Turners (Soham) Ltd. has added 18 new DAF XF and CF tractor units to its fleet for a new contract with Francis Flower. The manufacturer and distributor of limestone powder products recently acquired a Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag (GGBS) powder plant in Scunthorpe. The DAF vehicles, a mix of eight XF 440 FTP and ten CF 440 FTP models with light mid-lift axles and all fitted with Space Cabs, will be coupled with 18 new, specialised Feldbinder bulk powder tankers on the GGBS work across the UK.
The trucks bring the total of Turners’ DAFs to over 750, virtually half of this 70-year-old family-owned operator’s high-profile fleet. Fleet Engineer, Tim King, said, “When I joined Turners back in 2001, we had an excellent relationship with our local dealer in Cambridge, now called Chassis Cab, and had a good number of DAFs on the fleet already. It was in 2003 that we started to focus on the FTP model with its light mid-lift axle. It suited our varied work,” he said, “and maximised payload for us. It’s absolutely ideal for the new powder work at Francis Flower, as there’s plenty of space on the chassis for packaging the discharge equipment.”
Work comprises a mix of tramping and day deliveries from Scunthorpe. Tim King explains, “Driver acceptance is very good with the new DAF models, we lose a little payload with the bigger unit, but our drivers are the more important factor. They are a key part of Turners’ operations and, apart from looking after the ones we have already, we run our own recruitment and training programme specifically to get youngsters into the role,” he said.
The connection with Chassis Cab is an important part of the Turners / DAF relationship. However, Tim King is responsible for a fleet that spreads over a further eight main depots beyond the Newmarket head office location, as well as some 50 smaller operating centres. This brings him and his team into routine contact with the DAF network, from which he says he gets ‘good service’. In addition, should things go wrong on the road, he is a big fan of DAFaid. “It’s excellent,” he says, “All trucks break, that happens with anything mechanical, it’s how you fix them that matters. DAFaid is a very efficient and reliable service.”
While DAF dealerships take care of all routine and emergency work under DAF MultiSupport R&M packages, Turners also operates its own workshops across the country. These service and maintain its 2,300 strong trailer fleet and any trucks falling outside manufacturer R&M. The company buys all its DAF trucks outright, with between six and eight year packages that depend on the type of vehicle. Rigids tend to be on the longer term contracts as mileages are normally lower per year. The operator then deals with its own disposals, renewing and extending the fleet as it goes along.
On the matter of fuel, Tim King is very relaxed about the DAF fleet. He says, “The trucks certainly don’t suffer by comparison with any other marques we run. The truth of the matter is that, while we have telematics on every vehicle and each depot monitors its own fleet closely for any abnormalities, each truck and each journey is different, so we expect variations across the operations.”
Mick Stovin, commercial director at Francis Flower in Scunthorpe, commented, “Our delivery service will handle 1.3m tonnes of product this year, with deliveries throughout the whole of the UK. Apart from our main production units we have another 60 silo sites around the UK to help meet customer needs, and on top of that we take orders up to 16.00h every afternoon for next day delivery. That’s why we use Turners.”
“We have had a long term relationship with Turners and it’s all about reliability and performance for us. We don’t need people saying they can do something if they can’t. Turners link directly into our IT system, so wherever they deliver, we get immediate details on delivery weights, waiting times, part loads and everything else. Their new DAF fleet is the icing on the cake. We know they are a reliable truck and they look great when they turn up at our customers: that all reflects well on the business as a whole. And the drivers like them, which is very important to us, because unless drivers are happy with what they’re doing it just won’t happen.”