Driving Ambitions

Developments in the transport sector are taking place in leaps and bounds ranging from new vans and delivery solutions to tracking systems and satellite navigation systems. John Bolt provides a round up of the latest news.


Fairfax Meadow

The delivery vehicle and its driver is "the business" as far as Mike Reid, group national transport manager for Fairfax Meadow, is concerned. "For the majority of our customers the driver and his van is all they see of the company and so the way the driver is dressed and age and cleanliness of the vehicle is absolutely critical in the way the customer perceives the quality of the company."

Fairfax Meadow has a fleet of 60 vehicles ranging from 3.5 tonne Iveco box vans for daily deliveries to a 26-tonne rigid and 44-tonne articulated DAF for moving meat and products to third party companies and between Fairfax's four production sites and two satellite sales depots. Average age of the fleet is just 20 months and no vehicle is kept longer than four years on contract lease as the small ones are averaging 50,000 miles annually and the large over 100,000...

Mike refers to the Iveco Daily 3.5 tonne box van as a "solid workhorse" in which drivers "car position "controls make it easy to drive. Last December he took delivery of 10 35S12 Ivecos with Solomon bodies and Hubbard fridges. These are fitted with a new "intelligent" semi automatic gearbox" which he has working within the M25 circle due to the congestion which sees vehicles averaging 7 mph and hours of idling in queues when drive line assemblies suffer and fail relatively early. Fairfax's parent company makes bio diesel at Argent Energy which is used in a five per cent mix in the new vans and although early days, says Mike, the cost saving on fuel looks like two per cent. Mike would like Mayor Livingston to consider congestion charge exemption for the new vans.

Changing technology leads to the need for driver training and Mike is spending £8000 over the next three months on a programme to improve efficiency and obviously make drivers aware of their ambassadorial status. An accident-free bonus paid annually is helping to cut accident rates by half so far.


Mercedes Benz

Van maintenance for under £400 for five years is a deal from Mercedes-Benz. The company's Service Packages is for businesses with fewer than 25 vehicles and the low-mileage fleet. The contract applies to Vito and Sprinter vans up to 3.5 tonnes for five years or 110,000km which ever comes first. The deal includes labour, materials and lubricants but excludes wear and tear repairs or friction materials such as brake pads, MOTs, daily checks, roadside assistance or replacement vehicles.



Fiat's new Doblò Cargo has just gone on sale. At 4253 mm long, 1722 mm wide and 1831 mm in height, the new Doblò is 94 mm longer, 8 mm wider and 16 mm lower than its predecessor, with a 17 mm increase in wheelbase length.

Loadspace is 3.2 cubic metres. Payload capacity is 730 kg, via a loading deck height of just 535 mm and an interior width between wheel arches of 1,200 mm. Load area height is 1305 mm, extending to 1550 mm in High Roof versions.

An increased, 850 kg payload variant is also available. The turning circle is 10.5 metres, and its steering rack requires just 2.2 turns lock-to-lock.

It is available in panel and semi-glazed formats - with or without large aperture 685 mm x 1142 mm sliding side doors and also in High Roof shape which has 3.8 cub metres space.

At the sides, the sliding doors - fitted as standard on SX versions have enlarged protective rubbing strips. An option is rear parking sensors. The Doblò Cargo may be specified with a choice of 60:40 split rear doors or a full height, top hinged tailgate.

When glazed rear doors are fitted, the larger door has a wash/wipe facility.

The new Cargo is covered by a three-year Fiatcare dealer warranty with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty, a third year dealer warranty, a 12-month parts and repair guarantee, and fixed service costs, with an eight year anti-perforation and three-year paintwork warranty.

Additionally, all Doblò Cargos come with a year's free AA Assurance cover. There are two new engines for the Doblò Cargo and Cargo SX.

The 1.2 65 bhp petrol engine has been replaced by a 77 bhp, 1.4 litre FIRE unit, while augmenting 105 bhp 1.9 litre, 8 valve MultiJet is a more powerful version of Fiat's 1.3 litre 16 valve MultiJet.

It develops 75 bhp and 140 lb.ft of torque at 1750 rpm.

