SAL Commercials chills out with DAF
SAL Commercials has taken 10 DAF XF 510 FTG tractors with Super Space cabs as part of a major renewal programme of the Grimsby operator’s 30 strong multi-temperature fleet.
SAL Commercials undertook a rigorous assessment programme at its Grimsby base before settling on DAF, running the rule over five competing, premium marques. Gary Walmsley, the fleet manager at SAL, said, “This was an important decision for us, and our managing director, Anthony Howard, involved himself closely throughout the selection process.”
Prior to the decision to take the ten DAF XFs, which are seen as a precursor to a further ten arrivals from the Dutch manufacturer later this year, the SAL fleet had developed, as many fleets do, with a mixture of marques of varying ages. “We had invested significantly in the new storage facility,” said Gary, “and it was felt that the fleet now needed to be brought up to a similar standard. We talked to a number of the leading brands, who put in a mixture of cabs and horse-powers, so we had a real chance to get it right.
“Key to the decision-making process,” he said, “was our driver team. We got them to trial each vehicle on offer and feed back to us. They are a great bunch and we wanted to ensure they felt they were going to get the best tools to do their job.”
Drivers at SAL Commercials will typically set out with a full load and be away from base for three nights at a stretch, collecting as well as delivering, so safety, comfort and performance were the operator’s priorities.
“From an operational perspective,” continued Gary, “once we knew the drivers would be happy, we needed to look at performance and fuel economy. The DAF Super Space cabs and the 510bhp engines hit the right notes for the drivers, and certainly give us the performance we need. This is heavy, multi-drop work across a real mix of roads and environments. One manufacturer hedged its bets and put in both 440bhp and 480bhp units, in an effort to get the fuel performance right, but the DAF seems to be able to flex its muscle yet still deliver economy. The fuel has been good from the word go with the earliest deliveries, and is getting better and better as they settle down,” he said.
The new vehicles had been monitored by DAF, which fed the full fuel and driver performance figures back to Gary. He said, “We had the DAF driver trainer in at the start and he went though everything the drivers wanted – and more – and it is delivering results. The trucks are clearly economical anyway, but with drivers specifically trained for them, they keep improving every day.”
The new fleet arrivals have been acquired direct by SAL Commercials, and come with DAF Telematics and R&M packages. SAL is looking further at DAF and other telematics packages to make sure it has a fully integrated truck/driver/customer/back office connectivity that works for everyone. Gary made one final point, saying, “Before you even start, you know that anything mechanical is open to some sort of roadside failure at some point of its life. An important factor in our choice of DAF was the tremendous reputation of DAFaid. You look at the spread of the DAF Dealer network and you talk to other DAF operators, and you know that if and when the unexpected happens, you will get fast action. With temperature controlled loads that is so important, and was another big tick in the box as far as we were concerned. We could have spent thousands of pounds less on other marques, but we wanted the best all-round package, and we think we have got just that.”
Founded in 1970 by John Howard, with one truck and a lot of ambition, in 2008 SAL Commercials gained a sister company, HSH Coldstores, offering frozen, chilled and ambient storage and handling. To complement these storage and haulage operations, a further cold store has now been opened in Redditch.