AJM Transport Managing Director Anthony Mansell is capitalising on fleet versatility to provide cost-saving services for his company and the customer. Positioned to address nearly any need, AJM recently acquired four new DAF XF105 prime movers to compliment specific shuttle runs across the eastern seaboard.
A heavy diesel mechanic by trade, Anthony Mansell first pursued his career in the Australian transport industry tinkering on trucks and buses in North Queensland.
Through his parent’s involvement with the bus sector, Anthony donned his first pair of overalls and 17 years later eventually climbed out of the maintenance pit to sit behind the wheel of a linehaul truck and steer it across the far north of the country.
Advanced engine knowledge and the experience of long distance express runs provided the confidence for Anthony to progress into the role of a fleet manager; and as a result, in 2005 he and his wife Megan launched their family-owned business, AJM Transport.
With depots in Melbourne, Newcastle and Brisbane, AJM Transport have laid a reliable footprint in overnight express services across the eastern seaboard, where each truck can journey up to 12,000 kilometres a week, hauling time-sensitive freight.
Since its inception, AJM has forged a strong alliance with PACCAR Australia. Until now, Kenworth has been the preferred choice of badge, making up the mainstay of their 52 prime mover fleet. This has allowed AJM the freedom to focus on core business activities, making sure every logistical need, from collection to delivery, is catered for.
Content with their Kenworth alliance, Anthony had never previously considered purchasing a DAF truck. Like any evolving business, Anthony and his team examined their operations for further economic value. In mid-2016, the team considered tapping into the benefits of fleet versatility; fittingly, the XF series was brought to their attention.
“We’ve got a lot of structure in our business these days but over the last couple of years, and particularly this year, we want to do more with less,” Anthony says.
“We had an opportunity to try the DAF product that was suitably priced and spec’d to our business model. We have some services that compliment weights of around 48 to 52 tonnes, with the DAF already pulling 60 tonnes but we get them in a window where they perform really well carrying less weight.”
The XF105 is changing people’s views. The main difference being, companies like AJM that are providing solutions that require specific services around convenience, price, and adaptability.
“The DAF product was well priced and well within our budget. Because we are doing interstate shuttle runs and changeovers back to Newcastle, our local drivers also run them into the city streets of Sydney to reload. These trucks are very suited for that type of application.”
Three of the four XF105s perform changeover shuttle runs out of Brisbane to Coffs Harbour while the fourth prime mover operates an interstate single driver shift from Newcastle to Melbourne or Brisbane. Each unit travels 6,000kms every week.
According to Anthony, he has already earmarked the future service life of the DAF’s. “In two or three years they will be more of a Newcastle to Sydney type truck but they are also an excellent reserve vehicle to hook up a B-double and do a changeover, so they are very versatile in that respect.”
With AJM Transport’s 4,500sqm main facility headquartered in Newcastle, halfway between their Melbourne and Brisbane depots, the company is positioned well to effectively manage any driver fatigue and maintenance issues.
The business has also learned considerably from their long-term PACCAR experience which offers customised solutions for trouble-free maintenance. Combined with the stylish design and practical ergonomics, the DAF XF105 has set a new AJM standard for driver comfort and driving ease.
The XF105 is powered by a PACCAR MX-13 12.9 litre engine that develops 375kW (510 Hp) of power and provides 2,500 Nm of torque through a ZF 16-speed AS Tronic automated transmission.
With 210 centimetres of standing room, each Super Space cab structure has been widened, has a flat floor, and is fitted-out with an additional upper bunk, with ladder and refrigerator underneath. Other cab features include a semi- wraparound dashboard, driver and passenger air suspension seats with arm rests and leather steering wheels. However, it’s the accessibility and visibility that has got Anthony and his drivers talking.
“There’s always chat among our drivers about performance when we buy a new product. Getting in and out of the XF cab and its operating vision is excellent. With the European influence they’re very comfortable to drive and its smaller size will be an advantage for us because later in life they will travel longer shuttle runs with no fuss.”
As an established business that prides itself on convenience and price, one of AJM’s objectives is to create lasting value for their clients so that diverse supply-chain needs are met and all parties can prosper in the long term.
Anthony claims one way to negotiate around competitive rates is to grow your fleet size, however he is quick to add that it gets harder with increased logistical issues and running costs. Building and maintaining relationships has become a critical point to develop the business around service and efficiency.
“The price tag was probably fifty-percent of our decision. My view is that nothing really changes to make something cheaper, but you can do things smarter to save on costs. We’ve built relationships with the likes of PACCAR and their spare parts network and this has carried us through challenging times and tight deadlines.
“It’s getting back to the time-sensitive part of our business that they truly understand. Having knowledge between what we expect from them and what they can provide gives us that next level of service. That’s where we can pass on some of our cost-savings back to the customer.”
Anthony’s positive eye-opening experiences dealing with PACCAR Financial over the years has initiated the same course of action with the XF105s. When we asked him why he decided upon PACCAR Financial handling the money, Anthony’s response was honest and clear.
“It’s not only the product PACCAR sell but they offer the finance arm as well. You talk to a bank and a bank is a bank. With PACCAR there’s no trying to jump through hoops to make the deal work. It’s painless talking to them about what you need because they’re truck people. In fact, working with their finance division is as easy as getting in a truck!”
Anthony still enjoys the hands-on work and often gets back into a cab to keep in tune with what his 85 company drivers face every day. It also gives him time to catch his breath in a familiar environment and think about his next feasible business opportunity as the industry learns to address the complexities of an evolving transport landscape.
He believes that all the cost models in the world suggesting something might be viable actually means very little, unless you have the trust and support of loyal staff and suppliers who understand the logistics industry and what your business is trying to achieve for the future.
And apparently, there’s no great secret about building a dream.
“In short, it’s three words,” he chuckles, “bloody hard work.”
DAF Trucks Australia, is a division of PACCAR Australia, and assembles and distributes a range of medium and heavy duty trucks through an extensive Australian dealer network that provides sales and aftersales support and services.
PACCAR Australia is a subsidiary of PACCAR Inc., and designs, engineers and manufactures Kenworth trucks to meet the world’s toughest applications throughout Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. PACCAR Australia comprises of Kenworth Trucks, DAF Trucks, PACCAR Parts, PACCAR Financial and PacLease.
PACCAR Inc., is a Six Sigma company, and 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 brands. PACCAR also designs and manufactures advanced diesel engines, provides financial services and information technology, and distributes truck parts related to its principal business.