From wings to wheels

Planes, trucks and automobiles, there aren’t too many things with wheels or wings that Simon Humphries hasn’t taken a keen interest in over his lifetime. As Chief Engineer at Isuzu Australia, his current challenge involves the development of electric power for trucks of the future.

“Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot,” Simon says. “But my eyesight didn’t pass muster so I did the next best thing and became an officer in the Airforce and studied aeronautical engineering.”

However, very early in his career Simon’s interest was drawn towards ground vehicles and he describes a pivotal point that perfectly combined his passions for planes and trucks.

“I’d only been graduated for a few months when I was put in charge of a team responsible for recovering the old Mirage fighter planes from hangars at Woomera in outback South Australia.

“We lifted them onto low-loaders and trucked them down the Stuart Highway to Whyalla from where they were shipped to Pakistan. That was a fantastic three weeks of fun and learning,” he reminisces fondly.

Simon’s next posting in the early ‘90s was to the Williamtown RAAF base near Newcastle. Here he was an officer in charge of a team of 80 in various ground support trades and it was a role he took on with relish.

After three years he returned to HQ Support Command at Laverton in his old stomping ground of Melbourne and it wasn’t long before he was in charge of the entire ground fleet.

However, the lure of road transport was relentless and in ’98 Simon finally answered the call and accepted the position of Truck Sales Engineer with Isuzu Australia in Melbourne.

“Funnily enough, it was the first job I applied for and apart from a hiatus of five years I have been with Isuzu in various roles ever since,” Simon recalls.

According to Simon, the biggest change he’s experienced in truck technology since he started with Isuzu is the influx of computerisation to all areas of truck operation.

He sees this trend continuing as all-electric or EV trucks become mainstream. “We are working with a local technology provider to develop the EV concept and I’m thoroughly enjoying the many challenges we are overcoming to get this

off the ground.”

Industry Icon
Made possible by Smedley’s engineers, Industry Icon is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of the commercial road transport industry.

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