Peats Ridge fruit farming operation, Sparacino & Sons, has taken delivery of a spanking new MAN TGX 26.580 XLX Performance Line prime mover.
The unit will pull a curtainsided B-double used to carry produce between the company’s farms at Peats Ridge on the Central Coast and Leeton in the Riverina, and also to the Sydney produce markets.
Comparing the new MAN with the 14-year-old cab-over prime mover it replaced, Sparacino & Sons General Manager, Joe Sparacino, who is the truck’s regular driver, agreed the difference is akin to chalk and cheese.
He cited comfort for the driver, quietness in operation and exceptional fuel efficiency as key advantages of the new MAN.
“I got tired of having a sore back, sore knees and sore shoulders – and too much noise,” said Sparacino of his decision to purchase the MAN.
When Prime Mover spoke with Sparacino he had just returned from his first trip to Leeton, with the combination loaded with citrus and grossing 64.5 tonnes.
“It took me seven hours to do the trip from Leeton to home (Peats Ridge) which is exactly the same time as it took with the old prime mover at the same gross weight,” he said.
“However, the big differences were that the MAN used $200 less fuel and when I arrived home I got out feeling like I’d been sitting in a lounge chair all afternoon.”
Sparacino said he looked at buying another brand of cab-over that would have cost him $85,000 more for a similar spec to the MAN, and he simply couldn’t justify the extra expense.
While he acknowledged the other brand would have a better resale value, he reasoned that the aforementioned benefits of the MAN outweighed this advantage.
“I worked out that over five years we would save about $40,000 in fuel, so that’s $125,000 ahead, and I’ve also got five years free maintenance with the MAN which is probably worth about $20,000 over that period.”
Sparacino said forward visibility in the MAN is exceptional although he mentioned that the large mirror housings that sit adjacent to the A-pillars create an annoying blind spot on both sides when approaching roundabouts.
“On the flip side though, the large mirrors are a big help when reversing a B-double in tight places at night, which is what I often have to do at our various farms and at the markets,” said Sparacino.
He also appreciates the standard safety systems including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking, all of which, he contends, help to reduce driver fatigue.
“You don’t realise how much easier these features make the job until you try it,” he said.
“Being able to set the adaptive cruise and just cruise along the highway without having to watch your speed all the time and brake for slower vehicles definitely reduces your fatigue.”
Sparacino & Sons is a family owned and run operation that was founded by Joe’s parents in 1973. Today it is run by Joe and his brother Alf, with Alf’s sons also working in the business.
Avocados and lemons are grown on the Peats Ridge farms while at Leeton the company grows oranges and mandarins.
The company grades and packs all the fruit at its Peats Ridge facility, with a lot being sent this year to Melbourne for export to Korea and India.
The remainder is sold through the Sydney markets where the company has a stand, and also at Paddy’s Markets on Saturday mornings.
The new MAN will be kept busy doing two to three Leeton trips and three Sydney market trips per week.