Western Star Trucks delivered Star Nation another great story about one of their satisfied customers:
Once in place, Buckner cranes can do amazing things, hoisting tons of equipment hundreds of feet in the air and aiding the construction of everything from windmills to skyscrapers.
What they can’t do is roll themselves to the job. That’s where Western Star trucks come in.
Based in Graham, N.C., Buckner Companies is one of the nation’s foremost crane, steel and pre-cast erection and industrial rigging firms. Typically, it has 75 to 80 cranes on jobs throughout the continental United States and southern Canada. It’s even leased cranes to projects in Alaska and Hawaii.
“There may be a few states we haven’t worked in, but there aren’t many,” said equipment manager Jeff Holmes.
Getting disassembled cranes, rigging and other equipment to job sites is challenging because of the size, weight and distances involved. For example, it takes 19 to 26 trucks to transport a crane from North Carolina to Colorado where it is used to erect windmills. Buckner’s largest crane, the LR 11000, requires a caravan of 63 trucks.
Buckner uses outside carriers for large jobs, but the core of its own fleet is eight Western Star 4900 SB (set-back axle) trucks it bought in 2012, the first time the company had bought new trucks. The decision to buy new was driven by stricter emission standards and a desire for better mileage, Holmes said.
“That’s the reason we did our homework and we decided to buy the best truck we could find. We compared Western Star trucks to the competitors and we decided Western Star was what we wanted,” he said.
Buckner spec’d four tri-axle trucks and four twin-screws. A ninth unit has a hydraulic crane mounted on back that is used to assemble other cranes. The heavy haulers use Detroit™ DD15® engines with 18-speed transmissions while the smaller trucks feature Detroit™ DD13® engines with 13-speed transmissions.
Buckner has an annual budget of about $5 million a year moving equipment around the country, a significant portion of which is fuel costs. The Western Star trucks help meet the budget by getting dramatically better fuel economy than their previous trucks.
Holmes likes the set-back front axle and high ground clearance on the Western Star trucks because they make maneuvering on tight construction sites easy. All of the road tractors have sleeper berths, though Buckner uses that space to store gear and typically puts its drivers up in motels.
“We’ve been really pleased with our trucks,” Holmes said. “They’re just built for rough surfaces. Our typical day is driving out and delivering to the customer, packing up and breaking down equipment and moving on down the road to another customer.”
Cranes and rigging can’t be assembled and put to work unless all the parts arrive and that requires reliable trucks. “Reliability is a huge deal,” Holmes said. “We have to get the equipment there on time to meet the contractors’ schedule.”
Holmes said he expects to add more Western Star trucks to Buckner’s fleet.
For more information, go to www.WesternStarTrucks.com.
Western Star is a division of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and is the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets Class 4-8 trucks and is a Daimler company, the world’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.