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Volvo switch was a matter of comfort for WAs Avon

SWITCHED ON: Avon Waste’s Ashley Fisher made the change to an FE Volvo to replace an Iveco due for retirement. Comfort, and braking performance were the deciders. Photo: David Meredith
SWITCHED ON: Avon Waste’s Ashley Fisher made the change to an FE Volvo to replace an Iveco due for retirement. Comfort, and braking performance were the deciders. Photo: David Meredith

The FE brings an advanced European cab and driveline spec that Avon Waste sees saving money in the long term.

PERSISTENCE in the truck market takes many forms. Too many people in sales give up after the first rejection, and then wonder why the prospective customer has bought another brand - without even letting them know.

Kevin Kelly from Truck Centre WA in Perth had been chasing Avon Waste for nearly 10 years with nothing but friendly chats, but finally made a breakthrough when the owners looked closely at the detailed spec on the latest Volvos.

Ashley and Jeremy Fisher watched their parents establish a garbage run in the York township, about 110km east of Perth in 1980, and saw the business grow steadily until they took over in 2006.

Avon Waste now runs a fleet of 22 waste trucks, mainly side loader compactors, but also has some front-loading units for the larger bin contracts.

Most of the work is the standard wheelie-bin pick-up routes, but the business is now starting to branch out into recycling runs as shires move to updated waste treatment practices. The business services 32 WA country shires from Jurien Bay to Dalwallinu, out to Southern Cross and Kulin, down to Williams and Boddington.

"It's basically a loop all around the Perth metro area," Ashley said.

Most of the trucks are Ivecos, the staple diet of waste trucks for a few decades now.

But recently, Avon Waste has taken on a couple of new Volvos to replace units that had completed their 10-year lifespan.

According to Ashley, one of the biggest factors was driver comfort, as the trucks have long transport sectors between pick-ups and driver fatigue is a critical issue in country work. Although the Iveco is adequate, the comfort of the European cab on the Volvos was a generation ahead, and it was hard to see drivers going back to the Ivecos after using the Volvos for a run or two.

"The braking system was almost as important," Ashley added. " The Volvos have disc brakes, which apart from being more powerful and less likely to overheat, are so much faster to service. Replacing disc pads takes less than half the time needed to put new shoes in a drum brake."

After checking feedback from other shires that had experience with the Volvo product, Avon Waste made the decision to switch brands for these particular replacements.

At this stage, it looks like Volvo will be at the top of the list for further fleet updates as well.

For these changeovers Avon Waste has bought an FM as a front-loader, and one of the new FEs as a side-loader. The FM spec was for a 380hp engine with Volvo's 12-speed iShift AMT transmission. The truck replaced a 275hp Cummins engine and a 5-speed Allison automatic, and although the characteristics of an AMT are quite different to the automatic, Ashley said that the new set-up was much preferred, even though the Volvo box still uses a friction clutch.

The FE has 300hp, which is also more power than the Iveco it has replaced, and yet fuel economy is pretty much lineball. But this model still uses an Allison 3000 6-speed transmission as it is best suited to the application.

A 6.14 diff and Volvo leaf suspension complete the specialist waste spec.

Kevin Kelly told me that another valuable tool in convincing the Fisher brothers to make a change was the 24/7 service and parts operation at Truck Centre, critical to the Volvo operators who run 24/7 operations.

Topics:  transport western australia

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