By switching to automated transmissions on its medium duty trucks, delivery fleet and moving company Two Amigos of Winnipeg, Canada, has effectively eliminated driver-related clutch and transmission issues. Cameron Quinn, driver (left) with fleet manager Brad Prociuk (right).
Eaton's automated transmission, which communicates with the engine utilizing the SAE-J1939 protocol for precise control of the engine and transmission functions, uses push-button control and eliminates manual clutching and mechanical lever shifting.
Two Amigos is a furniture delivery fleet and moving company that takes its name from a storefront sign that co-owner, Larry Calen, saw while vacationing in Mexico. The other co-owner, or co-Amigo, is Doug Creighton. Together the pair has built a business that is muy bueno (very good), with facilities throughout Canada, and a fleet that now includes 43 straight trucks and nine highway tractors.
Brad Prociuk is fleet manager at the company’s Winnipeg, Manitoba, location. He has been with Two Amigos for more than 14 years and has the bulk of the company’s trucks under his care at his location.
His vehicles typically operate up to 12 hours a day, making anywhere from 10 to 16 daily deliveries.
Prociuk leases his vehicles from CTS Lease & Rental, his local Paccar Leasing Company (Paclease) representative, as part of a full-service lease agreement. Kelly Whyte is the service manager at CTS.
Prociuk and Whyte both have an interest in making sure the Two Amigos vehicles are on the road making money, and not in the shop for unnecessary repairs.
“We have been using standard transmissions for a long time, but no one wants to drive them the way that you are supposed to drive them,” says Two Amigos’ Prociuk. “We were going through way too many clutches and synchronizers.
“I had one driver who burned out a clutch in six months. It was unbelievable.”
Says CTS’ Whyte: “As part of the lease agreement with Two Amigos, CTS is responsible for all of the maintenance on the new vehicles. We have a fixed rate for the lease and a fixed rate to look after the maintenance.
“So, if we are seeing, for example, excess tire wear or brake wear in a shorter term than what we projected, then we’re spending more money maintaining the vehicles than we are bringing into the company.”
Whyte adds that CTS doesn’t like having to bill anything back to its customers. “So if we can add components into the powertrain that help eliminate the driver-causing abuse, it’s good for everyone. We are going to be able to keep those trucks on the road longer, only coming in for scheduled preventative maintenance.”
The local Roadranger representative for Two Amigos and CTS, Ken Moodie, suggested that CTS specify Eaton automated transmissions with the two new trucks that he was ordering for Prociuk.
Two Amigos soon took delivery of two new Kenworth T370 conventional medium duty straight trucks with Eaton UltraShift HV transmissions. These transmissions are a fully automated design for Class 6 and 7 vehicles with diesel engines in the 195- to 260-horsepower range.
Capable of handling torque capacities up to 660 pounds per foot and loads up to 33,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, the UltraShift HV transmission is ideally suited for pickup and delivery applications, says Moodie.
Another key feature and benefit of the UltraShift HV transmission is the Hill-Assist, which automatically minimizes rollback on up to 10-percent grades while the operator makes the transition from the brake pedal to the accelerator, he notes. “This feature benefits the driver in both uphill and downhill stop-and-start situations.
“Additionally, the UltraShift HV transmission’s two-pedal design eliminates manual shifting, allowing operators to keep both hands on the wheel for safer, less stressful vehicle operation.”
The transmissions come factory-filled with Roadranger full synthetic lubricants, which require no changing of the lube for 500,000 miles, according to Moodie. What’s more, “no maintenance is required, further reducing the cost of ownership.”
“We were told that the UltraShift transmissions were pretty much bulletproof in terms of potential driver abuse,” says Prociuk of Two Amigos. “So far, that has certainly been the case.
“With the UltraShift transmissions, the electronics are doing the shifting for the driver, and the transitions from gear to gear are always smooth. That has effectively eliminated any maintenance issues.”
CTS’ Whyte attributes that to the fact that the drivers cannot be too aggressive when operating an automated transmission. “The transmission helps slow them down.
“It’s a win/win situation for us and for the customer. The reduced maintenance and reliability of the Eaton transmissions has undeniably helped improve our vehicle operating costs.
“The transmissions are definitely going to show savings,” he continues. “Plus, the reliability of the equipment is going to benefit Two Amigos. The trucks are going to be working instead of in the shop.”
Prociuk and Whyte concur that the decision to make the switch to Eaton automation was “a wise one.”