AIMING FOR FUEL EF­FI­CIENCY

Volvo Driver’s Fuel Chal­lenge uses tech­nol­ogy to mea­sure care and skill, ul­ti­mately re­ward­ing driv­ers for their ef­fi­ciency

Owner Driver - - OWNER // DRIVER -

SKILL, CRAFT, pro­fes­sion­al­ism – not words you of­ten see bandied about in truck­ing in this day and age.

Aus­tralia’s econ­omy may ride on whirling rub­ber but driv­ers at the rock face rarely get much in the way of ac­knowl­edge­ment.

How­ever, our stan­dard of liv­ing is wholly de­pen­dent on the blood, sweat and tears of every­day truck driv­ers – whether they’re haul­ing out­back road trains, pick­ing up milk from the farm dairy or de­liv­er­ing gro­ceries to an in­ner city su­per­mar­ket.

Good news sto­ries in­volv­ing trucks and the peo­ple who drive them are thin on the ground. Volvo Trucks Aus­tralia how­ever has been push­ing to raise the im­age of the men and women who keep Aus­tralia’s wheels turn­ing.

On the face of it, Volvo’s Driver’s Fuel Chal­lenge (DFC) may seem like a thinly veiled cor­po­rate ex­er­cise in pro­mot­ing both its trucks and Dy­nafleet telem­at­ics.

How­ever, it’s one of the few events in this coun­try that ac­knowl­edges the skill and ded­i­ca­tion of every­day driv­ers. It also high­lights the pos­i­tive im­pact good driv­ers can have on a com­pany’s bot­tom line.

Vic­to­rian DFC fi­nal­ist Cameron Simp­son is the first to ad­mit that he was more than a lit­tle sur­prised to find out he was the most fuel-ef­fi­cient Volvo driver in the state.

“I don’t muck around,” he con­fesses with a grin. “I try and get it done and get back home in good time.”

Maybe it’s be­cause Cameron has some skin in the game.

He is, af­ter all, driv­ing for the fam­ily busi­ness – Alexandra-based fuel re­tailer Simp­son Fuel.

Nes­tled in the hills north-east of Mel­bourne, Alexandra is a tight-knit com­mu­nity. For many it’s the gate­way to the ski fields in the win­ter and to Lake Eil­don in the sum­mer.

Cameron and his brother Hay­den and sis­ter Sarah are the third gen­er­a­tion to en­ter the fam­ily busi­ness that was founded by their grand­par­ents, Ian and Mary Simp­son, back in 1953.

Their father and mother, Gor­don and Ja­nine, have been at the helm of the busi­ness for many years.

It’s an unas­sum­ing busi­ness from the out­side, a small coun­try servo and a dirt yard out the back. But this be­lies the scope of what the Simp­sons’ busi­ness cov­ers.

From farm­yards and sawmills to ski fields and re­tail fuel out­lets, the fam­ily’s four trucks toil through tight moun­tain roads and rum­ble through forests and farms in scorch­ing

sum­mer heat or icy, snow-banked high-coun­try roads.

Af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing Black Satur­day fires in Fe­bru­ary 2009, Simp­son Fuel was in­stru­men­tal in get­ting fuel back into burnt out ar­eas, even set­ting up an un­manned fuel site in the oblit­er­ated town of Marysville. Gor­don Simp­son is also a part of the an­nual Alexandra Truck Show com­mit­tee. There’s a def­i­nite com­mu­nity spirit that runs through the busi­ness.

“We’ve had some cus­tomers for well over 30 years,” Cameron says.

The busi­ness runs two rigids for farm and bush de­liv­er­ies as well as a PBS truck and dog and a semi-tanker.

Stand­ing in the warmth of the back of­fice, Gor­don even proudly dis­plays some draw­ings for a PBS A-dou­ble tanker, with a Volvo on the front, of course.

TEST­ING TO­POG­RA­PHY

Ac­cord­ing to Volvos’ Dy­nafleet telem­at­ics, Cameron scored 93 out of 100 be­hind the wheel of the FM540 tanker and quad dog.

That’s no mean feat con­sid­er­ing the wind­ing, hilly to­pog­ra­phy of the area. This truck’s main rea­son for be­ing is to haul fuel back to the de­pot from Cal­tex’s Spotswood ter­mi­nal.

The route takes in coun­try high­way, multi-lane free­way and metropoli­tan roads. The lit­tle FM works hard for its money at a PBS weight of 57.5 tonnes gross.

Cameron is a me­chanic by trade; he cut his teeth on au­to­mo­tive work be­fore head­ing to the West­ern Aus­tralian gold­fields to work as a heavy diesel fit­ter.

“I think be­ing a me­chanic by trade helps when it comes to driv­ing,” he says.

More time coast­ing and util­is­ing cruise con­trol are just some of the keys to sav­ing fuel

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