MAN-MADE | TRUCK REVIEW – Grayson Haulage looks at the appeal of the “other” German manufacturer

Grayson Haulage looks at the appeal of the “other” German manufacturer – Images by Torque it Up

Enhanced fuel efficiency, old fashioned customer-focused service, an expanding workload, and hassle-free maintenance contracts, lures Park Ridge, Qld, based transport operator, Grayson Haulage, away from their historically Kenworth-based fleet to their first MAN D38 TGX 26-580.

According to Grayson Haulage co-owners, and father and son team, Cameron and Ross Grayson, when sitting down and evaluating the figures on their next fleet purchase it was hard to go past the MAN.

Established in 2014, Grayson Haulage has gone from its two original trucks operated by the owners, to now boasting a fleet of 10 prime movers and 13 trailers. Originally working locally for a large supermarket chain transporting produce with single trailers, work has now progressed to predominantly interstate routes utilising their own as well as their prime contractor’s B-double trailers operating to and from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, with a little flat-top work out to mines in western Queensland, a task for which they utilise subcontractors.

Grayson Haulage now employ a total of 16 staff and five subcontractors, with the company’s main focus being the east coast interstate work for their prime contractor. Ross says this work is kept within the company and not subcontracted out, “We have worked really hard to get where we are and like to be in total control of this contract”.

When the time arose for a new truck purchase, two trucks were shortlisted for the job and trialled, a K200 Kenworth, supplied by Brown & Hurley, and a MAN with the smaller capacity 12-litre 540 horsepower engine.

“We trialled the two trucks, side by side. The Kenworth was rated at 550 horsepower and definitely had the better power, but the MAN won on comfort, while the fuel economy figures seemed fairly equal. We believed that the TGX 26-580 MAN fitted with the larger 15-litre engine would do the job a little easier and produce better results in the fuel economy area. Currently our trucks are covering around 240,000 kilometres each per year, so fuel economy is extremely important to us,” said Ross and Cameron.

Penske Power Systems of Wacol have been utilised by Grayson Haulage to supply rental trucks from time to time through their Penske Truck rental program, which offered the first introduction of the MAN truck to Grayson Haulage.

“We were happy with the MAN trucks we have rented previously, and Callie LeRoux of the Penske sales team has watched us grow and been very active in trying to gain our business, eventually supplying the 540 MAN for us to put to work on trial,” said Ross.

The final winner was the MAN D38 TGX 26-580.

This new MAN D38 TGX-580 has been in service now for around five weeks and has clocked up some 28,0000 km. Ross says the first trip returned an average fuel economy figure of 1.8 km/l, which was about the same as the 540 hp model and the Kenworth K200. However, since then there has been a reported trip average of 2.45 km/l by the driver, who Ross said is constantly trying to better the figures using the in-dash display.

“We operate under Mass Management at weight all the time in both directions. Our gross weights only vary slightly anywhere between 58 and 64 tonnes, and we envisage that we could see fuel savings based on these figures between $500 and $900 per week with this truck”, he added.

Penske at Wacol, through its telematics programme, monitors all aspects of the truck including service schedules, maintenance, performance and fuel economy, and send through a report at the end of each week. Over the life of the truck, so far, the average fuel economy report from them records 1.94 km/l.

The two-stage turbocharging of the D38 engine produces full torque from low rpm, enabling a lower rpm operating range resulting in greater fuel efficiency and reduced engine wear.

“It was a bit of an unknown with the MAN 580 for us as to how it would perform in Australian conditions at big weights, but so far it’s ticking all the boxes, and for traditional Kenworth owners that’s saying a lot. We also among our drivers have very loyal American-style truck guys, including the driver currently in the MAN, he loves the truck and the automated transmission and doesn’t want to get out of it,” said Ross.

“The MAN really smooths out the roads, and that equates to less fatigue at the end of the day as reported by our drivers – we have gone with the XL cab, which isn’t huge by any standards, but it’s adequate.

“One thing we did identify with the rental truck was that the mattresses were not good, with little support. They may be okay for the occasional night away, but for long-term sleeping they were not up to it. The team at Penske actually went and found a local mattress manufacturer and had a better-quality mattress made, which is indicative of the type of customer service we have experienced from them. The cab has full wraparound curtains, overhead cupboards and is tall enough to stand up in. We have fitted electric cab coolers powered by dedicated lithium batteries with low-voltage alarms. These units have a run time of around nine hours, which is plenty, and they’re extremely cold,” said Ross and Cameron.

On the safety side, the MAN is fitted with adaptive cruise control (ACC), EfficientCruise a GPS-controlled cruise control system, electronic stability programme (ESP), lane guard system (LGS), ABS braking and emergency brake assist (EBA).

Ross said, “The premium sound system with sub-woofer is also a hit with the driver”.

Cameron Grayson, a qualified mechanic, looks after all the maintenance requirements on the existing Kenworth fleet with servicing schedules of 20,000 km ensuring long-term reliability from the trucks. With the MAN they have opted for a scheduled maintenance contract with a monthly figure for each truck covering all the maintenance requirements.

“We weighed up the cost of doing the work ourselves and decided it was cost efficient and also freed up some of my time to leave the maintenance to Penske at Wacol, there is also the security of the one-million-km/five-year warrant,” explained Cameron.

Ross added, “The fact that Penske has the rental arm of the business also works in our favour when it comes time for servicing or maintenance. We just drop our truck in, grab a rental vehicle and it’s business as usual – we only get paid when the wheels are turning, and this is a big bonus. I have even heard of Penske towing out a rental truck and towing a breakdown back to keep your business moving.

“They (Penske Power Systems, Wacol) seem to be more customer focused,” said Cameron.

“Business has grown at an amazing rate for us and I could easily utilise another ten trucks, but we want to control our growth a bit and not overcapitalise. In saying that, we have outgrown our current location and have made inroads to move to a more suitable location at Yatala in the near future.

“Our prime contractor is commissioning another four B-double sets early next year, which sees us in the position to purchase a further four trucks. With Penske and MAN winning the race for our business at the moment, I can see us with another four MANs – I think that’s the way we’ll go.

“We did our figures on a four-year plan, and with the low, whole-of-life cost on offer from the MAN, it seems the way to go. Even when you factor in a lower resale value, the numbers are still looking very favourably towards the MAN.

“At the end of the day, the customer service from Penske Power Systems of Wacol is top of the line,” concluded Ross.

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