Taking Care of Business

As it grows in prominence as a container cartage provider, freight forwarder Mondiale VGL, is taking an assiduous approach to its modern truck fleet, the vast majority of which is now Euro VI compliant.

Two significant years have unfurled at Mondiale VGL following the merger in 2021 of VISA Global Logistics and Mondiale Freight Services.

That merger catapulted the new company, known now as Mondiale VGL, into the world’s top 30 freight forwarding services and has supported other key developments, namely the acquisition of Customs Agency Services (CAS) in South Australia.

As the company continues to build a global supply chain operation with roots firmly in the Asia Pacific region, growth by acquisition remains a crucial part of its strategy to build scale into the business.

The acquisition of CAS will historically be looked back on as having helped the group achieve this very objective while consolidating its national footprint in the Australasian market. The company also boasts an extensive road transport and wharf cartage division.

Mondiale VGL currently operates 135 prime movers, 480 pieces of trailing equipment and several rigids across the national network in Australia.

Scania Australia has been a major supply partner since 2017 and the relationship is set to deepen with an upcoming order of 44 vehicles, the first of which have recently arrived.

Scania 560hp in Brisbane.
Super B in Brisbane.

Four new Scania R 590s have been delivered with the remainder, according to Mondiale VGL National Fleet Manager, Rory Gerhardt, to be drip-fed into the fleet over the next 12 months.

“Obviously delays have inhibited manufacturing worldwide and shipping, but these new vehicles make up part of a replacement program that is underway in perpetuity,” he says. “Another big thing that we pride ourselves on is having the most modern waterfront fleet. A majority of our fleet now is Euro VI and by about this time next year it will be 100 per cent Scania with regard to all prime movers.”

He adds, “When I’m talking prime movers it’s predominantly Scania.”

The Scanias in the fleet are run for seven years all under fully maintained contracts. There are 91 units at present.

The latest additions, which include new trucks from Scania’s updated V8 range and new Super 13-litre powertrain lineup, are replacing outgoing MAN and Mercedes-Benz units.

Fleet operations are shaped according to back to base movements before freight is transported to third parties. Linehaul scarcely accounts for less than 2.0 per cent of road container movements.

There are, however, longer routes the prime movers are infrequently dispatched such as Melbourne to Sydney and Sydney to Brisbane. Some work originating in metro areas also gets hauled to places like Bathurst, Toowoomba and Bundaberg.

High productivity container movements are, for this wharf cartage specialist, the name of the game. Well over 400 of its trailers are approved for Performance-Based Standards. Recently eight quad sideloaders, two quad ramps and six more quad retractables have been ordered.

These will be the latest high productivity vehicles to come online later this year. The fleet has made wide use of what it calls a ‘stag set’, whereby a 40-foot container up front connects through the chassis rail with a 20-foot box at the rear, providing better weight distribution.

Mondiale VGL has more recently, however, pioneered a new quad ramp that is proving transformative on the wharf.

“We’re at the forefront,” says Rory. “I don’t believe anybody in Australia has these particular style quad ramps.”

It’s a drop deck trailer with a full ramp on the back of a quad axle with the capacity to carry over 30-tonne bulk and overheight boxes. There’s another advantage, too.

Forklifts can drive directly onto the trailer unload a container and drive off due to the unique ramp and pop-up deck design that forms part of the quad ramp. This equipment is built by Vawdrey and MaxiTrans.

Super B quad quad trailer.

Mondiale VGL presently has three of these units spread across different sites on the eastern seaboard with a further two more on order.

“This is an uncommon leading edge vehicle in Australia,” says Rory. “We’re one of the market leaders in that application.”

There’s roughly 21 A-doubles in the fleet and 60 ‘Super B’ sets which includes quad quad supers and quad tri supers.

Vehicles from the Scania V8 range including new R 590s are responsible for pulling these combinations.

“At least 80 per cent of our assets are HPV vehicles or on the PBS network,” says Rory. “Without our high productivity vehicles, we would basically shut the doors for transport.”

