Eaton Automation Helps Lead to a Smooth Transition
“We have been very, very happy with the success so far. The different programs that Eaton has offered us have perfectly matched our weights and loads well.”
Ernie Schroeder, President
Schroeder Freight opened for business in 1983 with one truck, operated briefly as a truck load brokerage firm, and eventually evolved into a full truckload carrier. Incorporated as Schroeder Freight Inc. in 1995, the company’s home terminal is located on the outskirts of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Currently operating with 35 company trucks and roughly 15 owner operators, Schroeder services a diverse list of customers throughout Canada and a good portion of states in the central U.S. Regardless of location, it’s a good bet just about all of those shippers can easily spot a Schroeder truck from a kilometer away.
“We have a very large repeat client base, many of whom have been with us for more than 15 years and some for almost 30 years,” says Ernie Schroeder, president of Schroeder Freight. “Some have even had four or five name changes through mergers and acquisitions.”
Loyalty like that doesn’t happen by chance in the trucking industry. It happens because of a solid game plan. And the game plan at Schroeder Freight includes good employees, topnotch management, high moral standards, customer service, dedication to safety and reliable, well-running vehicles and equipment – all the right elements that Schroeder has demonstrated over the years.
Once a proponent of purchasing, maintaining and operating used trucks, Schroeder has found that new trucks are now the best offense in his game plan.
“In the past, when we broke down the numbers, we always seemed to be ahead of the game with used equipment,” says Schroeder. “However, in the last couple of years, more and more truck owners were not trading in their equipment as often due to the price increases that came with the new emissions regulations. It became an issue for us where there just wasn’t enough good used equipment available and we started breaking down a little bit too much.”
Yet he still liked the fuel efficiency he was getting with those older models. So before purchasing anything new, Schroeder challenged major North American truck makers to show him a vehicle that could meet the fuel mileage he was getting with his pre-emission trucks.
Working with his local Freightliner dealer and his regional Eaton representative, Schroeder soon found his answer when he took delivery of 10 new Freightliner Cascadia trucks with Detroit DD15 diesel engines and Eaton 13-speed UltraShift PLUS Multipurpose High Performance (MHP) automated transmissions.
“We already had a good amount of experience with Eaton automation, having run their early AutoShift transmissions for years with most of the used trucks that we had,” says Schroeder. “The transmission itself was solid. So we decided to give the new UltraShift PLUS models a try.”
As part of the Multipurpose Series of UltraShift PLUS transmissions, the MHP models are fully automated transmissions with shift selection software that employs grade sensing, weight computation and driver throttle commands to make intelligent shift decisions for efficient, safe and profitable vehicle operation.
The series also features the highest torque capacity in the trucking industry – ranging from 1450 lb.-ft. through 2250 lb.-ft. – and excellent low-speed maneuverability, startabiltiy and ratio coverage.
“We have been very, very happy with the success so far,” notes Schroeder. “The different programs that Eaton has offered us have perfectly matched our weights and loads well.”
He adds that after roughly six months of operation, his Freightliner trucks with Detroit Diesel engines and UltraShift PLUS transmissions are getting about one-half mile per gallon better fuel consumption when compared to his older AutoShiftequipped trucks with comparable engine power.
“Because we are still in the early stages with the engines, it is very possible that we could be getting as much as one mile per gallon improvement in another half year or so of service,” he adds.
He notes that his drivers are also giving the new transmissions high grades, as is Roger Pockett, a sales consultant with Freightliner Manitoba, and the person who helped sell the transmissions to Schroeder.
“The UltraShift PLUS is a fantastic transmission,” says Pockett. “I have sold about 15 over the last two years, and because more and more people are starting to request the transmissions, we are now keeping them in stock.”
Schroeder has sampled competitive automated transmissions, but says the Eaton gear boxes will be his transmission of choice with future new truck orders - and not just because of the performance and his drivers’ liking for the transmissions.
“The support that we have been getting from our Eaton rep, Ken Moodie, has been outstanding,” says Schroeder. “He has been with us before, during and after the sales and is always available any time of the day. He has made us very comfortable.”
That is impressive praise, considering it’s coming from someone who certainly knows the value of repeat business.