Delivering the goods
National carrier Direct Freight Express runs multiple combinations and commercial vehicle applications across its fleet. In order to satisfy its growing metro operations, the company, as it seeks cost-effective solutions with operational efficiencies, has taken delivery of several IVECO Stralis 4x2 low roof AT models.
Trucks that make compelling cases for ease of operation and low maintenance in urban delivery applications are half way themselves to delivering the goods for logistics and transport companies like Direct Freight Express, for which that very role is often the sole, unwavering focus.
Having celebrated 25 years in business last year, Direct Freight Express has been riding an arc of growth since it first opened its doors for business out of a hangar in Mascot, NSW, back in 1993. With that growth curve has come expansion.
The company runs 48 depots nationwide having added another five in the last 18 months.
As it specialises as an express carrier with over 1000 units of commercial vehicles and trailing equipment in operation, Direct Freight Express is an early adopter of the latest technology with single, B-double and B-triples dispatched across the country multiple times a day.
The company is also committed to Performance-Based Standards, more recently debuting a new 42 metre long B-triple approved for Level 3 access developed specifically for the transit lane between Perth and Adelaide, where nominal vehicle length on the route is 36 metres.
For single trailer application in densely populated metro areas Direct Freight Express has recently taken delivery of ten new IVECO Stralis 4x2s, bringing its total of these units in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to 15.
National Operations Manager Jason Elliott, who has been with the company since 1998, says cost savings and fuel usage are paramount considerations for finding commercial vehicles suitable for mid distance deliveries of palletised product.
“It goes without saying emissions controls and fuel savings are a high priority for any segment of a working business like ours,” he says. “The IVECOs are already set up with the EBS and airbags and air suspension seats. As an around town truck, for the money asked, I think they make your dollar go further.”
Running costs on a national operation like Jason’s means he is always mindful of striking a balance between outlay, innovation and upkeep, without sacrificing quality. Not unlike its customers, Direct Freight Express is both driven by service and price. This is reflected in its investments in new equipment.
“When you have a lot of trucks in your fleet you’ve got to try and find what keeps your pricing right and that gives you all the features that you’re after,” he says. “From a local prime mover point of view I think the IVECO embodies what is now essential on a modern prime mover.”
Moving palletised goods under 45 tonnes intrastate requires steady operation and a punchy engine. The IVECO Stralis offers a torquey Series II Cursor 13 engine producing 460hp, and 4-bag ECAS (Electronically Controlled Air Suspension), itself another non-negotiable prior to purchase – given the requirement. ZF provides the 12-speed Eurotronic Automated Manual Transmission.
As the Stralis 4x2 with low cab has been entirely tasked with local deliveries in urban centres, strong visibility and agile, responsive movement on a short wheelbase are areas, to name but two, in which it excels according to Jason.
“The turning circle is very good as you would expect it to be,” he says. “The drivers like them. They’re very comfortable. They’ve got plenty of the bells and whistles that you mightn’t get in a lot of the other lower priced prime movers in the market.”
Prior to the introduction of the new IVECOs, Direct Freight Express, according to Jason, was relying on a different European brand for the same application.
He defers to European trucks on a single trailer in single drive capped at 44 tonne loads in large part because of the advanced safety features they offer which he says makes the prime movers a more compelling package in the low cab category.
Jason who runs all terminal, linehaul and workshop operations from head office in Warwick Farm, has been working in the transport industry since he was 18.
He was, previous to this, the Sydney Operations Manager at Direct Freight Express. The company, which is still family-owned has grown its regional distribution network in recent times through a service commitment to customers, which remains one of its core values.
Compliance in more recent times has become the industry trend foremost in mind for transport operations managers given the multi-faceted and comprehensive implications it holds for transport companies when it comes to safety and OH&S says Jason.
“There’s obviously many sides to it and in making sure vehicles are safe for operators to use with good access up and down off the prime movers and how and when you load your freight,” he says. “I think the IVECO is a good safe vehicle that offers the drivers what they need and offers a performance in keeping with the service we provide.”
Caveat: Direct Freight Express handles up to 90,000 freight packages daily.
Northeast Dealers in Adelaide recommended the vehicle knowing Jason had stipulated he wanted an affordable prime mover that didn’t overkill the requirement which was limited to express deliveries.
IVECO, he says, has since stepped in to fill that major role in his operations.
“They do the job that any gamut of prime movers can do but they do it at a better price point,” he says. “So far I’ve had very good reliability from them and the Stralis is easy to maintain.”
Not currently manufactured locally, its only failing, according to Jason is the availability.
He wants to able to purchase a dozen at a time off the lot having, so far, picked up units here and there where he can find them.
“As IVECO get more popular over here that will no doubt change. They’ll start carrying more stock in Australia,” he says. “For me when you compare it to the other options I think you get a lot more bang for your buck.”