Having a modern and safe fleet is a priority when it comes to ordering vehicles.

Mondiale VGL therefore demands the best and gets it. Everything is high spec. All wheels are alloys. Every safety function offered by original equipment partners is chosen.

The new Scania units come equipped with an Area View HD 360° camera system that features four wide-angle 720p HD cameras that work together to cover the front, rear and sides of the vehicle, enabling visibility in every direction.

Wharf cartage means short trips through traffic with other trucks. Side detection, in which the LEDs in the A-pillars light up to alert the driver should they find themselves in a risky situation, are part of the package. There’s also an electronic stability program, adaptive cruise control and side curtain airbags.

“You name it, it’s got it,” says Rory. “There’s not many boxes that aren’t ticked when we order a Scania.”

Mondiale VGL has specified Scania add a factory configured auxiliary air conditioner bolted to the side of the cab.

Long hours of idling are a necessary evil when waiting at customer sites for drop swaps. About 42 per cent of time in fact.

“As you can imagine while off wharf waiting for boxes, we’re looking to shut off the engine where we can and that’s the reason for the auxiliary battery powered air conditioner,” explains Rory. “It’s hopefully going to save us a lot of money around just fuel burn let alone wear and tear on engines.”

Rory attended a Scania customer drive day held this past February in Anglesea. At the event he drove a litany of Scania vehicles set up with different loads and applications.

Scania comfort, according to Rory, who notes the plush layout of the dash and the quiet cab interior, has been enhanced again.

Scania R 590 on show in the Mondiale VGL yard.

“The truck smarts of the technology and the driver assistance makes it a pleasure to drive,” he says. “How it knows what gears to select. There’s none of that old school jerk and clunk and drop three gears and pick up two gears. Operation is seamless.”

Rory was particularly taken aback by the Super 560hp 13-litre Scania. The capabilities of the new inline six and its responsive G33CM transmission, have left an indelible impression.

“Even compared to the bigger vehicles on offer, these new 560s are a surprise packet,” he says. “When you’re pulling big weights, everyone expects that you’ve got to have the highest horsepower possible but the V8 590s and especially those 560s are very impressive pieces of equipment.”

Adapting to the vagaries of a volatile supply chain has made planning capital expenditure a different beast.

Capital expenditure approval, which now goes through the board following the merger, must be proposed 24 months out from anticipated delivery.

“It’s certainly made it harder to manage because it’s hard to know what we’re doing next month, let alone what we’re going to be in two years’ time,” explains Rory. “But we have worked very hard on understanding what our model is, what sort of contracts we signed, the type of customers we’ve got on board and which way the business is heading.”

Heavy boxes, as customers try to maximise their containers, are a decisive factor of logistics these days.

Weighing over 30 tonnes, the heavier containers can make demands of a fleet and the only mode of ensuring untrammelled movements is to have suitable equipment, ready to go.

The Scania V8s and the quad quad combinations have been acquired knowing that they can shoulder the customer requirements around heavier containers coming into the country.

Mondiale VGL’s recent growth has established solid strategic and financial foundations. Current and expected market dynamics have created further opportunity to scale and the business is fully focused on continuing its expansion journey to enhance the customer offering according to Ray Meade, Mondiale VGL Group CEO.

“Today, we are seeing clear evidence of the advantages that the merger and acquisition of CAS have delivered through increased international trade lane access, enhanced technology and sustainability initiatives, and the achievement of the growth milestones we mapped at the outset,” says Ray. “While the sector faces ongoing pressure, our united volumes, long-term relationships with carriers and suppliers, and combined 40 years of industry knowledge have enabled us to solve complex supply chain issues and provide increased commercial value to customers.”

A key factor powering this continuity over the last two years has been the way its people have come together and embraced the merger according to Ray.

“We’re thrilled to watch them grow their careers within a global organisation and have made several senior appointments to support our expansion ambitions,” he says. “Mondiale VGL’s recent growth has established solid strategic and financial foundations. Current and expected market dynamics create further opportunity to scale and we are fully focused on continuing our expansion journey to enhance our customer offering.”

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