How to Get More From Your Articulated Truck Investment
I hear a lot of customers talk about initial purchase price when they’re in the market for a new articulated truck. Your first reaction might be, “Yeah, I do the same thing,” and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Getting a great deal when you’re investing in a six-figure machine is smart business.
I also see that with leased machines. But the upfront cost, whether for purchase or rent, is just one of the factors you should consider. What it really comes down to in the end is what you spent versus what you made while that articulated dump truck was in your fleet — and productivity can make or break that profitability.
Moving more tons per day, and doing it efficiently, means you can make more money from your machine over time. And a little savings here and there can add up fast. Lower-cost machines may seem appealing up front, but they can quickly drain your pockets with excessive downtime, maintenance costs, lower resale values and more.
Here are a few things to consider in addition to the initial purchase price to ensure the total cost of your articulated truck (whether it’s in your fleet one year or five) gives you the best shot at maximizing your productivity — and ultimately, the profitability from your investment.
- Faster cycle times – Features that help trucks haul loads faster can increase productivity — and are often lacking on cheaper machines. As an example, the ability to run in 6×4 mode addition to 6×6 — something only available on Volvo articulated trucks — can help you save fuel and reduce tire wear. Also, there are models that only have brakes on the rear axle, which can be a safety issue and affect cycle times. Another feature to look for is a full-suspension hauler, which can run at higher speeds than conventional haulers, reducing cycle times. In fact, our full-suspension A45G FS articulated truck has been shown to increase productivity by up to 20 percent, which can lead to a significantly lower cost per ton and could even allow you to reduce the size of your fleet. Over time, that added productivity adds to your bottom line. Something else with a big effect on cycle times, and component wear, is having a transmission that has a higher number of forward and reverse gears with proprietary shift technology that takes into account factors like available horsepower and weight in the bed.
- Ability to dump easier and more quickly – Trucks with higher pivot points and beds that allow the material to slide out easier, faster and farther away from the rear axle means the operator doesn’t have to back up as close to a high wall, for example. Not only is it more productive, it’s safer. All these things may add a few seconds here or there, but in the end your total cycle time decreases from loading zone to dump zone and back — and that’s how you get those extra few loads, production wise.
- Fuel efficiency (not fuel consumption) – With the recent advances in engine technology, many manufacturers can claim their machines burn less fuel. While Volvo haulers were some of the first, others are trying to catch up. That said, fuel consumption (gallons per hour) isn’t the same as fuel efficiency (tons per gallon of fuel). If your articulated truck can move more tons per day and burn less fuel in the process, you not only increase production and fuel efficiency but decrease total cost of ownership. Volvo haulers, for example, have been proven to operate anywhere from 5 to 20 percent more efficiently. The daily savings may seem insignificant, but do the math over several months or a few years and it adds up. Everyone has to burn fuel to get the job done, and it’s one of the top expenses for any fleet — why not burn fewer gallons and pocket the savings?
- Matched components – Haulers with matched components mean you’re getting the proper horsepower, shifting ratios, fuel efficiency, torque curves, etc. which makes a big difference. Some manufacturers get their prices down by using off-the-shelf, less expensive components which aren’t specifically designed for the machine they’re on. This restricts you to the limitations of those components. Buying from a manufacturer whose components are completely matched may increase the initial purchase price, but these components optimize the machine’s performance and productivity. They also last longer.
- Uptime – You may save some money on the purchase with a lower-cost machine, but what good does that do you if it’s not in operation? Production quality is a big factor in how much a machine costs — as well as its durability. I’ve seen many articulated trucks on jobsites that have lower quality steel, hand welds instead of robotic welds and poorly protected components. You also need to consider maintenance features when deciding what articulated truck to purchase. For example, our the Volvo A60H articulated truck has no-grease tipping cylinders and no daily or weekly maintenance like competitor models. Also, our articulated trucks have a fully sealed, maintenance-free rotating hitch and lifetime frame warranty.
- Operator training – Last but not least, working alongside a manufacturer and dealer who help ensure your operators are using the hauler the way it was designed to be used is critical. Operator behavior directly impacts each of the above points. If you have good data with recommendations to improve operator performance, your machine will be more productive and efficient, and in the end, add to your profitability.
Short-term solution or long-term investment, a lot of seemingly little factors like these can add up over time. Consider the productivity you’re getting out of your new hauler purchase. If you can get more done, and save money in the process, you may wish you’d considered a higher-quality machine a lot sooner.
From our Lifetime Frame and Structure Warranty on articulated trucks to our Site Simulation analyses that can help you lower your cost per ton, Volvo is committed helping your fleet maximize its productivity. Contact us to find the right haulers for your operation.