Record truck sales bring new technology to Aussie roads

Record Truck Sales Bring New Technology to Aussie Roads-hero image

Record truck sales bring new fuel saving technology to Aussie roads

Transport fleets are increasing their rate of adoption of fuel-saving technologies – and enjoying the benefits in fuel economy – according to the annual fleet study in the USA.

Australia has already seen trials of innovations like platooning, and our Truck Industry Council (TIC) says investment in new vehicles and their accompanying new technology is up in 2018.

New offerings like the Man TGX D38 are bringing latest fuel efficiency technology to Australian transport fleets.
New offerings like the Man TGX D38 are bringing latest fuel efficiency technology to Australian transport fleets.

What US transport fleets are doing with fuel-saving technology

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s (NACFE) 2018 Annual Fleet Fuel Study, which looks at the adoption of products and practices to improve freight efficiency among 20 major North American fleets, found the overall adoption rate for 85 currently available technologies grew from 17 per cent in 2003 to 44 per cent in 2017, with economic benefits totalling more than $636 million across the fleets in 2017. Fleet vehicles that were latest models were delivering up to 4.25kpl.

Let’s put the survey in context. In the United States, fuel costs over the past decade have fluctuated from around 20-40 per cent of the total cost of operating a commercial vehicle. While fuel-saving technologies have increased, barriers to adoption have included a lack of data about performance gains and a lack of confidence about the payback on investment.

Investment in proven technologies that let fleets do the same amount of business while spending less on fuel are a promising option, but the needs of operators are vastly diverse. The NACFE research aims to provide the information the industry needs by gathering information around the purchases of 20 fleets that involve any of the 85 relevant technologies.

The 2018 report found fleets that successfully adopted the technology tried to make the new specifications their norm, recognising that implementation was not always easy and involved a change management process including driver and technician training and new suppliers.

“ContinuiNACFE's 2018 report summarises adoption of key fleet fuel-saving technologiesng to make investments in technologies that improve fuel efficiency makes good sense,” a senior executive at one of the large US carriers told NACFE.

“Given the historic volatility of oil prices, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see the price of diesel go up, (and) fleets that have improved their fuel economy will be at a competitive advantage when that happens.”

Technologies that had the largest gains in adoption rate were cab extenders, lower viscosity engine oil, shift to neutral, direct drive transmission, in-cab cameras, high efficiency alternator, engine start-stop for HVAC, trailer tail fairings, trailer solar panels, two-speed/modulated cooling fan clutch, two-speed/variable speed water pump and trailer lift axle. Smaller fleets were higher adopters of cab insulation, tyre pressure monitoring and wide-base tyres.

The Australian story – a bumper year for truck sales

The good news in Australia is that truck sales results for 2018 suggest a record investment in new trucks, with their accompanying fuel saving features.  This year’s January to June result – with 19,970 heavy vehicles delivered – smashed the previous mid-year peak and bodes well for a more fuel-efficient industry.

Truck Industry Council (TIC) President Phil Taylor says it’s the first step in a long road– the average age of Australia’s truck fleet is 14 years for trucks above 3.5t GVM, compared with seven years in Western Europe, and the TIC argues adoption is being slowed by technical restrictions which mean we are out of step with global dimensional and axle mass limits, making it expensive to import some vehicles without expensive modifications.

“We need regulators to work more closely with truck manufacturers, the companies developing these technologies, to develop processes that could see the streamlining of new regulation development and introduction in Australia,” Phil says.

“Most importantly, we need these new technologies and features to filter through our nation’s truck fleet far more quickly than is currently happening, and that can only be achieved with a newer, younger truck fleet.”

Consider upgrading fuel storage and systems

If new vehicles are not yet an option, managing fuel quality through storage and monitoring fuel use through fuel management systems are proven options to improve fuel efficiency.

Poorly managed diesel fuel is responsible for about 80 per cent of engine failures in the transport industry, and in a time critical environment these failures can cost a business much more than the price of engine repairs.

