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The rare arrangement that works for Langdon

1st May 1982, Page 60
1st May 1982
Page 60
Page 60, 1st May 1982 — The rare arrangement that works for Langdon
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So although the majority of the owner-drivers have opted for Fiats or Maggies, there are also some Volvo F7, F10 and F12 units, a couple of MercedesBenz 1626s, two MAN 280s, two Leyland Marathons and a Roadtrain, two Ford Transcontinentals, a Bedford TM and even a Mack.

To uphold the corporate image, the company discourages too much obvious personalisation of the units, although one or two of the older units have the owner-drivers' names on the headboards and have sprouted air horns. All the new units carry the Langdon Industries name on their blue and white livery rather than Tone Vale Transport, Taunton Meat Haulage or the owner-driver's name.

The company will also help drivers sort out their castings and records as Mike Donoghue demonstrated by giving me fuel consumption figures for some of the owner-drivers' vehicles. He commented that the Fiat Turbos were proving to be a very capable and powerful unit but were a little disappointing on fuel consumption — one of the attractions of the Fiat was that its high torque engine should make it fairly economical, In fact, Langdon Industries' Fiats are averaging 471it/100km — 43.51it/100km (6 6.5mpg) which is not quite up to the company's expectations. When CM tested the Fiat Turbo 170 F30 at 32 tons, a figure of 41.731it/100km (6.77mpg) was recorded.

The lower-powered naturally aspirated Magirun 256M19FS units are doing slightly better, averaging 4 1.51it/1 0 Okm (6.8mpg). All the units are running close to the 32 ton gvw limit for most of the time. At the moment Langdon Industries has a single 16-ton gvw Leyland Freighter refrigerated boxvan on hire from Wincanton. Although this may not sound very important, it could prove to be significant. It arose out of TKM's takeover of Srnedleys. In addition to delivering bulk drops of Smedleys canned and frozen goods on the artics, Langdon Industries might also take on some of the smaller frozen goods deliveries. Mike Donoghue stresses that the plan is still in the early stages and nothing is definite yet.

With his own experience in temperature-controlled transport and warehousing he has watched with interest the growth of the chilled food business and the progress of specialised chilled distribution companies such as Salfresh (Christian Salvesen) and Lowfieldcool (Lowfield Distribution).

Mike's thinking is slightly different. He is considering a combined frozen-chilled retail delivery service using 16 ton gvw refrigerated boxvans with a moveable internal bulkhead so that part of the vehicle is chilled and part is frozen. The advantage of this is that the two seasons should dovetail to gether quite well, with more fro zen goods in the winter am higher demand for fresh, chille( saladstuffs in the summer.

This poses a few problems fo the body and refrigeration plani particularly in getting al effective seal for the movabli bulkhead. Mike Donoghue is for tunate in that he can readily tun to bodybuilders Wadhan Stringer — another TKM corn pany.

If this idea does get off thi ground, would it mean tha Langdon Industries would hay' to change its owner-driver polic, and actually buy and operate thi 16 tanners itself? Not necessar ily, thought Mike. He has toyes with the idea of the compan, buying the vehicle bodies an letting owner-drivers buy thi chassis. It is really just the semi principle as operates at the mo ment with the company buyinj the trailers and the owner-driv ers buying the units.

A similar system works in thi mixer world where the corn pany-owned barrels go on thi owner-drivers' chassis, so wh■ should it not work in distribu tion?

If and when this frozen/chille( distribution idea does develop Langdon Industries will need more comprehensive depot net work. Its existing locations mak( good inroads into the south an west but the company is alread■ looking at more northerly loca tions.

Up to now Langdon Industrie; has avoided taking vehicles of the road or laying off drivers an has weathered the recession re markably well. Mike Dortoghut feels that the company's ar rangement with owner-driven has been of "real importance" in getting it through this difficul period.

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