PAC­CAR TURNS UP THE HEAT

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Lo­cally as­sem­bled DAF trucks, a $37 mil­lion ex­pan­sion pro­gram and a pre­view of Ken­worth’s new T410 and T360 mod­els – it’s all hap­pen­ing at Pac­car HQ

The assem­bly of DAF trucks on the same pro­duc­tion line as Ken­worth also marks the start of a $37 mil­lion ex­pan­sion pro­gram for Pac­car Aus­tralia and its highly ac­claimed Bayswa­ter man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity. And if that’s not enough to keep the com­pe­ti­tion on its toes, we can ex­clu­sively re­veal first de­tails of Ken­worth’s new T410 and

T360 mod­els. Steve Brooks re­ports

BLANK THE BRAIN for a few sec­onds and you can al­most hear the purists moan­ing in protest: “DAF be­ing built on the same line as Ken­worth. Never! No way! Can’t hap­pen!” Well, they can moan all they like be­cause not only can it hap­pen, it is hap­pen­ing, and there are none hap­pier about it than the peo­ple of Pac­car Aus­tralia. At ev­ery level, from the fac­tory floor to the ex­ec­u­tive ech­e­lons and sales teams within both the com­pany and its in­flu­en­tial dealer group, the op­ti­mism was al­most pal­pa­ble as the first DAF as­sem­bled at Pac­car’s Bayswa­ter (Vic) man­u­fac­tur­ing plant re­cently rolled off the line.

Phys­i­cally, DAF joins the pro­duc­tion line at that point where the en­gine is slot­ted into the chas­sis. More to the point though, the sight of a CF cab – for now, the CF85 model is the only DAF be­ing as­sem­bled at Bayswa­ter – be­ing low­ered onto a typ­i­cally Euro­pean riv­eted chas­sis, right be­hind the mak­ing of a ‘big cab’ Ken­worth K200, ham­mered home the re­al­i­sa­tion that the long-serv­ing Bayswa­ter fa­cil­ity has en­tered an en­tirely new era.

In­deed, if things go the way Pac­car con­fi­dently ex­pects, lo­cally as­sem­bled DAFs will emerge in ever in­creas­ing num­bers as the Dutch truck pro­gres­sively un­der­goes home­grown mod­i­fi­ca­tions and spec­i­fi­ca­tion tweaks all aimed at mak­ing DAF bet­ter equipped and sig­nif­i­cantly more ap­peal­ing for Aus­tralian con­di­tions.

In fact, such is Pac­car’s con­fi­dence that the Bayswa­ter fa­cil­ity is set to un­dergo a vast evo­lu­tion­ary ex­pan­sion over the next three years. As Pac­car Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Had­jikakou proudly ex­plained, a $37 mil­lion in­vest­ment in the Bayswa­ter plant has been ap­proved by Pac­car Inc, giv­ing the green light to a mas­sive make-over, which will ef­fec­tively dou­ble the phys­i­cal foot­print of the fa­cil­ity and see the in­stal­la­tion of ad­vanced ro­bot­ics to not only en­hance pro­duc­tion ef­fi­cien­cies, but sig­nif­i­cantly bol­ster ca­pac­ity to meet ex­pected in­creases in de­mand for both DAF and Ken­worth mod­els.

In Aus­tralia’s oth­er­wise be­lea­guered automotive in­dus­try, Pac­car’s com­mit­ment and con­fi­dence in lo­cal pro­duc­tion con­firms the rare be­lief and for­ti­tude of a very small, very suc­cess­ful band of lo­cal truck mak­ers.

Mean­time, and as much as it may go against the grain for some ded­i­cated Ken­worth dis­ci­ples, the sim­ple re­al­ity is that DAF has far greater po­ten­tial for growth than its il­lus­tri­ous coun­ter­part, and Pac­car prin­ci­pals know it bet­ter than any­one. As a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive re­cently re­marked in quiet con­ver­sa­tion: “Ken­worth cur­rently has around 20 per cent of the heavy-duty mar­ket. DAF has lit­tle more than three per cent. It’s not hard to fig­ure out which of the two has more room to grow.”