Find out more about keeping fuel costs down from the fuel storage specialists at

High-tech fuel saving solutions for big rigs are on the way

truck platooning

When it comes to disruption, big rigs are a big target.

The road transport industry is one burdened by high fuel, labour and safety costs – but that could be set to change as Silicon Valley disruptors increasingly focus on new ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. And the changes are coming soon to a highway near you.

truck platooning

Last year, the WA Government approved truck platooning trials in the state in conjunction with  Silicon Valley innovators Peloton Technology.

The technology creates a form of convoy where all vehicles are in constant communication to synchronise speed, braking and positioning. The lead truck assumes control of the platoon through vehicle to vehicle communication, and depending on the trailers used and the gap between vehicles, which can range from 1.5 seconds to 0.6 seconds, the reduction in drag can realise fuel savings of up to 12 per cent.

It’s a promising advance – particularly in Australia, where lengthy truck routes between urban centres make the potential benefits even more pronounced.

Addressing the trucking industry pain points now

As Peloton Technology founder Josh Switkes told, entrepreneurial interest in trucking is growing and game-changing technology is closer than you might think.

Switkes had worked with Volkswagen and the venture-backed start-up Tula, mostly looking at advancements around cars, when by chance he read some statistics around trucking.

“I was blown away by the statistics about money spent on fuel and labour costs and crashes,” Switkes told

“And I wrote that down because it really struck me.”

That interest led him to gather a team and start Peloton in 2011 then set out to gain a better understanding of the industry and what changes could help transport companies in the short-term. They started by going to trucking shows.

After talking with fleet owners and suppliers, he and his co-founders took what they’d learned and focused on platooning technology to reduce drag and boost fuel efficiency.

Their idea was to create systems that would control braking and acceleration, so fleet owners could benefit from fuel savings and reduced crashes while still keeping a human behind the wheel.

Six years down the road, testing has shown the front vehicle in a two-truck platoon using Peloton’s software increases its fuel efficiency by 4.5 per cent, while the rear vehicle has a 10 per cent improvement.

In April this year, Peloton raised $60 million in venture capital, led by telematics pioneer Omnitracs.  Volvo Group Venture Capital is also among investors.

The semi-autonomous driving technology is expected to be on the market within months, with 2018 tipped to be the first full year of sales.

Volvo is already working with Peloton to integrate the technology into its trucks, and regulators are expected to welcome the technology because it will support greenhouse gas emissions targets.

You can watch a demonstration of platooning in action below.

Peloton Platooning B-Roll: Utah from Peloton Technology on Vimeo.

For more information about keeping fuel costs down in the trucking industry, get advice from the fuel storage specialists at

Truck emissions? Getting the basics right starts with fuel storage.

semi-trailer on road. Awarenesss around trucking emissions.

Help Reduce Trucking Emissions with Sensible Fuel Storage Solutions

The Australian Trucking Association has weighed in on the Federal Government’s review of climate change policies with a submission focused on making the best use of fuel to support emissions reductions in the transport sector. With one of the oldest trucking fleets in the OECD, the ATA acknowledges low profitability and fuel costs are a significant issue for Australian road freight.

Among other measures, it highlights regular maintenance as a simple way to ensure vehicles continue to meet emissions standards, and argues strongly for maintenance requirements for fuel tax credits to be broadened to include every on-road truck.

We’d argue that getting fuel storage right is at the heart of emissions reduction and vehicle maintenance for transport fleets – here are some of the important points to consider.

Getting the basics right starts with fuel storage

As with anything, an important part of keeping your rig running efficiently and reducing maintenance costs is getting the basics right – and how you store your fuel is one of the often-neglected basics that can make a huge difference to vehicle productivity.

Fuel properties have the greatest effect on the performance of your machinery. What’s more, not only does the health of your fuel storage tank affect the quality of your fuel, but the quality of your fuel also affects the health of your tank.

