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The owner of Gold Coast based Metro Skips, Troy Hayes, is over the moon with his new UD Croner PK 18 280, describing it as 20 per cent better than his previous series UD PK – with which he was more than happy.

Troy Hayes prefers not to consider his operation as part of the waste industry.

He refers to the skip bins he transports to and from a select group of clients, who highly value his top-shelf service, as freight – no different to any other goods carried on the backs of trucks.

As such, his trucks reflect the high standards he and his employees maintain, and which make his operation a compelling choice for customers in the skip bin transportation sphere.

Demanding the best in every aspect of his business provided the impetus in which to standardise on UD trucks, and he’s happy to convey his view that the new Croner has raised the bar by a considerable margin compared with the previous PK.

When asked what he likes about the new truck Troy quips, “Where do I start?”, such is its proven suitability to his operations.

“First and foremost, the impressive torque output of the engine makes life so much easier for this type of work,” he says.

“Around town, either loaded or unloaded, it performs like a go-cart and the Allison automatic transmission is perfectly set up to take full advantage of the torque that is delivered consistently from 1,100 to 1,750rpm.”

The six-cylinder GH8E (8.0-litre) engine has respective bore and stroke dimensions of 110mm and 135mm and a compression ratio of 17.5:1.

For a medium-duty truck application it produces outstanding peak power and torque figures of 280hp (206kW) at 2,200rpm and 1,050Nm (774lbft) between 1,100 and 1,750rpm.

The Allison automatic is a 3000 Series six-speed with Gen 5 adaptive shift and push-button selector mounted to the left of the driver’s seat. It has ratios ranging from a 3.49:1 first to an overdrive sixth of 0.65:1. Power take-off (PTO) capacity is 660Nm using either left or right-side openings, and 930Nm if both openings are utilised.

So impressed is Troy with the Allison automatic, he swears he would never again contemplate buying a manual shift truck for this line of work.

“Even if I could have it for free, I would never ever touch a manual truck again for this sort of work,” he says, emphatically.

He is similarly adamant that he would not have another truck with mechanical (leaf sprung) rear suspension, with his reasoning not limited to the superior ride comfort that airbag rear suspension provides, particularly when running empty.

“Part of the philosophy of the way I run this business is that I only work for people who value the high standards I and my drivers strictly adhere to during the course of our day-to-day operations,” he says. “A good proportion of my clients are builders of high-end houses and the last thing they need are ugly scratches on their brand-new driveway caused by the truck delivering the skip bin.”

The adjustability of the Croner’s Electronic Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS4) – which features a programmable remote-control handpiece mounted in the cab – is put to use with nearly every pickup and delivery he makes.

Troy says adjusting the height of the airbags is critically important when loading a heavy skip bin onto the truck, particularly when it is parked on a hard surface such as a concrete driveway.

UD Croner PK 18 280.

“It’s important that the rear stabiliser legs don’t take too much of the weight as the bin is lifted because damage to the driveway can easily occur,” he explains.

“With the airbag remote in my hand while I’m operating the skip lift I can modulate the airbag pressure to raise the rear of the vehicle and compensate for the increased weight. With a spring rear-suspension the stabilisers bear the weight during loading which can lead to scratching and even cracks in new driveways – which my customers would not tolerate.”

Troy cites other important benefits of the ECAS4 system such as being able to lower the rear end to clear overhanging branches, house eaves or power lines. And being immensely proud of the appearance of his trucks, a missing mudflap is akin to anathema to Troy.

“Sometimes I need to back up over a square kerb or drain so I always raise the rear end to ensure the mudflaps clear it,” he says – adding that it also enables him to negotiate steep driveways or dips without scraping the rear of the truck.

“Other big pluses,” Troy continues, “are the tight turning circle and short wheelbase, both of which are vital characteristics for the type of work we do which often involves negotiating sites on narrow city laneways with tight access driveways.”

Driving a truck for up to 12 hours per day in mostly metropolitan locations can take a huge toll on a driver, but according to Troy, the comfortable and quiet cab interior with air-suspended seat, along with the smooth self-shifting Allison automatic, combine to make his long days entirely bearable.

“The comfort is as good as a car whether empty or loaded. In fact, personally I’d rather drive the Croner than my own car – it really is that good. You can do a big day and get out at the end and feel like you haven’t done a big day.”

Further to this, as the owner of the business Troy is always communicating with customers, so he values the voice to text and hands-free phone hookup which is part of the multimedia unit featuring a 6.1” touchscreen, CD/DVD player, truck-specific satellite navigation and, of course, various types of radio including digital and internet, with the latter requiring smartphone data. It also includes a USB port, auxiliary port, micro SD slot, phone tethering, Bluetooth, PDF reader and is Wi-Fi enabled.

“The way I see it, this new Croner represents a 20 per cent improvement over the earlier UDs we own and we couldn’t fault them,” Troy says. “Everything they’ve added to the Croner has only been beneficial.”

With durability and longevity a critical factor with this type of work, Troy is confident the new Croner will go the distance and believes that in his operation it has the potential to endure a one-million kilometre lifespan.

His conviction derives in large part from the exceptional run he’s had with the other three UD PKs he owns, each of which also features an Allison automatic.

“Our oldest UD has just clocked 500,000km and is still on its original brake linings,” he says. “It also recently went to Heavy Automatics (South East Queensland Allison distributor) for its first transmission service and they told me everything was still like new.”

Looking to the future, Troy has plans to capitalise on the strengths of the Croner including the prodigious torque output and generous Gross Vehicle and Gross Combination Masses of 17,500kg and 32,000kg respectively in order to increase productivity and efficiency in the business.

The Electronic Controlled Air Suspension features a programmable remote control handpiece mounted in the cab.

At present Troy is planning to buy a pig trailer so that he can transport two skips at once.

“In this business it’s all about supply and demand. On any one day I might have the first job on the Gold Coast, the second on Brisbane’s north side and the third out at Ipswich.
Logistically, having the option to carry an extra skip to save doing another trip would add significantly to the flexibility and efficiency of the business,” he says.

“The way I see it, and I impress this on my drivers, is that we are a logistics company and the skip bins are the freight. Therefore, it’s all about moving them around in the safest and most time-efficient manner possible. If we can get one extra job done per day that makes a huge difference at the end of the week.”

The fleet of UD trucks including the new Croner play a critical role in helping Troy maintain the consistently high standard of service he offers to his customers.

With his drivers playing their part in keeping the trucks well maintained and in tip top condition he sees the vehicles as the assets that enable the business to expand and meet the increasing needs of long-term, existing and new customers.

In Troy’s eyes, the new Croner exemplifies the commitment of UD Trucks and the Volvo Group to continual improvement of their products in a bid to provide the best solution for customers’ needs.

In a nutshell, Troy believes the Croner’s many standout features including ample torque, strength of build, technological advancement, comfort and convenience, fuel efficiency and ease of driving all combine to provide the ideal truck for his business.

“All in all, it loves a heavy load and in my opinion it’s a perfect truck for this industry,” he says.