The Co-operative Group has become one of the first customers for a dramatically-styled aerodynamic truck body launched this month by Gray & Adams.
The Dolphin is so named because its streamlined profile evokes that of the ultra-efficient aquatic mammal often seen in the waters of the Moray Firth, close to Gray & Adams’ Fraserburgh headquarters.
Designed to maximise fuel-efficiency and thereby cut CO2 emissions, it also features all-new leading-edge cappings that follow the 3D curvature of the roof, and a vortex generator to smooth the airflow around the back of the vehicle.
The Co-operative’s two Dolphins were built at Gray & Adams’ Dunfermline production facility and are fitted to 26-tonne Scania chassis with roof-mounted, adjustable air deflectors by Hatcher Components.
The Carrier Supra 950 refrigeration unit is mounted above the cab roof. And despite the fact that the body’s roofline then tapers towards the rear of the truck, there is still sufficient interior space to accommodate the roll cages used by The Co-operative to transport its frozen and chilled product – in fact, the reduced roof height offers an environmental benefit, because energy is not wasted on cooling empty and unrequired loadspace.
Both vehicles have entered service at The Co-operative Group’s recently opened, £22-million regional distribution centre in Avonmouth, from where they are being used to supply smaller stores and convenience outlets throughout the South-West.
Ken Thompson, Logistics Service Transport Fleet Manager for The Co-operative Group, confirmed: "We’re always keen to explore any opportunities to cut costs, especially our fuel bill, while at the same time reducing our carbon footprint and improving our environmental profile.
"The new Dolphin represents a very exciting development. These vehicles are certainly turning heads and we will be monitoring their performance in terms of fuel efficiency with great interest over the coming months."
Mr Thompson is responsible for a fleet of around 2,700 rigid trucks, tractor units and trailers, which service The Co-operative Group’s 4,000-plus stores from a network of 12 regional distribution centres.
Gray & Adams is a long-term supplier and all insulated bodywork and trailers it manufactures for The Co-operative are fabricated using GRP panels impregnated with the operator’s corporate shade of green, so that minor accident damage is not obviously visible.
This year’s orders have included batches of bodies for 14-, 18- and 26-tonne rigids, single- and double-deck 13.6m trailers, and 8.3m and 10.5m command steer urban trailers.
In another new development Gray & Adams has also just delivered several 15.65m semi-insulated dry freight trailers, which The Co-operative Group is now running as part of the much-publicised Department for Transport-backed trial of longer semi-trailers.
Based in Coventry, these trailers deliver to stores in Leicester and Ipswich that cannot be accessed by double-deckers because of local height restrictions. The 15.65m trailer can accommodate up to 60 roll cages, still well shy of the 81 that can be carried on a double-decker, but a useful 17.6 per cent increase on the 51-cage capacity of a single-deck 13.6m trailer.
Mr Thompson continued: "Our equipment has to be able to withstand the rigours of a very intensive, seven-day delivery operation. Experience has shown that Gray & Adams’ products give us a high degree of reliability with very little downtime for seven, eight and sometimes up to 10 years."
He added: "Gray & Adams will also customise their designs to meet the precise requirements of our operation. And while we get very few issues with their equipment, when these have arisen the response has always been first class. They are very proactive when it comes to diagnosing a problem and providing a solution.
"In short, Gray & Adams is a highly professional and customer-focused company manufacturing top-quality products backed by a superb after sales service."