Paul Smart Transport is operating at the forefront of the fast-changing construction industry. That’s why the UK haulage contractor has been testing Scania’s new construction vehicles for more than a year.
Fierce competition and changing legislation have made Paul Smart Transport an innovative and demanding haulier. The company is based in Bristol, in the UK, and operates a fleet of 35 trucks.
“In 2008, 100 percent of our fleet was from another truck brand,” says owner Paul Smart. “Today, we are 100 percent Scania.
“We get a very low vehicle downtime”
“This change is due to the total operating economy,” he explains. “For sure, the upfront cost of a Scania vehicle may not be the cheapest, but with its reliability, fuel economy and the support we get from the dealerships, we get a very low vehicle downtime.
“And together with the services we get, this is the most cost-efficient solution for a construction haulier today,” he says.
Paul Smart has the ‘2+2’ on all new Scania trucks, which means a two-year warranty and two years service, including the yearly Ministry of Transport test. This, he says, gives him peace of mind and enables him to plan all maintenance ahead at a fixed cost.
“In the past few years we have constantly checked and compared Scania with other brands, but we have stayed with Scania because no one beats their lifetime cost,” he says.
Smart started his own company in 1993, and since beginning with just one second-hand truck Paul Smart Transport has become a sizeable and innovative modern construction haulier. Today the company delivers asphalt, aggregates, sand, animal feed, glass and agricultural crops all over the UK.
“Improving efficiency is more important than ever”
“With constantly shrinking margins in the construction transport industry, improving efficiency is more important than ever for operators like us,” Smart says. “We need really reliable vehicles. That’s why we only work with Scania.”
Over the years Paul Smart has seen many changes in the construction transport business – and he has constantly adapted his company’s strategies and vehicle fleet in response.
“The most important changes have been the much longer distances and heavier loads in our business,” Smart explains. “Like most contractors, we used to work locally. Now we often deliver heavy loads of gravel or asphalt for road construction work that is more than 100 kilometres from Bristol. And that of course puts new demands on the vehicles we need. They must be robust and fit enough for tough operations in gravel pits and on dirt roads. At the same time they need to be fast and adaptable to the traffic on our highways.”
When asked to participate in Scania’s field tests of the new construction vehicles, Paul Smart immediately came up with some ideas to reduce the weight of the vehicles, to allow for a higher payload.
“Weight is crucial for us, especially in these longer transport missions,” says Smart. “If we are to earn some money in this business we need to load as much as possible as efficiently as possible, under the existing legislation.”
Smart adds that reliability of the vehicles is also of the utmost importance. “We are delivering products to customers working with highway maintenance. That means there are people there who are waiting for us and who are completely dependent on our deliveries.”
If the vehicle doesn’t get there in time, there will be penalties and charges. “But never for us,” says Smart, proudly. “The uptime we find with this new Scania is absolutely brilliant. Downtime doesn’t exist. The support we get from the local dealerships to keep us moving is outstanding.”
The construction industry in south-west England is booming, and demand for road surface material is higher than ever. “So we need to increase our capacity and be more efficient,” says Smart. “Then we need lighter vehicles that can take heavier loads.”
The field-test tipper that Paul Smart Transport is using in its operations is an eight-wheeler Scania G 370. Jason Townsend is extremely proud that he was chosen as a field-test driver for this future construction vehicle. Five days a week he transports gravel from a basalt quarry to an asphalt plant at Avonmouth, near Bristol. From there he delivers hot asphalt to road-building sites in the region.
“The road surface varies a lot”
Townsend explains that operations can vary from one day to another. “Some days it’s just short transports, with lots of starts and stops,” he says. “Other days it’s long distances with just a few stops and drops. The road surface varies a lot too. It can be very rough roads at low speed in the morning and hard surfaces at high speed in the afternoon.”
Townsend comes from a haulage family and grew up around trucks. He sees his mission as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and he only has praise for the new truck.
“From where the product was before,” he says, measuring with his hand above his head, “it has now gone up through the roof! That goes for the steering, the gearshifting, the braking system, the vision from the cab – everything relating to safety has been vastly improved.
“The thing I like most is the improved braking system,” he says, “especially in combination with the retarder. As a driver you really feel you are in full control with this vehicle.”