Fiat are to introduce two more MultiJet engines - both with variable geometry turbocharging and maintenance-free Diesel Particulate

Filters (DPF).

Fiat offers the Connect Nav that includes RDS radio with CD and MP3 music file playing functions, trip computer, dual band GSM phone with handsfree operation and WAP Internet access.


More powerful engines and four special editions


More powerful Euro IV engines, including new 1.2 16V 75hp and four new special edition versions have been introduced by Renault for their Kangoo van range which now have ABS with Brake Assist as standard and automatic gearboxes for the SL and SL'+' versions.

New special editions with air conditioning and increased payloads are offered and prices are up £250 at just over £8000 for the base model. The new "entry-level" petrol engine is up from an eight-valve 1.2-litre 60hp unit to a 16V 75hp

The diesel range has a new 84hp engine, in place of the former dCi 80, while the 55hp and 65hp are up rated to 60hp and 70hp respectively. There is also a 1.6-litre 95hp with automatic transmission petrol. Its equipment includes a 30W radio-CD, load anchorage points, reclining front seat and remote central locking.The SL+ versions have electric front windows, flexible side anchorage points, load area floor covering, overhead parcel shelf and sliding side door. They have three-button key (opens load area and Cab separately) and lights which stay on for a short time after switch off. New are four Special Edition - 'Heavy Duty' models, aimed specifically at operators doing higher mileage and who require the extra cabin comfort of standard air conditioning, longer service intervals and more payload.

APPOINTMENT Tamsin Williamson has been appointed Renault's manager, commercial operations and is responsible for the UK. She is from Hertfordshire and will manage commercial vehicle programmes. She rejoins the company in which she started in 1989 as a post gradate. She moves from Inchcape Motor Retail where she was dealer principal.


TVS Catering

TVS Catering bought three new fridge-bodied Mercedes Sprinters supplied direct from the factory. The Newport company delivers more than 30,000 sandwiches and filled rolls each week to hospitals, universities, workplaces, corner shops and garages throughout South Wales. TVS Catering's 3.5-tonne Sprinter Chillers are based on 311CDI panel vans. The bodies feature fully moulded insulation and a system of opening of doors by venting internal pressure.

Refrigeration and condenser equipment are powered by electricity rather than mechanical methods, allowing a less cluttered engine bay free of retrofitted components. The refrigeration unit is roof-mounted.

The 3.5-tonne Sprinter Chiller was launched last year and now Mercedes-Benz has introduced a Sprinter Freezer and a Vito Chiller. The 3.5-tonne gvw Sprinter Freezer also comes in 311CDI or 313CDI trim, while the 2.9-tonne gvw Vito Chiller - which made its debut at this year's Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham - is based on long-bodied versions of the 109CDI , 111CDI and 115CDI. The vans can be bought in a 'one-stop shop' purchase arrangement which helps to cut lead times. All three come with a three-year Mercedes-Benz bumper-to-bumper warranty covering the body as well as the chassis. TVS Catering's managing director Tim Minto, and his fellow directors, wife Michelle and Deborah Wortelhock changed vans following a poor summer of break-downs including the refrigeration units. They talked to Euro Commercials (South Wales), having heard about new Sprinter Chiller.

TVS Catering's Mercedes are on the road all day and in one case through the night as well. "We're legally required to complete paperwork confirming the temperature at which our products are delivered at each 'drop'. So because these new Mercedes run at a constant 1-2°C - we're much less apprehensive about the summer this year", says Deborah Wortelhock

TVS Catering is using Mercedes-Benz finance arranged by Euro Commercials to fund its new Sprinters; the three-year deal also the dealer take back three of its previous, non-Mercedes vehicles in part-exchange.


Musks of Newmarket

Royal sausage maker Musks at Newmarket chose a Mercedes Benz Vito to deliver orders to Buckingham Palace among others. While a German van might have been out of order for a Royal Warrant holder in the early years of the present Queen's reign it would have been acceptable to her grandmother Queen Victoria whose late husband Prince Albert would have been proud of German engineering. Today it is the prestige of the three pronged star badge which helped the company make up its mind to buy the Vito which is proving to be perfect workhorse. "If you are making the best quality sausages you have to deliver them in style," says Jill Parrott, HR manager at Musks.


