DAF in Action
DAF in Action
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
“New state-of-the-art cab plants in Westerlo, Belgium”
DAF built two new factories in Westerlo (B) especially for the New Generation XF, XG and XG+. One for the high-precision assembly of the steel body-in-white and one for the finishing work on the cab. A look behind the scenes at DAF’s new production facility, which was completed in less than two years and is one of the most modern of its kind.
By Philip van Hasselt
For years DAF’s cabs have been renowned as the most spacious and most comfortable on the market. And DAF trucks also set the benchmark in terms of materials and finishing. Nevertheless, DAF was determined to set the bar even higher with the production of its new generation of premium trucks.
Hence the decision to build two new factories at the DAF Trucks site in Westerlo. In order not to interrupt ongoing production, the new production lines were constructed next to the existing facilities. A planning, organisational and engineering challenge of the highest order. In workplace jargon the two new factories became known as the ‘Body’ and the ‘Cab Trimming’ plants.
The new Body factory covers 14,600 m2 and the production line is equipped with 145 advanced robots and 139 servo-electric welding grippers, guaranteeing a world-class end product. Stijn Claes, Project Manager Cab Plant: “DAF in Eindhoven and its suppliers produce sheet metal components of the highest quality. These components are then transported to Westerlo, where they are used to make the complete cab.”
Robots use their hi-tech grippers and positioning systems to ensure that the sheet components are welded together with extreme precision. There is absolutely no room for error. “At each step in the process, the cab is positioned according to the same reference points so that each component can be welded accurately,” explains Stijn Claes. “This gives the cab of the New Generation XF, XG and XG+ incredible stiffness which adds to maximum comfort for the driver.”
The range of cabs that can be built in the new Body facility is almost endless. “We already have 200 different specifications for the roof. All of our customers’ requirements are stored on an RFID data carrier (comparable with the chip in a bank card, PhvH) which is scanned at every station. This enables us to build customer-specific vehicles and to carry out the work that is required for each individual truck. This results not only in maximum efficiency but also in very high quality.”
By the time the end product – also known as a body-in-white – leaves the line it will have passed through nineteen different stations. At the twentieth and final station it is subjected to a thorough visual inspection. The brand new cab is then sent to the cabin painting facility, which itself was only opened a few years ago and is at the top of its class in terms of efficiency and environment-friendliness. Stijn: “The quality of both the Body in White and the cab painting facility is unrivalled in the truck industry and is at least as high as in the premium car manufacturing sector.”
After the cab painting facility comes the precise work of assembling the interior at the Cab Trimming plant. The new factory where the cabs for the XF, XG and XG+ are fitted with interior and exterior parts covers 20,000 m2. It is divided into different sections, with the largest being the central assembly line that snakes its way through the 2-hectare plant. The cabs stand on the assembly line on large platforms with wooden floors that wind their way past no less than 62 different work stations. A specific part is added to the cab at each station. This requires the work of human hands, as each truck is built according to the individual customer’s specifications.
Another new feature is the way in which the roof components are assembled. Instead of employees having to stand on raised platforms, the cab sinks into the floor where flashing lights, antennas, claxons and other accessories can be fitted at the ideal working height. This ensures extra precision when fitting the parts, as well as the best possible ergonomics for employees. The skylight is fitted by robots that use lasers to pinpoint the exact location. The plant also houses two separate pre-assembly lines: one for assembling the custom-made dashboards and one for fitting the doors.
All in the name of comfort
Andy Swinnen, Team Leader Project Engineering who was involved in the construction of the Cab Trimming plant: “As soon as the cab leaves the painting facility, the two doors are removed. These are then added to a separate production line where they are built-up to meet the customer’s specifications at 11 different work stations. This line also introduces a new feature: each New Generation XF, XG and XG+ is fitted with double rubber seals to ensure even better reduction of noise from outside the cab: all in the name of comfort.”
The custom-made dashboard involves the work of no less than 22 stations. A rotating mechanism ensures that the dashboard can be turned to the ideal position for the next worker. “That helps not only in terms of ergonomics,” says Andy, “but also improves the quality of dashboard. The easier it is to fit a part, the better the overall result.” The end product is a complete dashboard that slides into the cab in one piece. The only thing missing is the steering wheel. “That’s a deliberate choice, as it gives the workers on the assembly line more room to carry out the finishing work on the cab.”
“At the end of the line each cab is subjected to a final and thorough check by the test and inspection team,” concludes Andy. “The cab is only allowed to travel on to Eindhoven after all 200 items on the checklist have been ticked off.”
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
New DAF XF, XG and XG⁺ usher in new era:
Start the future!
Making history with the future. An almost surrealistic proposition. But not necessarily. Because with the new XF, XG and XG+ DAF is ushering in a new era. A new era for long distance haulage, an era in which efficiency, safety and comfort will take on new dimensions. Start the Future!
