First stop was Japan where Rob spent time at the Tokyo Motor Show and Tokyo Domestic Truck Show, as well as the Hino Motors Truck Assembly and test plant. The CFA-funded visit gave Rob, a mechanical engineer by trade, the chance to speak to service personnel including product planners.
In Austria, Rob visited Rosenbauer International to consider the Compact Line appliance based on a Mercedes Sprinter. The company also produces a pump and live hose reel which could have a Quick Attack Unit function for use in lightning strike suppression, black out and back burning.
Rob visited Metz and Mercedes Benz in Germany. The former manufactures excellent quality telescopic ladders and articulating/telescopic ladder platforms. The latter produces the ECONIC cab chassis which is ideal for aerial application with its low profile and excellent cab access and visibility.
The visits to both Verma Lift and Bronto Skylift in Finland gave Rob the chance to consider their articulating/telescopic ladder platforms with a focus on the routing of hydraulic lines in boom, speed of operation and issues around potential cylinder damage.In the US, Rob visited American La France, Rosenbauer Aerials Division and Crash Rescue Equipment Service. He looked at a range of appliances from steel telescopic ladder platforms to TeleSquirt units, Snozzles and other telescopic water tower designs, some of which do not offer rescue or boom top operation capability.
“I had freedom of access to all manufacturing plants,” Rob says. “It gave me the chance to check things like the quality of production, whether the components were well assembled and if the appliances could be easily maintained. This will help CFA make decisions that are in our long-term interest.”
“I was able to compare the US and European models,looking at both quality and availability. While some of the companies already consider CFA an important customer, others will need to prove their suitability as a prospective supplier because they focus more on their national market at the moment. Some companies may not be able to provide CFA with the necessary back up and technical support.”
From an environmental perspective, Rob had the chance to look at developments such as hybrid vehicles and clean emission technology in Japan. “We need to monitor the introduction of these sorts of vehicles into Australia,” he says. “We want to determine whether they might be practical for our transport fleet and think about future budget implications.”
On a personal note, Rob was particularly struck by the distinct culture of Japan on this, his first trip to the Asian nation. “In every situation – at work but also in the streets and shops – the people were so friendly, open and courteous not only with visitors but also among themselves. It made a very strong impression on me.