Sappi Forests and its contracted timber haulier, Timber Logistics Services, have opted to invest in a 15-truck fleet of so-called “Smart Trucks” – specialised, abnormal-load logging units that enable contract-specific tonnages of raw timber to be delivered to paper and saw mills using fewer vehicles, cutting both operating and fuel costs, harmful emissions, road damage and traffic congestion…
Guided by the tenets of Road Transport Management System (RTMS), an industry-led self-regulation programme governing load optimisation, driver safety and vehicle maintenance, Sappi Forests and Timber Logistics have partnered with MAN Truck & Bus SA to introduce the 15 new vehicles to service Sappi’s forestry supply chain from plantations in KwaZulu-Natal to its Saiccor mill at Umkomaas, on the South Coast.
Robin Pretorius, transport development manager, Sappi Forests, says the 15 MAN 6×4 rigid freight carriers are essentially standard factory units with some minor modifications to comply with performance-based standards (PBS) specifications that ensure abnormal length/load vehicles are stable and safe.
Brian Hunt, managing director of Timber Logistics Services, says the current order is due to a longstanding relationship with MAN. “Reducing total cost of ownership is a primary driver when it comes to fleet renewal, as is enhanced productivity. Six months ago a MAN TGS 33.480BB test unit was put to work at our operation while its PBS approval process was under way.” The fuel consumption figures it delivered outperformed another 373 kW (500 hp) vehicle by four to five litres/100 km, translating to a R3 million/year saving for the new fleet. Servicing costs are also much lower. The 25,7 metre truck pulls an Afrit-designed five-axle drawbar trailer.
Governed by Sappi’s stringent service-level agreements, Timber Logistics operates on a 90 percent uptime principle, demanding optimum reliability from its vehicles. “It’s a 24/7/365 business we’re in and having a vehicle able to get to loading points in plantations, on forestry roads in inclement weather is crucial to our meeting our contractual obligations,” adds Hunt. “The MAN TGS 33.480 is able to go where no other competitor model can without getting stuck, making it a clear winner for our application.”
Powered by the MAN D26 common-rail engine of 353 kW (480 hp) with a MAN TipMatic automated gearbox and ZF Intarder, the TGS 33.480 has a permissible GCM of 90 000 kg and carries a maximum 48 500 kg payload in the Smart Truck configuration.
Bruce Dickson, deputy CEO at MAN Truck & Bus SA, says the excellent power-to-weight ratio of the TGS 33.480 – plus its high ground clearance, hub reduction axles, class-beating torque output and tractive force – makes it ideal for forestry applications.
The 15 MANs are backed by a four-year/600 000 km MAN extended warranty, a full OEM maintenance contract and a guaranteed buyback clause after three years.
“This brings unprecedented levels of cost predictability to our operation – made all the sweeter by the fact that the parts and servicing costs on MAN trucks are 25 to 30 percent less than competitor OEMs, delivering an annual saving of R1,6 million across our fleet,” says Hunt.