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