When you are operating small to medium-sized trucks in the highly-competitive construction industry, you could be forgiven for thinking the most cost effective vehicles are Japanese. That’s what Jay Elpitiya of the JTS Group thought for 12 years– until he drove a DAF.
Headquartered in Melbourne’s Airport West, the JTS Group specialises in crane-mounted vehicles for construction and carriage of heavy goods which have undergone rapid changes as productivity and safe practices take centre stage of industrial life. Its stable of 43 tipper trays, crane-mounted trucks and prime movers are vital in the supply chain of steel, timber and other building materials to major retail outlets, as well as construction sites throughout Victoria and interstate.
Jay had been operating only Japanese trucks since he started his business but, when he test drove a DAF two years ago, he realised it was “a better vehicle in virtually every way”.
He immediately purchased that DAF, a medium-sized CF75, configured as a bogey drive prime mover with a boom crane mounted on the rear. The truck proved to be an invaluable workhorse on construction sites, so much so he purchased another DAF six months later.
“Many Japanese truck operators think premium European trucks are more expensive to buy and to run. I was pleasantly surprised with DAF – they offer excellent value for money – far better than any of my Japanese trucks, and I have had dozens over the years,” Jay said.
“DAF trucks are comparatively priced and have lower operating costs. They are also engineered to the highest standards, making them more powerful, productive and reliable than all of my other trucks,” he added.
Jay’s latest DAF, purchased through PACCAR award-winning dealer, Kenworth and DAF of Melbourne, is a LF55 rigid fitted with an air lift pusher axle that transforms the 4×2 into a 6×2. This light-weight, economical and highly-maneuverable vehicle is well suited to short-haul distribution and specialist applications. Jay’s truck hauls over-sized timber frames and trusses.
The FAP LF55 is powered by a DAF GR 6.7-litre turbo-intercooled engine, generating 280 hp (210 kW) at 2100-2500 rpm and up to 750 ft/lb (1020 Nm) of torque at 1200-1800 rpm. The fuel-efficient engine incorporates SCR technology which complies with ADR 80/03 and Euro 5 emission requirements.
The vehicle features a six-speed AS Tronic ZF 6 AS 1000-6.75/0.78 automated transmission for ease of operation, a 70-litre AdBlue tank, a DAF SR 1132 rear axle and a Weweler pushup lift axle. It also includes ABS, cruise control and a sleeper cab.
The LF55 is fitted with a nine-metre tray and custom-made frames that enable it to carry up to 13-metre-long timber beams with a combined weight of 12 tonnes.
Jay says that initially he intended to configure the DAF as a bogey drive, but his dealer suggested a pusher axle would be more beneficial for his application.
“My dealer was right,” Jay said. “The pusher axle makes the DAF even more cost effective and flexible in carrying different payloads.”
The pusher axle is positioned in front of the driven, rear axle; as opposed to the conventional, trailing ‘lazy’ axle which is positioned behind the rear axle.
DAFs system is controlled by an onboard computer which monitors weights across all axles. The forward rear pusher axle can be lifted automatically whenever the truck is empty or carrying light loads, which reduces fuel consumption, tyre and brake wear. Employing the pusher axle provides a truck with increased payload potential with a greater distribution of weight over more wheels, while also providing better traction and handling.
JTS’ LF55 makes an average of 13 to 16 deliveries throughout Melbourne during a 13 hour day, Monday to Friday. The DAF operates from a number of timber manufacturers, distributing products to various timber yards and retailers, such as Bunnings.
“DAF trucks are very comfortable to drive,” Jay said. “That was the first thing I noticed after I turned the ignition – a smooth, comfortable ride in a luxurious cab. That’s important to us. Our drivers work long hours and we want to ensure they are relaxed and safe. Our drivers love their DAFs and, even after a long shift, they are still fresh.”
Jay says his LF55, like his CF75, benefits his business in a variety of ways, with higher payloads and productivity, and lower running costs and vehicle down-time. DAF trucks utilise many low-maintenance components which extend service intervals to further reduce operating costs.
“After 18 months operation, the LF55 has only just had its first service. It has worked perfectly throughout this time, with only minimal maintenance, and no repairs or breakdowns,” Jay said.
“Generally speaking, our DAFs need to be serviced only half as much as our Japanese trucks and, when they do, a DAF service costs about the same. That equates to half the maintenance costs of a Japanese truck. In addition, our DAFs provide better fuel consumption than comparable trucks. That’s all thanks to the quality engineering built into every DAF,” he added.
One factor that is often overlooked when purchasing a truck, Jay said, is the dealer’s service before and after the sale.
“I have to say that the personalised service I received from Kenworth and DAF of Melbourne was second to none. The dealer took the time to understand my operation and gave me expert advice, such as adding the pusher axle, and that advice continues to benefit my business today,” he said.
“It’s really not fair to compare DAF with Japanese brands – they are in a whole different class. But, in saying that, DAF beats the Japanese in areas you wouldn’t expect. DAF reigns supreme in delivering the most cost effective small to medium-sized, heavy-duty trucks in the industry,” Jay concluded.
DAF Trucks Australia, a division of PACCAR Australia, distributes a complete range of medium and heavy-duty trucks throughout Australia. PACCAR Inc, a Six Sigma company, is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of high-quality light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates. PACCAR also designs and manufactures advanced diesel engines, provides financial services and information technology, and distributes truck parts related to its principal business.