But let’s take a few steps back: It was in the last days of 2017 af­ter a can­did in­ter­view with Had­jikakou when we first broke the news that DAF would be as­sem­bled at the Bayswa­ter plant from Au­gust, 2018 on­wards. Plans were al­ready well ad­vanced and by June this year the first of three pro­to­type pro­duc­tion units was edg­ing its way down the line.

Yet back then, news of Pac­car’s plans to assemble DAFs at Bayswa­ter was al­most se­condary to a more im­me­di­ate event; pro­duc­tion of the 60,000th lo­cally-built Ken­worth, with a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion in front of Pac­car’s en­tire Bayswa­ter work­force and in­vited guests. That truck was a new T610 model bought by high-pro­file haulage com­pany and long­time Ken­worth sup­porter, Wick­ham Freight Lines.

Fate­fully, how­ever, it was a blunt ques­tion born from a sim­i­lar event a few weeks ear­lier that per­haps spurred Had­jikakou into first ad­mit­ting to a well-ad­vanced pro­gram to assemble DAFs at Bayswa­ter: “If Volvo and Mack can be built to­gether in the same fac­tory, why can’t Pac­car do the same with Ken­worth and DAF at Bayswa­ter?’ he was asked.

Thought­ful for a few mo­ments, a smil­ing Had­jikakou

replied: “Funny you should ask, be­cause that’s ex­actly what we’re do­ing.”

With the cat out of the bag and ob­vi­ously keen to lay a few facts on the ta­ble, a ju­bi­lant Had­jikakou con­tin­ued: “The lo­cal assem­bly of DAF trucks has been a dis­cus­sion point within Pac­car for the last few years, par­tic­u­larly as we’ve started to see our DAF vol­umes in­crease.

“Lo­cal assem­bly pro­vides us with op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop higher lev­els of cus­tomi­sa­tion in ar­eas such as chas­sis lengths, fuel and AdBlue ca­pac­i­ties, dif­fer­ent sus­pen­sion op­tions, and other el­e­ments to fur­ther our com­mit­ment to meet­ing cus­tomer de­mands and the spe­cific re­quire­ments of Aus­tralian ap­pli­ca­tions.”

He ea­gerly ac­knowl­edged that Pac­car Aus­tralia had mounted a strong case for Bayswa­ter to join fac­to­ries in the Nether­lands, UK, Bel­gium and Brazil to be­come just the fifth DAF assem­bly or pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in the world. Nor did he re­fute the sug­ges­tion that DAF vol­umes through Bayswa­ter will be minis­cule in com­par­i­son to Euro­pean plants in par­tic­u­lar.

Even so, it was a de­cid­edly up­beat Had­jikakou who said ap­proval for DAF assem­bly at Bayswa­ter was not only a ma­jor ini­tia­tive by Pac­car and a good thing for DAF in this coun­try, but also “… a great in­di­ca­tion of the fore­sight and faith of our par­ent com­pany, to in­vest in DAF’s fu­ture here, util­is­ing the skills and fa­cil­i­ties of Bay­waster and its peo­ple.”

Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral sources, the in­her­ent ver­sa­til­ity of the Bayswa­ter fa­cil­ity also al­lowed DAF to be merged into the pro­duc­tion process for rel­a­tively small cost. What’s more, the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of lo­cal assem­bly over the im­por­ta­tion of fully built-up units is said to be con­sid­er­able, given that assem­bly kits for up to eight trucks can be packed into just five con­tain­ers.

“It makes per­fect sense to do this … to em­ploy the skills and qual­ity work­man­ship of our em­ploy­ees and fur­ther utilise the world-class en­gi­neer­ing and pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties of our Bayswa­ter plant,” Had­jikakou said when an­nounc­ing the de­ci­sion late last year.

Then and now, he doesn’t shy from men­tion­ing that Pac­car has been build­ing trucks at Bayswa­ter for 47 years and given the con­tri­bu­tion of DAF assem­bly to the fac­tory’s vi­a­bil­ity, it will con­tinue to build trucks “… for at least the next 47 years”.

Planned or oth­er­wise, com­ple­tion of the three-year ex­pan­sion pro­gram will al­most cer­tainly co­in­cide with the 50th an­niver­sary of truck pro­duc­tion at Bayswa­ter.

