Cruising Paradise

Venerable freight specialist Lindsay Transport operates over 100 DAFs across its national operations, making it the biggest fleet for the brand in Australia. Widespread acceptance of the DAF has so far evaded it within the industry but that is all set to change with the launch of new Euro 6 DAF range which Lindsay Transport is currently evaluating at its Coffs Harbour base.

The Kenworth K-series cab-over has always been a tough act to follow in this country. Over the almost 50 years since the first K125CR ‘Grey Ghost’ left PACCAR’s Bayswater production line in early 1971, the K-series in its various guises and updates has amassed a broad spread of loyal followers throughout the Australian road transport fraternity.

When PACCAR acquired DAF in 1996, the Dutch brand was subsequently integrated into its local product portfolio, without the slightest suggestion that its cab-over DAF would compete directly with the stalwart cab-over Kenworth.

On the contrary, the DAF prime mover was progressively pitched as a complementary product eminently suited to a range of single trailer and B-double roles, the ultra heavy-duty applications where Kenworths have traditionally reigned supreme notwithstanding.

Long-time Kenworth operator Lindsay Transport wasn’t looking to replace its linehaul B-double Kenworths with DAFs when it started trialling the first DAF in its fleet in late 2015. Rather, the company was searching for the most suitable contender for mainly single trailer work, but with the capability to haul a B-double when necessary within its nationwide operation.

Testament to the product delivering on its promise, four years later there are now 101 DAFs clothed in the striking red and white Lindsay livery operating from various depots around Australia.

“Initially, we were looking for a local pick-up and delivery (PUD) prime mover that could pull B-doubles,” explains Rob Dummer, Lindsay Transport General Manager Operations. “At the time, PACCAR had approached us with a view to initiating a trial of a DAF prime mover in our fleet. So after some discussions between ourselves, PACCAR and our local dealer Brown & Hurley around pricing and specifications, we were willing to give it a go.”

The first DAF CF prime mover to grace the Lindsay fleet was put into service in October 2015 and immediately proved its worth over the following months.

“We gave it a fair trial over the next few months in the busy period leading up to Christmas and it stood up to the work the way I was hoping it would,” Rob says, adding, “actually, it exceeded my expectations.”

Given the original DAF replaced a single-drive prime mover towing a 16-pallet tandem-axle trailer, it’s not difficult to see why the DAF CF 6×4 prime mover instantly gave the company a far broader scope in terms of the variety of applications for which it could be used.

“That was the spec they were able to give me and straight away it was a truck that I could use for three different applications instead of one,” Rob explains. “In the early stages I was thinking of the DAF as primarily a local PUD truck but after we had been operating it for a while I could see it was also suitable for single trailer linehaul work.”

In 2016 Lindsay Transport invested in additional units for its metropolitan depots where during a trial period they proved successful.

Rob was so impressed by those DAF CFs he decided to buy eight more units for one of the company’s semi-trailer linehaul operations between Sydney and Brisbane the following year. This entailed a multi-pickup fish run, stopping at a number of fishing co-ops from Taree on the NSW mid-north coast to the Queensland border.

“Prior to buying the DAFs for this application, we had generally used B-double prime movers that were a few years old and ready to be backed off from linehaul B-double work, but we found that buying the new DAFs for this role provided us with a number of benefits,” Rob recalls citing vastly improved manoeuvrability of the cab-over DAFs compared with the mostly conventional or bonneted trucks the company uses for linehaul B-double work.

“We mostly run bonneted prime movers on the highway B-double runs because they are depot-to-depot and the drivers tend to prefer them over cab-overs for that type of work,” Rob says. “On the other hand, with the fish run there are tight loading docks to negotiate which is where the DAFs really shine.”

That first batch of eight DAFs has recently been replaced with new units for the fish run, with the initial ones given a second life on local PUD work which, again, is the forte of cab-overs. In this way, the DAFs are expected to have an effective life span of five to six years within the Lindsay fleet.

“With the stop-start type of work, the DAFs are great because they are easy for the drivers to get in and out of the cab and also the co-ops dotted along the NSW coast are not the most truck-friendly to get in and out of. It’s quite common for the drivers to have multiple pickups on the way down,” Rob says. “The easier cab access of the DAF CF due to the lower cab was a huge thing for me because we have had far too many slips and falls out of trucks. Because our local and distribution work is now bigger than Ben Hur, it has become increasingly apparent in recent times that we needed to source the most ideal truck for this work. Having now operated the DAF CF for more than four years, I believe it fills the bill ideally for this part of our operations.”