Satellite navigation is free with some of Citroën's new Berlingo, Dispatch and Relay vans up to the end of March. These vans will have colour and a touch-screen StreetPilot satellite navigation system worth £410 that plugs into the cigarette lighter.

The company is also offering half price air conditioning on certain Berlingo, Dispatch and Relay models.

The air conditioning offer is available on all Berlingo Enterprise, Dispatch Enterprise panel vans, and the Relay 1100 Enterprise panel van. Costs are £240 + VAT for a Berlingo Enterprise; £368 + VAT for a Dispatch Enterprise panel van; and £500+ VAT for a Relay 1100 Enterprise panel van.

Citroën vans ordered and registered by March 31 are C2 Enterprise vans (from £6995 plus VAT and delivery); Berlingos (from £5995 plus VAT and delivery); Dispatch vans from £9,610 (plus VAT and delivery) and Relay vans (from £9900 plus VAT and delivery).


Carrier Advantage's new direct drive refrigeration system - the Xarios 600, has been described by the company as the highest capacity system in the UK. Designed for fresh and frozen food delivery vehicles with box volumes up to 48m³, the system is available as a multi-temperature system with remote evaporators sector.

Carrier Transicold, the parent company of Carrier Advantage, also offers the diesel over cab Supra and refrigeration systems for vehicles up to 90m³, The Supra range of diesel units for trucks combines quiet operation and ease of use with the Easy Cold microprocessor control.


Temperature recording for the small van has been made more accessible with the Transcan Solo by Cold Chain Instruments based in West Sussex. The Solo uses a thermal printer and offers plug and play facilities. It can be fitted on any vertical surface or bulkhead within the cab and features a a quick-release mounting bracket for the temperature probes. The Solo can be supplied pre-configured or can be user-customised using a web-based application to provide printouts. Importantly, says sales director David Thorley, the trip ticket feature provides evidence of the times and temperatures of every delivery.


New from Hubbard Transport Refrigeration is its large direct drive refrigeration system, the 720 Alpha. This is the company's largest Alpha unit and its first system for the 10-15 tonne (and over) mid-truck market. Designed for the transport of chilled and frozen goods, down to -25°C, it is aimed at long haul trucks and the rapidly developing grocery delivery sector. The 720 Alpha is available in single and multi temperature versions and uses an environment-friendly refrigerant, HFC R404a. Manufacturer-approved compressor mounting kits are available for all leading vehicle marques, including Cargo, MAN, Ford, Mercedes, DAF and Iveco.


Toyota introduced six new vans in 2004 featuring standard and long wheelbase models with gross weights from 2.8 to 3.0 tonnes. The new Hiace SWB models can accommodate a single Europallet carrier, while the LWB model can hold two. A rear tailgate has replaced the previous model's double rear doors. Also added is a central storage box and clipboard, cloth seat trim and a CD player. Vehicle security marking linked to an international security register is also standard. The GS-Xtra, a 102bhp van, has air conditioning, CD tuner, electric front windows, a removable steel bulkhead, tilt-adjustable steering wheel and adjustable seatbelts.



Gary Whittam, commercial vehicles director, says the new Ford Transit upgrade is its most significant for six years. Barry Gale chief engineer says: " We paid particular attention to an increasingly important customer base, the artisan or single-vehicle owner.

"These customers told us their van not only needed to be functional, reliable and durable, but stylish too. Additionally, they wanted a vehicle that was pleasant to drive, like a passenger car." Changes in the Transit's suspension have been made to reduce noise, vibration and harshness while, inside, the driver is confronted by a new dashboard, instruments, switches and a steering wheel face.

New cabin ergonomics sees the gear lever moved up to the dashboard - giving the van a more car-like driving position. It also gives a clear floor area from the driver's side to the passenger's side for 'walk-through' access. GPS independent navigation using pictograms, and an SOS button linked to the Contact Centre, is used for receiving information and assistance.

