Australian transport operators are increasingly trending toward automatic transmissions for trucks working in the distribution sector, underlined by yet another leading food distribution company switching to Allison fully automatic transmissions in an effort to improve driver recruitment, reduce vehicle downtime and increase efficiency
SYDNEY – As it continues to update and increase the efficiency of its trucks, Bidvest is adding 40 new Allison-equipped Hino trucks to its 400-vehicle fleet throughout 2016. All of Bidvest’s trucks, up to an eight-pallet capacity, are now specified with Allison Automatics to ensure ease of operation, thereby aiding driver recruitment.
Harris Tran, Bidvest’s category manager for services, said Allison Automatics were the best fit because they’re easier to drive and reduce the need to recruit highly trained drivers, unlike vehicles equipped with manual transmissions.
“The lack of highly-skilled drivers is particularly evident in regional areas where smaller populations mean there are just fewer people to choose from,” said Tran. “For that reason, automatic trucks have been very important for us in recruiting enough staff to do the job.”
In its latest fleet renewal, Bidvest is adding another 20 of the recently launched 500 Series Hino FE 1426 Auto models. These use a J07E engine producing 260 hp (191 kW) and 794 N•m matched to Allison 2500 fully automatic transmissions.
“We have a company directive to specify only automatic transmissions in medium-duty trucks from now on,” he said. “Initially, the idea was to help be able to recruit drivers from a wider spectrum of driver ability; however other efficiencies have been realized as a result.”
Bidvest’s drivers spend a good proportion of their lives in the trucks, making it critical to supply them with something comfortable and easy to operate. This is just another reason to invest in automatics, which they’ve done for all vehicles up to an eight-pallet capacity because, according to Tran, they're easier to drive and more efficient than manuals.
“In addition to being easier to operate, they are also safer in our opinion, because drivers can concentrate on maneuvering and not on changing gears,” he said. “Our trucks spend six to 14 hours a day on the road and most operate in urban environment with dense, start-stop traffic and frequent off-loads. In this environment, Allison Automatics are far more efficient and far less fatiguing for our drivers,” said Tran.
Established in 1995 to provide a one-stop distribution supply chain, Bidvest has more than 2,500 employees working in 55 branches across Australia. Specializing in wholesale foodservice, meat, fresh food and logistics, Bidvest has developed over 50 business units across multiple divisions.