the number of Vitale Transport trucks on the road grew, the name got out and enquires kept coming in. “One company multiplied into numerous companies as word of mouth spread,” Frank says. “We got in touch with a number of businesses and started making more new relationships based on how good we are to deal with.”

As well as building relationships with his clients, Frank puts the same time in to ensure connections with his suppliers are just as strong, as he relies on them for their expert technical advice on areas outside of his expertise. As such, when a new oil specification was introduced to the industry, Frank knew he could turn to Viva Energy for help with understanding the changes and how it would affect the business.

Viva Energy had been supplying Vitale Transport with Shell oils and lubricants for some time when the new specification, CK-4, was released in December last year. Viva Energy, National Sales Manager – Transport & Industry Lubricants, Robert Cavicchiolo, approached Frank to explain the difference between the old specification and the new, and the benefits we could expect. “We aren’t chemists, and the Viva Energy team has the expertise required to explain the oil changes to us,” Frank says.

Shell was heavily involved in the development of the new CK-4 specification, which represents the most fundamental change to oil specifications in a decade (see breakout box). Shell invests heavily in research and development to take a leadership position when it comes to emerging standards, such as those set by the American Petroleum Institute (API).
CK-4 replaces CJ-4 oils, which were developed to meet the needs of typical engine categories from over a decade ago. Driven by changing emissions regulations, manufacturers have continued to develop next-generation engines with improved fuel economy that demand more from their oils than ever before.

To meet those demands, Shell’s CK-4 oil offering, Shell Rimula, boasts improved performance in three major testing areas: shear stability, which measures how the oil maintains its viscosity in use, oxidation, which is how well the oil resists breakdown over time, and aeration, which is the control of microscopic air bubbles. All together, this results in longer drain intervals for the four Kenworth prime movers trialling the oil in the Vitale Transport fleet.

“We’re running Kenworth prime movers with either Cummins ISX engines with EGR and one Caterpillar C16 engine on the trial with the CK-4 oil and we’re already seeing good results,” Frank says.

“We normally change oil at the 25,000km point, but the new oil has already clocked up 30,000km and is holding up fine, and we’ll be pushing it even further with each drain interval.”

Vitale Transport is running the Shell Rimula on numerous routes in order to test the oil’s capabilities in a variety of applications, taking trucks on either a daily linehaul changeover from South Australia up to Sydney, or between Melbourne and Albury.

“Viva Energy works really closely with us to understand the oil sample reports, so we can have more accurate expectations in terms of oil drain intervals for the different trucks on the trial,” Frank says.

“The results are different depending on the engine, what leg the truck is running and how much weight it’s carrying. Viva Energy is working hard to tighten up the numbers so we know what to expect with this oil across the different applications, and Robert works really closely with us to suggest better ways to match engines with routes and actually explain what the results mean.”
Frank says the hands-on feedback approach from Viva Energy is highly appreciated, as it helps support the relationship between the two companies. “Even before we worked with Viva, we’ve always done oil sampling at Vitale Transport,” Frank says. “With previous companies, we were supplied reports but no further support was provided to help us understand what they meant. Others didn’t take the time to care what the reports meant for our business, but Viva Energy is doing that for us.”

Since Viva Energy is just as committed to supporting its business relationship with Vitale Transport, Frank says he is happy to share the results of its trial and how the CK-4 oil is improving the transport company’s operations. “Viva Energy and Shell have good brand names and are dedicated to partnering with like-minded companies,” Frank says. “Vitale Transport continues to grow as the demands from our clients increase and relationships build, so the support from suppliers like Viva Energy is crucial.”

Fast Fact
Viva Energy is the distributor of Shell oil, lubricant and grease products in Australia, and Shell has played a leading role in the development of the new category, CK-4, which began in 2011. Shell Global OEM Technical Manager, Dan Arcy, was elected Chair of the New Category Development Team (NCDT) of the American Petroleum Institute (API), which is the industry body responsible for oil specification development in the US.

Fast Fact
Shell has conducted more than 64 million kilometres of field testing across 400 trucks in real world conditions testing the new CK-4 and FA-4 oils.  The field trials cover all the major manufacturers’ on-highway engines, with a variety of duty cycles. Shell analyses oil samples to evaluate wear and conducts engine tear downs to inspect engine components.

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