By Rob van Tilburg
DAF’s new generation of trucks for long haulage is setting the standard in many aspects. They are the first trucks on the market to have been developed with the new European regulation for vehicle dimensions in mind, regulation that aims to make an important contribution to further improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions. If truck manufacturers are literally afforded more room when designing their vehicles, it will help to boost not only aerodynamics but safety too. And of course, the driver will also benefit from more working and living space and an unprecedented level of comfort.
Whoever studies the European Commissions’ aims with regard to the new regulation does not need much imagination to see where the New Generation DAF trucks distinguish themselves: vehicle efficiency, safety and driver comfort are all of a new order. They are set to change the world of road transport: the New Generation XF as successor to the widely-acclaimed and still available XF Super Space Cab and Space Cab. And one step higher: the new XG and XG+ with which DAF has created a whole new market segment. DAF is making history. With a series of unparalleled trucks in which you can embark on the future today.
XF, XG or XG+
Big, bigger, biggest
The New Generation DAF XF, XG and XG+ have been developed for long distance haulage. The new European regulation governing vehicle dimensions and weights enabled DAF to come up with the ultimate in terms of interior space. The new XF has a design that features a no less than 16 centimetre elongation at the front. Moving up to even more interior space: in addition, the XG cab is also 33 centimetres longer. And the new XG+ represents the ultimate in spaciousness. It offers even 20 centimetres extra roof height, resulting in a cab volume of 12.5 m3. A completely new standard in the industry.
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
Shape follows function
Bart van Lotringen, Director design
Designing an entirely new series of trucks for long distance haulage and heavy transport is a considerable challenge. DAF’s Design Director Bart van Lotringen on making choices and maintaining consistency in the design of the New Generation DAF trucks. On listening to what drivers have to say. On reverse thinking and the laws of aerodynamics. And on inside-out design.
By Philip van Hasselt
We find Bart in a carefully secluded workspace far from prying eyes at the enormous DAF complex in Eindhoven. It is a no-go area, accessible only to a handful of employees with special exemption. The Design Director opens the door himself and walks with a light step down a long corridor. It is early April. Outside the wind is driving the spring snow almost horizontally up against the walls of the building.
A blank sheet of paper
Bart appears very relaxed. “All the hard work is more or less behind us,” he says with an infectious laugh. We are on our way to inspect a handful of pre-production models that are still the subject of energetic activity. “We’re almost done and that’s a great feeling! The phase leading up to the launch is always an exciting and special time. It’s a bit like having a baby. You spend so long working towards that one moment. We made the first sketches for this new generation of trucks way back in 2014, starting with a blank sheet of paper and exploring every possible avenue. Our basic objectives, however, were clear: efficient, safe and comfortable.”
“Contrary to what most people would expect, we started with the rear of the cab. After all, the contours of the rear are more or less fixed: nine times out of ten a superstructure or trailer is large and rectangular and has maximum dimensions for length and width. So we decided to design literally from back to front, which for the designer means some serious reverse thinking, as they are more used to working from front to back.”
Financial department enthusiastic
The Design Director takes a sheet of paper and with a few quick strokes of a thick fountain pen demonstrates how the team of aerodynamics specialists and designers managed to find common ground. “The key question was how do you get the air to flow as efficiently as possible to the rear without incurring any loss in terms direct visibility and space. The answer: by using parabolic radii extending from the sides up to the roof, a subtle bulge in the windscreen and deeper sideskirts, meticulously designed mirrors or better still: cameras, and wheel arches inspired by the DTM racing car. In other words, not one centimetre of the design escaped our attention, with the result being a gain of 19% in aerodynamics! And this translated into a an up to 6.3% reduction in fuel consumption!” His eyes light up when he adds, “Music to the ears of our customers’ financial departments!”
The design of the new series is an eye-catcher in the ultimate sense of the word. And deliberately so. “If I had to use one word to describe the new generation of trucks, it would be ‘premium’. That is exactly what I want them to exude. Both in their outward appearance and in the interior. With the unmistakable grill as the calling card for DAF. Powerful and robust. But also elegant and exceptional. A statement. With its LED lighting, the front reflects the qualities to be found in the DNA of every DAF truck and these are more evident now than ever before: distinctive high quality.”
Designing from the inside out and vice-versa
For Bart, the inside of the truck is just as important as the outside. After all, it is the working and living space for the man or woman behind the wheel. “Actually, I’m much more of a ‘space’ designer than a ‘shape’ designer. More of an architect than an artist. The cab has to offer the driver the maximum in comfort and living space. That’s why as a designer I endeavoured to push the corners of the cab out to the full to be able to create as large an interior as possible. Inside-out design. However, from the point of view of aerodynamics you also want the front to be as tapered as possible too. Because that reduces both drag and fuel consumption. You can see our signature in the choices we made in that regard.”
That signature is partly determined by the needs of the driver, a fact that becomes obvious when Bart takes his place proudly behind the wheel of a new XG. No ‘art for art’s sake’ for him. He is very proud of the product in which he now sits, snug as a bug in a rug. Bart studies the stunning dashboard with a look of great satisfaction. He activates the second display, turns a few switches and rests his hand on the topper covering the bed. Visibly content: “Just feel how soft and fine these materials are!”
