One of Australia’s largest vehicle towing and salvage operators, Ready Towing (yes, another dreadful Tachoblog title pun!) has made the first steps towards converting many of its 220 tilt tray tow trucks from manual to automatic by adding four Allison equipped UD MK 6’s to its extensive fleet.
Ready Towing’s four automatic UDs have proven to be more efficient, productive and economical, as well as being reliable and popular with drivers.
Established in the early 1960s with a single Ford F-series tow truck, Ready Towing has become part of the landscape in the burgeoning South East corner of Queensland and is now the largest tow truck operator in that state. A company does not grow in the competitive tow truck industry without constant innovation and the ability to embrace new ideas and technology.
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The switch to automatic trucks is in line with the Ready philosophy which has moved the company from pick-up based trucks with hook-and-job towing rigs to the latest technology, tilt tray trucks equipped with automatics, state of the art turbo diesels and the latest electronics and safety equipment.
The UD trucks which are now on the Ready fleet are equipped with Allison 2500 Series automatic transmissions and have been performing well beyond expectations.
Speaking to Tachoblog, Ready Towing’s operation manager, Rob Shervey, said that the switch to automatics was viewed with some suspicion by drivers, but those assigned to the four UDs now consider themselves the most fortunate in the company.
“Fatigue management is a big factor these days, and the drivers using the Allison equipped UDs have reported that these vehicles are easier to drive, less tiring and more efficient in Brisbane’s increasingly difficult traffic,” said Rob Shervey.
“Automatics are now part and parcel of Australian trucking, but they had to earn their stripes with the Ready fleet, and they’ve done that, proving to be economical as well as more efficient and smoother to operate,” he added.
“From light to very heavy duty trucks, automatics are becoming more commonplace, so when we needed to add some new trucks, we cast an eye over everything that was available.
“We tried some automated manuals, but they did not perform to our expectations, so when UD introduced Allison automatics, we decided to give them a try.
“The UDs are special as far as we’re concerned. This was our first experience with automatic transmission-equipped trucks, and the drivers are satisfied but more importantly, they are more productive because they are less fatigued after a day at the wheel,” he added.
Shervey says the company has a very diverse vehicle fleet ranging from 4.3 tonne Hinos through Isuzus and UD medium duty tilt trays to Volvo, Mack and International heavy duty wrecker trucks. “With such a wide variety of trucks and specification available today, it would be foolish to wed yourself to one brand,” said Rob.
“The evidence was strong that automatics are a better proposition than a manual or automated manual, particularly in city and suburban environments. This is where the Allison automatic shines.
“It’s still early, but fuel consumption has been very good, and combined with greater efficiency the Allison equipped UDs mount a compelling argument,” he said.
“There is also strong evidence that repair and maintenance costs to the drive-train will be less and that re-sale value will be higher for an automatic tilt tray truck.
“On that note, Ready trucks have an excellent reputation among buyers of second hand trucks, and our rigs are always in demand because we look after them to preserve resale value. The automatics will only enhance this in our view,” he added.
These factors were all part of the consideration in selecting the Allison-equipped UDs. At this point they are performing beyond expectations, both for the management team at the company’s Virginia headquarters in suburban Brisbane, and for the drivers lucky enough to be assigned to them.
“Once a driver spends a day or two behind the wheel of an Allison equipped truck, any scepticism about the performance of automatics quickly disappears, and you find it difficult to move them back to a manual,” Rob laughs.
The switch to automatic trucks has also opened up the range of drivers available to Ready in a labor market with a distinct shortage of highly skilled drivers.
‘We have had to look at a wider range of potential recruits in recent times and have employed five female drivers over the past couple of years. I think it will be easier to attract more drivers with automatic trucks on fleet,” he said.
All of the trucks are finished in the Ready yellow and blue branding which is so familiar in South East Queensland, it has almost become iconic.
With such a wide range of tow vehicles available no job is too small or too big for Ready Towing. The company is regularly called upon to move everything from very large pleasure boats to helicopters, pre-fabricated houses and heavy machinery.
While this type of work is rewarding, it’s the traditional ‘smash’, ‘trade’ and ‘family car breakdowns’ that keep the team of drivers and back-end office staff busy 24/7 providing the bulk of the business.
So if you’re in the Brisbane area and you breakdown, now you know who to call says Tachoblog.