There is talk about reopening schools for June 1st and some businesses are already opening their doors.  Transport operators involved in food and medicine transport have been operating throughout the lockdown, but with the economy slowly starting to come to life you need to consider the changes that may be necessary in your business.

Truck Sales Offices

Truck traders with repair and maintenance facilities are likely to have been operating throughout the crisis – albeit on a reduced number of shifts.  Those involved in new and used truck sales will start to emerge from furlough. As it currently stands everyone will have to leave the furlough zone by the end of June 2020, unless the government chooses to extend the scheme again.

So, think about your business’s sales environment – are the sales offices laid out in such a way that desks are more than two metres apart? What about when there are customers are in the office? Clear markings on the floor will be recommended to help staff and customers maintain safe distancing.

Dealer WorkshopWhat about test drives?  Are these usually accompanied?  If they are then what steps should you take to make it possible for a customer to go out on their own in a truck? Is your insurance still valid, for example?

Whether a truck trader or a truck operator, if your workshops are for your own vehicles only and have been closed over the lockdown period, then think about the changes needed to working practices to ensure that technicians are kept at safe distances.

Consider the company’s cleaning regime.  Put together a rota to ensure that all handles and frequent use surfaces are cleaned hourly.

What about communal kitchens? Again, these tend to be small so a rota will need to be set up for its use – recommend that staff bring a packed lunch that requires little use of the facilities in the early stages. Can some staff return home for lunch if they live locally?

In England there is no legislation requiring the use of face masks for coming to work.  However, it may be wise to prepare for the requirement and try to start sourcing some in case they are needed.  The same goes for plastic gloves.

Government Loans

What about having the cash ready to start up again?  There will inevitably be costs of changing working practices, not to mention the losses sustained from the lockdown period.  The government has recognised this and put together a series of schemes that could help businesses of all sizes.

Bounce Back Loans

Recently announced and not available until May 4th, the Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders. Click here to apply

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

This is the scheme that was criticised for not moving quickly enough for many businesses – hence the introduction of the bounce back scheme.

CBILS is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. This means smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to small and medium-sized businesses.

The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.  Click here to apply.

Be Safe

The most important thing is that everyone feels safe when they come to work.  If staff are worried about their health, then it will be impossible for them to perform to their best ability.

DAF CF and XF available with switchable front-wheel drive

For trucks that clock up most of their mileage on the road but are sometimes required to drive off-road or in slippery conditions, DAF is introducing hydraulic front-wheel drive that can be activated at the flip of a switch. This new ‘PXP’ drive has been developed together with Paul Nutzfahrzeuge and will be available on the DAF CF and XF 4×2 tractors powered by the PACCAR MX-11 or MX-13 engine. Other chassis types will follow later in the year.

Permanent all-wheel drive for a truck that drives off-road only occasionally, usually means a considerable cost in terms of acquisition, maintenance and fuel consumption. However, it is sometimes very important to have extra traction to tackle ditches, sandy roads, unpaved tip sites and steep inclines.

For challenging situations like these, DAF is now introducing a hydraulic front-wheel drive option for the CF and XF 4×2 tractors that can be activated via a switch on the dashboard. If the vehicle registers slip from the powered wheels, PXP – ‘Paul Xtra Power’ – is automatically activated. The greater the amount of slip from the rear, the more traction the front wheels provide.

Available up to 4th gear

DAF’s switchable front-wheel drive is available in the first four forward gears and the first and second reverse gears. At speeds above 20 kilometres per hour (and/or in 5th gear and upwards) PXP switches back to stand-by mode. The system activates itself again at lower speeds and whenever use is required.

No concessions in terms of optimal usability

To make the switchable front-wheel drive possible, each front axle wheel hub is equipped with a hydraulic motor, producing torque of no less than 6,435 Nm at a maximum system pressure of 360 bar. This ensures optimal performance and optimal longevity and reliability. A unique feature is that the motors are driven by a hydraulic pump that is fitted directly onto the Engine-PTO, which saves both weight and space. In addition, the hydro pump can also drive components like cranes, hook arms, stabilizers and skip loader systems for maximum efficiency. This means that only one hydraulic tank is required, which also results in less weight and more space.

With the new PXP system, DAF has once again demonstrated its ability to provide optimal solutions for every transport requirement. In addition to that, DAF’s variable front-wheel drive offers specific benefits with regard to performance, weight and space in the chassis.