Darling Romery is a dairy company based in Darling, a small country town an hour from Cape Town, specialized in milk, yogurts and fruit juices, collecting milk from local farms every day to be pasteurized and bottled at its processing plant. It has bought 119 UD trucks over the past two decades. UD models – Condors, Questers, Quons – account for 77% of its fleet.
Keeping it fresh with sophisticated logistics
Modern dairies milk their cows three times a day, so Darling Romery tankers collect from some farms three times a day, while other farms store the milk for collection once or twice a day, starting at 5am. “These trucks work 365 days a year. There are no days off for them because you can’t switch off a cow,” says Pietman Bell, the Head of Distribution.
A different fleet of refrigerated trucks gets on the road at 3am to deliver its products to customers across the Western Cape. The company is one of the biggest suppliers in the region to the massive Shoprite Checkers supermarket chain and also delivers to old age homes, hostels, schools and universities.
A third fleet sets off every morning to deliver product to the company’s depots across the country. Those deliveries aren’t carried out by the company itself, but by four external trucking companies using huge refrigerated trucks to travel up and down the motorways.
“Our primary business is milk, not transport. We use our own trucks to collect milk and transport our products from our depots to the market but we use contractors to transport our products to our depots. I’d need 10 big trucks just for that and transport isn’t our business,” Bell explains about their strategy.
The company’s fleet of 75 trucks spread between its Darling headquarters and its depots in George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Gauteng and Philippi, a township near Cape Town. They ‘sleep at home’ every night, and each has a number plate starting with the word Melk, the Afrikaans for milk. When the trucks are four or five years old, new vehicles are bought to replace them at the labor- intensive headquarters, and the old vehicles are sent to enjoy a longer life based at the regional depots.
A trusted partner on the road
Darling Romery first bought its own trucks in 1999, beginning with 12 UDs. “We started with 5.5 and 7 tonners and one 9 tonners, and since then we have bought 119 UDs,” says Bell. “UD is a big part of our family and there are a few reasons for that. They are good and reliable trucks.”
The drivers trust UD trucks. Ricardo Oppelt collects milk every day from various farms in his Quon tanker. “I start at 5am and I’m back home with my family by 3pm,” he says, “I have always wanted to be a truck driver since I was little. My father was a driver and my brother and all my family are professional drivers,” he says. “I’ve been driving for 12 years and for me UD makes nice trucks. You must have a hard-working truck with you, otherwise you don't have the power to finish the job. You get delayed, you delay the farmer“.
Croner ready to go the extra mile
A truck driver himself, Bell enjoyed driving in the old days when double-declutching really tested the drivers’ skills. His love of the sturdy, no-frills Condor* makes him a tough customer to convert to the far more modern and sophisticated Croner. “We need workhorses here, we don’t need fancy things. Condors were brilliant, so hopefully Croner will be as good,” Bell says before getting on Croner.
UD’s regional sales manager for the Western and Eastern Cape, Roome Kirsten, is confident with the new model. He’s been with UD for 40 years and as a technical designer himself, he appreciates the advancements brought by new model.
“There are a few unique things – the torque is the highest of all manufacturers in this class, and having fully automatic transmission as an option is also unique. And most competitors’ brake systems are air over hydraulic whereas this is a full air brake system. Another interesting feature is the in-built telematics that let owners monitor fuel consumption and the position of the vehicle remotely, which is a standard feature, not an extra.”
After taking the new Croner for a spin, Bell was smiling, enjoying what he calls ‘fancy frills’ like the automatic gearbox, air conditioning, a radio and electronic windows. “It was fully automatic so it was like driving a passenger car. It was nice on the steering and nice in the seating. I think it’s a hell of a step forward for the brand and believe it will suit the market,” Bell says.
It looks like Darling Romery drivers will be making their early morning deliveries in Croners pretty soon.
Condor is also known as UD Legacy in the South Africa market.