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DAF vehicles are the foundations of growing builders’ merchant CRS


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Transport Engineer  /  April 29, 2020

South west builders’ merchant CRS has added a further four DAF CF 370 FAN rigids to its fleet.

The three-axle delivery vehicles feature a steer, drive and lifting rear-steer tag-axle configuration, delivering what the operator’s transport manager, Paul Gibbard, describes as “outstanding manoeuvrability and payload”.

Having considered the DAF 18-tonne models already in the fleet, Gibbard decided the weight and body length options of the 26-tonner offered greater operational flexibility.

The operator says: “We have spec’d the 26-tonne trucks to have the same overall chassis lengths as the 18-tonners, but with our 6.1m internal body length we can get greater payload. For instance, on our 18-tonners we get five packs of blocks; the 26-tonners take nine, no problem. They run comfortably with 13t on board and that gives us greater options on delivery schedules. We can make more drops per run, saving time and, just as important, saving significantly on fuel. With the drive axle relatively close to the steer, and with the steered tag axle, we find drivers are able to make speedier and more accurate drops in even the tightest of sites.”

The new trucks are equipped with bespoke dropside bodies and carry Palfinger BM26 cranes, all fitted by Palfinger UK. CRS has had sensored crane slipper pads fitted to the rear of each vehicle to give drivers maximum safety and flexibility on the varying delivery conditions they meet.

“Safety is very important to us: for our drivers, customers and other road users,” says Gibbard. “It starts with ensuring complete compliance, and our local dealer, Kingdon Wessex DAF, looks after us very well on service, maintenance and inspections. Then, apart from the additional crane stability pads, we add such things as recording camera units all-round, repeat-indicator side markers, Fresnel lenses on near-sides, lifting rear mud flaps to aid reversing safety in tight sites, cage sensors …. the list goes on and on. And we brief our drivers fully on every aspect.”

The DAF CFs are all equipped with Traxon 12-speed automated gearboxes, which Gibbard had trialled off-road in an 8x4 tipper at a DAF Ride & Drive day. “I have to say I thought it was simply the very best box on the market, nothing else I have tried compares.” He added, “The thing is, these DAFs are like a big Swiss Army knife, they just have everything you need.”

CRS, which only started in business in 2005, now operates a fleet of 40 trucks out of 12 branches across the South West. One of the two founding directors, Chris Waelchli, discusses fleet acquisition strategy for a small business. He states: “Let’s be honest: to start with, you run anything, so long as it’s safe. Then, when you can afford it, you try and do better. So the growth of the fleet and the quality and newness of its vehicles is simply a reflection of how well the business has done.

“Now though, with a busy fleet, it is all about back-up. You can pay as much as you want for trucks, but without good back-up you have nothing, and right now we are very happy with DAF products and DAF back-up. As Paul has said, compliance and safety are everything, and it’s nice to be in a position where drivers also understand and respect that. The other bonus with a modern fleet, of course, is that we are automatically more environmentally supportive and able to fit in with such things as Bath and Bristol’s drive toward their clean air zones.”

The new DAFs are all on five-year packages from PACCAR Financial, and all are on seven-year R&M contracts. “We’ve virtually doubled the fleet in the last 20 months,” concludes Gibbard, “so getting the package right was important – and getting it all through the same source makes life much simpler.”

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