Bart prefers to apply his skills in the service of others, as he puts it himself. “It feels great when you know that you are contributing to another person’s happiness, that you are making a driver’s life better in a sustainable manner. I could call it my own personal motivation, I suppose.” He also enjoyed the in-depth conversations he had with drivers about what they wanted to see in the new cab. How much storage space do you actually need on the dashboard? What does a driver expect from cameras and mirrors? Bart’s team found an answer to each question that satisfied all parties.
A DAF is synonymous with the finest workspace you can imagine on the road: safe, comfortable and everything within hand’s reach. The design team even took the preference of cab personalisation into consideration. “Drivers always know what they prefer themselves.”
The trend towards digital personalisation is obvious in the dashboard. For example, the two large screens on the dashboard of the XF, XG and XG+ can be easily adjusted to personal preferences. They now include Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Another notable aspect was the decision to use physical knobs and switches instead of touchscreens with (often very long) menus. The basic functions of a truck always need to be within hand’s reach. Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road. Safety above all else.
“In principle, the new XF, XG and XG+ are round in shape, but they don’t look round. Each line has a function and contributes to the excellent aerodynamics. No decoration just for the sake of it, in other words.”
Bart van Lotringen,
While ‘round’ and ‘soft’ may be the trend when it comes to innovative vehicle design, Bart’s creations are characterised by their distinctive lines. And that remains central to his philosophy: “Thin or thick lines give a design character. Soft, round shapes on their own don’t really excite me.” Bart points to the characteristic lines of the cabs that originate at the front of the truck.
Spirit of innovation
DAF is the first to capitalise on new European regulation that has relaxed the restrictions on the dimensions that trucks must adhere to. So was there a lot of pressure to come up with the goods? “The primary aim was not to build an iconic truck, that’s something only time can determine. But we did want to design a truck that draws attention, that has a contemporary look and is well thought-out. We wanted to draw on the spirit of innovation as much as possible. The result is still a genuine DAF product; a visual magnet on the outside and with an enormous interior that will inspire brand loyalty: the kind of working space every driver dreams of. I’m proud of the uniqueness of our new generation of trucks. The XF, XG and XG+ mark the beginning of a new era; they are game-changers.”
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
A New Generation is born
Harry Wolters, President DAF Trucks N.V.
“The New Generation DAF is the result of the commitment of our 10,000-strong workforce to delivering the best truck ever to our customers.”
A New Generation is born
A highlight in the history of the company. Our biggest project ever. The introduction of the New Generation DAF. Developed with new European regulation governing vehicle dimensions in mind. Regulation that literally gives manufacturers more room to improve the aerodynamics of their trucks. With the aim of enhancing efficiency, safety and driver comfort.
The New Generation DAF has redefined the boundaries in all of these areas. Primarily because we began the development process with a blank sheet of paper. So that we could be truly innovative. The design is stunning and functional at the same time. Attention was paid to the smallest details in our quest to deliver the best aerodynamics. So that we could achieve – along with numerous other innovations – a fuel efficiency that sets a new benchmark for the industry. Just like the New Generation DAF sets new standards for safety and driver comfort too.
The New Generation DAF represents a brand new vehicle platform. Ready for alternative drivelines. Complete with services that have one aim: to increase your profitability. With every kilometre you cover. New functionalities in the DAF Connect fleet management system. Even more options in the DAF MultiSupport Repair & Maintenance contracts.
The New Generation DAF is the result of the commitment of our 10,000-strong workforce to delivering you the best truck ever. One that makes DAF ready for the future. A future that you can embark on today. In this DAF in Action you can read how. And your DAF dealer will support you in any way they can.
President DAF Trucks N.V.
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
The next step on the road to success
Richard Zink, director Marketing & Sales
In terms of market share in Europe, DAF has been performing very well over the past few years. “With the new generation XF, XG and XG+ we are ready for the next level of success,” says Richard Zink, Director of Marketing & Sales. “In that respect, they start the future for DAF as well.”
With a market share of 16.3% in the heavy class in the European truck market, 2020 was the second best year in the history of DAF. “A massive compliment for our professional dealer network, which continues to invest in new premises and equipment and in training employees so that they can provide an even better service to our customers. We will continue to invest at DAF too, of course, and there is no better proof of that promise than the new XF, XG and XG+.”
Ready for a boost
“There is no doubt this new generation of innovative trucks will give our image and success an enormous boost,” says Richard Zink. “These vehicles are designed to offer only the very best to transport operators and drivers in terms of efficiency, safety and driver comfort. At the same time, we have also taken a number of important steps regarding the service for this new generation of trucks.”
Service once a year
The innovations are numerous. Thanks to the DAF Connect online fleet management system, the navigation system offers the option of displaying real-time traffic information and receiving updated routes from the truck’s home base. “This helps to ensure the maximum return per kilometre,” according to Zink.
