Campaign Trail

A national recruitment campaign across its workshops and the introduction of ten new Fuso Canter service trucks signal some of the major changes underway at Toll.
A Fuso Canter attends Toll's Spotswood depot where it runs over 100 fuel tanker trucks.

The Toll portfolio since the transport and logistics behemoth sold off the general freight streams of the business, is orchestrated around complex, purpose-driven essential services for industry.

Because of this, Toll’s workshops, which are critical to the continuity of its Fleet, will see all manner of interesting applications come through the network — a network that covers locations all over Australia, servicing customers that require it often to go into very different and challenging environments.

As far as equipment goes there’s an embarrassment of riches from two-tonne light commercials to 200-tonne quad roadtrains.

The diversity of the truck applications is perhaps only matched by the geography.

Staff, depending on the location, can work near the beach, outback, city and rural settings. That ability to cater to a variety of lifestyles given the sites cover metropolitan, regional and the remote, has prompted Toll to look at how it can recruit new staff in a specialist field where labour is in high demand.

Last year the company commenced a national campaign on social media to attract mechanics, technicians, auto electricians and apprentices across their workshop and mobile service operations.

Progress is encouraging. Some 30 Diesel Mechanics are currently in the process of being onboarded across Toll’s network of strategically located workshops.

The company has subsequently learned a lot from that experience and have launched another campaign in recent weeks.

“We’ve basically, for the first time, co-ordinated it nationally, rather than having the states go their own way,” says Gerard Bridgeman.

“Toll is such a visible company that employs many people in so many different ways. We have a lot of great opportunities within the business for people who want to join us working on all fleet types and top line equipment and we are constantly reviewing that.”

Gerard is Trades Manager for Toll People. Based in Melbourne, he co-ordinates the recruitment for the workshops around Australia.

“It’s a much more collaborative approach and we have a lot more to do with each other,” says Gerard.

“I’m talking to Mitch Brooke for example, several times a day and that’s very visible now. We are all working as a team to make sure that the workshops are getting the staff that they need and getting the focus and attention they should be receiving as it is such a crucial part of the business.”

Mitch Brooke, National Fleet & Maintenance Manager, has spent the last 17 years in the heavy vehicle industry. He is enthusiastic about supporting talented apprentices and developing them into heavy vehicle mechanics.

“Significant capital expenditure is being invested in equipment over the next two years and a lot of that is going to align with these businesses that use our workshop support,” he says.

“There are some exciting opportunities on the horizon and a lot of new fleet and equipment that will come into the business which we’ll look to support internally within our workshops where it makes sense to do so.”

On that front, ten new Fuso Canters have just joined the fleet in a specialised service delivery task as mobile support vehicles working remotely between the workshops.

“Rather than having a fixed location we’ve now added a fleet of mobile vehicles and a mobile brake tester trailer that can go out and service our customers at their locations,” says Mitch.

“We’re going to customers rather than having them come to us and that’s where we have shifted the dial.”

Fitted out in Melbourne with custom-built bodies, the wide cab 4×2 Fuso Canter 815s, are powered by a 4-cylinder 3.0-litre engine able to produce 110kW at between 2840-3500rpms matched to a Duonic 6-speed Dual Clutch with auto and manual modes.

The new Fuso 815s have been built to provide drivers with everything they will need, no matter where they are, in safety features, comfort and tooling.

“That way guys can go out on site and reliably do pretty much any task that is thrown at them,” says Mitch. “The trucks have all the tools on each vehicle including a top of the range 18-volt battery technology, and a full lube system so we can service and capture waste oil on site.”

In addition to axle stands, torque wrenches, dial indicators and hydraulic presses, the trucks are each equipped with a microwave and fridge.

“For someone out on site they can work with having all of the required necessities as if they were at a workshop,” says Mitch. “They’ve got everything fitted out.”

Fuso Canter 815.
Fuso Canter 815 mobile support vehicle.

There is also a 7-inch LCD touch screen, Satellite navigation, digital radio, keyless central locking, 12-volt accessory power outlet and reverse camera compatibility.

The trucks can input up to five cameras and Toll has taken Fuso up on this capability, fitting a specially designed AI camera system, an innovative technology for Toll.

“The major upside for our diesel mechanics is that the Canters have been fitted out with safety in mind,” says Mitch. “We have cameras installed on them especially for when our workers might be working in remote locations. If there is an incident or someone is in trouble, we can quickly review the footage.”

Toll’s safety-first work culture is not merely a marketing exercise. It was meticulous in getting the vehicles exactly right.

The objective was to make them as operationally efficient as possible while ensuring the onboard systems and design was as safe as possible.

“We didn’t want to rush the process,” recalls Mitch. “It was important for us to deliver the best vehicles that we could to help support our businesses and customers.”

The first of these new Fuso Canters commenced operations out of Sydney with the final unit of the ten being deployed to a mine site just outside of Port Hedland.

Two diesel mechanics will operate on a two-on and two-off roster. They will work back-to-back to help support its fuel and security sensitive business on remote locations.

To that extent Toll has changed its offering in the last 12 months, to make themselves more competitive.

In keeping with these changes across the business, Toll now offers fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) at its remote workshops as part of a revamped recruitment drive.

Toll diesel technicians light up the engine bay.

“A lot of mechanics do enjoy the FIFO arrangement which isn’t everybody’s cup of tea,” says Gerard. “Some people want to do it, so we offer that. For the people who do not, we have jobs that will have them home to dinner with their family every night.”

As well as offering FIFO from Perth to Port Hedland, Toll offers a market competitive rate for their mechanics.

“That’s part of a bigger story we’ve got to tell,” says Gerard. “Working for Toll is a real opportunity for people. We are all about career advancement.”

That said, there’s still juicy work for bona fide diesel technicians across all locations day-to-day. Tasks cover a wide range of modern trucks and trailers.

“It’s more than just fleet maintenance. We offer a bit more,” says Mitch. “The workshop capabilities are designed to internally support our business units and customers on the back of their specific fleet requirements.”

The Global Logistics Division of Toll is contract-focused and therefore subject to volatility aligned to economic conditions across the different market segments. Not being tied to a fixed location is another upside of the new service vehicles with the ability for Toll to efficiently reallocate the fleet and support other parts of the business.

“That gives us that flexibility,” says Mitch. “Over recent years we’ve changed our operations and how we run the business. Historically, we did not have an apprentice program in place. That’s something we’re starting to see deliver runs on the board.”

Toll is now looking at a yearly apprentice intake. Nor is it strictly looking for young people, either.

“Older people who want to get into the industry, as long as they’ve got a good attitude, they’re equally suitable,” says Mitch. “We’ll be keeping an eye out for that over the next couple of years.”

Toll’s now familiar slogan “we move the businesses that move the world” is still as relevant as ever. The workshops, according to Gerard, are crucial cogs when it comes to ensuring those vehicles stay on the road.

“That’s at the very heart of what Toll does. The guys in all our workshops do an excellent job,” says Gerard. “We’re at the forefront of where any company wants to be as far as being progressive and being a good employer.” He adds, “It’s a company you’re proud to work for.”

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