MAN CLA Enters Darling Dairy Fleet

Well-known Western Cape dairy, Darling Romery, employs a fleet of 56 trucks to distribute the milk, cheeses and other dairy products it produces across the province and as far as Port Elizabeth and East London. While Nissan UD Trucks make up the bulk of the Darling-based fleet, 2011 saw MAN enter the dairy’s distribution division with the introduction of three new MAN CLA 15.220 BB freight-carriers.

According to Pietman Bell, Head of Distribution at Darling Romery, “when it comes to our capital equipment, we follow a strict policy of having more than one supplier to not only limit our risk but also to help benchmark the performance of the equipment itself and the organisation that supports it. While UD Trucks is our longstanding preferred supplier, MAN impressed us with the CLA’s product quality and with the service support from its personnel. These factors are critical to our success and MAN satisfied them to become our second truck supplier of choice.”

The Darling Romery fleet includes trucks with GVM (gross vehicle mass) ratings ranging from four to 15 tons. The three MAN CLAs at Darling Romery are fitted with refrigerated bodies and can carry just over 8 tons of fresh produce.

“Vehicle reliability is essential in our business. Our survival depends on the integrity of the cold-chain which is dependent on the trouble-free functioning of the truck because the fridge units on the back of the truck are electrically and diesel-powered,” explains Bell.

“Moreover, because we are in the food business, our trucks need to look good and always be clean and sparkling. The MAN CLA may be a ‘plain Jane’ but it’s proving to be a highly dependable and economical truck.”

Each truck in the Darling Romery fleet averages 5000km per month, travelling between 250 and 350km per day helping deliver product to 700 customer outlets including top retailers like Checkers, Shoprite and Spar.

“MAN has a workshop in Cape Town which helped get the CLA into our fleet. The personnel at the dealership give us very good service and MAN’s parts price basket is excellent. Our fleet has a six-year replacement cycle and after clocking up 360 000km, we are confident we’ll achieve 38% buy-back from MAN on the original purchase price of our CLAs,” Bell says.

With a power output of 220Hp (162kW) and a torque rating of 800Nm between 1300-1700rpm, the 4x2 CLA 15.220 strikes a sensible balance between power and economy, adds Bell. “We’re achieving good fuel consumption figures with our CLAs. There’s plenty of pull when needed.”

Equipped with hypoid axles, steel suspension and a robust cab, the CLA 15.220 BB is more than capable of handling rough off-road conditions, an everyday reality for Darling Romery drivers. “The smooth six-speed ZF manual transmission and the air-sprung driver seat both help prevent driver fatigue,” Bell continues. “Our drivers rotate between vehicles so it’s reassuring to hear from them that the CLA is both comfortable and easy to drive.”

Backed by a two-year/300 000km warranty with a 15 000km service interval, the MAN CLA brings much-needed cost predictability and service uptime to the Darling Romery fleet.

For a business with over 20 years of fleet management experience behind it and a set of stringent truck-procuring standards, the MAN CLA successfully fills a vital niche in the dairy’s distribution fleet.

“We conducted extensive market analysis between competitor OEMs to find our ideal second-tier truck, looking at a broad spectrum of criteria, including purchase price, driveline technology levels, fuel consumption, parts pricing and servicing turnaround times. I’m confident that MAN will prove a worthy partner to our operation and that the MAN CLA will continue to boost our efficiencies through its reliability and fuel economy,” concludes Bell.