“A completely new infrastructure for vehicle diagnosis has been developed that supports uptime and extending the service interval to 200,000 kilometres, means that maintenance is required only once a year. This is unique in the industry.”
Director Marketing & Sales
DAF MultiSupport offers Pan-European repair and maintenance contracts with 24/7 support for maximum efficiency and vehicle availability. Furthermore, a leasing arrangement via PACCAR Financial requires only one contract and gives you a truck that is ready to drive upon delivery. “With our new generation of trucks we are embarking on a new era,” says Richard Zink. “An era of increased integration between vehicles and supporting services, with the aim of making life easier for the customer and optimising their returns per kilometre.”
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
We are pushing the boundaries
Ron Borsboom, Executive Director Product Development
A proud man, that’s for sure. You can tell just by looking at him. And with good reason. Because even though Ron Borsboom has ruled the roost for over 20 years at DAF’s product development department, the New Generation DAF is the biggest and most expensive project of his career to date. “We have made full use of the opportunities provided by the new European regulation governing vehicle dimensions. We are introducing a new industry benchmark.”
Ask the Executive Director of Product Development about his new set of triplets and it doesn’t take long for a smile to appear on his face. “As a team we are very proud of the fact that our plans for a new generation of trucks for long distance haulage coincided neatly with the new European regulation,” says Ron Borsboom. “This allowed us to be extremely innovative.”
Nose or not?
If European regulation now permits longer vehicles, why not choose a design with more ‘nose’? “A nose like the one on the ICE high-speed trains does not deliver the same kind of aerodynamic benefits on a truck, given its lower speed, but only adds more weight and does not help improve manoeuvrability,” replies Borsboom. “We studied this intensively using 3D simulation programmes and on the road at our Technical Center. And what did we find? Elliptical corners around the A-pillar region, from top to bottom and not split by a nose, give by far the best result, especially when the corners are integrated into the windscreen and the sides of the roof and underbody. We elongated the front by 16 centimetres to realize the optimal design and give the driver the best seating position possible.”
Aerodynamics is one of the main areas in which the New Generation DAF trucks set themselves apart from all other trucks on the market. “The aerodynamics are extremely well designed and represent a marvellous achievement,” says Borsboom. “The rounded corners, the tapered cab design, the sealing – the air simply glides past and even through the trucks. At the risk of boring you with the details, nothing is left to chance, not even the airstream through the grill, along the radiator and the engine or in the wheel arches. The result is a world-class aerodynamic design that leads to world-class energy efficiency. This aspect alone results in fuel savings up to 6.3% and a similar reduction in CO2 emissions. Impressive, isn’t it?”
More freedom, more room
In addition to energy efficiency, safety and driver comfort were also important design criteria and thanks to new European legislation DAF was able to push the boundaries in this regard too. “We had more freedom and therefore literally more room,” explains Ron Borsboom. “This allowed us to create a level of direct vision that is unique in the industry. And the same applies to the interior. In fact, to almost every aspect of the truck. All throughout the development process we kept one thing in mind: only the best is good enough.”
More than 20 million kilometres
To guarantee the highest possible quality, extensive testing was carried out and consistent use was made of the most modern design processes and tools. Tests were performed at DAF’s own Technical Center and in the labs, but also out on the road with customers. “By the time we start the production of the New Generation DAF we will have amassed the equivalent of more than 20 million kilometres worth of experience with our new trucks, which is unprecedented. Throughout the development process we audited ourselves according to the Automotive Spice Level 2/3, which is the standard used for premium passenger cars. We really have pushed the boundaries in every regard.”
“The new generation XF, XG and XG+ is not only a revolutionary step for DAF but for the entire industry.”
Executive Director Product Development
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
Safety of the future
Take a look at the large windscreen. See the ultra-low belt lines of the windscreen and side windows. That can mean only one thing: an unprecedented level of direct vision for the driver. Another illustration of the new safety standard that DAF has introduced with the New Generation XF, XG and XG+.
When you sit behind the wheel of one of DAF’s new generation of trucks for the first time you can’t help but notice it: direct vision is phenomenal! The windscreen has been extended downwards thanks to a clever reconstruction of the front of the vehicle. The same applies to the side windows. And those who consider direct vision a top priority can also order a Kerb View Window that gives the driver – in combination with the standard fold-away passenger seat – a clear view of people and objects on the passenger side of the cab.
DAF Digital Vision System
The mirror housings have been designed and are positioned in a such a way that the driver can see between them to further improve direct vision. The new DAF Digital Vision System offers the very best that money can buy in this respect: digital cameras that are mounted high on the cab, replacing the main and wide-angle mirrors, can be folded away electrically and project high-quality images on the screens mounted on the A-pillars. And in all kinds of weather too, as the cameras are heated. The DAF Corner View, a camera that replaces the kerb view and front mirrors and provides an expansive field of view, can be mounted on the co driver side.
