A long-term association with MAN has been the key to success for Steve McFadden and Damien van Twest
Being in the right place at the right time is the basis for the foundation of DDS Transport Solutions, a Brisbane-based transport company focusing on time-sensitive refrigerated freight deliveries.
The fleet comprises six MAN TGM 6×4 prime movers, four being powered by the 540 hp Euro 5 engine, and the two latest models featuring the 560 hp Euro 6 engine. What makes this fleet of particular interest is its policy of replacing and upgrading its vehicles at 300,000 km and three-year intervals, with 12 months and an average of 700,000 km warranty protection still in place at the time of their replacement.
As Steve McFadden explained to PowerTorque, “We deliver perishable goods from the Brisbane markets to distribution centres across the city. We have a variety of customers and we offer our service on a 24/7 basis every day of the year except for Christmas Day and Good Friday.
“The issue with us is the timeframe we have each day, with everything we do being time sensitive,” he added.
Both Steve McFadden and Damien van Twest are convinced that the success of DDS Transport Solutions has been through its ability to always deliver on time, with high quality vehicles and equipment underpinning the performance of their drivers.
“It’s all the result of our service and reliability,” said Steve. “We run a small company and we could buy older used vehicles, but these can come with high maintenance bills and the risk of the truck being off the road for repairs.
“Our customers demand complete reliability, and we get that from buying brand-new trucks, running them for 300,000 km and then replacing them. In the 12 years we have been in business we have only experienced one on-road breakdown, which related to a turbocharger, and that truck was repaired and back on the road within 24-hours. If something were to go wrong we still have the support of the Penske Truck Rental division attached to the local dealership as a back up.
“Our business model works because we have no major expenditure other than tyres, and no major component issues. We sell the truck for a high residual value, we then move straight into a new truck with a new warranty of four years and one million kilometres.
“We were the first operator in Australia to take delivery of the MAN TGX D38 at 560 hp, and with two now on the fleet we will be replacing the earlier 540 models as they reach three years old,” said Steve.
Each of the prime movers and trailers are identical, with 49 ft Maxi-Cube fridge pans fitted with Carrier Vector 8500 fridge units. Except for the badging that identifies the new 560 models, the immaculate condition of the fleet makes it impossible to tell the latest models from those approaching replacement.
As Callie Le Roux, sales executive for MAN Trucks at Penske Power Systems, Brisbane, explained to PowerTorque – from a mechanical perspective the major change between the 540 and the 560 hp versions of the MAN TGX D38 is the move from Euro 5 to Euro 6.
“The engine is a 15.2-litre, Euro-6-compliant, turbocharged and intercooled, in-line six-cylinder with 412 kW of power and 2700 Nm of torque. The latest 560 versions have the MAN TipMatic TX12 28 overdrive 12-speed automated manual transmission with the six-stage intarder that provides 3500 Nm of brake torque,” said Callie.
“We include features such as Emergency Brake Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, ESP stability programme and ASR traction control plus Lane Departure Warning, and I just love the technology, it’s brilliant,” said Damien van Twest.
“We extend the technology right through our prime mover and trailer combinations with disc brakes throughout, plus EBS and roll-stability. We were running disc brakes and EBS long before it was compulsory. If there is a safety advantage out there for the driver we will run it,” said Damien.
“You get full torque from 920 rpm. Because of the 15-litre, and size of the load, the 560 is not working as hard as the 540 and is showing itself to be trouble-free.
“There has been a difference in fuel use with the move to Euro 6, and it’s all positive. By comparing downloaded data, generally what we have found with the 560 has 10-15 percent better fuel numbers.
“As a single-trailer combination fuel economy has improved from 2.2 km/l with the 540 hp MAN at Euro 5 to 2.5 km/l with the 560 MAN at Euro 6,” added Damien.
“Through our 12-year history it’s taken us a number of years to get a good crew of drivers,” said Steve.
“There is no reason these days why a female driver can’t do the majority of tasks as well as a male. As an employer we are ambivalent towards the typical stereotypes to employ either gender, and consequently we have male and female drivers. We want people that do the job. Those that come looking for a job want to make a positive change for themselves.
“We don’t judge them on their previous history, we judge them on what they do for us. Turn up for work, prompt and attentive, that’s what we are looking for. The condition of the truck is an obvious indication of the quality of driver that we have working with us.
“In the daily ten-hour period, each truck may be backing onto 40 different loading docks. This is particularly demanding on tyre life, and we find that, because of the constant manoeuvring to position on the loading docks, tyre wear is one of our major costs per kilometre.
“Our preference is to run with Pirelli FH65s Energy steer tyres and GT Radials on the drive, with these giving the best value for money and cents/kilometre return. Our tyre maintenance programme is handled by Tyreright of Yatala, Qld,” Steve added.
The reason for starting DDS Transport Solutions 12 years ago is in itself interesting, as the fleet basically came into being as the result of Steve McFadden’s passion for motorsport. Having been a keen competitor in V8 ute racing, he is currently campaigning a Porsche GT 3 in the National Series.
“Before we got into trucking I sponsored Damien’s brother, Justin, when he was racing Holden HQs and we were neighbours,” said Steve.
“We set about sponsoring more, if Justin moved to a national championship and then went V8 racing. Out of that we bought a car and franchise, then we bought a second franchise, and when that happened we needed to buy a race transporter, which we purchased from an owner in Young, NSW.
“Having bought a race car transporter we needed a truck to pull it, and that led us to buying our first MAN, which was a 530 hp prime mover. Damien was working in the markets at that stage and was looking for additional work. He took the MAN for a drive and liked it.
“So, we actually bought our first MAN just to pull a race transporter, and, while it’s nice to have toys, we decided to build up work for that truck when we were not heading to a race meeting.
“Damien continued to find more work for the MAN and was so successful that we found the truck was not always available to pull the race car transporter to race meetings. Solving that problem meant buying another MAN, and with Damien building up work in refrigerated transport we sold the original race car transporter to buy a new one, which inadvertently then came with a truck.
“By then we had a race car transporter and two trucks, but with the expansion of our business we also started getting requests from other race car owners to transport their cars to different race meetings. Because we work hard to provide the best service possible, people were coming to us to do more work, and so we bought more trucks and equipment.
“People like to do business with other people they know and trust, and thanks to my involvement in motorsport we were getting more enquiries to transport race cars as well as prestige or classic cars.
“Our current race car transporter can carry six vehicles, and we are soon to take delivery of a new A-trailer manufactured by Graham Lusty Trailers to increase our capacity to a B-double car carrier. That enables us to cope with the additional work of transporting cars for the Supercar teams, the Carrera Cup, Australian GT and Development Series.
“What started as a hobby led to us buying a truck, which led us to starting the refrigerated freight transport, resulting in our having two distinctly different businesses.
“Having identical prime movers remains a major benefit because of the flexibility to move a particular prime mover between different operations. Because the typical runs the transporter covers are over longer distances, it means the fuel consumption differences are even more impressive. When hauling the transporter as a single trailer the MAN 560 is returning fuel economy of 2.6 km/l, or as a B-double at 2.4 km/l with gross weights reaching 52 tonnes,” concluded Steve.