The Knights of Old fleet has been joined by 10 DAF New XF 530 FTG tractor units, the first DAF tractors to enter service with the operator at its Kettering headquarters. They join the fleet of 250 trucks and 400 trailers as part of significant business investments being made by the operator.
Scott Mason, Group Fleet Manager at Knights of Old, says, “Alongside this investment, we have been looking at managing operating costs, and the arrival of the New XF 6x2s is an example of that. Prices have been increasing steadily on everything from tyres to fuel, and truck prices have been no exception. With the DAF, we are getting a premium truck at costs that make sense to us. There has been a lot of talk around the industry about enhanced fuel consumption from the latest DAF models,” he says, “and we are already seeing fuel economies. We are getting well over 9mpg, and close to 11mpg, across the DAFs over a tough operating week. These are brand-new trucks, so the likelihood is that this will improve further as they settle-in.”
A major influence on any truck’s operating economy is driver behaviour and Knights of Old is an industry front-runner in driver development. The operator has apprenticeships, recruitment, and driver training operations under its Merlin Supply Chain Solutions business.
Against this background, driver acceptance of the New XFs was another key aspect of the decision by Scott Mason to take the 10 vehicles. He says, “We value our drivers highly and want to do everything sensible that we can to ensure they are happy in their work. They are enjoying both the space and comfort of the DAF big cab and the performance from the 530bhp engine and TraXon gearbox. We’d heard good reports about the combination of this engine and gearbox long before we made our decision, and to date, we have only heard driver praise.”
The New XF 530 FTG models, with their twin-steer and mid-lift axles, feature the PACCAR MX-13 12.9 litre engine and TraXon 12-speed automated gearbox. With the focus on driver comfort, Knights of Old also specified Super Space Cabs across the 10 newcomers for its high-profile mix of general haulage and distribution, contract logistics, and Partnerlink and Palletforce pallet operations. The company has a continuous renewal policy, replacing trucks every two-to-three years, though the New XFs will be with Knights of Old for five years.
“We have a very positive outlook for the future,” says Scott Mason, “the investment into the DAFs is mirrored in many ways across the company. We have our own telematics package that we run alongside a proprietary brand, and get the best of both worlds. We use it not only to monitor vehicle position and performance, but also driver behaviour. The data we collect is turned into weekly league tables across our operating branches around the country, so that all drivers can see how they are performing as individuals and as operating centres. Merlin Academy, our training academy, is then able to step in, and help anybody who might be experiencing ongoing performance issues.”
Knights of Old also operates over 300,000sq.ft. of modern BRC accredited warehousing at its Kettering and Luton facilities. In addition, transport operations also run from Derby and Portsmouth, and the operator holds FORS accreditations at each site.