‘Dazzling’ is probably the best word to describe DAF Trucks Flanders’ activities, which are aimed at setting new standards in quality, further expanding production capacity and enhancing efficiency, while fully focusing on creating the best possible ergonomics for its 2,800 employees. After installing a brand-new cab paint facility and following a multimillion dollar investment in its state-of-the-art axle plant, DAF Trucks Flanders has now completed its new cab body and trim factories – the most modern of their kind in the world. Made in Belgium.
The well-known truck manufacturer DAF – part of US-based PACCAR Inc. since 1996 – has a long tradition in Belgium. The southern neighbor of the Netherlands was the first country to which DAF exported its trucks in the early 50s, and an axle production plant was commissioned in Belgium more than 55 years ago. At the time, there was a serious employee shortage in Eindhoven and, with the decline of its textile industry and the closure of the coal mines, the region of De Kempen proved to be an excellent alternative. Since the early 70s, DAF has also been producing cabs for its medium- and heavy-duty trucks in Oevel.
Each day, over 600 front and rear axles are produced in the high-tech factory on the E313 motorway between Liѐge and Antwerp. “Given that each truck is unique, the axles are also fine-tuned to match the customer-specific application,” explains Stijn Van Eyken, DAF Trucks Flanders’ Managing Director. “Axles have seen an enormous evolution over the past few decades. They have become increasingly lighter and at the same time even more durable and efficient. And as we are driven by continuous improvement, there is never an end in sight when it comes to new developments.”
Site of the future
DAF’s completely new cab body and cab trim facilities set a new benchmark for quality, efficiency and ergonomics. The body-in-whites – the steel cab structures – are built by 150 highly advanced robots and 135 fully-automated welding guns.
Just as sophisticated is the new cab trim factory, where the degree of automation is lower because of the need to equip each truck cab according to customer specifications. However, this plant also makes a big impression on every visitor: environment-friendly LED lighting adds to an atmosphere that exudes quality. Employees can adapt the working height at all points to suit operations and individual preferences. The cleanliness is of the kind one would expect at a high-end laboratory. This is without a doubt a manufacturing site of the future.
Over the past decade, DAF has invested over €800 million in its Westerlo facilities. “In the first place, this represents a well-deserved recognition for our 2,800 employees,” says Stijn van Eyken.