Hanson Concrete purchased 24 Hino 500 Series Standard Cabs primarily based on the safety features of the truck. Photo by James Thomas/The Photo Pitch

For many years in the automotive market they have said  that ‘safety doesn’t sell’, but  the world is changing, and it seems more and more companies are ticking the box for the latest safety systems and protection. It’s certainly boosted Hino sales thanks to the safety package it standardised across its latest 500 series standard cab range. Hanson is a case in point, and we sat down with the company’s national procurement manager to find out why they chose Hino.

We have written in these pages before about the safety issues  inherent in concrete trucks and how the major concrete companies of all colours have been working hard to ‘agitate’ for safer trucks. Bad puns aside, the fact is the push for safer and more user-friendly trucks in the concrete industry  is an ongoing one and Hanson has moved to make its ‘mini agitators  safer and more user friendly.

Regular readers may remember our feature story on the work Boral has done to reduce the risks with its large Mack concrete trucks, employing the suite of electronic safety aids  and also developing lighter weight agitator bowls  that are mounted lower in the chassis delivering a more stable and lower centre of gravity.

Hanson has moved to not only make its big trucks safer, but also its growing fleet of mini agitators. Mini agitators  equipped with a 2.6 cubic metre bowl are a growing niche in the market for Hanson, offering an alternative to builders and home renovators who need a smaller amount of concrete. Hanson’s full-size trucks usually are equipped with a 7.5 cubic metre bowl or almost three times the size of the mini agitators.

Hino’s move in early 2019 to make a full suite of electronic safety aids available as part of the specification on its 500 series standard cab models, has proved to be a move that has appealed greatly to many corporate fleets around  the country, as an increasing desire to satisfy chain of responsibility and OH& S requirements drive the demand.

This was one of the reasons Hanson made the move to add Hinos to its fleet of mini agitators.

Hanson’s national procurement manager, Neil McDermott, says that apart from safety aspects the Hinos deliver  through the safety package, the shortage of skilled drivers has meant the company has had to look at ways to make the task easier and safer.

”The most important aspect for us was that the Hinos came equipped with stability control as standard and they stood out in the marketplace,” said Neil.

“Until now we haven’t had stability control in our mini agitator fleet, but it has been a standard requirement on our larger trucks for some time,” he added.

The Hanson fleet numbers about 1100 concrete trucks of various sizes. The company also has another 400 tippers and tipper dog units servicing its batching plants.

So far it has added 20 new Hinos to its mini agitator fleet which has another 50  trucks of various brands.

The decision to purchase Hino came after a major safety review of Hanson’s transport fleet with a decision to make stability control a mandatory feature on all its new trucks.

The safety review not only saw stability control and other electronic aids introduced,  but it also has seen other features such as side underrun protection added to prevent cars ploughing under the chassis of the truck in a collision.

Interestingly Neil McDermott says “Hanson could have saved money by excluding stability control but we were willing to pay for that and other safety features”.

‘In terms of tare weight all the Japanese trucks are about the same, they’re all about the same as far as mechanical specifications go, but the safety and having the auto fitted on the line set the Hinos apart,” he added.

Hanson has had a small number of Hino trucks in its contractor fleet and feedback was the parts and service back up was strong and the overall reliability was impressive.

“We try to work with the same suppliers for a good period of time to establish operating efficiencies and to build the relationship,” McDermott said.

The company still has a lot of Isuzus and Macks in the heavy end of the fleet along with Iveco Accos, which have long been the staple of concrete agitator fleets across Australia.

A global leader in building and construction materials, Hanson has an extensive production and logistics network across Australia. The company is part of the HeidelbergCement Group, which employs more than 57,000 people across five continents with leading positions in cement, concrete and heavy building products.

Another aspect that attracted Hanson to Hino was the fact that a factory fitted Allison automatic was available, rather than retro fitted auto.

“The fact that the auto was fitted down the assembly line was definitely attractive to us because of the integrity and reliability that offered,” he added.

“The Allison automatic was a vital point in choosing the spec for the Hinos because it widens the pool of drivers available to us,” said McDermott.

“Allison has been the standard in our larger heavy-duty agitator trucks for many years. In the past, not all of our smaller mini agitators have been automatics because they have not always been available in the smaller end of the market,” said McDermott.

The autos are another part of the overall safety package according to Neil McDermott.

“An automatic allows drivers to concentrate on driving the truck without having to worry about selecting the correct gear or being distracted in dangerous situations,” he said.

“Concrete agitators have a high accident risk due to the high  centre of gravity and a shifting cargo,” said McDermott. “Anything we can do to minimise the tasks a driver has to complete in the truck, such as changing gears, means they can concentrate on driving the truck.”

The Hanson Hino mini agitators are equipped with 2.6 metre agitator bowls which are around one third the size of the company’s large heavy-duty agitators, which normally are equipped with 7.5-metre bowls.

The Hanson Hino 500s are all 1124 FCs using the 240hp four-cylinder turbo diesel with an 11tonne GVM. A full 2.6 metre load of concrete weighs in at around six tonnes, however smaller batches are tailored to specific customer needs.

Early indications are that the Hino 500 mini agitators are a hit for Hanson and the company looks forward to years of successful running.