  • Water ingress: Old and rusted tanks, or poorly sealed tanks, can allow significant amounts of water into your fuel. Water can also get in if the tank design allows, for example, a build-up in the spill bucket that can rush in when the tank is opened for dipping.
  • Corrosion: Corrosion in your tank can cause a number of problems. Corrosion in your tank means chemical reactions, and it’s likely to be a precursor to fuel spoilage through phase separation or to microbial growth.
    Fuel spoilage can affect your tank by:

    • Introducing microbes that create acidic by-products that will corrode your tank.
    • Creating a medium for water to be absorbed.

Best fuel storage options for heavy vehicle efficiency

If you’ve got ageing fuel storage systems, things like regular maintenance, dipping your tanks and draining off excess water are critical. Treating your diesel with a biocide is also a valuable preventative measure.

If your tanks are older and you’re looking to replace them with something that will help you maximise your fuel integrity and your fleet efficiency, here are some of the things you should look for:

  • Meeting Australian Standards and legislative requirements. This is a given – you can find out more about fuel storage legislation in different states here. These days it’s worth looking at self-bunded tank options that give you flexibility, save you money on installation costs and are fully relocatable.
  • Durable materials to minimise rust and corrosion. Some tank materials and fittings will react with your fuel and reduce its efficiency in your vehicle.
  • Easy inspection. Ideally, you should choose a tank that allows for safe and easy fuel testing and easy tank maintenance and cleaning.
  • Choose the right size for your fuel turnover. If you’re in the transport industry, you’ll likely have a steady turnover and your tanks will be filled regularly. Keeping them at the optimum level helps minimise reactions with air and water. It’s worth talking to an expert to determine what tank size will suit you best – don’t just go with what you’ve had in the past. Self-bunded tanks come in sizes up to 110,000-litres.

To find out more about the best options for your fleet, get in touch now at

Female Truck Drivers

More women driving big rigs is Heather’s dream

Women make up just 1 per cent of Australia’s long-haul truck drivers.

Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls (PHHG) co-founder Heather Jones has been working to change that statistic since she traded in her office chair for a spot in the driver’s seat 25 years ago, taking her two daughters with her on the road.

female truck driver heather jones in front of pink truck

Heather grew up on a farm, the second eldest of nine children – the family also fostered 57 children over 18 years. She drove her first tractor at age four and loved cars and bikes.

She was working as a secretary at a mining company when the call went out for Haulpak drivers and she answered.

In 2004 she bought her first trucks and set up her own company, Success Transport. Within two years she had 16 drivers and 15-20 trucks servicing the mining, farming and shipping industries in some of Australia’s most remote regions.

She still gets out on the road in addition to her role with PHHG, a not-for-profit which provides professional development and traineeship opportunities for women drivers.

F.E.S. TANKS interviewed Heather about the attractions and challenges of life on the road as a heavy vehicle driver in Australia.

What are the attractions of heavy vehicle driving for women in Australia?

Financial freedom and literal freedom. The entry level to driving a HR truck is very easy and it offers an extremely attractive financial package, dependant on the company you work for.

Once your truck is loaded you are your own boss, with no-one looking over your shoulder. Long haul is a lonely life, but that’s the work I enjoy the most – time to really think and with no phones ringing, no phone service.

Do you still get out on the road?

Yes, as my transport company is a small company I still drive three days a week. If you do come off the road into the office you can forget the real challenges of driving, the long hard slog, and the battle with the motorists who have no idea! As a professional driver you are constantly saving motorists’ lives by taking evasive action so you don’t rear-end them or hit them head-on.

Currently I do a Karratha to Wheatstone run, (the Wheatstone LNG project at Onslow) in a triple road train. At least once a week I do local semi deliveries and I am a pilot escort as well, so the odd job comes up every few weeks.

The longest vehicle I drive is 53.5m (three trailers). So long as I am fit and able I will continue to drive at least two days a week, in an ideal world!

What is the most challenging route you’ve driven?

