The Opticruise transmission on the operator’s latest Scania R470s have been modified so that drivers cannot start off in any gear other than first.

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Motor Transport
20 January, 2005

SECTION: News; Pg. 1

BYLINE: Liz Wells

BODY: The Widdowson Group has adapted the Opticruise transmissions on its latest batch of 48 Scania R-series tractors in order to prolong the life of the clutches.

Group technical director Harry Hawksworth explains that they have disabled everything but first gear for setting-off, preventing drivers from starting in the wrong gear and abusing the clutch.

He says local Scania dealer Keltruck was able to carry-out the modification by plugging in a lap-top.

According to a spokesman at Scania Great Britain, although this is an easy and relatively cheap procedure, it has so far not proved popular with operators.

He says the R-series’ clutch protection system (available on manual and Opticruise transmissions), which limits revs if drivers pull away in the wrong gear, normally suffices.

Hawksworth speaks favourably about the latest additions to the fleet, particularly praising the Opticruise transmission. He claims it is far more responsive than the version that featured on the 4-series, and improves efficiency providing drivers receive the required training.

He says: “With the proper tuition it will improve a driver’s performance, making a good driver better and a poor driver good.” He believes

It also minimises wear and tear on the driveline, reduces driver stress and improves safety. However, since the first ten of the latest batch only arrived in December, it is too early to evaluate fuel economy.

He says initial responses from the drivers have all been good, with positive comments about the improved interior and the repositioning of the bunk.

The new trucks, all R470s twin-steers with Topline cabs, will run on a variety of nationwide distribution operations on behalf of the company’s blue chip client base.

Andrew Bentley, MInst SMM
General Manager – Marketing & Business Development