In an era where states and municipalities are asked to do more with less, the city of Albuquerque keeps that in mind when purchasing new equipment.
"Budgeting for our vehicles is absolutely top of mind," said Daniel Tapia, operations and maintenance superintendent for the city. "We have bonds that allow us to purchase new equipment - but that's not every year. When we do get new iron, we're then able to auction out older units, or vehicles that have been giving us headaches with maintenance."
That was the recipe on the last vehicle acquisition, which brought the city new Kenworth T470s while switching out 1999-era vehicles. But, according to Tapia, it is regular maintenance, serviceability and ultimately, the reliability of vehicles that can make or break a budget.
Shown are two of the Kenworth T470s operated by the City of Albuquerque.
"It's why we look for trucks that will hold up and service our city well over the long run, while keeping the cost of operation low," said Tapia, who oversees a fleet of 104 vehicles, including 32 Class 7 and 8 trucks. More than 4,500 lane miles are maintained for the city of 552,000 residents.
"When I began to oversee equipment seven years ago, we had 11 2003 Kenworth T300 medium duty trucks working in our fleet," said Tapia. "Visually and on paper - looking at maintenance and service reports - I could tell a day-and-night difference between those trucks and others we were operating. The quality and reliability was so much better with the Kenworths. They were the best trucks in our operation, and when the time was right to buy more trucks, we wanted to get more Kenworths."
In the summer of 2012, the city took delivery of nine Kenworth T470s and now has another on order, along with two Kenworth T800s. The trucks were purchased through Inland Kenworth - Albuquerque.
The T470s, in single-and-tandem axle configurations, serve various functions for the city. The tandem-axle units, with 10-yard dump bodies follow the city street sweepers and collect two-to-three yards of street debris in each cycle. They also haul aggregate, sand and asphalt for concrete work and crack maintenance, plus road patching jobs. The single-axle T470s are outfitted with five-yard dump bodies for lighter duty work.
Since Albuquerque typically has around eight snow events a year, the Kenworth T470s also serve as snowplows, with 10-foot blades. "The T470s are really the right size for us and since they have the extended frame rail, they're an excellent snowplow vehicle for us," said Tapia.
The single axle Kenworth T470s are powered by the PACCAR PX-8 engine, rated at 330 hp, while the tandems feature Cummins ISL engines rated at 380 hp. Both are driven through Allison automatic transmissions. The new T470 on order will feature the 2013 PACCAR PX-9 engine rated at 330 hp.
Bigger than a Class 7 truck and smaller than a Class 8, the T470 is available in GVW ratings from 33,000 to 68,000 pounds. Front axles are rated from 12,000 to 22,000 pounds, single rear axles from 21,000 to 30,000 pounds, and tandem rear axles from 40,000 to 46,000 pounds. With full-parent rail extensions providing maximum resistance to bending moment from one end of the rail to the other, the T470 supplies a solid and durable mounting platform for snowplows, hydraulic pumps, winches, and front stabilizers.
Like all Kenworth models, the cab of the T470 is constructed of aluminum, which makes it resistant to corrosion and rust. "That's important to us," said Tapia. "With a road salt environment in the winter, the impact on our equipment can be seen. It's not severe, since we're not facing snow all of the time, but if you do look at our Kenworths and compare them against our non-Kenworths, you'll see a difference."
And, Tapia said that will impact the back end when the city sends the trucks off to auction down the road. "I'm very well aware of how Kenworths have a very high resale value -- I see first-hand why that's the case," he said. "Once it's time to sell the Kenworths, the city managers will also be able to smile thanks to more money coming back into the city than with other trucks."
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World's Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth's Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.