Big plans

It gen­er­ally takes some­thing highly sig­nif­i­cant, even mo­men­tous, for Pac­car to ‘go pub­lic’ with a par­tic­u­lar ini­tia­tive or a no­table mile­stone; in re­cent times, some­thing

“Ken­worth cur­rently has around 20 per­cent of the heavy-duty mar­ket. DAF has lit­tle more than three per­cent.”

like the in­tro­duc­tion of a hallmark new model such as the T610 or the notch­ing of the 60,000th Aus­tralian­built Ken­worth.

Or, as Pac­car sees it, a his­toric mo­ment mark­ing the first DAF truck as­sem­bled in Aus­tralia.

Like­wise, it’s usu­ally a prom­i­nent and loyal cus­tomer who gets to share the lime­light which, in the case of the first Bayswa­ter-built DAF, was well-known Vic­to­rian com­pany, Cahill Trans­port.

Head­quar­tered at Laver­ton in Mel­bourne’s truck-cen­tric west, broth­ers Dan and Michael Cahill are the third gen­er­a­tion of a proud fam­ily-owned en­tity with a vi­brant his­tory in the freight busi­ness and an un­de­ni­ably strong as­so­ci­a­tion with Pac­car.

Ken­worth has fig­ured in the com­pany’s line­haul op­er­a­tions for sev­eral decades and speak­ing at a hand-over cer­e­mony in­side the Bayswa­ter plant in front of around 1,200 fac­tory staff, man­agers, deal­ers and in­vited guests in­clud­ing two high-rank­ing ex­ec­u­tives from DAF’s Euro­pean head­quar­ters, an an­i­mated Michael Cahill made no se­cret of Ken­worth’s ‘Aus­tralian Made’ at­tributes as a ma­jor fac­tor in their lik­ing for the brand.

He is, how­ever, also quick to em­pha­sise that DAF has be­come a prom­i­nent part of an in­creas­ingly di­verse Cahill oper­a­tion which has taken de­liv­ery of around 60 units at var­i­ous times, from LF rigids to the XF flag­ship, but most no­tably, the ver­sa­tile CF model.

“We were happy to put our hand up for the first Aus­tralian­built DAF,” Michael con­firms.

As the best-sell­ing model in the DAF range, it’s easy to un­der­stand why the CF85 is ini­tially the only model to be as­sem­bled at Bayswa­ter. Right now, lo­cal assem­bly of other mod­els re­mains a work-in-progress ac­cord­ing to Pac­car in­sid­ers, but as a res­o­lute Michael Cahill pre­dicted at the han­dover, “… the flood­gates will open for DAF in Aus­tralia now they’re lo­cally built.

“Pac­car’s com­mit­ment in this is ob­vi­ous, vi­tal and quite sim­ply, amaz­ing,” he as­serted.

Away from the cel­e­bra­tions, it is a se­ri­ous An­drew Had­jikakou who ex­plains that con­fi­dence in the growth po­ten­tial of DAF was one of sev­eral pow­er­ful mo­tives for Pac­car’s $37 mil­lion in­vest­ment in the Bayswa­ter plant. Ob­vi­ously, pow­ers-that-be at Pac­car head­quar­ters in Seattle share a sim­i­lar con­fi­dence.

To achieve that growth, how­ever, Bayswa­ter needs more ca­pac­ity. “Not just in pro­duc­tion, but also in ware­hous­ing,” he com­ments. “Ex­pan­sion will al­low us to bring most of our pro­duc­tion ma­te­ri­als in-house rather than stored off-site.”

Asked about fu­ture plans, specif­i­cally the like­li­hood of assem­bling DAF’s XF105 flag­ship at Bayswa­ter, he cau­tiously con­firms that while the 6x4 CF85 will re­main the only lo­cally as­sem­bled model for the mo­ment, the XF is cer­tainly un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

He agrees that lo­cal assem­bly also opens op­por­tu­ni­ties for a range of spec­i­fi­ca­tion ‘ad­just­ments’. Whether those ‘ad­just­ments’ go as far as push­ing the XF’s cur­rent power peak from 510hp to, say, 600hp with a Cum­mins X15 en­gine, re­mains to be seen. It was, how­ever, a forth­right Had­jikakou who said that while such a change is not out of the ques­tion, there are many prac­ti­cal is­sues (not least, electrics) that would first need to be over­come.

