A recent initiative by William Davidson, Operations Director at Davidsons Animal Feeds, sees three eight wheeled rigids replaced with two non-tipping artics. The plan is already delivering efficiencies, in addition to increasing vehicle manoeuvrability and flexibility levels. “Euro 6 eight wheelers are really heavy, we needed to look at alternatives. It’s been a brave move putting artics into places we’ve never considered suitable before. However, the tag axle Volvo FM tractor units coupled to tandem axle, rear steer Muldoon trailers have been a revelation,” reports William.
Supplied by Rhona Paterson, Transport Solutions Executive at Volvo Truck and Bus Centre North & Scotland, D11K engines rated at 460hp power the two Volvo FM Globetrotter 6x2 tag axle units. The powertrains also use I-Shift gearboxes driving RSS1356 single reduction axles with a ratio of 2.79:1. The 3.0m wheelbase trucks also come with uprated eight tonne front axles, whilst the rear bogies have a 19 tonne capacity. Davidsons specified Jost JSK 37 cast iron, fixed fifth wheels for the duo, which sport Alcoa Dura-Bright alloy wheels and aluminium air tanks to help payload figures.
The first Davidson Animal Feeds Volvo Tag axle tractor unit / steer trailer combination entered service in September 2018 and the latter component was one of the first of its type off Muldoon’s production line in Co. Tyrone. William continues, “There have been a few teething issues, but nothing unusual for new technology such as this. The Volvo FM tractor units are also very good on fuel and there will be more non-tipping trailers in our fleet, after a two year trial of these pioneering vehicles,”
Having operated mid lift 6x2 tractor units with rear steer, tri axle trailers for a number of years, the benefits of a tag axle unit have been immediately apparent. “The geometry set up when the tag is raised, combined with the steer trailer, gives better traction off-road. Crucially there is better weight distribution across the four axles with ground contact. The Muldoon positive steer system uses a linkage connected to a fifth wheel wedge and we’re not experiencing any increased tyre wear rates,” William adds.
Davidson Animals Feeds’ association with Volvo Trucks stretches right back to its diminutive F86, the maker’s inaugural UK model. Having operating examples of virtually every Volvo truck since, the marque still predominates in this 29 strong fleet. The company also own two Volvo heritage vehicles, with an FL10 6x2 tractor unit and a much rarer NH12 Globetrotter 4x2 tractor unit, both having been restored to a better-than-new condition.
Davidsons Animals Feeds has produced its own brand market-leading animal feeds since 1977. However, the owning family’s selling and transporting of these agricultural essentials goes back further, as in the years before building their own mill, Managing Director, Billy Davidson and his four brothers ran a small fleet of Fodens and Volvo F86s.
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