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Scania is the key link in the food chain

Scania V8 power and fuel efficiency delivers for South Australia’s food distributor

Peter Starke puts food on the table for all of South Australia and a fair bit of the east coast of Australia, as well.


The owner of Wightman Transport employs his fleet of 37 reliable Scania trucks to deliver for a major supermarket chain across the state, as a subcontractor to a global logistics company.


Wightman’s trucks travel from distribution centre to distribution centre using a fleet of refrigerated pantech A-B triples, B-triples and B-doubles as well as performing last mile suburban deliveries using a host of Scania rigids.


“Doug Wightman started his business in 1964 with a contract to deliver for a supermarket chain and we continue that business today, albeit now as a subcontractor,” Peter Starke says.


That 58-year relationship must be one of the longest in SA, if not Australia, and it is at the core of the family-owned business, that employs not only Peter, and his wife (Meredith) but also son Josh as General Operations Manager and daughter (Jess) as (payroll/accounts).


“We deliver reliability for our customer and their customer, and Scania is a key element of that reliability,” he says.


Peter says that the fleet is almost entirely Scania as he has traded five older European trucks for five new R 620 V8 prime movers.


“The new trucks will be pulling the larger combinations. We’ve been running road trains for seven years and A-B triples on permit for two years. The result is more freight moved with fewer trucks, which is more productive, efficient and reduces fuel burn overall.


“Our SA routes take us to the Iron Triangle, to Broken Hill as well as Berri and Mildura, Mount Gambier and Melbourne, and we run as many trailers in combinations as we are allowed to those locations. On an average day we’ll be sending out 100 plus loads – local and regional – which includes deliveries to local supermarkets across South Australia. In our peak we can efficiently move up to 200 plus pallets to and from the Iron Triangle, this includes tomatoes out of Sundrop Farms.


“We have been buying Scania since 2014, when open book contracting came in with our key client. We had other European trucks, but only Scania could provide a G 440 4x2 with air at both ends which allowed us to get deliveries into underground loading bays at supermarkets. That truck is still working today, with around 700,000 km on it, and it has been brilliant,” Peter says.


“We have a 2018 R 560 V8 which has clocked up 1,000,000 km and it is bullet-proof. It had a new water pump fitted and that’s it. We’ve had some six-cylinder G 500s, but our preference is for the V8s.


“Fuel is a key element of our business planning and ensuring we run as efficiently as possible is important. Where we can we’ll backload produce such as tomatoes, blackberries, and grapes from around South Australia and Victoria. Even with a backload we can average 1.9-2.0 km per litre as a triple with the V8s,” Peter says.


“We use Scania’s fleet monitoring which reports all our movements and driver behaviour. We had Scania driver trainer Kylie Shire down to go through the trucks with the newer drivers to explain the onboard tech and how to get the most from the engine with the best fuel figures.


“Thanks to the monitoring we can, for example, see who uses the power mode for the gearbox when the economy mode should be used, and we can pull them up on it. The training and the monitoring had a massive impact on the driver scoring, as well, and we’re very proactive about reinforcing the training messaging about efficiency,” Peter says.


“This isn’t just about the boss being paranoid about fuel burn, but also we need to be able to show our customer and theirs’ how safely our drivers are performing, no excessive over-speeding, etc. I have an employee who checks every logbook entry against the monitoring system trip report to ensure there are no anomalies. That’s how we can show our client that we are meeting their requirements for safe and courteous driving,” he says.


“Our trucks are on the road all day six and a half days per week, the drivers are paid well, so there’s no incentive to speed.


“Driving long distances over many hours is difficult, but my drivers say they feel fresh getting out of the Scania after a long haul. One of my guys who came (reluctantly) from an American truck said he’d never go back to it after driving the Scania,” Peter says.


“One of the guys I share a yard with has American trucks and he’s looked at the Scania bunk and commented on how much bigger his trucks are, but today so many drivers sleep in motels, so the bunk area is not an issue.” Peter’s trucks are serviced by Scania at Wingfield in Adelaide and there’s a standing booking for a truck to be services overnight on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


“The management there know how important it is for us to get the trucks in and out quickly,” Peter says. Wightman’s is a loyal customer of Haulmark Trailers and Peter pays tribute to the efforts of Mark Crossling, James, and Joe there for keeping their trailers services and repaired.


“We have two trailers a day in at Haulmark for servicing. We service trailers every 35,000 km, and they never let us down.”


Looking into the future Peter sees an increase in awareness of environmental issues and says he will be moving to Euro 6 emissions.


“I’ve seen a Scania R 660 V8 and that looks like it will be our next specification. I already have a Limited-Edition R 650 V8 in the fleet. With the new batch of five trucks, truck Number 1 honours the founder of the business Doug Wightman. His original truck was a Fuso and was painted red and white, and our new one will be running as a B-double or road-train on the Adelaide to Mildura run, under the control of one of our leading drivers.


“Wightman Transport is a great example of how Scania can not only deliver excellent product that’s right for the application, but also a series of additional services that assist the business to run as efficiently and productively as possible,” says Tim Jensen, Account Manager for New Trucks at Scania Wingfield in Adelaide.


“Peter and Josh have grasped the advantages of the whole Scania offer. We are delighted to deliver five new V8s and look forward to continuing a long running relationship with this very high-profile fleet.”