Connect Nav Plus adds a map navigation system, atlas function and voice-activated commands for the telephone and a voice memo.

The new range offers six diesel engines and one LPG-compatible petrol engine. The new Transit boasts a self-charging waterproof ignition key. Ford is providing 60 basic structures and body styles. Ford's Special Vehicle Operations team can also handle any further specifications.


This year's Commercial Vehicle Show will be held at the NEC Birmingham, April 25-27. It will feature a Cool Pavilion showing off vehicles, products and services for the temperature controlled operator. The cool section is expected to be larger this year at 9,000 sq metres, making it, the largest single display of cold chain products in Europe, says the organisers.

One in five visitors to the 2005 show were dedicated reefer operators, representing almost every major buyer of fridge bodies, chassis, refrigeration equipment and monitoring systems. Exhibits ranged from wooden flooring to insulating panels to turnkey vehicles ready to roll.

In 2006, Cool Pavilion will fill hall 3A of the NEC, with a dedicated entrance from the newly refurbished piazza.


Southern Rock Insurance says eVan Insurance, its second direct sales site, has issued its 500th van policy. Launched in November 2005, eVan insurance is the first direct insurer to offer customers the opportunity to buy, administer and renew their van policies online. The firm says the site means customers can manage policies 24-hours a day and can get advice and a quote in under five minutes.


No road fund licence, none or low insurance, no operator's licence and a payload of up to 2,500kg are some of the benefits of refrigerated towing trailers and portable cold rooms from PW Industries. The company manufactures Isotek refrigerated trailers which can increase transport capacity at low running costs. Standard Isoteks feature a fully galvanised chassis, GRP food safe composite panels, lockable slam locks with internal safety release, rear landing legs, powder coated corner cappings and lockable towing hitch.


An internet access facility and an impressive on-line demonstration were two factors which settled DB Foods' managing director David Bayer's choice of a new vehicle tracking system. ''I wanted a system that could provide total control of my distribution operation.' The Quartix system allowed the company's customer list to be programmed into the software which means all personnel now use detailed, real-time positioning and recording of vehicle locations to empower their work-based decisions. ''Our previous system,'' said David, ''lacked internet access."


Seamless lining of refrigerated boxes is offered by Icebox.The interior is sprayed to form a complete membrane but remains flexible down to -25°C avoiding cracks which are impossible to clean. Kevlar, used to stop bullets in soldiers' helmets, can be added to make the lining tough. Granules can also be added to reduce slippage while antibacterial additives help hygiene.


Vehicle body maker, the GRP Group, offers customers van conversions to full ATP certification.The bodies are built at manufacturing sites in Leeds and Westbury, Wiltshire. The GRP Van Division in Leeds produces more than 800 van conversions each year, while at the company's Wiltshire site, the GRP Truck Division manufactures refrigerated boxbodies for vehicles from 3.5 tonnes upto 26 tonnes.


Freight transport Association

Traffic chaos on the M6 - betweeen Birmingham and Manchester - is set to continue for the next 12 years, says the Freight Transport Association (FTA). "The present rigmarole for planning and consultation means that the prospects of improving capacity on the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester, either by widening the present carriageway or by building a new adjacent toll road, are unlikely to come to fruition until at least 2017," said spokesman Stephen Kelly .

It is a farce as industry faces years of congestion and delays on such a key trade route whilst the Government and the planners fiddle around with the options.

Mr Kelly says: 'In July 2005 the Highways Agency was asked to look at options for both widening the existing carriageway on the M6 and building a new adjacent Expressway. The cost will be a minimum of £2 billion which is cheap when considered against the costs of congestion to industry and the motorist resulting from a minimum of eleven years of delays."

Forth Road bridge problem

A second Forth Road Bridge is needed, says the Scottish Freight Council. Corrosion problems on the existing bridge are said to be a threat to this vital artery for heavy goods vehicles. Remedial works being carried out are not guaranteed to halt the corrosion and the bridge could be closed to all traffic, other than cars, as soon as 2013. FTA Scottish Council Chairman Ian Fleming, C J Lang says: 'A ban on all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross would have a catastrophic effect on industry and commerce in Fife ."