The most challenging runs would be when you have put in a big week or two or three, and you are doing the long haul home, say from Derby or Broome to Perth (about 2400km), and it just never seems that you are making a mile!

What are the biggest fuel issues for truck drivers in Australia? Have unmanned refuelling stops helped?

The biggest challenge is the availability of fuel after hours and in the areas where we need to access fuel. Ease of access for a triple or quad road train is important too.

Stand-alone unmanned refuelling stops are fabulous. We have a few up here and yes, we use them.

As professional drivers we also need a 24-hour manned fuel stop to go to every 600km or so that has a big parking area for trucks, a quiet drivers’ room and a TV room, as when you are on the road you don’t often keep up with the news. We can get limited ABC radio reception, but every 200km or so you have to tune into a new station.

Also at the manned truck stops we need showers – preferably free if you fuel up there – healthy meal options, washing machines and dryers to clean our clothes.

About 80 per cent of all trucks in Australia are owner-drivers, and we work day to day so the road houses become our home away from home. For example in November 2012 I received a call from one of my dear clients who asked if I could be ready in one hour to head over to a mine 650km away for a week. I was ready in two hours and I came back four months later!

How did Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls begin?

In 2013 a group of us female truck drivers would meet every six weeks or so to have a drink and socialise. We got talking about the misconceptions about women drivers.

The five of us got together and formed the Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls to promote the women behind the wheel already, to promote road safety and to open up an opportunity for more women to join us out on the road.

And the response?

We get a lot of support. Last year we had two prime movers donated for 12 months from Volvo Group Australia for us to train new drivers in. We also have three companies we sub-contract to who encourage us to have new drivers while we work. Two of these companies, Joyce Krane and QUBE Energy, have also donated offices and classrooms to us for our training.

Heather and the team at Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls continue to work to encourage more women into the sector as a solution to looming heavy vehicle driver shortages, with the national road freight task predicted to double from 2010 to 2030.

We’d love to hear about your challenges on the road. Tell us your story below.

Oil Storage for Commercial Businesses

oil-storage. oil drum spilling out oil

Commercial Oil Storage. Don’t slip up!

If you’re in any industry that runs a lot of vehicles or heavy machinery, no doubt you are keen to get the best value out of your fleet – and who isn’t? – there’s a fair chance you’ll at some stage consider designing or equipping a new vehicle maintenance facility for your business.

oil-storage. oil drum spilling out oil

A properly run maintenance depot can help your fleet operate at maximum efficiency with minimum downtime.

Getting your oil and lubricant storage right is one of the critical considerations – we’ve listed some of the key points to note for your transport facility.

The Good Oil – Avoid oil storage slip-ups

Keeping the oil you use in top condition is critical to your operations. Not only that, but getting oil storage wrong can be an expensive mistake.

For many transport operations, the best option is to design an oil storage room for storing bulk oil tanks, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) and drums.

It’s worth consulting an expert when planning this part of your operation. You’ll need to check the storage regulations in your state to determine whether you need bunded tanks, which are generally considered industry best practice.

Some operators consider constructing a bunded oil room as the most cost-effective option, but these days there are plenty of cost-effective self-bunded waste oil tank options in a variety of capacities that will give you the advantages of versatility and portability without the expensive capital works costs. What’s more, tanks like those in the F.E.S. TANKS range offer extra advantages like easy access for cleaning and testing the quality of your oil and fuel.

Self-bunded tanks vs IBCs

Did you know it is contrary to Australian Standards (AS1940) to store oils for dispensing in intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) unless you have high turnovers and can provide evidence that the container is being changed every 2-3 weeks?

The reason is that IBCs degrade due to UV exposure, making them non-compliant with the Australian Standards and not necessarily the optimum storage option for your products.

Hartex Engineering general manager Varuna Krishnaratna says insurance companies may also refuse to pay out for damage due to fires or oil spills from IBCs being incorrectly used as oil tanks.

