*Courtesy of Shepparton NewsIMG_1195.jpg

IMPROVED driver comfort, fuel economy and the reliability of the Freightliner Coronado 114 were important considerations for the fleet modernisation plans of Leocata’s Transport.

The Tatura based, family-owned business bought two new trucks from Hartwigs Shepparton, and they have immediately been embraced by the drivers on the Tatura to Melbourne and Goulburn Valley to Adelaide routes.

General manager, Adrian Leocata operates the business with his parents, Joe and Sharon and brother, Marcus, who is the account manager, and said the new Freightliners were the first trucks with automated transmissions I the 22-strong fleet.

He said the company was always looking to capitalise on new technology and saw the potential for trucks with automated transmissions to ultimately reduce down time as they were always driven correctly.

“Automated transmissions remove the potential for driver error. There is far less wear on the clutch, which means less maintenance,” Mr Leocata said.

The transmission, coupled with are ride Xtreme HD seat with integrated seatbelt, wrap-around dash and Freightliner steering wheel – with all controls at the driver’s fingertips – meant operators emerged from the spacious cabin refreshed after a long trip.

He said drivers were reporting reduced fatigue, which is vital when complying with rigid laws governing the operation of fatigue-related vehicles.

Safety features of the Freightliners include an expansive windscreen with good vision and fewer blind spots, extra lights for better visibility, and an alarm which alerts the driver if the park brake is not engaged when they open the door.

Leocata’s Transport has added airconditioning to both sleeper cabs and large fridges for storage of food and drinks to ensure adequate rest when drivers take mandatory breaks.

The Detroit DD15 560hp motor has a unique diesel particulate filter designed to remove soot from the exhaust gas of the diesel engine, eliminating the need for Adblue while still complying with emissions targets.

As a result, the Freightliner has only three fuel tanks, with a combined capacity of 1,323 litres, and a reduced tare weight which allows the trucks to transport an additional two pallets of product per load, thus improving efficiency.

Customised with the trademark Leocata’s Transport red and white paintwork, the new trucks are part of the company’s strategy to turn trucks over every five years to maintain a modern, efficient fleet.

“The last thing we want is our drivers stuck on the side of the road, or getting phone calls in the middle of the night about breakdowns. We need reliable equipment, not only for the drivers but for our customers,” Mr Leocata said.

Leocata’s Transport was founded by Joe and Sharon Leocata about 30 years ago with a single International t-line truck, based at the family property at Stanhope, transporting groceries and cement between the Goulburn Valley and Adelaide.

Now, the business employs 52 people including drivers, and administration, warehouse and maintenance staff across three sites in Tatura, Laverton and Adelaide.

The fleet comprises 18 line-haul trucks, which are a mix of single trailer and B-double combinations and four rigid trucks which distribute freight within the Goulburn Valley.

Clients include major Goulburn Valley manufacturing companies, and while the business has expanded from its origins as a single owner/driver operation, the motto “Big enough to do the job, small enough to care” remains the same.

Joe Leocata said long-standing relationships with Hartwigs Trucks, Caltex Fuel and Solar City tyres, all in Shepparton, had been integral to continued growth.