Kenworth’s 50,000th Australian-made truck rolls off production line

Kenworth has delivered its 50,000th Australian-designed and manufactured truck at its Bayswater plant in Melbourne.

Managing Director of PACCAR Australia, Mike Dozier, handed the keys of a K200 prime mover to long-standing Kenworth customer Peter Rodney, Managing Director of Rodney’s Transport Service, the largest privately-owned trucking company in the Riverina.

Mr Dozier said Kenworth’s achievement in manufacturing 50,000 trucks was a major milestone, not only for the company but for Australian manufacturing. Kenworth has designed and manufactured uniquely Australian trucks since 1971, and it has been the number one heavy-duty truck supplier since 2001. Kenworth trucks are the mainstay of Australian transport businesses of all sizes, from large fleets to single owner-operators. Its trucks are also exported to New Zealand, Japan, Thailand and Papua New Guinea.

“The heavy-duty truck market in Australia is one of the most competitive in the world,” Mr Dozier stated.

Mike Dozier (left), Managing Director, PACCAR Australia, presents the keys of the 50,000th Australian Built Kenworth to Peter Rodney (centre), Managing Director of Rodney’s Transport Service (RTS), and his wife – Shanelle (right), at the Kenworth Australia factory in Bayswater.
Mike Dozier (left), Managing Director, PACCAR Australia, presents the keys of the 50,000th Australian Built Kenworth to Peter Rodney (centre), Managing Director of Rodney’s Transport Service (RTS), and his wife – Shanelle (right), at the Kenworth Australia factory in Bayswater.

“In an industry with no tariff protection, no government financial assistance and a high Australian dollar, Kenworth successfully maintains its status as the market leader against dozens of imported brands from the US, Europe and Asia. We continue to successfully deliver high value-added manufacturing – that is, world-class trucks which provide distinct business advantages,” he said.

Mr Dozier said Australia had a diverse range of operating environments unlike anywhere else in the world. Trucks must deal with extreme heat in remote, dusty mines and across deserts. Others must haul loads that are two or three times heavier than overseas, and on rough and unmade roads. Often trucks are required to perform an inordinate amount of hours, some as much as 24 hours a day.

“It’s crucial that this country has a local manufacturer which understands these challenges. Kenworth is the only manufacturer offering full design capability, technical expertise and resources to application-engineered trucks for the most extreme on and off-road operations,” Mr Dozier explained.

“Our trucks are designed to satisfy these unique needs. They feature higher cooling capacities to handle heavier weights and hotter conditions, more robust construction to manage the roughest roads, and embody a design philosophy that ensures cost-effective maintenance and reliability. And, before model’s are introduced, test vehicles undergo millions of kilometres of road testing in Australia’s harshest conditions to ensure they meet Kenworth’s standards,” he added.

Mr Dozier said Kenworth’s 42 years of local manufacturing has a significant ripple effect that has benefited many Australian industries.

The company employs more than 800 staff in Melbourne, the majority of whom are directly or indirectly involved in the manufacturing operations. It also supports the industry’s best nationwide network of PACCAR dealers who employ about 3000 people throughout Australia. In addition, the company supports a variety of local suppliers who provide the majority of the parts and materials which make a Kenworth.

As part of its manufacturing commitment, Kenworth has made a substantial investment in design engineering. This enables it to purpose-build trucks with extremely short lead times – a feat imported trucks cannot match.

The company has also made a long-term investment in training. As a Registered Training Organisation, PACCAR Australia delivers qualifications and numerous other certifications in partnership with external firms. It has been recognised for its training efforts, being named Victorian Employer of the Year for 2012 and 2007, and winning the Federal Government’s 2007 Industry Training Award for Manufacturing.

“We are committed to maintaining a highly-skilled workforce – our people play a crucial role in our continued success,” Mr Dozier said. “Local manufacturing remains the driving force behind our business, and we’re in it for the long haul. We are continually reinvesting in expanding our operations, continually refining our techniques and introducing new technologies. Most importantly, we listen to our customers and we meet their needs.”

Rodney’s Transport Services takes possession of 50,000th Kenworth

Mr Dozier said it was fitting that Kenworth’s milestone truck was built for Rodney’s Transport Service.

