A replacement program unique to the industry was undertaken by Mercedes-Benz and SCT Logistics supported by Daimler Trucks Murwillumbah. SCT had chosen to replace their dedicated but ageing sugarcane fleet with new Mercedes-Benz Actros 2646LS Prime Movers so let’s look at how this was achieved.
Relentless Truck use
The dense alluvial soils of the Mount Warning area in NSW have long made it favourable for agriculture, notably sugarcane. 500 independent sugarcane farmers populate this area and in recent years their area has been expanding due to more broad care farmers electing to grow sugarcane.
At the start of each harvest, a fleet of 31 dedicated SCT trucks roars into life ferrying sugarcane between farm sites and the nearby mills 24 hours a day seven days a week. Pick up and delivery may only mean a round trip of 150 km but the impact on the trucks is literally relentless. The trucks use purpose-built trailers to deliver their cargo at the mills more efficiently, but the constant shuttling and apparatus required are unique to the industry.
Up until 2019, SCT Logistics had been using Kenworths for the operation, but the transition to Actros started when it introduced 16 new Euro 6 Mercedes-Benz Actros 2646LS trucks as part of a comprehensive fleet replacement program involving seven purpose-built quad axle skel trailers – the first of its kind approved under Performance-Based Standards (PBS). A delicate operation since sugarcane harvest varies seasonally and every trip is crucial to maximising production, hence any payload capacity improvements were crucially important and were a major driving force behind the decision to change the fleet.
With an ageing Kenworth fleet needing to be replaced, SCT Logistics, who already had an existing alliance with Daimler Truck across other areas of its business, opted to try something new.
Introducing the Actros
The Actros’s quad-axle trailer allowed SCT Logistics to increase the payload capacity o 50.5 tonnes (27 tonnes for the trailer) whilst maintaining a total length of less than 19 metres. Going longer would mean throwing out the axle weights but working with suppliers closely meant that they could come up with the best payload-to-weight ratio.
The quad-axle trailing equipment is technically an over-axle tipping skel trailer. It has been sanctioned to 4.6-metres overall height. At the mill, driver prowess in the smooth-reversing Actros 2646LS dock the trailers at the cane tip, before tipping their trailer onto their backwheels and axle.
Quads allowed a unique trailer design that sped up the offloading process which was another major boost. Another 19 quad trailers were ordered in 2021, with the plan being to have all 26 units of the Mercedes-Benz fleet paired with quads.
In Season Servicing and Maintenance
In-season maintenance of the vehicles was conducted every 14 to 21 days, scheduled to coincide with maintenance days at the mills with SCT Logistics running the entire transport division. Daimler Trucks Murwillumbah provided additional support, so the trucks were ready to go a month prior to the new season.
With 31 trucks and 3 drivers per truck that’s a lot of maintenance and also training. By reducing operational costs, those savings can then be passed onto the customer and Daimler Trucks Murwillumbah is proud to be part of that.
Benefits of the Actros
Driver airbags, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and crash detection systems are all standard on the Mercedes-Benz Actros. The benefits when compared to the previous trucks outweighed everything with a heavier truck but with half a tonne more payload. It was near Murwillumbah, where Joshua Bray (an industry pioneer) whose farm at Kynnumboon produced some of the first sugarcane crops as early as 1869. The sugarcane industry has a long history in the area and it’s one Daimler Trucks Murwillumbah is proud to support. Now backed by a new generation of European truck expertise and the full support of local experts like ourselves.