FORTIFYING THE OVERTIVE5
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Five-year-old trucks can be as good as new ones, according to a Dutch Daf dealer which specialises in refurbishing them
WHEN a truck is five or six years old its financial writtendown value may be almost nothing but its "technical valuewill certainly be much higher, perhaps as high as 50 per cent of the original. Therefore there is a good chance that complete overhaul or renovation at that age will be a sound economic proposition.
That was the nub of a convincing argument advanced by Peter Berk of EZB, a Dutch Dal dealer, at last year's European Transport Maintenance Council conference in Strasbourg (CM December 14).
In addition to supplying new Daf trucks from its Zwolle base, for the past three years EZB has been remanufacturing complete used trucks, only Dafs at first, but now also including sonic Volvos and MANs.
Berk no longer works for the company, having left to set up his own consultancy, but EZB's remanufacturing business continues, helped by a peculiarity of the Dutch taxation system which encourages the operation of remanufactured vehicles instead of new ones. Even so, it can still make economic sense elsewhere, and any
British haulier with a five-year-old Daf who approaches EZE3 would not be turned away.
EZB's first task with any vehicle which is being considered for renovation is to carry out a thorough inspection of It. This takes about one working day. The customer also will be asked to supply the vehicle's maintenance records.
The aim of the inspection is to establish accurately the cost of renovating the vehicle, and any recent major repair such as a replacement engine or gearbox clearly can affect that cost. EZB says that only about 20 per cent of the vehicles presented so far have been in such poor condition that renovation was considered too costly. The company reckons that the cost of a remanufactured Daf in the Netherlands usually will be between 30 and 50 per cent of the full cost of an equivalent new vehicle, not allowing for new vehicle discount which currently could be up to 20 per cent.
Henk Stoel, an EZB director, says that the company has remanufactured about 150 trucks to date, almost all Dafs. On any five-year-old Daf of 16 tonnes GVW or heavier which has covered about 500,000km, he would very surprised if renovation did not show a better cost per km than buyim new.
ATRUCK being renovated by EZB will spend about three weeks in its workshop. Unless the maintenance record shows a receni major unit replacement, the engine, gearbox and drive axle all will be removed from the chassis and strippec
Cylinder head overhaul will also be carried out, including the fitting of ne valves, while the extent of repair worl to the bottom of the engine will depet on its condition. However, certain components most subject to wear will always be replaced, including the compressor, alternator and starter motor. Similarly, the wiring harness i always replaced, as are gearbox and a) bearings and seals.
EZB recognises that the main reasoi for trucks being replaced after about I years is the rapidly escalating repair costs and associated poor reliability which usually follows if they are operated longer. The Dutch company confident that thorough renovation, carried out in a modern workshop which, like its own, is dedicated to th job, can "break the rapidly rising cost curve, arid establish a new starting point, in respect of both cost and reliability."
So confident is the company in the reliability of its remanufactured Dais that it gives a one-year unlimited mileage warranty on parts and labour, similar to that for new vehicles. Furthermore, EZB offers a fixed cost per km maintenance contract for up tt five years, or a further 500,000km on renovated Dais at a rate "not much different from that for a new unit."
Complete vehicle rernanufacturing c the EZB scale is never going to appea: to every haulier, but it does seem to b catching on. Only last year Whitbread set up a special workshop in Sheffield solely for the purpose of renovating 74 of their 14 and 15-tormc Ford and Bedford rigicls to add three years to their usual seven-year life.
• by Tim Blakemore