Lindsay Transport recently moved into the container carrying realm, with the DAF CFs proving ideal for towing skels loaded with boxes to and from the railheads and ports in the major capital cities where the company operates. Rail has become a major part of the business.

A recent expansion in late 2018 saw a new branch open in Perth, where a batch of four new DAF CFs have been acquired to manage the local work out west. Just over one year on and that number has already doubled to eight units.

In terms of driver acceptance, Rob says he hasn’t had any resistance from any of the drivers towards operating the DAFs.

“I suppose there could have been a bit of a stigma in the beginning but once they had driven them, they didn’t want to get out of them. The DAFs are so easy to drive, comfortable and manoeuvrable,” Rob says. “There hasn’t been a complaint from anyone which is quite an accolade for the DAF product.”

Lindsay Transport is one of the first transport outfits in the country to be invited to test a CF85 from the newly launched DAF Euro 6 range. Rob says while evaluation of the new unit is still in its infancy, it is showing an improvement in fuel economy and delivers outstanding comfort. The CF85 is powered by a 480hp-rated engine and matched with a 12-speed TraXon automated manual transmission (AMT). At present it pulls a single trailer on the fish run between Brisbane and Sydney.

“I really can’t fault the previous model either, but the new one is a bit more handsome and it has that step up in technology to Euro 6 which is definitely a good thing,” he says, adding that the new model is noticeably quieter inside the cab.

Interestingly, not all of the DAFs in the fleet are prime movers, with Lindsay Transport having also invested in a number of 8×4 rigid CFs to bolster the operation.

“In 2017 we introduced the 8×4 CF with a 16-pallet refrigerated body which was a size previously unheard of on a rigid truck,” Rob says. “We service fruit depots all across Australia where we pick up two or three pallets from each farm. With a 6×4 in this type of operation it is easy to go overweight on the steer axle when you load heavy pallets at the front. The 8×4 with load sharing eliminates this problem and the drivers are reporting manoeuvrability close to the previous 6×4 units.”

Another quality Rob appreciates between both the prime mover and rigid CF is a relatively low tare weight.

“With the 8×4 rigids and the 16-pallet bodies we still get a payload capacity of 16 tonnes which is very good for this type of vehicle,” he says.

The DAF 8×4 rigid count now stands at 21 after little more than two years from when the first unit was delivered. Rob says the numbers are at once due to the replacement of older trucks and new growth, as typified by the greenfield Perth site.

Naturally, the dealer supplying the trucks – Brown & Hurley at Coffs Harbour – is a vital element in the supply of DAFs to Lindsay Transport. The two companies have had a particularly close working relationship over many years, with Rob describing the assistance of Brown & Hurley Dealer Principal, Graham Sebbens, as instrumental in the process of specifying the best vehicles to meet Lindsay Transport’s needs.

According to Graham, the DAF CF variants including prime movers and rigids that the company has purchased since 2015 have been meeting expectations, and then some. All of the fit-out and warranty work for Lindsay Transport is done at Brown & Hurley’s Coffs Harbour dealership while the regular servicing and maintenance is done by Lindsay Transport at its Coffs Harbour workshop.

The relationship between the two companies began in the 1970s and Graham describes it as a business relationship and friendship between various members of both organisations spanning three generations on both sides.

Graham has been with Brown & Hurley for more than 30 years and has been involved with Lindsay Transport for all of those years, leading to strong bonds being created, particularly between himself and Rob.

“The key to a mutually beneficial relationship is respect. A respect for each other and also the businesses,” says Graham. “At Brown & Hurley we endeavour to fulfil the equipment requirement needs of Lindsay Transport and this is ongoing through discussion both personally and collectively so that we are always providing the right truck for the job.”

In a successful and longstanding haulage operation like Lindsay Transport, having the right product for each application is essential.

With the able assistance of Graham and the team at Brown & Hurley, Lindsay Transport has cemented DAF’s CF model as the ideal prime mover and rigid vehicle for its ever-expanding PUD distribution work across the operation.

Fast Fact

New highly efficient variable speed cooling, steering and oil pumps are used to achieve lower fuel consumption by decreasing parasitic load off the PACCAR MX-13 engine.

Article reproduced courtesy of Prime Mover Magazine (April, 2020)

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