Sydney-based transport company vows to never buy another manual transmission since switching its fleet of rigid manual distribution trucks to Allison Automatics following a successful two-year trial of 10 Allison-equipped UD PK Automatics
SYDNEY – A lack of skilled truck drivers led Dennis Larsen, owner of Mid West Transport Services, to try Allison-equipped UDs in his rigid distribution truck fleet. After two years of experiencing the ease of driving, reduced vehicle downtime, increased fuel economy and exceptional performance, Larsen vows he will never again buy another manual-equipped rigid truck.
The company currently has 10 UD PK automatics in its fleet of 29 rigid trucks, along with six road tractors, all operating from its base in Sydney’s western suburbs and servicing a wide range of clients with contract transport and taxi truck services.
“The caliber of driver was just getting worse and worse, and it was becoming more and more difficult to find good, well-trained drivers,” said Larsen. “So we decided to try the automatics, and they have proven to be very good.”
Initially, the decision to buy Allison-equipped UDs was focused on making it easier to recruit drivers in an environment where there is a tremendous driver shortage.
“A lot of drivers don’t know how to use manual gearboxes these days. They are very hard on clutches; they ride them and burn the clutches out. Every time that happens, a truck is off the road and costing us money,” he said. “However in the two years we have been running the UDs, we haven’t had a single problem with the Allison drivelines.”
Switching to Allison Automatics solved the driver recruitment and frequent downtime problems, but also delivered additional benefits – including better fuel economy. While Mid West does not have specific fuel economy figures, Larsen said that the Allison-equipped trucks have been using less fuel than the manual trucks they are replacing.
The company works its fleet hard, with most trucks averaging more than 500 km (310 miles) a day in metropolitan and regional distribution work. A range of configurations including flat tops, tautliners and crane trucks are used for various tasks.
“We’ve done some comparisons on the open road, and Allison Automatics perform better and are more economical than manuals away from the cities as well – as we proved recently on a 1,500 km (932 miles) round-trip to Cobar.”
Larsen has more than 30 years experience in the transport industry, starting with Advance Couriers in the early 1980s before establishing Mid West Transport Services in 2000. However, the industry veteran wasn’t the only convert to Allison Automatics.
“The drivers love the automatics,” said Larsen, while acknowledging that change isn’t always easy. “They were a little peeved initially, but give them just one day driving an Allison-equipped truck in busy city traffic, and they are won over and don’t want to go back to a manual.”
“We wouldn’t buy another manual rigid truck; it is as simple as that,” said Larsen.