Hino Australia and Century Yuasa Batteries have a relationship that commenced over 10 years ago, and recently the Brisbane based company drove away with their 100th Hino from Sci-Fleet Hino. Their current fleet comprises mostly Hino 300 Series trucks along with the Hino 500 Series FC, and the 100th vehicle was a 700 Series 6x4 FS 2848 rigid which pulls a three-axle dog.
Century Yuasa Batteries is Australia's oldest and most recognised battery manufacturer commencing operations in 1928 within Australia.
We recently sat down with David Blackburn, Group Reporting Accountant from Century Yuasa Batteries to discuss the business, and get some helpful tips on how to get the most out of your truck and fleet.
Hi David, how many Hino trucks do you currently have in your fleet?
We’ve actually just purchased our 100th Hino, but we currently have 48 in our fleet. All of our trucks are leased via Toyota Fleet Management on an operating lease for four years, at the end of the lease term we change them over. In total we change around 10-12 each year. The dealer we use is Sci Fleet Hino in Brisbane
With 48 trucks on your fleet, what does a day in the life of one of your trucks look like?
Different trucks have different applications, so it depends. Our 100th was a Hino 700 Series, where a typical day begins at 3am and the truck runs around South East Queensland & Northern NSW delivering batteries to our Agents. The 300 Series and 500 Series take batteries to anyone who has an account with us - Battery World, Supercheap, Repco, Bridgestone, and local mechanics. In each state in Australia we have an average of eight trucks running at any one time.
We also have a forklift battery business and we run the Hino 300 Series with a crane on the back to remove batteries from forklifts if they need maintenance work. We return the battery to base to run diagnostics and repair if possible, and then deliver it back to the customer.
We are Australia-wide and make about 1.1 million & sell 1.9 million batteries a year. The majority of our trucks reside in Brisbane, Melbourne & Sydney.
Why did you choose Hino?
There are a number of reasons why Hino is the right partner for us. Century Yuasa Batteries has a mandate to be green, so we originally went with the hybrid engine on the majority of our trucks. Unfortunately we had to move away from the hybrid to diesel in order to carry heavier payloads.
Beyond that, our drivers love the comfort of the trucks, especially the new 500 Series FC 1124 and also the transmission options with the Automatic. For example, the 1124 has an interior just like a car, which makes life easier when you're driving for 8 hours a day and gives our drivers extra peace of mind. Obviously safety is a key issue for us, and having driver assist and the other safety options (Pedestrian Detection with Pre-Collison Safety, Lane Departure Warning and Cruise Control) gives us extra confidence, which makes it even more appealing.
Every Hino also comes with a Yuasa battery, so there’s already a great relationship in place.
What are some tips on servicing your fleet, managing costs and keeping them on the road?
Our drivers are crucial in keeping our fleet on the road. We place their comfort at the top of our list and our drivers give us great feedback. We listen to them as they’re in the truck for long hours each day. In return, we ask every driver to treat the vehicle like it’s their own, ensuring that they look after it on the road. We also have a trust with the Sci-Fleet dealership here in Brisbane and the Hino dealerships Australia wide and use the servicing they provide.
We love that Sci-fleet open late after normal work hours, so the guys can bring their truck in, get serviced and be back on the road quickly without much downtime. For us, Hino ticks all the boxes.
Your trucks are used for business every day, what should owners consider when purchasing a vehicle?
It’s important to move with the times. I’d suggest to have a look at the longevity of the vehicle before you purchase it, what your servicing costs and how quickly the manufacturer adapts to make your job more comfortable.
The second thing I would say is to really listen to your drivers, because they drive the vehicle every day. They are responsible for the truck and always getting it serviced on time keeps it on the road longer.
Finally, manage cash flow for your trucks like clockwork. We lease all our trucks and rotate them every four years. The only variable cost we have each month is fuel costs, so we know exactly what our projected costs are at all times and can plan ahead.
With over 600 employees, how do you maintain staff retention and keep your drivers happy?
Some of our guys have been here 40 years - they love working here!
A large proportion of employees have been with us 20 years or more. We look after our staff and we believe it’s important to move with the times. By doing so, we keep the product interesting and innovative, and we’ve invested millions of dollars on a new production line. We also aim to release new products on a regular basis. The management team is always open minded, and are always keen to listen to new ideas.
What’s the most important thing in business for you?
From a personal perspective, face-to-face contact is the most important thing for us. It helps us form a strong relationship in business and also with Sci-Fleet Hino, who now know our business back to front. They are able to advise what’s the best fit vehicle for our needs, so we trust them implicitly. When the new 500 Series FC1124 came out, they recommended it for us and we’re glad they did. It sits better, gives more stability - and the drivers absolutely love it! When we have an issue the guys are there to help. We look at various options on trucks all the time, but ultimately it comes back to who knows your business best and thinking long term.
The guys from Hino are the experts on their trucks, as well as having an interest and understanding of our business.
Great advice for our fans, thank you for your time, David!