Return of the Mack

The arrival of a new Mack Anthem, and with more units to come, suggests Port Kembla-headquartered fuel haul transporter, Kel Campbell, is returning to its roots.
Kel Campbell Transport Mack Anthem near Port Kembla.

Family-owned fuel distributor, Kel Campbell launched its operations in 1984 with a 1971 Mack R600.

Another eight Macks followed in the ‘90s as the New South Wales fleet came to prominence. Based out of Port Kembla, the transport operation is an arm of Campbell Petroleum Distributors that takes pride in servicing the Illawara, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla, Eden Monaro, Bombala, Cooma, ACT, Goulburn, Yass and Southern Highlands regions.

Company remit is straightforward: to combine world-class fuel and lubricants with reliable distribution across a wide network. Powering Kel Campbell’s operations are a range of vehicles to suit all delivery requirements from large industry, transport and retail sites to small farm deliveries.

In addition to offering equipment analysis and recommendations for products best suited to makes and models of machinery, Kel Campbell has a range of its vehicles fitted with pumping gear for above ground deliveries as well.

After experiencing a recent period of growth throughout the business it was obvious that Kel Campbell needed another prime mover to keep up with its expanded operations.

Owner, Tim Campbell, was in the market for a solution. And it was after purchasing a 2021 Volvo FM11 8×4 from Southern Truck Centre in Wollongong, that he was introduced to the current Mack generation.

“We decided to have a look due to COVID truck availabilities,” he says. “The supply chain went haywire so to speak, and Mack being manufactured in Australia showed us some benefits. They had a shorter lead time to some other providers, and compared to other trucks that are designed for pulling a single trailer, I think the Anthem’s power for its price point is exceptional.”

That made the Anthem, according to Tim, the perfect fit. “Availability was key, but also that it’s fit for purpose for the fuel industry,” he says.

Daniel Bujnowicz.

“With the electronics and the weight of the prime mover, it has specifically suited itself to fuel industry short haul applications. This is where Mack is excelling. So, there’s other vehicles that we rule out for this application because they don’t meet those criteria.”

Tim says Mack’s involvement with Volvo has led to a series of technological advancements of in-cab electronics that are required for fuel industry contracts.

For example, Mack’s new electrical architecture brings the Anthem Predictive Cruise Control to record topographic data to optimise driveline performance and reduce fuel consumption.

Crucial, especially when movements are often across the Southern Highlands and Illawarra Escarpment. What’s more, an integrated Bendix Wingman Fusion active safety system is standard in the Anthem to provide adaptive cruise control, blind spot alerts, autonomous braking and roll stability.

Due to these advancements, Tim is a firm believer the Mack Anthem is now suitable for Kel Campbell’s particular style of work. So, a unit was imported to Southern Truck Centre from another dealership for Kel Campbell to take home.

Four months down the road with over 40,000 kilometres under its belt, the Anthem is being used for return to base short haul to and from Wollongong.

It travels along a series of uphill and windy roads in Sydney along the south coast and as far as Bega to do deliveries carting a 45,000-litre tri-axle trailer. With the majority of the fleet being Kenworths, Kel Campbell’s Logistics Manager, Daniel Bujnowicz, was concerned on how a Mack would take to a single trailer at HML weights over the south coast terrain.

But after seeing how well the Anthem has performed since it arrived, he says there was nothing to worry about.

“We weren’t sure what to expect, but it’s outdone all of the expectations for both Tim and myself, it really has,” he says. “And there’s been nothing but positive feedback from the driver group, they reckon it handles great. We double-shift our trucks six to seven days a week, so they don’t stop. So far it has not given us any issues whatsoever, nothing at all. It’s been fantastic.”

Bendix Wingman Fusion active safety system helps with roll stability.

The Anthem is powered by a 13-litre Euro 5 MP8 engine which offers 535 horsepower and 1655 to 1920lb-ft of torque. The 12-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), known for maximising driver comfort, payload and fuel economy, has become a favourite feature among Kel Campbell’s drivers.

“They reckon it drives perfectly straight, handles well and is very comfortable,” Daniel says. “I’ve had four different drivers test it down the south coast – a real windy, hilly and unstable type of road hard on both the driver and the truck. But they loved the stability of it. They reckon it handles really well. I think the comfort, horsepower and the gearbox were all surprises to them as well.”

Daniel compares the Anthem to his use of Macks earlier in his career.

“I drove CH Macks years ago for another fuel company, and they’ve come a long way since then,” he says. “You couldn’t break the old ones back in the day, but they were rough as. But the new style is basically like a European truck, and it actually looks the part as well. You can tell what it is when it’s coming towards you, that’s for sure.”

With a striking exterior designed for aerodynamic efficiency by having less seams and closed gaps between the panels and 1.8 metres of headroom in the cockpit (2.1 metres in the sleeper compartment), Tim says the Mack Anthem is ergonomically correct for the drivers inside. And, with the new Anthem delivering on all of Kel Campbell’s needs and more, the fleet has already placed an order for a second one.

“We were very happy with the first one, so it will be used for exactly the same thing,” Tim says.

“We are still growing, and we realised we needed to get more trucks on the road quickly. Southern Truck Centre’s Sales Manager, Jarrod Smith, made some build slots available in a timely manner that made it extremely advantageous for us to jump on that. So that made it possible for us to grow the fleet with new equipment rather than hanging onto old stuff.”

There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for new Macks in the fleet beyond this order, as Tim confirms he is planning to further increase the presence of the Anthem in the fleet going forward.

“We’ll definitely consider them again, for the exact same purpose of what we’ve bought these other two for,” he says.

“The drivers love driving this Mack compared to some other vehicles we have in the fleet, and I see no reason why we won’t continue to buy them.”

Mack Anthem tanker leaving the depot.
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