Seeing and being seen
Lighting – DAF has a reputation to uphold in this regard. In 2013, DAF became the first manufacturer to use LED technology for its main vehicle lighting, resulting in high and homogenous illumination. For the new generation of DAF XF, XG and XG+ we have gone one step further. LED for all lighting: front, side and rear, including the fabulous Skylights and very practical cornering lights. In dark driving conditions the dims are activated automatically, as are the windscreen wipers under wet conditions. Safety is all about paying attention to the smallest details.
The New Generation DAF is synonymous with built-in safety. The XF, XG and XG+ are all equipped with a range of advanced features and technologies that we hope will never have to be used. The cabs boast an extremely robust construction with integrated zones that can cushion an impact from the front or the rear. DAF’s patented ProCaDis system (Programmed Cab Displacement System) ensures that the cab remains connected to the chassis and automatically shifts backwards in the case of a frontal collision. This means that the cab remains virtually intact and provides maximum protection for the occupants.
Humans and machines
Considerable attention was paid to both active and passive safety during the development of the New Generation DAF. However, safety really begins with the driver and that is why DAF has made sure that drivers can operate the truck instinctively and without distraction. ‘Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road’ is the motto. Functions directly related to driving are controlled from the steering wheel. In addition, DAF uses physical buttons that are easy to locate by touch alone. A crucial safety feature. As are comfortable seats and the best bed in the industry, which guarantee that the driver can hit the road feeling refreshed and alert. Safety and comfort go hand in hand.
Do they contribute to a high level of safety or unprecedented driver comfort? In many cases advanced systems do both. From the latest generation of AEBS to Lane Departure Warning, from Vehicle Stability Control to DAF City Turn Assist, and from Predictive Cruise Control to Brake Assist. And DAF has even added a number of new functionalities.
One example is the Low Speed Trailer Brake, which enables independent activation of the brakes on the trailer. This makes it easier to couple and uncouple the trailer in a safe manner. Another new feature is the Park Brake Assist, which can be used to activate all brakes at once to prevent the truck from moving while loading or unloading heavy goods. Smart solutions that ensure both safety and comfort.
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
Driver comfort of the future
If there is one place where the needs of the driver and the transport operator meet, it is in the cab. A driver who enjoys the space in which they work, relax and sleep is a happy driver and one who will perform well. And drivers will certainly enjoy the new DAF XF, XG and XG+. The comfort, the finishing, the specification, the low interior noise level – everything is in a different class.
The New Generation DAF trucks are as stunning on the inside as they are on the outside. Developed with and for drivers. Starting with excellent accessibility. Even the biggest XG+ has only three steps and they are optimally positioned for highest degree of comfort. Once in the cab, the driver will be amazed by the enormous amount of space and standing height.
DAF has created the best possible working space for the new XF, XG and XG+. With comfortable seats that provide generous backward and forward adjustment ranges. In combination with the easily adjustable steering wheel, the driver can even position themselves behind the wheel like they were driving their own passenger car. As an option, the seats can be swivelled for comfortably relaxing after a productive day of driving. And the co-driver seat has a fold-away function as standard. This results not only in extra space but also perfect visibility when using the optional ‘kerb view window’ to monitor people and objects on the co-driver side of the truck.
The dashboard is stunning. A real eye-catcher. With a central 12-inch display and a range of different designs for the driver to choose from. The ‘Luxury’ DAF Infotainment System option even offers a second display: a touchscreen linked to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or the audio system controls that also comes in a high-end version. The finishing of the dashboard is characteristic of the quality of the interior as a whole. Premium materials, beautifully and tastefully designed. Real top class luxury.
The truck’s climate system is of top class as well. It can be controlled with highest precision and very comfortably. The XG+ model can even be fitted with a fully integrated Park Airco for automatic cooling and heating, even when the engine isn’t running.
New: Relax Bed
DAF has built a reputation for itself when it comes to sleeping comfort. A reputation that is only being enhanced with the new generation. And how! The bunk has a standard length of 2,220 millimetres and is as wide as 800 millimetres in the XG and XG+. The Relax Bed features several adjustable positions and is available also in an electrically-controlled version. And for the ultimate in comfort an extra topper can be fitted too. In the new XF, XG and XG+ you might even sleep better than in your own bed.
‘Home away from home’
Also very important: storage space. Lots of it, preferably. And there is plenty: on the dashboard, in the doors, above the windscreen and under the bed, where there is enough room for two large drawers or two generously-sized fridges. On the rear wall is a control panel that can be used to operate the radio, climate functions and the lighting, including the exceptional ambient LED lighting system which the driver can use to create that welcome ‘home from home’ feeling in the cab.
Working, relaxing, sleeping – with the new XF, XG and XG+ DAF provides the driver comfort of the future. A fact that is underlined by the trucks’ superior driving experience. A new chassis design – complete with aluminium front underrun protection – ensures an unrivalled torsional stiffness. Combined with a brand new cab suspension system, steering system and rear axle suspension geometry, this results in exceptionally stable driving characteristics and the ultimate driving experience. And we haven’t even mentioned how quiet it is in the cab. Working, relaxing, sleeping – the New Generation DAF trucks are every driver’s dream.
