BUYERS GUIDE - HEAVY DUTY
Scania is best known for its stylish on-highway vehicles, but the now VW-owned company has a rich history of off-road and military vehicles. The new P450XT model is a case in point.
The P450XT uses Scania’s low-entry-height ‘P’ cab, on top of a Scania DC13 450 13-litre in-line-six diesel that puts out a healthy 335kW at 1900rpm, with peak torque of 2350Nm in the 1000-1300rpm band. It’s a Euro VI engine that uses AdBlue to clean its exhaust emissions, using selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology.
The main transmission is an automated manual Scania GRS905R 14-speed, with front and rear axle drive via a two-speed Scania GT900 transfer case. The main box is fitted with a Scania R4100 hydraulic retarder, to control downhill speed and a power take off to drive fertiliser spreading equipment.
Brakes are air-actuated drums with ABS/EBD and traction control, and across axle diff locks and a power divider lock are fitted to the rear drive tandem.
Tyres on the photographed vehicles are massive Michelin 495/70 R24 XM47s.
Back in the ‘good old days’ that specification would have been more than enough information for a purchasing decision, but not these days, as Tim Murfett, manager of Launceston-based Altrac Spreading, explained.
“Today we need a truck that is smart,” Tim Murfett said, “because the new generation of farmers want accurate data on the amount of product we spread and where it was spread.
“We’re key partners in our client’s precision agriculture process.”
Precision agriculture is a farm management approach largely based on technology and data collection, where farmers use drones, GPS, sensors, soil sampling and variable rate applications to make their agribusiness more accurate.
Altrac Spreading has diversified its services from spreading and transport to include crop and pasture sowing, as well as filling in centre pivot irrigator ruts.
Tim said that when he started crunching the numbers he couldn’t afford not to have his first, previous-generation Scania 6×6. The legal road going payload from a smaller 4×4 to the Scania 6×6 went from 4.5 tonnes to 7.0 tonnes (56 percent) and in the paddocks was much higher.
Because the Scania 6×6 carried far more product in the field, the number of trips it had to make back to the stockpile was reduced by 37 per cent.
Also, the spread pattern of a larger Southern Spreaders bin went from 34 metres to 50 metres (47 percent).
“When we weighed up the productivity and economic gains we were getting for a small increase in the purchase price we just had to have the Scania,” Tim said.
“A feature we have on all our
spreaders is the AIR-CTI central tyre inflation system which enables us to raise and lower the tyre pressure from inside the cabin on fly.”
Combined with the Michelin 495/70 R24 XM47 floatation tyres, the tyre pressure reduction system reduces soil compaction and enhances off-road traction, Tim said.
“During a particularly wet week back in spring, the Scania 6×6 had been going in and out of a paddock several times, barely making a mark in the grass where it had been.
“One of our 4x4s that was spreading nearby had some product left over and drove into that same paddock and went only five metres before sinking down to the axles.
“We couldn’t believe how easily the bigger 6×6 was working in such wet, boggy conditions and barely leaving any evidence it was there.”
Another productivity tool is Topcon electric self-steering that enables the truck to steer itself in a paddock along a pre-plotted course, to ensure the product is spread where it has been programmed.
The driver can override the system at any time simply by turning the wheel to avoid an object in the path.
When asked how happy he was with his two Scania 6×6 spreader trucks, Tim said: “We’re so impressed with the Scanias that we’ve ordered two more 4x4s and scheduled another 6×6 in time for next season.”