Business profile: Sika NZ Ltd

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

Sika NZ Ltd The on-board ticketing machine accurately measures load-volumes and provides a printout Sika NZ Ltd
Sika NZ Ltd Wayne Hannah at work in his brand-spanking new ‘office’ Sika NZ Ltd
Sika NZ Ltd The mascot holds pride of place in the new truck, as it did throughout the life of the trustworthy Shogun Sika NZ Ltd

Back in 2000, when Avondale-based manufacturing company Sika NZ Ltd purchased a brand-new six-wheeler Mitsubishi Shogun, the introduction of the new truck to the fleet was the subject of celebrations befitting the entrance of an Emperor’s great warrior.

Countless photos were taken of staff members standing on and sitting in the new arrival, the general manager even made a speech at a special function.

Wayne Hannah, who drove the Shogun for the majority of its working life, recalls how, on the truck's first couple of weeks on the job, everybody wanted to sit behind the wheel and oggled the shiny new beast.

The brand new eight-wheel, much larger and even shinier Mitsubishi Fuso FS 470SI that went into service a couple of months ago, has been generating very nearly the same level of excitement.

Sika -NZ-Ltd -1

Sika NZ Ltd operates two trucks in the Auckland region and one in Christchurch. The trucks have a specific task, which is to deliver admixtures to concrete manufacturing plants.

Admixtures are added to concrete to enhance the performance of the concrete in specific applications, such as slowing or hastening the setting-time, better flow for placement and pumping and increasing strength.

While not being the only provider of admixtures to the concrete industry, Sika is the only company with a dedicated fleet of company-owned trucks providing this service to its customers.

DOW spoke to business unit manager Phil Shieffelbein, who was instrumental in the purchase of the truck. He says the company has had such a good run out of the Shogun that it made perfect sense to go with the Mitsubishi brand this time around also.

Shieffelbein went on to say that Sika actually got a two-for-one deal with the purchase of the new truck, as it gave the company the opportunity of sprucing the old truck up with a new coat of paint before sending it off to work out of the Christchurch branch.

He says that over the past fourteen years, the old truck has travelled over half a million trouble-free kilometres and reckons it'll be good for about the same amount of work in Christchurch over the coming years.

An added bonus for Shieffelbein and technical sales representative Don McPike, was that they got to throw a load on the old girl and deliver it to Sika's Wellington branch before proceeding on to Christchurch to deliver the truck to its new home.

The Shogun will replace the previous truck, a four-wheel Mitsubishi Fighter that has served the company well for a number of years but is now too small to cope with an increasing workload and is ready to be sold to a good home.

Whereas the Shogun has served Sika very well as a six-wheeler, a steady increase in the volume of admixture sales over the past decade is now requiring the company to provide larger trucks to handle the extra volume.

Another truck, a ten-wheeler Hino 700 Series driven by Elmer Ruiz has now been in service since 2007 has been sharing the workload of the Shogun, covering the greater part of the North Island, so it was decided that when replacement time came, any truck purchased would have to be an eight-wheeler.

Both trucks have the capacity to carry between ten and twelve palletised totes, depending on the specific gravity of the product.

The new Mitsubishi Fuso FS470SI

The cab and chassis unit was purchased from Keith Andrews Mitsubishi in Manukau City and the body was built by Peter North and the team at Elite Truck Specs of Otahuhu.

Shieffelbein says that the service Sika has received from Amanda Cotter and the team at Keith Andrews, and the Elite Truck Specs guys has been invaluable.

Someone asked Hannah, driver of the new truck, how he finds it. But before he could answer, the quick-witted Shieffelbein says, "He just walks in the yard and there it is."

Ignoring the comment, Hannah told DOW that after getting used to climbing up and down the three steps to the cab and acquainting himself with the regime of AdBlue upkeep, he finds the truck a dream to drive, although he says, judging the distance between the truck and the kerb, because of the truck's added height, takes a little getting used to.

A feature fitted to the new truck is an inter-axle diff lock, which comes in handy on many sites the Sika trucks visit.

On one particularly steep site, the Shogun occasionally needed to take a run to reverse out of the drive, due to its rear axle having no driving capability. This inconvenience has now been eliminated with the diff lock on the new truck.

Extra carrying capacity

The extra axle and longer deck allow the current truck to carry an extra couple of totes of product, thus eliminating the need to make costly and time-consuming trips back to a yard to collect product that previously would have needed to be left behind, in order to not be overloaded.

Hannah says having driven the Shogun for all those years with its conventional 10-speed splitter box, which incidentally was as smooth as silk (I know, because I drove the truck for a week a while back), it took some time for him to get used to the new truck's 12-speed INOMAT- 2 AMT transmission.

But as he says, it's just part of learning to get used to a new rig. One feature though, that was an immediate boon was the four-stage Powertard with exhaust brake and shift-down.

When asked if he would miss the truck he'd driven for more than a decade, Hannah says that although the old truck was nice to drive, it was great to have a new vehicle with a greater carrying capacity.

When you think about it, the young fellow should be pleased that with those extra steps to climb up and down every day, he won't have to go to the gym to stay slim any longer.

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