Ready for the future
With the New Generation XF, XG and XG+ DAF is introducing a completely new vehicle platform, one that is ready for the future and, consequently, for alternative drivelines. This means that the new trucks will be suitable for the electric drivelines that will be added to the programme in a few years’ time. In the longer term, DAF is also planning models that will be able to drive on hydrogen. Next to exploring fuel cell technology, DAF is designing combustion engines that can use hydrogen as a fuel. Very promising developments in which DAF has already made significant progress. In addition, all versions applying efficient and clean diesel technology, are now already capable of running on biodiesels. As an example, HVO – a synthetic fuel produced from waste fats and oil – can lead to up to 90% reductions of CO2 emissions (well-to-wheel). Now, that’s worth thinking about!
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
The Tube in Tilburg
Rhenus Logistics underlines sustainability goals with unique DC
The building’s official name is the New Logic III. However, the citizens of Tilburg have lovingly christened it The Tube and succumbed completely to its charms.
By: Bert Roozendaal
When viewed from the A58 motorway near the city of Tilburg in the Netherlands, the silver colossus looks like a futuristic conference centre. It is, in fact, a 60,500 m2 distribution centre. One of the most sustainable of its kind in the world. And not only in terms of energy management but also with regard to employee well-being and the biotope outside the building. A remarkable project, to say the least.
The building’s official name is the New Logic III. However, the citizens of Tilburg have lovingly christened it The Tube and succumbed completely to its charms. Which is exactly what client and occupant Rhenus Logistics had hoped would happen. They wanted a highly sustainable distribution centre with a high wow factor and lots of marketing potential.
“When we acquired this fabulous location right alongside one of the main arteries connecting the Netherlands to Germany, I instantly knew we weren’t going to build a big square box on the site. What I wanted was a building whose shape alone would boost our profile in the Netherlands,” says Alphons van Erven, Senior Vice-President of Warehousing Solutions. “We do a lot of logistics work for the medical sector, hi-tech and electronics. Many of our clients are housed in architecturally challenging premises and this building moves us into that category too. That it had to be sustainable was a given. Within our parent company, the Rethmann Group, that is no longer a marketing term but a principle instead.”
The unique approach also matches the unique nature of the activities in the building. “We mostly handle high-end goods and equipment. As you can imagine, the work we do for our medical clients is of an entirely different order to stocking, order picking and distributing cans of soup. We store all kinds of hi-tech equipment here, like artificial heart valves and artificial blood vessels. And we also look after the logistics for firms that supply radar and electronic systems and build milking robots.”
Lots of energy
“It might sound a little contradictory, but we put an awful lot of energy into finding sustainable ways of keeping our energy use as low as possible. We also spent a lot of time on safeguarding the well-being of the 350 employees at the location. While we may not be able to pay our people much more than the benchmark allows, we can make sure they have a very fine working environment.”
“For example, by having lots of windows to let in daylight. That is one of the hallmarks of this building. Especially in places where you don’t normally find windows in DCs, like at the end of a walkway. You can create a much nicer working environment using daylight,” says Van Erven.
“We also made a conscious choice to use larger windows in the rolling doors in all 45 of our loading docks. And the light also falls through the office spaces and all the way into the warehouse via the glass gable end. This gives the place an open and welcoming feel. In addition, everything from the ceilings to the sprinkler system is white, which adds to the sense of calm and spatial well-being.”
A lot of attention was paid to the plant life around the building. In fact, an entire biotope has been created where employees can sit and enjoy their lunch. “And the air-conditioning system is based on CO2 levels per working space. The amount of fresh air pumped in from outside is constantly adjusted to match the number of people in a space at any given time. That means it is never too hot or too cold.”
Low rate of absenteeism
Another remarkable feature is that each one of the many thousands of glass panels in the building is spotlessly clean. Not a fingerprint in sight. “That’s because of the large quantities of medical items stored here. But also because our staff are proud of their clean working environment and want to keep it that way. The attention to well-being pays for itself in humanity,” says Van Erven. “The building was barely finished when we started receiving unsolicited applications for positions. Our people stay with us longer and the rate of absenteeism is far lower than the average.”
Not surprisingly, the building is a technical wonder in terms of energy management. “Taken together with the other features, it gives us a Breeam rating of 99.48 per cent, which puts us in the Outstanding category,” explains Van Erven. “We weren’t necessarily aiming for that, but when we were designing the building people had just started discussing moving away from natural gas in the Netherlands. So we did exactly that and decided to heat and cool the building using a heat pump instead. We generate 3,700 MWh of electricity per annum courtesy of 13,648 solar panels. Enough to power 880 households. We only use 1,000 MW ourselves and return the rest to the grid.”
“Taken together with the other features, it gives us a Breeam rating of 99.48 per cent, which puts us in the Outstanding category.”
