AUSSIE ANGLES – On the weighbridge!

In Aussie Angles13 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 23, 2019

Scania NTG R730 8×4 operating as a high productivity PBS rigid and dog combination ticks all the boxes for Tasmanian bulk fertiliser supplier Crezzco.

The sun was desperately trying to pierce through the thick blanket of fog that lingered well into the morning in the sleepy Meander Valley town of Deloraine in northern Tasmania. The serene stillness was slowly broken by the deep throb of the approaching Scania V8. Moments later, Crezzco owner Tony Creswell pulled the new R730 8×4 PBS combination on to the weighbridge and stepped down from the warm cabin. “It‘s a bit fresh this morning,” Tony said, introducing himself. “It‘s the 44.5 tonne payload that is impressing me,” he smiled as he climbed back into the cabin. Crezzco may well be a small family company that commenced operation back in the early seventies; nevertheless, through diversification the business now operates several quarries, mines dolomite, has a concrete batch plant, and is a major carrier and distributor of Pivot fertiliser in the state. Their truck and earthmoving fleet is equally diverse, with equipment specified to deliver the best outcome for the business.

Despite freight rates almost remaining static for the last quarter century, Tony believes that adopting new technologies and specifying components according to need rather than tradition, will lead to higher profits for the bulk haulage side of their operation. Tony approaches new truck specifying with broad knowledge of the transport industry and its future regulations, along with his understanding of customer needs. This means he configures his trucks and trailers to safeguard the interests of all parties. “Maximising our equipment to the limit is one of our prime focuses now. This Scania NTG R730 8×4 and dog combination provides approximately a 0.72 tonne/kilometre payload advantage over some other vehicles that we investigated. While that doesn‘t sound like much, at the end of the month all those point sevens add up,” explained Tony. “Like I was saying earlier, it is here on the weighbridge is where it counts.” This new Scania‘s primary role is to haul dolomite from their Eddy Creek Quarry located deep in the steep rugged mountains southwest of Huonville, between the Huon and Florentine Valleys. It‘s an area with a long history of contention between forestry operations and environmental groups. It is here that the tallest flowering plants in the world thrive – the Eucalyptus regnans – regularly gaining heights of 80 metres and more.

Photo: The weighbridge is where everything counts.

The naturally occurring dolomite that Crezzco‘s Eddy Creek Quarry produces is crushed onsite to form a fine powder that is used as a soil conditioning and pH neutralising agent. Dolomite is an economical way to increase soil pH in acidic soils, to raise the magnesium levels in deficient soils while also adding calcium to improve soil structure, and it increases the availability of other trace elements. “Our dolomite has an effective neutralising value (ENV) of 80.92 percent, which makes it a premium grade product,” Tony said. Given the fragile environment in which this Scania has to operate, Tony insisted that it have the latest Euro 6 engine. “It is all part of our commitment to deliver a sustainable transport future, not just for our business but our customers as well,” Tony said. “We are expecting a lot of things from this new R730 in terms of reducing trip times through performance and reliability, and improved fuel economy to reduce the cents per tonne/kilometre to ensure our agricultural products are economically viable for the farmers.”

To understand why Tony is so adamant about reducing his production costs we need to explore his market and customer base. At the time of writing the average price a farmer in Tasmania receives for their milk is $0.46/litre, while the average cost of milk in the supermarket is $1.60/litre. By the time the farmer has paid all the expenses associated with producing the milk there is not much left out of that $0.46/ litre to purchase fertilisers like dolomite. “On a good day, it‘s a four-hour trip down to our Eddy Creek Quarry where we load the dolomite,” Tony said. “Then it‘s roughly four and half hours back. There are a few extremely long steep climbs up out of the quarry and along the Huon Highway into Hobart. That Scania V8 really gets to strut its stuff.” Tony said that on paper the R730 Scania had some impressive features.

