In the largest single order for trucks ever placed by the company, 35 FH tractor units have joined the fleet of leading chilled foods logistics specialist, Samworth Brothers Supply Chain.

These are the first ever Volvo trucks to enter service with the 100 strong fleet of Samworth Brothers Supply Chain. The company is the transport and distribution arm of Samworth Brothers, a food manufacturer who own well-known brands such as Ginsters and Soreen. Samworth Brothers Group is a fourth generation family business with headquarters in Leicestershire.

The order comprised 34 FH-460 6×2 tractor units plus a special, white liveried, FH-500 driver training vehicle. The latter is equipped with I-Shift Dual Clutch and extra seats. The truck is used exclusively by drivers undergoing training with the innovative Driver Academy that was recently launched by Samworth Brothers Supply Chain.

As well as developing the professional driving skills of existing drivers, the Driver Academy is also involved in recruiting and training new drivers from both inside and outside the company. Known as the ‘Warehouse to Wheels’ initiative, the programme fits with Samworth Brothers’ vision and values, where a culture of opportunity and learning is in place to allow staff to achieve their full potential. The fundamental purposes of the Driver Academy, with its focus on safety and sustainability, also align with those of Volvo Trucks own core values of quality, safety and care for the environment.

According to Samworth Supply Chain General Manager Matthew Preston: “A significant factor behind Volvo’s success in winning the 35 truck order was the fact that they grasped the Driver Academy concept and worked with us jointly to come up with the special training vehicle. Suppliers need to add value to what they traditionally would bring to the usual purchasing and supply negotiations. Volvo successfully did that with their proposal to supply the Driver Academy vehicle. We wanted the best truck for exclusive use by the Driver Academy and with the FH-500, I-Shift Dual Clutch, with its extra seating, we believe we have that.”

The procurement process also involved a fuel trial, says Matthew: “We looked at five makes over a four week period. Each manufacturer recommended the truck type they offered for the fuel trial and we measured fuel usage via the truck’s telematics and also at the diesel pump.” Each vehicle was trialled with a mix of single and double deck trailers to balance the workload and ensure a fair trial.

So far, the new FH’s, reports Matthew, are performing ‘above average’ for the fleet, which he describes as ‘very pleasing and promising’. The trucks, which are all replacements, are maintained in-house by the Samworth Brothers Supply Chain Vehicle Maintenance Unit at Leicester. Support is provided by Volvo Truck and Bus East Anglia’s dealerpoint at Bardon who were also involved in the training and hand over process. “The experience of moving from one brand to another was handled highly professionally and to our satisfaction.” Reports Matthew.

Driver acceptance was key to the procurement process, says Matthew and Volvo secured its position as one of the final two vehicles makes that were made available for driver feedback after the fuel trial. Of the drivers who took part, all voted for Volvo. “It meant that we knew we didn’t have an issue of driver acceptance with the Volvo,” says Matthew. “Value is key, but brand image is also very important. Samworth Brothers is a premium brand and Volvo is very much in that category.”