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When I was considering at the start of this year the challenges that we as a company might face in 2022, one of the main points to cause a degree of thought was that of transportation.
Transportation of goods from the production plants is invariably by containers and this system generally works very well, but it does not take a great deal for this normally smooth operation to stall. The issues with worldwide shipping and the massive implications of the 2021 Suez Canal blockage are well documented, for example.
Once the material has arrived here with us in the Minoli distribution centre, the onward deliveries are generally carried out on our own fleet of DAF trucks that is expanding during ‘22 with four new vehicles, two of which are in truck body build at the moment and two within the DAF production plant.
It was the two new vehicles that are in build that took me to the workshops of our truck builder (body builders / coachworks) Wessex Vehicles, who are located just outside of Salisbury – and what a remarkable place it is…!
Minoli has had its own fleet of purpose-built trucks for as long as I can recall. Originally all the Minoli vehicles were designed and built by Frasers – initially by Jock for Peter Minoli my father. Thereafter by his son Iain who grew the company to where it is now known internationally for its work in motorsport – primarily F1. There was always something of a thrill to see a pair of Minoli trucks being built alongside the new race transporters for Ferrari.
A company such as Minoli, with a sixty plus year history, has to look constantly at how we can make improvements to our service offer, but also ensure that we do not get stuck in our ways. When we have a successful formula – such as that of the current truck design – it is easy just to sign off another order form and wait for the vehicle to arrive and enter service.
Taking the time to visit the manufacturers, looking around the workshops and design departments to see what innovations they have introduced for other clients gives an opportunity to make a change for the better. On this occasion with Wessex, we concluded in the meeting that the two trucks in build at that time were well designed, having had a design refresh for 2020. We did however look again at driver comfort and safety, with additional lighting being added to the internal cargo area and the rear off-loading area, so as to fully illuminate the taillight platform.
A little about Wessex… Minoli work closely with Alex Watson who is sales director. Alex has been with the company for almost 30 years and can not only design a truck body, but he can also probably build it for you if need be. The company was founded by Nigel Mustill in 1988 who still leads the company very much from the front.
Wessex have taken the time and made the investment to have Whole Vehicle Type Approval – which is a very important classification within the industry. The level of care taken, coupled with expertise, has led to Wessex having a reputation for build and design quality that has resulted in the company being a leader in segments of the market such as Fine Art Transportation, Motorsport (Nigel was something of a Touring Car driver in his time) and for the utilities sector.
Given how very busy we seem to be, taking a morning out to spend with a supplier did feel like something of a luxury, especially one where they are both independent and very competent. But those small changes that were made together with the satisfaction of going through the designs to make sure we have the right equipment in build, will result in many years of safe and successful deliveries to our clients.
As an aside, one of the trucks in build will be gaining a great deal of publicity worldwide as this is the chassis which came out of the Lancashire production plant as the 500,000th vehicle manufactured by DAF.
My thanks to Alex, Nigel, Amy (Tinks & Alfie the dogs) and the whole team at Wessex for the time and hospitality shown to me during my visit.