Fur­ther afield, DAF re­cently un­veiled a 530hp Euro 6 ver­sion of the Pac­car MX-13 en­gine at the Hanover truck show in Ger­many. It’s not yet known when it might be of­fered here in ei­ther DAF or the much an­tic­i­pated and de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent T410 model, due to­wards the end of the first quar­ter next year. Smart money, how­ever, would be on the higher rat­ing’s lo­cal in­tro­duc­tion in both brands within the next year or so.

Ken­worth Evo­lu­tion

While growth plans for DAF were a strong mo­ti­va­tion for ma­jor ex­pan­sion at Bayswa­ter, Ken­worth is at the core of Pac­car prof­itabil­ity and make no mis­take, ad­vanced pro­duc­tion pro­cesses for the mar­ket-lead­ing brand are top of the agenda in the fac­tory’s com­pre­hen­sive de­vel­op­ment pro­gram.

High on the heap is the in­stal­la­tion of ad­vanced ro­bot­ics to en­hance pro­duc­tion of the wider 2.1 me­tre cab on the T610, the up­com­ing T410 and T360 mod­els, and sooner or later, the wider cab’s in­clu­sion on the iconic T9.

Ac­cord­ing to Had­jikakou: “The fi­nal ex­tent of ro­bot­ics is still be­ing de­ter­mined but the changes and the ef­fi­cien­cies they pro­vide will be ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

Since its launch just two years ago, suc­cess of the T610 has been out­stand­ing, now sur­pass­ing the T909 as Ken­worth’s most pop­u­lar con­ven­tional and run­ning a very close sec­ond to the K200 cab-over as the top-sell­ing model in the range.

“It is a great truck and the mar­ket ob­vi­ously sees it that way,” Had­jikakou adds.

Even so, T610 hasn’t been with­out some teething is­sues: “But we were quick to get on top of those things,” he as­serts, promptly adding that lessons learned with the 610 have been duly im­ple­mented in its in­evitable sib­lings, the T410 and T360.

It’s early days for the two new mod­els and at the time of this re­port, only two of the eight pre-pro­duc­tion units des­tined for dura­bil­ity as­sess­ment and val­i­da­tion had been built.

Still, first de­tails are now com­ing to light and apart from the widely ap­plauded wider cab, the new mod­els also sport re­designed lights and hoods, im­proved en­try/exit to the cab, and crit­i­cally, re­vised di­men­sions in a num­ber of ar­eas. Vis­ually, the new­com­ers are eas­ily iden­ti­fied by less glit­ter­ing grille surrounds than the T610.

Ad­di­tion­ally, says Pac­car Aus­tralia di­rec­tor of prod­uct plan­ning, Ross Cure­ton, both the T360 and T410 have a cab floor 75mm (3 inches) lower than the T610.

Yet, whereas the T410 re­tains a 112-inch (2,845mm) bumper to back-of-cab (BBC) di­men­sion, Cure­ton ex­plains that the cab on the T360 has been pushed for­ward to cre­ate a short 106inch (2,692mm) BBC com­pared to the 110-inch (2,794mm) of the ex­ist­ing T359 model.

Pow­ered by the choice of a Cum­mins 6.7-litre ISB or 8.9-litre

Above: Cahill broth­ers, Dan (left) and Michael. Happy to put their hand up for the first DAF to roll off the Bayswa­ter line

Above L to R: Pac­car Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Had­jikakou ad­dresses part of a 1,200-strong au­di­ence of staff and vis­i­tors at the han­dover of the first lo­cally as­sem­bled DAF. For Pac­car Aus­tralia, a his­toric mo­ment; Michael Cahill firmly be­lieves lo­cal assem­bly will be a ma­jor boost for DAF in Aus­tralia

Above: Snapped! First prototypes of the up­com­ing T410 and T360 stick their noses out of the Bayswa­ter fac­tory for the first time

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