Alphons van Erven,
Senior Vice-President of Warehousing Solutions, Rhenus Logistics
The low rate of energy consumption is also down to the outstanding insulation. “It is far better than the standards for buildings in the Netherlands and allows us not only to keep the heat in but to keep it out as well. Last summer the temperature outside reached 38° Celsius but stayed a cool 21° inside,” says Van Erven. “That saves a few megawatts on cooling. The lighting is energy-efficient too. When we replaced all our TL lighting with LEDs in our previous premises, our energy use for lighting fell by 70 per cent and we were able to recoup our investment within four years. In this building we are performing even better thanks to all the daylight. We maintain a constant lumen output that suits our employees’ activities. When its sunny we automatically dim the 15,000 lighting fixtures above the work floor wherever possible. And on cloudy days we do the opposite. We also have a comprehensive system of motion detectors in place.”
As a result, The Tube is an extremely energy-efficient building. But Rhenus Logistics also has other ways of minimising its impact on the surroundings. “We collect the rainwater and use it to flush the toilets. And all of the paving around the loading dock is watertight and fitted with oil and dirt filters. Like at petrol stations.”
Focus on the TCO
It goes without saying that The Tube is not exactly one of the cheapest DCs around. “But we don’t look at it that way,” says Van Erven. “Like in the transport sector, we focus primarily on the TCO. The development costs of this building may be higher, but the operating costs are much lower. And we also want to shoulder our share of responsibility with regard to the climate. That means constructing a building that will last 50 years. And to retain its value it has to be future-proof as well. And last but not least: what are your chances of getting funding for an unsustainable building in 2021?”
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
Boerman Group takes part in NGD field test:
“Fantastic, for business and driver”
The head office of the Boerman Group is located in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, only a stone’s throw from the largest shipyards in the Netherlands. A modern company that not only provides tailor-made transport solutions but also looks after its clients’ logistics requirements. The Boerman Group has been one of DAF’s ‘testing partners’ for many years and was among the first to experience the New Generation DAF. “We can’t wait!”
By Dieuwke Laks
Boerman Transport and DAF have enjoyed a long-standing relationship. On 3 May 1955 the Eindhoven-based truck manufacturer delivered its 10,000th chassis in front of the entire DAF personnel and with great ceremony to none other than the Boerman Group. Former director Teus Boerman was a fourteen-year-old boy when he stood watching the jubilee vehicle being handed over to his father, Cees Boerman, the founder of Boerman Transport.
“We were given all kinds of gifts, even a record player. And a big box of cigarettes too, that all of the DAF employees received to mark the occasion.”
From 1 to 300
Cees Boerman started out in business on 17 August 1936 with one truck. A Chevrolet. Later on he traded it in for two Fargos, one of which was damaged by fire before the other one was requisitioned during the war. The latter vehicle was recovered after the war and repaired, and Boerman Transport was back on the road again. It didn’t take long before business really began to pick up. Soon there were tractors and trailers too. In 1952 the first DAF, a ‘seven-striper’, was acquired. 69 years later the company took delivery of its 300th DAF truck.
The 1960s saw the continuation of the economic boom in the Netherlands. The road network was expanded, cargo transport increased and the fleet at Boerman grew too. The need for new housing was given the highest priority by the government and the transport of cement to Amsterdam for the construction of the Bijlmermeer housing project generated a lot of work for the company.
Boerman was one of the first firms to have a truck and trailer combination with 27-ton payload for international bulk transport. It was quick to spot and seize the opportunity. The use of cranes on trucks was also a relatively new development, as was silo transport. “After the glory days, these options were no longer all that special and we had to go in search of other services we could offer.”
The ability to provide added value to the customer is of key importance to Wim Veldhoen, co-director of the Boerman Group. “There is more to transport than just getting from A to B. You also have to guarantee the customer quality and reliability. In the long run that is more important than simply arriving on time.”
The company’s portfolio reveals the extent of the services it can offer. De Jong Transport provides transport of oversized loads and transport involving the use of cranes. Zwatra Transport specialises in heavy transport and industrial removal services. VCT Transport is in the business of transporting sea containers. Plus Unit Service provides services for mobile units and semi-permanent accommodation. And Boerman Transport itself looks after the efficient transport of a wide variety of loads and the required logistics processes. A firm for all seasons!
The Boerman Group is determined to be a good employer, an ambition that was always high on Teus Boerman’s agenda in his time too: “You can say what you like but you have to put your words into action! What kind of impression do you want to make on your people? Our drivers stand for quality and we want to offer them that as well when it comes to the trucks they drive. The DAF trucks are an integral part of our image. These days it takes a little more time and effort to find the right drivers, but up to now that hasn’t been a problem. And the DAFs definitely play a role in that.”
Putting it to the test
Teus Boerman has always kept a keen eye on the fuel consumption of their trucks and the company has kept a record of fuel-related costs since the 60s. This kind of news travels fast and when the transport magazine Wegvervoer was doing a test in the 1980s to compare a DAF from the factory with an ‘experienced’ DAF 95 it didn’t take long for them to contact Boerman. The result: almost exactly the same rate of fuel consumption in both trucks – 1 litre per 3.3 km, which confirmed Boerman’s own results. “I’ve always considered having access to data very important. And the analysis of data is only going to become more important in the future for both operatorand customer.”
