HINO closes the loop

10 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 3, 2017

Carlos points out that hybrid technology has now been around almost 20 years and that Hino are the hybrid truck leaders because they have access to their parent company Toyota‘s expertise, and Toyota is the world leader in hybrid technology. While some may argue that point, Carlos‘ business model indicates he knows his stuff when it comes to sustainability.

Carlos is a franchisee of Anchor Milk and through his business, Zurich Distribution, he specialises in the distribution of dairy products along with organic products. Organic produce is one of the largest growing sectors in New Zealand food ser vice and Fonterra has introduced a closed loop sustainability model for customers who want to do their part towards a sustainable future. A closed loop service means Carlos will take away the left-over component of what is delivered (primarily the milk and ensure it is recycled. milk bottles are recycled into a number of products, including the crates used to carry milk. 

Living the sustainability culture means Carlos‘ business must be efficient when it comes to factors such as fuel burn and wasted space. He discovered that some of his trucks were unnecessarily big and the refrigerated bodies absorbed and held water, increasing tare by over a tonne. He looked at how to make his business more efficient while helping out the planet.

When it came to the right size trucks and fuel efficiency, Carlos found the Hino 300 series Hybrid was an ideal fit for some of his runs – if he could cut back the weight of the refrigerated bodies to maintain his payload. 

Photo: The unit doesn‘t need to wait for a loading bay to become available.

He found a refrigerated body supplier in China that is flexible enough to make bodies of different sizes and door configurations, even as one-offs. Furthermore, their bodies don‘t compromise on insulation ratings. The polyurethane insulation medium does not absorb water and will maintain below freezing temperatures with only an 80mm wall thickness. The fittings are generally stainless steel and the bodies come complete with refrigeration systems and cross bar racking fixed to the customer‘s specifications. Carlos and another Anchor franchisee ordered some and have since imported more for other operators with similar needs. 

In a departure from the common practice of making truck bodies larger than necessary, Carlos looked carefully at the internal space needed for his product and settled for the perfect size body. A slightly smaller body has obvious advantages when it comes to weight, aerodynamics and refrigeration running costs, but with a width of only 2.2 metres, Carlos has found another advantage – less damage occurs in the tight areas the trucks are operating in. 

New Zealand Trucking had a chance to check out the first of the Hinos with the new body. It went into service in October last year and has clocked up 31,000km in the intervening year. While this may not be a great distance, it is working amongst Auckland‘s high-density inner suburbs, where there can be five supermarkets within a two-kilometre radius and literally hundreds of cafes and other commercial consumers of dairy products. 

Cost benefits: Carlos says that the previous truck he used on this run averaged $270 a week for fuel. The Hino Hybrid uses $90 to $100 over the same run. The previous truck had a 12.5 tonne GVM, but there was a lot of unnecessary tare and he says the body held over a tonne of water. The Hino has about the same four tonne payload with an 8.5 tonne GVM. The battery and other components in the hybrid system results in 250 to 300kg more weight over the diesel-only powered model. Carlos says he‘s more than overcome the penalty by choosing the right body.

Two drivers are on board, although only one is needed on light days. It‘s clear that the Hino is an ideal learning centre for truck drivers with their foot on the Class 2 rung of the ladder. Not only is controlling any size truck among the hustle and bustle of Auckland traffic and the back door loading facilities a great start for anyone wanting a comprehensive knowledge of trucking, but also the customer service aspect of the business is a vital skill for the driver. Furthermore, the whole sustainability culture flows through the business and drivers are aware that inefficiency is unacceptable. 

The first delivery is to a large supermarket in Grey Lynn, and although the delivery area is congested there is room for the small truck to get close to the loading bay. The rear doors are simple barn doors with container style locks and they are opened wide so that a number crates of milk and butter that are scheduled for delivery can be stacked on the ground and hand-trucked into the delivery area. Once the delivery is complete we leave the supermarket and climb a steep hill from a standing start with a near full load on board.

With 420Nm of torque available from the 150hp, 4-litre engine and an additional 333Nm available from the 300-volt electric motor, acceleration is more than acceptable. A 5-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) processes the torque and delivers the drive smoothly to the steep road. The drivers comment that the Hino is easy to drive. Driveability is one of the key reasons Carlos chose the Hino. The Hino Hybrid‘s AMT and smooth power delivery not only make driving easier, they also minimise driveline damage.

When slowing, the generator charges the nickel-metal hydride battery, the energy used to charge the battery effectively slows the truck, providing engine brake-like retardation. This also reduces wear and tear on the service brake system. There is a standard exhaust brake, but Carlos suggests it is unnecessary in his line of work. 

Photo: Zurich Distribution has four Hino hybrids in their fleet.

The next stop is a smallish café, which only requires a couple of crates of organic milk. There‘s just enough room to squeeze the truck into the café‘s driveway. The order has been placed inside one of the roller doors that are positioned on the front third of the body on each side. The door is raised and the crates removed. They ‘re big doors that allow stacks of crates to be wheeled in if there is a suitable loading bay or ramp. The café promotes itself as using organic, sustainable milk and the empty bottles are picked up for recycling. A reversing camera helps when backing between the cars parked on either side of the narrow road.

The body is ideal on the narrow streets common in the old inner suburbs. With only a few minutes between deliveries it‘s hard, if not impossible, to make up lost minutes. As we head downhill the regeneration process retards the truck and charges the battery virtually cost free. At the bottom of the hill is a set of traffic lights and the truck engine automatically stops while we‘re waiting for the lights to change – another fuel saving innovation. 

Is the Hino Hybrid the answer for Carlos‘ distribution business? He points out that he would have more if Hino made larger hybrid trucks. In the meantime he has to use trucks with heavier GVMs on some of the runs, but Hino is still his preferred brand.