Ahead of the Game

Interstate specialist, Collins Adelaide, is investing in higher productivity vehicles with support from long-time partner Cummins, as it prepares for the future.

The freight task between Adelaide and Melbourne, along national highway A8 and the Western Highway, requires a consistent approach day in day out.

For linehaul specialist Collins Adelaide, this is one of two freight passages where it operates, for the most part, B-doubles daily, seven days a week. The other is Adelaide to Sydney, return.

Perishable products on these intensive interstate journeys, warrants equipment of the highest standard for heavy vehicles. Being as it carries a broad spectrum of time sensitive and cold chain freight, Collins Adelaide opts for Cummins-powered Kenworths, brands long synonymous with the prestige chain of supply.

The Melbourne and Sydney linehaul undertakings from Adelaide are now well established for the business.

Here the Cummins Euro 5-rated X15 has fast proved its worth powering vehicles carrying fresh produce at masses maximising payload. Indeed, if it’s been grown in South Australia, there’s a good chance Collins Adelaide is hauling it east. The fleet also moves seasonal fruit to the eastern seaboard. It’s a demanding application that has motivated, more recently, further forays into the Performance-Based Standards accreditation space.

For this reason, 2022 remains an important year for the company. It marks the moment it deployed its first B-triple interstate.

Investments in higher productivity vehicles have been a trend in recent years for elite freight carriers whose priority is for leading edge strategies in environmental and commercial sustainability. Collins Adelaide, with its 140 linehaul trucks, can be counted among them. The family-run business, now well into its fifth decade, is gradually introducing the Euro 6 rated Cummins X15s on high productivity vehicles pulled by their latest Kenworths. The first Euro 6 X15s, however, predate this historic footnote, having entered service for the fleet as early as August 2019. Both trucks, K200s, have accumulated major miles since then.

They are both operating on the Adelaide to Melbourne run. The contours of the circuit are relatively direct. Save for the arc between Nhill and Horsham that bypasses Little Desert National Park, and the high country of the Grampians, which can bring with it high winds, the fuel burn figures are no less diminished given these environmental factors according to Carl Hamilton, Collins Transport National Workshop Manager.
“The fleet has always achieved very high utilisation from all of its assets,” he says. “The reliability of the Euro 6 Cummins engine has helped Collins Adelaide achieve this.”

The first two of these engines – it now has eight in total – have already accumulated enviable kilometres. On the punishing task, the response has been consonant to the longevity delivered by the Euro 5 says Carl.

“We’re not specifically specc’ing these particular vehicles to run on a certain route,” he says. “The priority for us at the moment is on the higher productivity vehicles.”

It shows. The growing B-triple fleet suggests the Euro 6 X15s are performing well.

“By 2024 when Euro 6 is mandated by law we will have increased our presence in this area significantly,” says Carl. Some of the vehicles with the Euro 6 Cummins X15s have since had their operations expanded from the Adelaide to Melbourne run now to Adelaide-Sydney. Strong faith in the product’s reliability helped convinced the team to do this.

As the Cummins Euro 5 rated X15 was its first engine to incorporate AdBlue, the development to the next iteration is pronounced in Carl’s experience. But it took some getting used to.

“It’s a completely different system,” he says. “It has an electronic doser pump as opposed to a manual pump on the Euro 5 rated Cummins engine.”

The Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) consists of a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) and a catalysed soot filter (CSF). The Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system consists of an SCR catalyst assembly, new diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) compact mixing device, DEF supply module, and the aforementioned DEF dosing unit. The single module is an SCR and DPF built in one. The packaging and sizing are also comparable to the current Euro 5 design.

“Basically, the block and the piston rings and liners and front end of the engine are all the same as Euro 5,” says Carl. “The main difference is in the emission system. But there are a few other things, too. It is a different engine.”

The controls for the DEF Dosing system, for one, are integrated into the engine control module.

The aftertreatment system also utilises several electronic sensors to monitor exhaust gas temperature, pressure, NOx and particulate matter levels.

“We had some problems initially however that’s been overcome through a change in the servicing of the Euro 6 AdBlue system,” says Carl. “Once we got that happening, they have, in direct contrast to the Euro 5 engines, proven superior for reliability.”

Preventative maintenance, which is naturally an ongoing and crucial enterprise at Collins Adelaide is streamlined on the new Euro 6 X15s as they have the same preventative maintenance intervals as the Euro 5 but do not require a doser pump flush at 200,000 km like the E5s. More generally, the team favours oil drain intervals of 60,000 kilometres on the Cummins-powered vehicles.

Not unlike most linehaul business models, extreme demands are made of the equipment.
“We’re big on utilisation and understanding our vehicles,” says Carl. “We wouldn’t want Euro 6 to be made law next week and all of sudden we’ve got to buy them and not know anything about them. We try not to follow the herd and keep ahead of the game.”

As of 1 November, 2024 when the new emissions standard of Euro 6 or equivalent is phased in for all new trucks and buses, Carl projects that by then Collins Adelaide will have added significant HPV units powered by Euro 6 Cummins engines out on the road.

“When it’s law we’ll probably have, as an estimate, more than 30 in the fleet — probably more,” he explains. “It won’t be that long before that’s going to be our normal truck. That’s another reason why we’re not afraid to jump in there now because you can buy Euro 6 and still buy Euro 5 Kenworths from PACCAR.”

The patented Cummins design allows for flexibility in terms of application and installation, with options available for vertical post mount or gantry mount outside the frame rail/ inside of frame rail. This is partly why the Cummins Euro 6 engine has been a great match for the latest K200s in the Collins Adelaide fleet as it suits both B-double and B-triple applications, equally.

Carl anticipates the X15 Euro 6 engines will also be running on roadtrains for the fleet in the near future. Uptake of the newer engine technology is also intrinsic to meeting new customer expectations.

“Our customers are starting to require greener vehicles,” says Carl. “Everything we purchase from now on will be Euro 6.”

Collins Adelaide also specifies Meritor drivelines across the fleet from the steer axle right through to the differentials where it uses the MT21-165G tandem drive axle in 4.3 ratio.

“This specification has given us lower operating temperatures and married with the Cummins E6 the specification is perfect for both B-double and B-triple configuration,” says Carl.

Diff oils are changed at 220,00km for front diff and 320,000km for rear diff as part of the preventative maintenance program “The oil is still in excellent condition,” says Carl. “The reliability of the MT21-165G is awesome.”

Economic and supply chain obstacles have arisen for many operators in the transport industry over the past 18 months. For engaged heavy vehicle workshops this is generally reflected in how it handles inventory.

“We are proactive in ensuring we have parts for all of our equipment in stock at all times and therefore hold more stock than previous years,” says Carl. “Unfortunately, sourcing parts ‘just in time’ is a thing of the past.”

The business approach to fleet replenishment and capital expenditure regarding its assets has evolved, too.

“We have modified trailer purchases to reflect the growing requirement for B-triple operation and we obviously need to be acutely aware of the build times of all equipment so have modified our ordering process to reflect this,” says Carl. “We have remained quite busy and achieved the utilisation numbers we require but to achieve this we have been very fortunate to have an excellent team of employees in all areas.”

From engine rebuilds, warranty, general maintenance, troubleshooting and general advice when they are diagnosing in the workshop, Cummins, according to Carl provide exceptional support in all areas. Trevor Doecke is the Cummins On Highway Accounts Manager. Trevor, in Carl’s words, is always available, always helpful.

“Trevor is very supportive and understanding of our requirements to keep the fleet utilised,” he says. “We have been dealing with Trevor for a number of years and he understands our business.”

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