Forestry Fleet Fells Costs with MAN TGS WW

With operations in the mountains of Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Swaziland, LT Plant, a division of LT Group (Pty) Ltd, is one of South Africa’s leading independent timber transport companies with a history dating back to the early 1980s. Moving around one-million tons of timber per year, LT Plant is also one of MAN Truck & Bus SA’s longest-standing customers, posting notable milestones in a relationship built over three decades, founded on mutual trust and close communication.

“LT Plant’s first MAN was a 1978 rigid log carrier and the company has owned every MAN derivative released in this country since then. We were the first fleet in Mpumalanga to get the MAN TGA in 2005 and the first in the province to own the new MAN TGS WW,” says Rynardt Pietersen, general manager of LT Group.

LT Plant is a medium-sized business, deploying 45 MAN trucks, including three new MAN TGS 33.480 6x4 BBS truck tractors, transporting raw timber, wood chip and sawmill residue to destinations in Mpumalanga, Piet Retief in Limpopo Province, Swaziland and the Eastern Cape.

“We employ 110 drivers in a total staff compliment of 280 people,” says Pietersen. “The company has grown by 400% since 2005 and despite the recession and the devastating forest fires of 2008, continues to strengthen its customer-base, which includes York Timbers, PG bison, Steinhoff, Peak Timbers and Swaziland Plantations.”

According to Pietersen, the timber transport industry has been under tremendous pressure over the last couple of years, with rates remaining at 2008 levels while operating costs have soared.

“Our relationship with MAN and the procurement of the new TGS WW have helped us streamline our operational expenses. We’re a 24-7/365 operation and MAN’s dealer network covers the entire country and cross-border. The MAN dealership in Nelspruit is available round the clock to handle any issues we may face and can service our vehicles seven days a week,” adds Pietersen.

The three new TGS WWs were configured specifically for LT Plant’s forestry applications, including carrying woodchip in tri-axle ‘moving-floor’ bulk freight trailers in the Umtata (Eastern Cape) and Piggs Peak (Swaziland) areas.

“Working in both off and on-road conditions requires maximum torque, comfort and safety. Fuel efficiency is also crucial. The TGS 33.480 6 x 4 BBS is the ideal extra-heavy prime-mover for our operation. With 480hp powering the truck, the automated MAN TipMatic transmission and intarder save on driveline and brake wear, plus there’s no over-revving, which improves fuel consumption. Furthermore, these technologies boost our productivity and turn-around times,” adds Pietersen.

As MAN’s new flagship, the TGS WW is a pure Trucknology 6 x 4 truck- tractor that takes its DNA from the legendary MAN TGA, a truck that LT Plant drivers are well familiar with. Equipped with a single sleeper cab, the TGS 33.480 6 x 4 BBS offers enhanced driver safety and comfort features including coil front cab mounts, a mechanical sliding roof, electric door window winders, electric mirror adjustment, an air conditioning system, a 24V MAN radio/CD player, an air sprung high-comfort driver’s seat, tinted windscreens all-round, a sun shade in front of windscreen, and a roll-up sun visor for the windscreen and driver’s door.

The ‘Africa-tough’ TGS WW is fitted with steel front bumpers and is powered by the award-winning MAN D26 Common Rail engine which displaces 2300Nm of torque at 1 320 – 1 455 rpm, operating in a frugal Green Band between 1 200 and 1 500 rpm – an ideal combination of tractive power and fuel efficiency for hilly terrain. With steel suspension on hub reduction rear axles, the TGS 33.480 6 x 4 BBS also boasts high ground clearance for on/off-road applications and can be built to handle abnormal loads, sporting a gross combination mass (GCM) of 130 tons.

“We are realising great fuel savings with our new TGS WWs. Our old TGA rigs were getting 1.4 to 1.5 kilometres per litre. The TGS WW is achieving

up to 14% improvement per litre, despite the harsh operating conditions. Furthermore, MAN has helped us further cut costs with preferential spares pricing. And then there’s MAN’s five-year/1 million km extended warranty that covers the TGS WW’s driveline for a mere R45 000 per truck and includes three years of bumper-to-bumper cover. MAN has shown confidence in their product with this warranty, which allows us to grow confidently knowing that each of LT Plant’s MAN TGS WWs will incur zero costs for at least three years,” concludes Pietersen.