Photo: Manoeuvre mode in the Opticruise transmission means getting the trailer into tight spaces is a whole lot easier.

“The fact that the engine is making 500 horsepower down as low at 1000rpm where it begins making its peak torque was one factor that ticked a box for me. Being able to deliver that sort of power and torque with the latest Euro 6 emission standards certainly helps us reduce our carbon footprint.” The peak torque of 3500Nm (2581lb/ft) begins at 1000rpm and continues through to 1400rpm where the big-hearted 16.4 litre V8 punches out 522kW (700hp). When it comes to driveability there is no performance compromise; with the Euro 6 V8 it is delivering the goods through the sweet spot range. This V8 engine uses a blend of SCR and ERG to achieve its Euro 6 emission standards, which means there is virtually no increase in AdBlue usage compared with the Euro 5 variant of the engine. “The Scania 4100D retarder is really an essential component for our application,” Tony said. “There are some really long steep descents on the southern part of this run, especially coming down the southern outlet into Hobart where it is densely populated, and the decline ends right in the heart of the city. The Scania retarder is extremely quiet, which means we can utilise it any time of the day without upsetting the locals and that‘s a huge advantage.” The retarder mechanically ‘clutches out‘ when not in use to minimise parasitic drag and can generate a maximum 4100Nm (3024lb/ft) of braking.

“I like the fact that the braking system can be set to hold speed on downhills like a cruise control simply with the press of the brake pedal,” Tony said. “It autonomously blends the foundation brakes with the retarder and exhaust brakes.” The Scania GRS0925R 14-speed overdrive with the Opticruise shift features a layshaft brake that enables faster gear shifts compared with the older model transmission, resulting in better driveability and constant power delivery. The addition of the layshaft brake means there is a 45 percent reduction in gear shift time. But it‘s not all about high speed; at lower speeds a ‘manoeuvre‘ setting on the Opticruise stalk enables the truck to be positioned with precision and Tony demonstrated how this worked when he accurately reversed the 5-axle Hercules dog trailer inside the fertiliser shed. This Scania NTG R730 8×4 has the front air suspension that dispenses with the previous Panhard rod arrangement found on early 8×4 models. The repositioning of the front axle gives excellent control with much less wallowing and nodding compared with rival trucks. In addition, the steering gear for the second axle layout is installed lower in the chassis, to aid body builders. The shock absorber mounting for this axle is also revised and no longer rises above the chassis rails. Inside Scania‘s flagship R730 cabin, Tony says a driver wants for nothing; it has all the creature comforts. He adds the dash layout is practical, easy to see at a glance, meaning he has more time to concentrate on the road.

Photo: Three generations of Creswell: Joel, Theo, Archer, and Tony Creswell.

“That fact that you can virtually operate this vehicle with your fingers through controls located on the steering wheel makes life easy. The controls on the door armrest also add to the ease of this truck‘s operation. There is plenty of storage room inside too, not that we probably need the features of the sleeper as we‘re home nearly every night, but it‘s handy to have all the same.” It‘s only early days for the new Scania NTG R730 8×4 with its Hercules 5-axle dog combo. Along with the productivity gains Tony is getting from his new combination, he concedes that given the current driver shortage, it is far easier to get a driver for this unit because they don‘t need a multi-combination licence to drive a truck and dog. Yet it delivers a payload comparable to a B-double with more tyres on the ground. “And that‘s another great thing about the new Scania, it has a lot of inbuilt smarts that keep it operating in the sweet spot all the time, including the active cruise with braking,” said Tony. “For instance, if a driver was distracted and didn‘t notice a car pull in front of the truck and brake suddenly, the truck will automatically brake. It‘s that level of safety which really gives us as owners peace of mind. “The R730 ticks all the boxes for us in terms of productivity, performance, economy and safety,” Tony concluded. “For me it‘s all about delivering the biggest payload economically and safely. After all, that‘s where it counts, on the weighbridge.”