Franz Tausch delivers mineral oils for LSA
Vehicle & Technology
Franz Tausch transports mineral oils for Lubes Services Austria. Since January he has been driving an Actros, which provides him with a particularly high level of safety.
He started out at 5 o'clock this morning. An hour later, Franz Tausch was at Lobau oil harbour in Vienna, where he loaded today's freight: hydraulic, transmission and engine oils, which he delivers for Lubes Services Austria to customers in Lower and Upper Austria as well as in Salzburg. The family-run mineral oil trading company has been a partner of ExxonMobil for many years, supplying the entire product range of the Mobil brand, and delivering both to large industrial corporations as well as to wholesalers and smaller businesses.
At the edge of the small town of Langenlois, Franz Tausch reaches his first destination: a car and commercial vehicle workshop. Although it's pouring with rain, there are two trucks and a tractor in the forecourt waiting for their service appointment, and through an open gateway you can see a burgundy-coloured van on a lifting platform. A mechanic in overalls is inspecting the vehicle for rust. He shines his lamp at different places. Then shakes his head, wipes his forehead with the back of his hand and checks the area around the front axle once more – it doesn't look too good.
Franz Tausch smiles, says hello, adjusts his glasses and his cap, and goes inside. He marches straight over to the silver coloured tank at the back left of the workshop – this is not the first time he's been here. "We've got lots of regular customers. I come here every few weeks," he says, checking the oil level and undoing the fastening. 800 litres of Mobil Super 3000 XE 5W-30 have been ordered – time for Franz Tausch to go back out to his Actros 2543. He does up the zip of his jacket and then opens some of the cover plates on the side of the box body, revealing the connection to a tank, two pumps, their control unit, and a rolled-up hose. To connect the pump, the hose and the tank, Franz Tausch, who comes from Lower Austria, mounts two short pieces of hose. He then opens the stopcock and unrolls the hose from the reel, pulling it across the workshop.
Showtime! About 60 litres of engine oil per minute now flow from the Actros to the tank 20 metres away. "If it wasn't so cold, it would even be up to 100 litres per minute," says Franz, watching the indicators on the control unit display. "Because the colder it is, the more viscous the oil gets, and the harder it is for the pump. It's particularly extreme for transmission oil – at temperatures like today's, the pump can only manage 15 to 20 litres per minute. That's why we pre-warm these tanks in cases like this, so that the strain on the pump is not so great."
Franz Tausch opens the loading ramp of the box body by pressing a button, and carries on talking: "With this truck, we can transport bulk and packaged goods, we're very flexible." Pallets with barrels and engine oil canisters stand next to compact tanks carrying up to 1,000 litres. When he opened the covers of the vehicle just now, Franz Tausch did not connect the hose to an integrated container, but to a mobile tank on the load area. Thanks to their compact design, these can be easily loaded and unloaded, and also heated. "That means we can always load exactly what our customers need," says the professional. There is space for up to ten tanks on the load area, held in position by fixing rails.
Tidiness is a must.
The pump has almost finished its job. The number on the control unit display is now only rising slowly: 796, 797, 798 …. And then it switches off. It's as if there's no more oil on board. Or is there? Franz Tausch lifts the connecting hose from the tank to the pump. And lo and behold, the number continues to rise: 799, 800! "We squeezed a few more litres out of that one," he says, smiling. Job done! Time to clear up: clean the hoses with compressed air, remove them and put everything back in place in the vehicle. "I like to keep everything tidy," says Franz Tausch. He has a number of cleaning cloths ready to clean the connecting parts with. He wipes everything carefully and checks once again to make sure the covering plates are firmly in place, then he takes the delivery note to the office.
Franz Tausch insists on tidiness inside his truck too. "After all, I spend a lot of time in there," he says. Also, he's "really happy" with his new Actros, which LSA just bought in January. "I've been driving a Mercedes for 25 years, and I've done more than a million kilometres with the vehicles. Trucks with a star suit me just fine, and I'm really glad I've got another Actros now. The design is perfect, and driving is very pleasant thanks to the front axle air suspension."
What Franz Tausch cannot see, but what makes all the difference for the economy of the Actros: Predictive Powertrain Control. The combination of Mercedes PowerShift 3 and GPS map material allows for an anticipatory driving style with optimum shift points and cruise control speeds which are dependent on the topography. The result: ahead of downhill gradients, the vehicle changes to a lower gear, thus giving the retarder more braking and cooling output. On downhill stretches, the system makes use of peak phases of momentum in order to accelerate, and when driving uphill, Predictive Powertrain Control governs the sequence of gear changes, shifting up before brows of hills, for example, or avoiding unnecessary downshifting. The system looks ahead and uses every opportunity to activate EcoRoll mode and just let the vehicle roll under its own momentum.
But the Actros 2543 has more to offer – for example the Safety Pack Top. "It's got practically everything built in that you can get in the way of safety equipment," says Franz Tausch. This includes Proximity Control and Active Brake Assist 3, Lane Keeping Assist and Attention Assist, driver's airbag, Roll Control Assist, comfort suspension seat, the 12.7 cm instrument cluster with an extra display and an additional safety feature in the form of a secondary water retarder which serves as a wear-resistant additional brake.
"You're not aware of a lot of that while you're driving normally," says Franz Tausch. "But if it comes to the crunch, of course you're glad you've got it, even though the very best technology can't do miracles. After all, the final responsibility remains with the driver – particularly when the road conditions are bad like they are today, and that means being careful, regardless of all the technology." And choosing your speed accordingly. Franz Tausch takes his foot off the accelerator a little. It makes no difference if he reaches his next destination in St. Valentin five minutes later or earlier. "The most important thing is that I deliver today," he says, concentrating on the road. On the safe side.
Photos: Sebastian Freiler