For a number of years the 6x2 body truck has been the standard horse for many local pickup and delivery (PUD) roles. However, there are inherent drawbacks and for Glen Cameron Group, the solution has been to recruit Scania 8x2 units for specific applications.
Both 6x2 and 8x2 configured trucks have two rear axles, one driven and one lazy, while the 8x2 has the benefit of an extra steer axle which allows 11 tonnes to be carried by the twin steer axle group provided load-sharing suspension (such as that used on the 8x2 Scania) is fitted. Non load-sharing front suspension twin-steers are limited to 10 tonnes, while single steer trucks are limited to 6.5 tonnes on the steer axle.
The main issue for responsible operators with 6x2 body trucks is keeping the steer axle weight legal at all times. This can prove quite a challenge in multi-drop and pickup applications where the truck is either leaving fully loaded from the depot and being unloaded incrementally at a number of locations, or conversely, being loaded from empty with heavy pallets from different locations in a multiple pickup operation.
The problem arises when heavy pallets (weighing between 750-1,000kg) are located at the front of the body with no weight behind the rear axles to counterbalance the load. This inevitably throws too much weight onto the steer axle, causing it to exceed the 6.5 tonne limit.
Ever mindful of its obligations to run legally and safely at all times, Glen Cameron Group turned to Scania for a solution to this issue.
The company has a rigid truck fleet numbering around 200, with the majority of these having 6x2 axle configurations and either 12 or 14 pallet bodies.
According to Glen Cameron Group’s Asset Manager, Shane Coates, for most applications this configuration is ideal. But there are some jobs where a different approach is needed.
“For most of our applications the 6x2 configuration is fine but there are a number of instances where it doesn’t suit,” said Coates.
“The first is when you want to carry a lot more payload than 12 tonnes and the second is where you have multi-drop/ multi-pickup runs where the truck will be travelling with a number of heavy pallets in the front half of the body during its operation cycle.
“Thirdly, with temperature controlled applications such as our Cadbury Mondelez contract where the 500kg weight of the refrigeration unit mounted on the front of the body bears directly on the front axles of the 8x2 trucks.”
Coates said the Scania currently holds unique position as the only truck manufacturer to offer its products in the 8x2 configuration. He added that typically an 8x4 with tandem drive axles is used for applications like concrete agitators and waste collection vehicles where operating in offroad situations requires the additional traction afforded by the bogie drive configuration.
“Most of our trucks are in and out of distribution centres where the lazy axle configuration works fine, which means we gain the benefits of a lower initial purchase cost, lower tare weight and lower fuel consumption compared to 6x4 and 8x4 units,” said Coates – adding that the issue of diminishing loads during the day was what prompted the company to first consider the Scania 8x2 several years ago. “With the 8x2, we can have a fully loaded truck where we can pull six pallets off the back and still be legal on the steer. This is usually not possible with a 6x2 truck.”
Coates said that while the 8x2 carries a significant price premium over an equivalent 6x2 unit, the company considers it a necessary investment to ensure compliant operations across the fleet.
“It was a big investment, but for us this was imperative to ensure compliance with our diminishing load rigid truck operations typified by our Cadbury Mondelez contract,” he said.
While Coates is content with the 6x2 and 8x2 configured rigid trucks, he is 'less than enamoured' with 6x2 prime movers. Having trialled and evaluated some 6x2 prime movers side-by-side with 6x4 units, Coates came to the conclusion that any benefits the 6x2 prime movers offered were outweighed by the negatives.
“We trialled a few 6x2 prime movers but the driver feedback wasn’t positive, particularly in terms of traction issues on wet roads and over gutters and the like,” said Coates.
“We also didn’t find a measurable difference in fuel economy of the 6x2 prime movers compared to equivalent 6x4 units," he said.
Perhaps the biggest drawback though, according to Coates, was the considerably lower resale value of 6x2 units over 6x4 prime movers.
“They were a bit cheaper to buy but we found that they negatively impacted our exit position because they weren’t very popular in the second-hand marketplace,” said Coates. “The residual value at the end of ownership is an important consideration for us and in this respect we found that the 6x2 prime mover just didn’t stack up.”
Overall, Coates said the benefits of the lazy axle concept are clearly demonstrated in 6x2 and 8x2 rigid applications, which is why Glen Cameron Group chooses these configurations for the majority of its distribution centre PUD operations.