For those hauling dirt, aggregate, cement, fly ash and other material, numbers are what it’s all about. Haul more product, make more money. And, if you save fuel in the process, that’s the gravy.
For Reliable Trucking, servicing California’s San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento Valley, spec’ing lightweight Kenworth T880s has increased payload by close to 800 lb., while improving fuel economy by 3.5 percent.
“Those are big numbers with a big payback,” said Joe Sostaric, Reliable’s general manager. “When you increase your payload by 2 percent, you’re talking substantial dollars. This is a very competitive business.”
Reliable operates 60 Class 8 tractors – the majority haul pneumatic double trailers loaded with dry cement, while others are hooked to bottom dump trailers for aggregate. A few flatbeds complete the trailer lineup.
According to Sostaric, the company saved about 300 lb. when it went with the Kenworth T880 and PACCAR MX-13 engine several years ago. But recently it lost another 500 lb. when the company spec’d its latest Kenworth T880s with the PACCAR MX-11 engine, rated at 430 hp with 1,550 lb.-ft of torque and driven through Eaton Fuller UltraShift Plus transmissions.
“That’s 400 lb. right there. Other specs got us another 100 lb.,” Sostaric said. “And we’re getting the same pulling power as we were with our previous engine, but with better fuel economy. That can mean up to $1,000 a year in fuel savings per truck.”
Working with NorCal Kenworth – San Leandro, the new T880s were also spec’d with a shorter wheelbase. “We rely heavily on NorCal Kenworth and Colin Petrie (NorCal new truck salesman) to help us configure a truck that best meets our needs,” said Sostaric. “Colin is really an expert in vocational spec’ing and was instrumental in helping us build a truck to save weight. The shorter wheelbase – going from 159-in. to 152-in. – means we were able to get rid of the center bearing. This allows room for our blower (to blow out dry cement from the trailers) to be mounted under the driver’s side. This not only saved weight, but it gave us a very clean installation. All told, we came in at just over 12,400 lb. tare weight, which we feel is fantastic.”
With each truck making between two and four deliveries per day, driver comfort has always been top of mind for Reliable. “Our industry has always been very competitive for drivers and we want to stand out with our equipment to help us attract the best drivers,” said Sostaric. “The T880 is not only great when it comes to productivity, but it’s well received by our drivers.”
“The equipment I drive makes a big difference to me,” concurred Gary Wager, who has driven trucks since 1988 – the last five with Reliable. “I’ve driven everything from cabovers in my early years to just about every conventional out there. I can honestly say that the Kenworth T880 is the most relaxing truck I’ve ever driven. Everything is in easy reach and the visibility all the way around is something else. I can see everything. It’s also the quietest truck I’ve ever been in – and that makes a big difference.”
Like many old-style drivers, Wager was apprehensive when Reliable decided to move from manuals to automated manual transmissions (AMTs). “I had always driven a stick and I never thought I’d want to drive a truck with an AMT. But, after driving the UltraShift Plus, it changed my mind. I wish I had started driving an AMT years ago – it’s that nice. And, the combination with the MX-11, I’m never left begging for power. I can’t tell the difference between this and the bigger MX-13 engine we were driving before.”
Kenworth Truck Co., www.kenworth.com