STEPPING UP

When you want to climb up the corporate ladder, the ideal foundation may well be an IVECO Daily

Australians are known to be early adopters, hence the now common sight of zombie-like beings attached to their mobiles by earphone as they cover the daily commute by bus or train. But when it comes to adopting new ideas for vans and utes, we are pretty much stuck in our old ways.

Customising vans, utes and light trucks often extends to not much more than adding chrome, stainless steel, large diameter rims and low profile tyres. By adapting a vehicle to perform better, the operator gets improved versatility, improved efficiency and, very often, higher levels of safety.

When innovative Australian manufacturer, Branach, needed a dual-purpose truck to act as a service vehicle as well as demonstration platform for its world-class safety ladders, the company found the van that ticked all the boxes for them was a new IVECO Daily 50C dual-cab/chassis.

In dual-cab form the Daily comes in two options, the 50C and the 70C, with seating for up to six passengers plus the driver. The 50C is available in two wheelbases, 3750 mm and 4350 mm, with payloads ranging from 2.275 tonnes, enabling it to be driven on a passenger car licence, to 2.780 tonnes where a light-rigid licence is required. The 70C features the same wheelbase options but extends the payload to 4.168 tonnes, again moving into light-rigid driver’s licencing.Branach, Boronia for IMA2B2

Power comes in the form of the standard 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel that incorporates a variable geometry turbocharger with intercooler to produce 170 hp (125 kW) at 2,900-3,500rpm, with peak torque of 430 Nm rated between 1500 and 2600 rpm. Operators looking for more power can move up to a twin turbocharged version that offers 205 hp (150 kW) from 3100 to 3500 rpm, and with peak torque rated at 470 Nm from 1400 to 3000 rpm.

Both these engines originate from Fiat Powertrain and are class leading when it comes to fuel efficiency and low emissions. What really is the jewel in the crown for Daily buyers is the availability of the Hi-Matic transmission. This is a ZF eight-speed full-fluid automatic transmission that is proven in a wide range of vehicles such as Jaguar, and Volkswagen with its Amarok.

The version of the Hi-Matic used in the Daily has been strengthened for light commercial vehicle applications and was extensively tested for Australian climatic conditions – the unit features an external cooler and an independent transmission support for improved durability and cooling efficiency.

To assist in reducing fuel consumption, the Hi-Matic features both ‘Eco’ and ‘Power’ modes. When Eco is selected, the transmission changes gears at lower rpm, while Power mode holds the vehicle in each gear for longer for even crisper acceleration should it be required. Those preferring a manual shift can opt for a six-speed, double-overdrive gearbox.

The cab interior has a lot going for it by way of comfort and sophistication. Very much a European designed prestige product in the van and light truck sector, the Daily offers excellent ergonomics, easy access and plenty of storage space. In the dual-cab variants there’s additional storage space under the rear seat – and the seat takes four passengers.

Branach, Boronia for IMA2B2The origins of Branach go back to 1990, when the company was started in a Melbourne garage by brothers Mike and John Walsh. Their purpose in life at the time was to revolutionise the ladder industry, and they achieved their goal thanks to a limitless supply of fibreglass and constant background music courtesy of AC/DC on the radio.

The Branach team now consists of 27 staff operating from a Boronia manufacturing facility, producing high technology ladders for Australian users as well as export customers in North and South America, Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East and New Zealand.

End users include high profile customers in electrical and power, telecommunications, transport and aviation, mining, oil and gas, defence, fire and rescue, and events and exhibitions industries – a common factor in these sectors is that their work is often conducted at height.

Among the Branach product range are safety step platforms, extension ladders, single ladders and associated ladder accessories. The model line-up benefits from patented technology and all feature fibreglass construction using a unique box rail design that is not only light weight, but also reduces twist and sway by 40 percent compared to more traditional ladders.

The ladders are also electrically resistant, weather resistant, low maintenance and repairable. At the forefront of the entire range is height safety, this is particularly evident in the in the Terrain Master ladder that features adjustable feet accessories to create a firmer and more secure base for the ladder.

As part of a complete service and maintenance solution, Branach technicians visit customer sites and conduct safety audits of their ladders, which is where the IVECO Daily comes into play, according to Branach director of marketing communications, Janet Walsh.

“We were looking for a dual-cab light truck that would give us the best platform to develop a highly customised body while also being a car licence vehicle that was comfortable and easy to drive,” Janet said.

“After evaluating a number of other European brands, the IVECO Daily provided us with the specifications that would best suit our needs. The selling dealership, Melbourne Truck Centre, was also very accommodating and worked closely with us throughout the vehicle build and body fitment.”

The Daily’s body can best be described as a highly customised service body with ample space and compartments for an enclosed air compressor and all the necessary tools to adjust and repair ladders on the road. The truck also features pullout work top spaces to make repair jobs easier.

Where the set-up differs markedly from other bodies is that it contains a flat-screen television that is used to play ladder safety videos when visiting customers or Branach distributors.Branach, Boronia for IMA2B2

Another standout feature is the fitment of two liftable booms to the roof of the body that can be raised to a height of six metres, providing a perfect platform against which to position the tops of the ladders to conduct stability demonstrations.

“The Daily is so comfortable to drive, anybody can just get in it and feel at home – all our staff love it,” Janet said.

“The truck can sometimes work locally, so it’s driving in a city environment, but when there are appointments in Mildura or Albury there’s a lot more distance to cover, this is when the truck’s multimedia system with quality sound system, Bluetooth and satellite navigation are really useful.”

As well as pursuing additional local and export market opportunities, Branach is working to refine its ladder demonstrations using the Daily. The next challenge is to incorporate a full-size dummy weighing in at 140 kilos into the spectacle, to further drum home the importance of safety while working at height.

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