Born to run
Delivering masonry and other palletised building materials in Queensland and New South Wales, LogicHaul has recently added a quintet of UD Quon prime movers to its fleet. Early signs suggest Quon is close to being the ideal unit for this medium-distance haulage operation.
Brian ‘Spud’ Murphy, National Fleet and Logistics Manager at LogicHaul, knows more than just a thing or two about choosing the most appropriate heavy-duty truck for a given application.
He’s devoted much of his working career managing a fleet of roadtrain fuel tankers in the Northern Territory, home to some of the harshest operating environments in Australia.
Yet the best prime mover for hauling roadtrains in the Territory is a far cry from what’s ideal for carting bricks around Brisbane. Spud’s experience which is considerable, has enabled him to spec the right rig for a given task, whatever that task may entail.
He started his career 35 years ago as an apprentice diesel mechanic with Detroit Diesel at a time when the 6V71, 8V71 and 8V92 two-stroke diesels were popular choices in the heavy-duty scene.
In the mid-1980s the revolutionary Detroit Diesel Series 60 four-stroke engine – the first heavy-duty diesel to incorporate electronic engine management – made its debut.
For Spud it helped add another dimension to his mechanical expertise.
“Since then I’ve been involved in the trucking industry in various roles, most recently as Fleet Manager for fuel haulage company DirectHaul in the Northern Territory, a position I held for 11 years,” he says.
Some three years ago Spud made a significant ‘sea change’, moving from Darwin where he was born and raised to Brisbane where he became part of the LogicHaul management team based at Yatala on Brisbane’s south side that delivers palletised construction products including bricks, blocks, pavers, pylons, sleepers and sand, primarily throughout Queensland and New South Wales.
In his current role, Spud is charged with the task of keeping the fleet working as efficiently as possible and introducing the most reliable and fit-for-purpose prime movers to progressively replace the older units.
The prime movers bought by the company’s previous owner are a mix of Volvo FM and FH, Mack Super-Liner and Kenworth T359 and T401.
After doing his homework and due diligence, Spud reckoned the majority of LogicHaul’s local work would be capably handled by the latest and largest version of UD’s Quon, produced by the Japanese arm of the global Volvo Group.
As a result, the fleet of 37 prime movers now includes five Quon GW 26 460 6x4 units. The two most recently delivered arrived in June.
“UD is a truck that’s always been on my radar,” Spud says.
“The Japanese are very quality-focused and meticulous in the way they do things. When I was at DirectHaul we had 60 light vehicles and they were predominantly Toyotas. We had a number of brands of light vehicles over the years, but the Toyota vehicles proved their longevity in the harsh Territory environment.”
In terms of the UD product, Spud says he has been particularly impressed by the company’s willingness to listen to his suggestions on how the trucks can be further improved to suit specific Australian operating conditions and customer needs.
He recalls an occasion when he was with some senior UD representatives in Japan and their eagerness to hear his input.
“I was at the test track with a couple of the Senior Engineers and the Vice President showing them a few things about the truck that could be changed, and the VP was straight on the phone relating what I’d said to others in the company. There is no mucking around, they are very receptive to what can be improved and proactive in making it happen,” he says.
“Over my career I’ve attended plenty of drive days with the various manufacturers and often the senior management people and engineers will be there for the opening function then you look around and they’ve mysteriously disappeared. But these guys at UD, they were right there at the coalface – looking, touching and feeling and genuinely wanting to know what I thought about the truck and how it could be improved. That really stood out to me.”
According to Spud, UD has taken up the challenge of developing its products for the Australian market and understands that whatever stands up well in the local environment will work anywhere else in the world.
“We definitely have a great testing ground for vehicles in this country,” he says.
The marriage of UD with parent company Volvo has, in Spud’s view, been the making of the marque.
But he also believes that only relevant technology has been added, which means the highly desirable core UD strengths of relative simplicity combined with ultimate dependability have been maintained.
“The meticulous, solid and reliable way the Japanese build machinery coupled with the technology from the Volvo Group is a match made in Heaven, I reckon,” Spud says.
“For our application it’s the complete package – a cool, cost-effective and robust truck. They’re a no-frills workhorse that are built to do a specific task and that’s what appealed to us and led us to choose these trucks as an ideal replacement for some of our older units.”
With room around the engine, for one example, to enable the replacement of components like the compressor, UD commercial vehicles give the appearance that they have been designed by people who work on trucks themselves.
The other advantages of the UD trucks, according to Spud, are sundry.
“I don’t mind at all that the driveline and kingpins are greasable rather than sealed for life because when you are regularly under the truck greasing these items you are invariably checking out the whole undercarriage and as a result you’re more likely to pick up any irregularities that might indicate a component is on the way out,” he says.
“It’s also brilliant from a driver pre-start check aspect, with the power steering oil and coolant levels able to be visually checked externally at the left-hand rear of the cab along with the front-mounted engine oil dipstick.”
In addition, Spud is fully impressed with the technology that has found its way into the UDs due to the Volvo Group family connection, specifically the engine, transmission and disc brakes on all axles.
There are only two aspects of the current UD GW 26 460 that Spud would like to see ameliorated to better suit the LogicHaul operation which runs semi-trailers and 19-metre B-doubles.
The current shortest wheelbase available is 3,300mm, a figure Spud would ideally like to see reduced to a neat 3,000mm.
“It would be nice to have 500hp and a shorter wheelbase for the B-double prime movers to give us a bit more weight on the steer axle,” he explains.
The loaded steer axle weight of the current Quons in B-double trim is just 4.6 tonnes.
As for mechanical specifications, the Logichaul GW 26 460 units feature an 11-litre six-cylinder with bore and stroke dimensions of 123mm x 152mm.
Maximum power is 460hp (338kW) at 1,800rpm and peak torque is 2,200Nm (1623lbft) at 1,200rpm.
Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) is employed to ensure emissions compliance exceeding Euro 6 regulations.
The units have combined engine and exhaust (EEB) auxiliary braking and respective gross vehicle (GVM) and gross combination (GCM) ratings of 26,000 and 60,000kg.
The automated manual transmission (AMT) has 12 forward and two reverse gears with 12 being an overdriven ratio of 0.78:1.
The AMT has a power take-off (PTO) torque capacity of 500Nm.
At the rear resides a 21,000kg-rated tandem drive assembly which sports eight-bag electronically controlled air suspension and a final drive ratio of 4.13:1.
The steer axle suspension comprises parabolic leaf springs with rubber cushions.
The 3,300mm wheelbase version boasts a compact kerb-to-kerb turning circle of 12.8 metres.
Braking is by way of electronically controlled (EBS) disc brakes featuring 430mm rotors on each axle.
Standard fuel capacity is 400 litres in an aluminium tank located on the left-hand chassis rail, with the option of a 200-litre auxiliary tank on the right.
Standard active safety features include ‘Traffic Eye’ which can sense a stationary object and trigger autonomous emergency braking.
There’s also adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and stability control while a Driver Alert System is optional.
Passive safety features include a highly rigid cab structure with ECE-R29 compliance, side impact beams, front under-run protection (FUPS) and airbags.
The instrument display features the curiously-named ‘Nenpi Coach’ which analyses the driving style over a specified period and subsequently suggests ways to improve fuel economy.
Ultimately, it’s a solid package that according to Spud Murphy is close to ideal for the likes of LogicHaul.