The upshot is that if you opt for IBCs you might pay less initially, but the costs could be considerably more in the long-term in regular container replacement, compliance paperwork and containment.

Small volume waste oil tanks are a safe, economical and convenient way to avoid the headaches if you need to store and dispense smaller quantities of oils or lubricants, and importantly these small cube tanks are fully compliant with Australian standards.

F.E.S. Bloc tanks are built from high grade steel with durable fittings. They are all finished with a heavy-duty 300 micron paint finish and are self-bunded with a secondary internal container. These tanks also come with forklift pockets and lifting eyes at each corner, while their cube styling gives maximum volume (more space efficient than drums) with a small footprint.

To find out more give the experts at F.E.S. TANKS a call on 1300-651-391 or get in touch via our web form.

What does the Biofuel Mandate mean for Australian Transport Operators?

lots of volvo trucks in a line from Australian transport-operators

Australian Transport Operators, are you prepared for the biofuel evolution?

WITH new laws mandating the sale of biofuels set to take effect in NSW and QLD in January, during one of the road transport industry’s busiest times of year, it’s worth considering your fuel storage options if you run a heavy vehicle fleet.

lots of volvo trucks in a line from Australian transport-operators

In both states, affected servos will have a target of converting 0.5 per cent of their diesel sales volume to biodiesel, which means B5 will need to account for about 10 per cent of all diesel sales.

The new laws will affect fuel retailers in both states from January 1. The good news is that the change is unlikely to cause serious issues for the transport industry, with most modern vehicles able to perform well on B5 biodiesel blends without a problem. However they do mean it’s worth some extra effort when it comes to fuel storage and fuel systems maintenance.

What do biofuels mandates mean for Australian transport operators?

If you run a fleet of trucks, the impact of the biofuels change will depend on the vehicles you use and on how you manage your fuel and refuel your fleet.

For some, biofuels blends are already a major part of their operations. In South Australia, Peats Soil has worked closely with Adelaide University and Scania to develop a fleet which runs on 100 per cent biodiesel. The upside is reduced emissions and a reduced reliance on conventional suppliers.

On the other hand, for conventional fleets biofuel blends can lead to an increased risk of particulate matter travelling through fuel systems, and it is here that care needs to be taken. Poorly maintained diesel fuel is responsible for about 80 per cent of engine failures in the transport industry, and with a new diesel engine costing an average $8000 to overhaul, prevention is definitely better than cure.

In general, blends above B5 may require specialist engine maintenance but using a low blend will make very little difference to performance for most transport fleets. Potential issues can be minimised with proper maintenance regimes and improved fuel management to reduce fuel contamination.

Biodiesel storage and reducing fuel contamination

With Australian approvals for high-performance heavy vehicles reaching new heights in July-September, keeping your fuel in top condition will be more important than ever. Latest generation fuel injectors in diesel engines mean improved performance, but also increased sensitivity, so the experts advise spending a little extra time on getting the basics right.

Because biodiesel blends are able to absorb more water, making sure the fuel you buy is properly stored is the first step.

If you’re storing your own fuel it’s essential to test fuel quality regularly. Diesel bugs flourish at the interface between water and fuel and can spread rapidly, causing fuel to separate and generating particulate matter that can be deadly for high performance diesel engines.

Using a diesel biocide when you refill tanks is highly recommended. If you’ll be storing a biodiesel blend for longer than three months it’s also recommended that you ensure the tank is filled to minimise opportunities for water absorption from the air, which will in turn create more opportunities for diesel bugs to spread.

Biodiesel blends also tend to clean fuel systems, loosening dirt and old fuel deposits and carrying them to the vehicle’s fuel filter.

While the effects of this are minimised in low blends, these changes still happen over time, particularly in older vehicles. Mechanics recommend that fuel filters in older vehicles be replaced after every few tanks of biodiesel blend. There’s also a small risk of fuel system components like seals, hoses and gaskets degrading, so it’s important to check components regularly.

At the storage end, tanks should be flushed and cleaned before they are used to store a biodiesel blend, particularly if there has been diesel bug contamination.