“Rodney’s Transport Service (RTS) is one of our long term customers and contributes valuable feedback based on extensive operational experience,” Mr Dozier said.

“We have had honest and open communication with Peter Rodney since day one. His feedback has helped make our products better and, consequently, his business more competitive. It’s been a win-win for both parties, and it’s the epitome of how we conduct business with all of our customers,” he said.

“Peter is an industry innovator. His company has a good spread of transport applications, and it continues to be successful by diversifying its business which is built on Kenworth trucks. RTS is most deserving of our 50,000th Kenworth.”

“It’s gratifying to receive this milestone vehicle,” Peter Rodney said at the official hand-over. “We have been working with PACCAR for so many years; it’s like being part of a family. They satisfy all of our trucking needs – not just sales, but also finance, servicing and parts. PACCAR takes the headache out of maintaining a large and diverse fleet, enabling us to focus on improving our service to customers,” Mr Rodney said.

Established in 1992 near Wagga Wagga, RTS has grown from a small business running three trucks to a major regional transport operation with two depots boasting large storage facilities for up to 100,000 pallets of stock and 20,000 tonnes of grain harvested from the Riverina.

The company operates a Kenworth fleet of 104 prime movers configured with tanker, tautliner and tipper trailers for handling a diverse range of duties. The trucks haul everything from general and container freight to industrial products, scrap metals and waste throughout the eastern states and SA. In addition, the Kenworths transport livestock and a variety of agricultural products, including fertilizers, lime, gypsum and grain.

RTS employs various Kenworth models to handle the different applications. These include a large number of T909s, T609s, T409SARs, T359s and Kenworth’s cab-over, the K200.

The company’s latest K200 – Kenworth’s 50,000th truck – is powered by a Cummins ISXe5 engine, producing 550 hp and 1850 lb/ft of torque. The engine utilises SCR exhaust after-treatment technology for emission reduction, which meets Euro 5 and Australian ADR 80/03 emissions regulations.

The truck is equipped with an Eaton Fuller RTLO20918B 18-speed manual transmission, Meritor FG941 (6.6t) front axles and Meritor RT46-160GP rear axles. It also features two 750-litre, long-range fuel tanks, Kenworth Airglide 460 suspension and a 2.3-metre Aerodyne sleeper.

RTS’ K200, configured as a B-double tautliner, has a carrying capacity of 50 tonnes. It will join the company’s 27 other K200s on linehaul operations, carting a wide range of goods, from batteries and paper to various agricultural products, including salt. The new truck will make interstate deliveries to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, clocking up around 7,000 km a week.

Kenworth’s K200 is Australia’s best-selling heavy-duty truck model. In just three short years, it has established itself as a versatile workhorse which can manage a variety of applications, including interstate line haul up to 26m B-double and B-triple combinations.

The model features one of the most spacious interiors for a cab-over. It has a virtually flat floor, allowing a six-foot-tall (183 cm) driver to stand upright in the Aerodyne version. Its ergonomically-designed, curved dash and overhead console provide convenient access to all instruments and information displays. It also has a driver-friendly Smart Wheel, with buttons on the steering column for controlling the truck’s engine brake, cruise control and high-beam headlights.

Mr Rodney says the K200, like all Kenworth models, offers significant advantages compared with other American-style and European brands he has tried over the years.

“We have bought almost 200 Kenworths, and we continue to buy them every year because it’s good for business. They are designed and manufactured in Australia for Australia’s harsh environments and applications. And Kenworth builds trucks to our exact specifications and requirements. No other manufacturer can do that – and that makes all the difference,” he said.

“Kenworth trucks are more reliable, durable and cost effective to run. They can handle hard work, long hours and many years of service. It’s no wonder our drivers love them. The trucks are tough but they’re also safe and comfortable to operate, and they perform well under any conditions,” he explained.

Mr Rodney says Kenworth’s nationwide dealer network also plays an integral role in its transport efficiency. “Our trucks cover a lot of territory, so it’s comforting to know that if they ever have a problem, there’s a Kenworth dealer nearby,” he added.

In addition to the 50,000th Kenworth, Rodney’s Transport Service has just taken possession of a number of Kenworth T909s with further K200s on order.

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