Turners (Soham) Ltd. has added 20 DAF XF six-wheel tractor units to its 450-strong refrigerated fleet. Five of these are the manufacturer’s New XF 450 FTG models, with twin-steer and mid-lift axles.
The vehicles, provided by DAF Dealer Chassis Cab in Cambridge, will enter service at the operator’s Spalding branch, where they will undertake a range of tramping and day delivery schedules.
Turners’ Group Fleet Engineer, Tim King, says, “We are expecting good things from the New XF models, not least in relation to the promised fuel economy. DAF has worked hard to develop the new generation of XFs, with significant advances claimed in axle and overall driveline performance, as well as other key aspects of the truck. They are suggesting a 7% improvement in economy and we will be monitoring the New XFs with their 450bhp updated MX-11 engines against the 15 current XFs that we have taken onto the fleet alongside them. We won’t just monitor comparable fuel consumptions though,” he says, “other important factors will be looked at closely in terms of driveability and performance.”
The operator already has plans in place to add “more” New XF and New CF trucks to its fleet in the near future. The XFs of both generations are all specified by Turners with the popular DAF Space Cab. Tim sees this as a good investment, saying, “Driver acceptance has been very good with all the 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.”
The trucks bring the total of Turners’ DAFs to around 800, virtually half of this 70-year-old family-owned operator’s high-profile fleet. “When I joined Turner’s back in 2001,” says Tim, “we 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 and maximised payload for us. For the refrigerated work however, we prefer the FTG tractor set up.”
While the operator’s connection with local dealer, Chassis Cab, is an important part of the Turners/DAF relationship, Tim is responsible for a fleet that spreads over a further eight main depots beyond the Newmarket head office operation, as well as some 50 smaller operating centres. This brings him and his team into routine contact with the wider 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, reliable service.”
With DAF dealerships taking care of all routine and emergency work under DAF MultiSupport R&M packages, Turners operates its own workshops across the country. These service and maintain the majority of its 2500 strong trailer fleet and any of its 1800 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 is very content with 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.”
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