A fleet upgrade has been undertaken by McDougall Fertiliser Services in Tasmania.
Established by Paul McDougall, who decided to start his own business after working several years in the industry for others, McDougall Fertiliser Services supports a mix of agricultural businesses and farms in the region.
It has been based in Scottsdale, in the northeast of the state, since the mid-’90s.
A team of 16 full-time staff is headed by McDougall’s son Aaron and is supported by a fleet of eight fertiliser spreaders, including three IVECO AD360 Trakker 4x4s with a further four on-road trucks, while a Trakker AD450 6×6 is also currently in build.
The transition to IVECO, from another European cab chassis, began around two and half years ago as part of a fleet upgrade program, according to Aaron McDougall.
“We were getting a bit tired with the previous brand trucks which were giving us reliability issues, so we decided to start looking at the alternatives,” he said.
“In the end it came down to IVECO and another brand. The Trakker gave us some tare weight benefits which helped us make the final decision to go with IVECO. I’ve also seen several other companies in Tasmania with Trakkers and this gave us confidence, and I spoke to a high-profile operator in New Zealand, and he rated the Trakkers as well.”
The AD360 Trakker 4×4 features a full-time four-wheel-drive system with hub reduction and differential locks to front and rear axles for superior traction – benefits are the same for the 6×6 variants, but to all three axles.
Parabolic leaf spring suspension (4×4) and parabolic cantilever suspension (6×6) also provides excellent wheel articulation while smoothing out the bumps of even the roughest paddocks.
McDougall’s trucks feature a six-cylinder, 7.8-litre turbodiesel engine producing 360hp and 1500NM of torque, while the soon-to-be-delivered Trakker 6×6 takes has displacement of 12.9 litres and develops 450hp and 2200Nm.
In both instances, the engines are coupled to 16-speed manual transmissions although an AMT option is also available.
The Trakkers feature Southern Spreader Bodies, are equipped with deep lug agricultural tyres and often tow feeder trailers.
“With a fully sealed cabin it’s a quiet environment even when driving on the bitumen with the speed-rated tractor tyres,” he said.
“In the paddocks the Trakkers feel safe and stable even on steep slopes – the gearing is also low, so we normally don’t even need low range, and the diff locks we only have to engage occasionally,” said McDougall.
Before joining the family business around 13 years ago, Aaron McDougall worked in corporate roles including as a department manager with a leading supermarket chain.
Working in this environment may have influenced his pragmatic approach to fleet management.
“I’m not really a ‘truck guy. I’m more interested in what the trucks can do for our business, what they cost to maintain, how much fuel they use – I see them as a tool,” he said.
“On the fuel front, the Trakkers perform better than our previous brand trucks. I’d say they’re pretty good, using about 11-12 litres per hour. We’ve been pleased with the Trakkers since purchasing the first one, which is why we’ve continued to use IVECO.”
All the IVECO trucks were purchased through Melbourne dealership, Adtrans Truck Centre, while servicing is carried out by local IVECO service and parts outlet, LG & SM Curran.
McDougall said that the service levels from Adtrans, in particular Sales Manager Andy Stotz, had been outstanding.
“Andy doesn’t just sell trucks, he helped us specify the larger tyres we wanted, he looked at the relevant ADRs to make sure everything complied, and then assisted us in choosing the diff ratios to suit the bigger diameter tyres,” he said.