The fact that the Boerman Group is a welcome guest at DAF Testing is partly due to the analytical nature of the company. Whereas at first the firm only used to analyse the data from its own vehicles, they now do the same for DAF’s test vehicles too. Marco Wigmans, fleet manager at the Boerman Group, speaks highly of the critical attitude they are able to display towards DAF.
“We feel they are genuinely interested in the input we provide. Our drivers are invited to Eindhoven for test days and we maintain close contact with the supervisors at DAF. As a result, our drivers’ sense of commitment to DAF is very high. It makes their job more diverse and interesting.”
Drivers from the Boerman Group were also directly involved in the development and testing of the New Generation DAFs. They and many other drivers were interviewed in order to find out exactly what they expect from a modern truck.
In the spring of 2020 Boerman was asked to take two so-called ‘Early Reliability Validation’ vehicles into its fleet and give them some road experience. Nothing like the New Generation truck in outward appearance, but with the same components. This was followed by two pre-series vehicles fully camouflaged in black. Wigmans was not surprised either when DAF handed him a list of instructions regarding confidentiality. “After all these years we are well aware of how we need to treat these vehicles and not to forget things like closing the curtains before leaving the cab. The drivers of these trucks even take the keys home with them at the weekend, just in case someone might be tempted to give themselves a sneak preview of the very beautifully designed cab.”
The reactions so far are positive, very positive. Both with regard to fuel consumption and the vehicles in general. The comfortable seating position for the driver, in particular, has been singled out for praise. “After all, that’s the place where the driver has to spend most of their day.”
Director Wim Veldhoen: “As a testing partner we have been very involved and very enthusiastic. Better still: with this new series of trucks DAF is setting a new standard. And we are at the front of the queue of those looking to order the trucks as soon as possible. Great news for us as business-men, as well as for our drivers.”
DAF in Action - Summer 2021
Efficiency of the future
New regulation for vehicle dimensions has made it possible to optimise aerodynamics. Which is exactly what DAF has done. In combination with numerous innovations in the driveline, the result is a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of up to 10%. Impressive.
A design can be both stunning and functional and the new generation DAF XF, XG and XG+ are proof of just that. The prominent grill with its chrome accents, the equally eye-catching logo with inlaid lettering, the beautifully designed headlights – everything radiates style and elegance. All of which is accentuated even further by the striking lines on the sides. Anyone who examines the new trucks carefully will see the rounded corners on the windscreen and how everything fits seamlessly together. The newcomers are an impressive 16 centimetres longer at the front, a feature that at first glance is not immediately obvious thanks to the superb design. The same applies to the tapered design of the cab. Exquisite, refined, efficient and, most of all, well thought-out.
The ultimate in aerodynamics
DAF has left no stone unturned in its search for the ultimate in aerodynamics: elliptical corner panels, a bottom plate with integrated deflector, meticulously designed wheel arches, cameras instead of mirrors – the list of features is impressive and even includes many you can’t see. The airstream is directed with great precision behind the grill and along the air cooler and radiator. The overall result? A 19% improvement in aerodynamics. Which leads to an up to 6.3% reduction in fuel consumption, to name but one of the benefits.
The ideal driveline
DAF is introducing a new generation of 10.8 and 12.9 litre PACCAR MX engines in the new DAF XF, XG and XG+. With more torque and several new technical innovations that lift efficiency to an even higher plane. The innovations are almost too numerous to mention. They include a new engine block and cylinder head, newly designed injectors and a next generation turbo compressor. The clever construction that allows the exhaust pipe to take the shortest route from the engine over the chassis into the after-treatment unit means minimal loss of temperature, which allows the Exhaust After-treatment
Payload = efficiency
DAF has gone even further in its efforts to set a new benchmark for efficiency. New functionalities for the standard TraXon automated transmission, a new generation of rear axles and a cooling system that requires minimal fan engagement. All combining to achieve an extra 1,3% reduction in fuel consumption, also thanks to the favourable kerb weight. In its most meaningful specification, the New Generation XF tractor registers a mere 6,900 kilograms on the weighing scales. The result? Maximum payload = EFFICIENCY. And in the case of the New Generation DAF trucks, that deserves to be spelt out in capital letters indeed.
Service of the future
With the introduction of the New Generation DAF XF, XG and XG+, DAF has signalled the start of a new era in service and repair and maintenance.
- Updates can now be carried out over-the-air on the engine, central vehicle computer and DAF Connect;
- Service intervals of no less than 125,000 kilometres as standard;
- An extended service interval of up to 200,000 kilometres is also available for long distance haulage, which can mean service intervals of only once a year, a first for the industry;
- DAF MultiSupport offers Pan-European repair and maintenance contracts for maximum efficiency and vehicle availability.