The recent delivery of 60 Freightliners to Pietermaritzburgbased Willowton Logistics, now makes it one of the largest Freightliner fleets in South Africa.
Willowton’s latest acquisition brings to125 the number of its long haul Freightliner Argosy trucks which operate throughout South Africa and into neighbouring countries delivering the Willowton Group’s wide variety of FMCG goods to customers and returning with loads of mainly agricultural produce.
The company is part of the Willowton Group, one of South Africa’s largest sunflower seed crushers and a leading manufacturer of edible oils, margarines, soaps and candles. The group is also home to South African household brands such as Sunfoil Triple Refined Pure Sunflower Oil and Sunshine D margarines and spreads. About 30% of Willowton Logistics’ business is provided from within the group with the remainder coming from its customer base.
The company completes its 148-strong fleet with 23 Mitsubishi Fuso 26.420 trucks, making it a clean sweep for Mercedes-Benz South Africa. Most of the trucks were bought through Garden City Motors in Pietermaritzburg.
Willowton Logistics’ managing director Frans Henning raves about the Freightliners. “These are awesome vehicles giving us reliability, excellent fuel economy and unbeatable after-sales service. A large part of our phenomenal success over the past four years has been thanks to these outstanding trucks.”
Freightliner’s product manager, Duncan Prince, was quick to return the compliment: “Frans and his team know what they are doing when it comes to running trucks. They represent the kind of customer we yearn for as they take good care of their rigs, take timely servicing and maintenance seriously, as well as maintaining driver discipline, which all contributes significantly to the reliability and performance of the vehicles.’
Prince said what is also noteworthy is that Willowton’s Freightliners are exclusively powered by Detroit Diesel Series 60 12.7 litre engines, either in the DDC440 model Freightliner Argosy or the latest DDC12.7-1650 model. Detroit Diesel Corporation (DDC) is wholly owned by Daimler AG, owners of Freightliner, so DDC is the in-house engine brand.
“Willowton Logistics now has the latest version of the Freightliner Argosy, featuring improved DDC engines, a higher front axle carrying capacity (up to 7 250kg), improved cab comfort that includes the recently introduced National high back driver and passenger air seats. Alcoa forged alloy wheels are now also standard fitment on all Freightliner Argosy trucks,” said Prince.
Henning, a seasoned road freight specialist, launched Willowton’s logistics division in 2007 gradually building up the fleet to its current position. He said apart from moving vast quantities of the group’s FMCG products, they also carried a large amount of agricultural and dairy products in their stable of refrigerated trailers. “We have also just acquired Genset skeletal trailers for use in the citrus and grape seasons.’
Henning said the FUSO trucks were used for local and midrange business. “The FUSOs have also proved to be excellent vehicles in terms of their fuel efficiency and reliability.”
Consistent driver training is an important factor for Henning who has just brought in BK Advanced Training run by Bert Koning (who, by the way, is a former driver correspondent for FleetWatch who recently went full time into driver training) to keep his drivers’ skills at a high level.
“The way business is going there’s certainly room for expansion – the likelihood is that we’ll be in the market again soon for about another 20 Freightliners,” said Henning.