Penske Commercial Vehicles has applied a variety of lessons from the United Kingdom to ensure its Dennis Eagle brand meets local congestion-busting challenges.
The silver and white Dennis Eagle body complemented a multitude of familiar favourites as stakeholders turned out to Melbourne’s Sandown Park Hotel on a slightly chilly morning.
At the end of last year, Penske Commercial Vehicles held an industry breakfast and vehicle display with its customers from Cleanaway, Bucher Municipal, Citywide and other organisations. In addition to a walkthrough of the trucks, the event featured a comprehensive explanation of Penske’s global and local footprint.
Many in the industry would be familiar with Penske Commercial Vehicles’ distributed range of commercial vehicles, including Western Star Trucks, MAN Trucks & Bus and, of course, the iconic Dennis Eagle refuse brand.
While detailing Penske’s global footprint and remanufacturing capabilities, Shannon Mair, Group National Fleet Sales Manager at Penske Commercial Vehicles, explained that the company continues to grow its capabilities.
“We’ve got a very strong footprint of support in the highly populated areas and on the main routes throughout Australia,” he said, adding that the company also had a strong regional presence.
He then went on to provide a history of the Dennis Eagle brand – a waste industry staple. With a British engineering history dating back to the turn of the 20th century, Dennis Eagle is one of the oldest producers of refuse collection vehicles in the world.
The company was founded in 1895 by John and Raymond Dennis and produced its first motor vehicle in 1899. Now owned by Terberg RosRoca Group, Dennis Eagle has 900 units in service across Australia, with more than 40 councils operating vehicles. The brand offers a range of refuse collection solutions, including the Dual Control and RHS Elite models.
“Many people associate the Penske brand with motor racing. The reason why we talk about the race team being an integral part of our organisation is that our Founder Roger Penske is very passionate about motor racing, and the very same ethos he applies in running a race team – precision, efficiency, dedication – is the same ethos that drives the whole organisation.”
Dennis Eagle collection vehicles have seen hundreds of deliveries over the years from the likes of Cleanaway, Veolia, SUEZ, J.J. Richards, Citywide and WM Waste.
Shannon illustrated that in Australia over the past decade, more than 1600 pedestrians and at least 350 cyclists were killed by vehicles. With London being a well-known congested city, the research shows 25 per cent of pedestrian and 35 per cent of cyclist fatalities involve a truck or heavy goods vehicle.
The research conducted for Transport for London has underpinned Penske Commercial Vehicle’s understanding of blind spots and allowed it to share the importance of the driver’s direct vision – an aspect that is equally as relevant in Australia.
One of the key factors behind the Dennis Eagle difference is its low-entry design, providing best-in-class direct vision, single step entry and a true flat door. Shannon said single step also offers good grip, which is important from an OH&S perspective.
“In the next couple of years, you won’t be able to bring a standard forward control truck into the centre of London. Every vehicle will have to be a low-entry vehicle,” he said.
“When you go out and see the vehicles out in the carpark and sit into the driver’s seat, you will actually notice the driver’s window is in line with your hip and has excellent panoramic view of the surroundings around the vehicle.”
It’s these features that prompted Citywide to begin running a fleet of Dennis Eagles around mid-2018. David Weston, Group Asset Manager at Citywide, says the company saw an opportunity to upgrade its fleet with enhanced technology and capability. Citywide now has around 15 Dennis Eagle Elite models, in both right hand steer and dual control configuration in the fleet.
“The key considerations for us when selecting the Dennis Eagles were around safety, usability by our drivers as well as technical functions,” David explains.
“It was primarily about ensuring drivers have good visibility and can see what is going on around them and better capability to operate, particularly in built-up environments with pedestrians and vehicle traffic.”
He says Citywide use a combination of side loaders and rear loaders for residential and general waste collection from single and multi-unit dwellings, with vehicles designed to suit the work environment, bin configuration and waste requirement.
“The vehicles really suit use within the built-up environment. The length and turning circle improve manoeuvrability and the large cab glass area helps minimise blind spots where pedestrians or cyclists could be hard to see.”
He says the company does not opt for a one-size-fits-all approach and matches the body configuration to the vehicle to optimise manoeuvrability and weight-carrying capacity.
David says the vehicle is custom spec’d with safety features such as rear and side warning devices.
Further supporting the concept is a five-star rating by the Heavy Goods Vehicle Blind Spots Report by Loughborough University’s Design School, based in the UK. The school produced a report that compared vehicles by leading manufacturers to determine how well drivers could see vulnerable road users and found the Dennis Elite 6 outperformed each one in terms of visibility.
A deep step, full width of the doorway in the Dennis Eagle product, ensures a secure footing and significantly reduces trip and fall hazards linked to entry and exit of vehicles.
The walk-through design includes a full stand-up height cab, completely flat floor and clear walkway with no obstructions. Drivers can easily cross cab and never have to enter or exit the vehicle from the traffic side, improving safety and productivity.
David says running costs are also an important consideration and the use of well-known brand components for the engine, transmission and drive axle make maintenance and repair activities easier to manage.
“Another aspect is Penske’s support and backup network across the country,” he says.
“Penske has been very responsive when we’ve had discussions with them during procurement and post-procurement to assist us optimise vehicle specifications and uptime.”