Taichung, Taiwan: Aside from the train system, the second most important element in Taiwan’s mass transport system are the bus companies. Like their trains, the public buses that service Taiwan’s populace are well maintained, efficient, smells good and clean.
In a recent trip to Taiwan, our group visited SinDian Bus Company, a 37-year old family run bus firm that services 22 routes around the greater Taipei area. Their success in the industry, as we have found out by way of a facility tour with the GM and members of the SinDian family themselves, was operational efficiency and hands-on approach which explains their dominance of Taiwan’s public bus segment. Their transport company has a fleet of 300 buses.
One of their unique approach is that all these years, they stuck with only one brand for their entire fleet, which simplified their entire parts and repair requirements. In their New Taipei City Bus depot, their experienced and well trained staff of 10 mechanics are abale to maintain a fleet of 173 buses stationed there. “With only one make, plus a warehouse full of parts and accessories for the buses, our secret to having a well maintained bus fleet is having half of the 300 buses reduce their weight by improving fuel efficiency. This is where Alcoa wheels was very instrumental,” says Li Shing, a mechanic of SinDian.
While aluminum forged wheels are common for high performance vehicles, SinDian discovered that using it for commercial vehicles is viable also. Established in 1888, the Aluminum Company of America or Alcoa, has been at the forefront of aluminum use from cookware to soda cans, to automobiles and planes. Alcoa utilized its excess forging capacity at the end of the WW2 as the company introduced its first forged aluminum wheel in 1948.
Currently , Alcoa has three manufacturing plants around the World; USA, Hungary and Mexico. Alcoa is the largest and the acknowledged leader in commercial vehcle forged wheels business with a market share as high as 90 percent in countries such as Australia, which has the biggest truck market second to the United States, which is also known as “Alcoa country”
Since using Alcoa forged aluminum wheels for their non-step buses two years ago, SinDian Bus Company revealed that their bus fleet’s fuel efficiency has increased by 18 percent and tire wear by 20 percent. “because the wheels are made lightweight and strong aluminum, the bus’s braking systems are kept cool by up to 22 degrees celcius, making the brakes work more efficiently and safer for the public,” added Li Shing.
In the global market, Alcoa has been supplying forged aluminum wheels as original equipment (OE) for reputable brands such as DAF, Scania, MAN, Volvo, Hino and Mercedes Benz.
Alcoa has also been the choice of truck and bus fleet owners in China, due to their rigidity, toughness and lightweight qualities. Chinese firms are known to abuse a truck’s payload capacity, which is similar to local truck firms in the local market. “They know that Alcoa wheels can take the punishment of an oveloaded truck,” added Aaron Go, Managing Partner of Pioneer Truck Parts and Equipment Corporation, the exclusive distributors of Alcoa in the PH market. Their showroom and office are located at 341 G. Araneta Avenue, Quezon City.
PHOTOS BY DINO RAY V. DIRECTO III