Wine and fruit cartage company, KEWGS, has added to its fleet of Mercedes-Benz 500 horsepower vehicles in time for the coming grape harvest in Mildura where it is based.
Director Kevin Englefield took delivery of two new Actros models as he replaces the older conventional trucks in an effort to pursue uptime efficiencies and reductions in increasing maintenance costs.
Englefield was resolute in his stance of avoiding new truck purchases until he returned after a long overdue holiday to an enormous parts bill.
“Our business had grown at such a rate that we could not justify repairs and maintenance costs for older trucks,” he said.
That moment proved defining as he has since introduced 11 Mercedes-Benz Actros units, each with a 16-litre engine that provides improved fuel economy to the tune of 300 metres further per litre than it did in the older vehicles.
“We did some rough stats that we should save $18,000 per unit each year. Couple that with the long 80,000km service intervals and its goes a long way to pay for the truck in savings,” said Englefield.
The family business, which transports grapes, oranges, mandarins, lemons, avocados, grain and fertiliser also employs Kevin's wife Lyn, sons Daniel and Adam and son-in-law Simon.
The grape harvest has started in earnest and will last until April with the KEWGs working at night to avoid peak summer heat which is also good for the grapes.
Four Gregoire grape harvesters are in operation and feed 1500 wine bins.
The KEWGS fleet, assisted by over 40 sub-contractors, delivers grapes to wineries in the Riverina, Barossa Valley, the Coonawarra, Griffith and Geelong.
While carting hay in one of the new Actros 2658s, Englefield experienced first hand the difference in comfort level between the old trucks and the new including advanced safety features such as Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Attention Assist and Proximity Control Assist adaptive cruise control, enhanced even further by the additional comforts of an automated transmission (AMT).
“When I got in the Benz, I thought 'bloody hell,' my rotator cuffs stopped hurting and my eyes stopped wobbling around in my head,” he said.
Performance-Based Standards (PBS) has come a long way since it was first introduced by the National Transport Commission (NTC) in 2007. Over a decade later, a growing number of fleets are realising the advantages of innovative, optimised engineering and how that directly impacts the profitability of a business. The number of registered vehicles, to date, is steadily on the rise year-on-year.