Blue Max Trucking is one of the first vocational fleets to add the PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission featuring vocational-specific calibrations. The company specified the PACCAR transmission in some of its new Kenworth T880s used in its dump division operations.
“It’s proving to be an effective transmission for us,” said Denton Williams, Blue Max Trucking owner. “Since we were already running PACCAR MX-13 engines in our Kenworths, it made sense to include the PACCAR transmission. We like the fact we can get the entire truck and powertrain serviced in one location – at our Kenworth dealer shop.”
Blue Max Trucking operates a fleet of 325 dump trucks and tractor-trailers to transport aggregate, equipment, stone, pre-cast concrete and building supplies for public and commercial construction projects throughout the Carolinas, as well as bordering states. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company recently established a flatbed division that provides services throughout the Southeast. Both divisions operate out of the company’s four terminals located in Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C., and Conway and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The majority of trucks in the company’s dump division are Kenworth T880 dump trucks with 405-hp PACCAR MX-13 engines and Kenworth T880 tractors with 455-hp PACCAR MX-13 engines. The T880s spec’d with the PACCAR 12-speed automated transmissions haul dump trailers and are primarily used on-highway and on maintained dirt roads. A few PACCAR transmissions are operating in the company’s flatbed division.
“We run automated transmissions in all of our trucks,” said Jeremiah Williams, Blue Max Trucking vice president. “It seems to be the way the industry is moving. Operating automated transmissions allows us to recruit from a larger pool of drivers. It’s the future of trucking.”
The PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission’s shift calibrations for vocational applications provide higher full throttle upshift points to enhance overall performance and acceleration, and higher power downshift points to prevent speed loss on grades and higher resistance surfaces. The faster, more aggressive ramp rates and quicker shifts on grades improve acceleration. The PACCAR 12-speed transmission with the vocational calibrations is designed for applications up to 110,000 pounds gross vehicle weight and is intended for Kenworth T880s that travel mainly on paved roads and occasionally operate off highway on maintained dirt or gravel roads.
According to Jeremiah, improving uptime was a key factor in the company’s decision to test the PACCAR transmission in the fleet. “We’ve been running the PACCAR MX-13 engine for six years and it’s been a very reliable engine. So, we were open to try the PACCAR transmission. We expect it to be a solid alternative for us,” Jeremiah said.
Since Blue Max Trucking transitioned to operating mostly Kenworth T880s in 2014, purchased through MHC Kenworth – Charlotte, the company has noticed an improvement in fuel efficiency and driver acceptance.
“Our drivers are particularly fond of the T880,” said Denton. “Its versatility enables our dump truck drivers to navigate challenging unpaved roads with ease. Plus, our PACCAR MX-13 engines provide a solid fuel economy improvement – without sacrificing the power our drivers need – compared to other trucks and engines we’ve run.”
According to John Cochran, Blue Max Trucking driver, the Kenworth T880 allows him to operate in poor weather and road conditions better than other truck makes.
“I’ve driven a number of truck makes and models in my career and the T880 lives up to the expectation of being the ‘vocational leader.’ One time I got myself stuck in deep mud on my way out of a mine. It was bad – I figured I would need a tow. I locked my differentials and to my surprise, I was able to drive the truck out without any help,” Cochran said.
“The T880 really is the most versatile truck out there. The ride is so smooth. There are days I spend more time in my truck than I do at home – and I don’t get fatigued. It’s like driving a luxury car. Kenworth hit a home run with this one,” Cochran said.
Shem Collins has driven for Blue Max Trucking for 17 years and is now behind the wheel of his fifth Kenworth T880 with the company. He said the Kenworth T880 is the perfect combination of ‘good looks’ and on-road performance.
“I call it the ‘beauty and the beast’ because you can tell by just the looks of it that it’s a quality-built truck. I take pride in my T880 and make sure to keep it clean,” said Collins. “On the road, the truck is an absolute beast. When there is standing water on the road after a heavy rainfall, the T880 cuts through it like it’s nothing. The handling of the truck is unmatched. It’s an easy truck to drive. It seems like the more weight I’m hauling, the better it performs.”
At the end of the day, providing drivers with reliable and comfortable equipment that enable them to consistently complete deliveries on-time is key. And, the Kenworth T880 has helped the company achieve a good reputation among its customers.
“Our drivers really do love our T880s and enjoy driving them. In our business maximizing uptime is crucial for us to deliver the service our customers expect. The PACCAR MX-13 engine has been an efficient and reliable engine for us,” Denton said.
“I can’t say enough about our dealer’s role in ensuring our trucks are always rolling. When we need service, MHC Kenworth – Charlotte is a great partner and consistently works with us to deliver the maintenance we need to get our equipment in and out of the shop quickly,” he said.