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Feature Article

A cut above

Specialist product and one of the fastest dispatch and delivery services in the industry have helped Max Birt Sawmills stay a cut above the competition. As the first Kiwi operator to run FUSO HD on a 55T sticker, with a five-axle trailer in tow, they’re masters at maximising opportunities.

With more than 80 acres of timber on tap, 30-plus years in the game and over 140 staff at two North Island locations – in Ohinewai and Pokeno – MBS has plenty of strength in depth.

Three FUSO 8x4 HD FS3147 truck and trailer units on 55T stickers ensure MBS remains on top of its game when it comes to customer service and operational efficiency, delivering a range of timber products to all major building merchants across the North Island.

Fitted with 6.5m Roadmaster flat decks, the HDs pull four or five-axle trailers on delivery runs around the upper North Island, covering around 80,000km per year.

The 470hp / 2200Nm OM457-T5 diesel engine delivers “more than enough power” for the job, says Max. “The HDs can pull a full load over the Bombays, no sweat.” He adds that good ground clearance makes off-road site access a stress-free exercise. With fuel economy around 2.1km - 2.3km / L, that’s plenty of boxes ticked.

Gaining the edge

As a leading supplier of outdoor structural timber, one of MBS’ key points of difference is “specialising in more intricate cuts the big boys don’t do”, says director Max Birt.

Heavy investment in machinery in recent years has seen the company expand its range to more than 6,000 different timber products.

“We’ve got pretty much any requirement covered,” says Max, who puts being on Auckland’s doorstep as another major advantage in terms of customer demand.

Maintaining a high volume of stock onsite –in excess of 35,000m3 – is a key component to ensuring quick turnaround on orders.

It is the changing nature and frequency of those orders that led Max to bring delivery of MBS product in house.

“A few years ago, we introduced the goal of next-day delivery on orders made before 4pm. We quickly found that orders increased, but often for smaller quantities.

“Previously our deliveries into Auckland averaged at 2.1 drops per load; that increased to 8-10 drops per load. No carrier wants to deal with that – it screws up their day – so we got into the transport game.

“I used to drive log trucks in Northland, so it was an easy move for me,” says Max. “It has stacked up well and given us an extra edge in the market.”

One of Max’s first trucks was a 6-cylinder Shogun, which racked up more than 1,000,000km. As a brand he’s always trusted in, FUSO now makes up more than 60% of the MBS fleet.

“We have three FUSO HD truck and trailer units and two Canter Tippers for local deliveries,” says Max, who puts value for money and affordable and easily available parts near the top of his list.

“They’re important considerations, alongside whether the truck is up to the job. FUSO delivers on all fronts and Keith Andrews has been great to deal with.”

Father and son drivers Pete and Manu Coffin are also stoked with the HDs’ performance.

Pete has driven trucks for the past 49 years and been with MBS since 2013. He says the comfort, visibility and ease of operation of the HD are all excellent, and he’s a fan of the 12-spd automated manual transmission.

“You can’t beat the AMT for motorway traffic,” says Pete. “The engine brakes work well and the Hill Start Assist is really handy too. It’s got a good steering lock, which makes getting around town with a 12m trailer in tow a lot easier. It’s a comfortable ride and the visibility is excellent. All in all, it’s perfect for the job.”

Max’s decision to build his own fleet has proven to be a shrewd move, returning on his investment twofold by cutting delivery costs and sharpening MBS’ competitiveness in the market. By banking on the performance, reliability and cost-effectiveness of FUSO trucks, those returns are in safe hands.

 

8x4 HD FS3147

GVM/GCM: 30,800kg/55,000kg

Power/Torque: 346kW/2,227Nm

Transmission: 12-spd AMT

Wheelbase: 5,870mm/5,900mm

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