The right tank makes the difference

Ensuring the integrity of your fuel storage tanks – making sure they are free of leaks and corrosion – is easy when you’re using the right tanks.

F.E.S. TANKS produces a range of self-bunded, low maintenance transportable tanks for the transport industry, with easy access manholes to make it cleaning and testing easy.

Our tanks are designed to keep biofuels safe in an environment that is efficient, reliable, durable and controllable.

We also provide a range of diesel biocides, and our expert technicians can give you the advice and support you need to ensure your fuel storage and fuel management systems will keep your business running at maximum efficiency.

If you should require any advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us today.

Top 5 Advantages of Fuel Tank Hire & Leasing

Why You Should Consider Fuel Tank Hire & Leasing

In any expanding project or times of business growth, outlay and capital can be two major hurdles that often need to be overcome while meeting increased demands and need for infrastructure.

fuel storage tanks - hire or buy

Whether its covering the cost of implementing these systems or buying new equipment, investment is often required. Hiring and leasing can provide a great alternative to traditional purchasing that allows you to adjust to these changes in demand while minimizing purchasing and maintenance costs.

Why hire fuel storage?

Hiring and leasing is a flexible option for fuel storage that allows you to reduce your outlay to a monthly payment. In fact the cost of the fuel tank hire can be factored into your ongoing fuel purchases so it can be indexed to a fixed price per litre.

Whether it’s a short-term solution to cover some immediate fuel storage demand, such as a tank failure, or a long-term way of supplementing existing infrastructure to handle issues like seasonal variance and peak-demand.

Hiring and leasing fuel storage is a way of ramping up your fuel supply when its necessary and adding additional equipment as needed.

You can always purchase when you have a clearer picture of your needs. We run through our top 5 benefits of hiring below.

Minimal Initial Outlay

Hire and lease agreements are a great way of providing the means to cover immediate demand needs without a high amount of initial investment or cash-flow. Also, our fuel management and storage systems can be upgraded and the size of your leased equipment changed as your business does.

This flexibility can be very useful for businesses that want to test the waters before making a purchasing decision as it allows you to test or trial a system, and see how it performs on-site.

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Easy Set-Up & Maintenance

Providing all the benefits of a self-bunded system, that is a tank within a tank, these systems have a minimal on-site footprint and require no major external construction for safety compliance. You can read about the benefits of self-bunded tank design here.

All tanks come with a certified maintenance document to ensure fully operational for immediate use on site.

Our tanks also provide many features for easy maintenance, such as dual-manways for inspection and cleaning, a protective anti-corrosion coating and are fully certified for compliance with all Australian safety standards and regulations.

Relocatable & Convenient

Set up of our self-bunded tanks is as easy as dropping them on-site.

Whether the project is accessed by land, sea or air – hire tanks can be a great way of providing immediate access to fuel in remote areas, off-site projects and any situation where a long-term fuel storage solution may not be financially viable.

Add-ons for Fuel Management & Security

F.E.S. TANKS have a full range of dispensing equipment that can give your hired fuel tank all the capabilities of a refuelling station, and our fuel management systems mean you can even monitor and measure metrics like fuel consumption to help with accounting and budgeting.

Dispensing equipment allows your fuel storage to act as a refuelling station – your fleet vehicles and equipment can be refuelled directly from your hired storage tank.

Worried about fuel theft and security of your hire tank? We can also provide security solutions for your hired tank, such as user-account access, that make fuel theft virtually impossible.

Free Consultancy

F.E.S. TANKS consultants have years of experience in both fuel supply and distribution – and it’s all available to our customers free of charge.

Regardless of whether the decision is made to rent or buy – we ensure that you get the right system for your needs, and are happy to provide quotes free of charge.

Not only do our staff help you stay on top of all the technical stuff, like current regulations and compliance issues for your equipment, but we can also help you figure out a combination of lease and purchasing that fits your needs perfectly.