With the truck packed with fresh berries, drivers Antonio Márquez Rodríguez and Juan Carlos Díaz Robledo set off from Huelva in southern Spain. Despite the long drive ahead of them, the clock is already ticking. Their cargo needs to be unloaded and put onto supermarket shelves in northern Europe as soon as possible.
For the next 11 hours, the two drivers will alternate between driving and sleeping every four hours. When they reach Salvatierra, northern Spain, they will change over with another two drivers so that the consignment can keep moving for another 20-24 hours, through France up to other European countries. This is why GTO’s motto is “keep on moving”.
“Our commitment to our clients is to deliver produce to various European countries in less than 35 hours, and that means every minute counts,” explains Esteban Sánchez Brito, Deputy Chairman of GTO. Berries are highly-perishable goods. Each hour past the deadline that the goods arrive is one hour less on the supermarket shelves.”
With time so critical, GTO invests heavily in ensuring its fleet of 300 Volvo trucks can move as effortlessly and efficiently as possible. Each truck is equipped with two tanks, for a total capacity of 1300 litres, enabling them to travel 4500 km without stopping to refill. To save even more time, each of GTO’s depots are equipped with a refilling station so that trucks can refuel while loading, and it has its own workshops to minimise unplanned downtime.
Apart from speed, the other critical factor in GTO’s business is fuel consumption, which is an estimated 18 million litres per year. “We're in a very competitive market, where service requirements are ever higher, while at the same time there is strong pressure to drive down costs,” explains Esteban Sánchez Brito. “Fuel consumption is very important to our company. Firstly, the cost has a major impact on our profits. Secondly, it affects our environmental impact.”
Last year, GTO decided to trial the new Volvo FH with I-Save, since it was claimed it could significantly reduce fuel costs without compromising their ability to make deliveries on time. After trialling the vehicle for six months in its operations, the result was a saving of three litres per 100 km – a reduction of approximately 11 per cent. And the savings were achieved while maintaining the same average speed. “We were not expecting such good figures, it was phenomenal. It was clear that the Volvo FH with I-Save was the optimal vehicle for us,” says Esteban Sánchez Brito.
GTO’s drivers were just as impressed. “Compared to other trucks I've driven, the difference is remarkable,” adds Antonio Márquez Rodríguez. “It maintains much better momentum going uphill. But the most important difference when it comes to our job is that the Volvo FH with I-Save is much quieter and much more comfortable. We rest better so that when we're back behind the wheel, we're much more relaxed.”
After its successful trial, GTO decided to order 130 Volvo FHs with I-Save. It is estimated that this will save them around €300,000 in fuel costs per year. “The new Volvo FH with I-Save is a major revolution for us,” says Esteban Sánchez Brito. “I think it is a big step forward in our company's development.”
Grupo Transonuba (GTO)
Fleet: 300 Volvo trucks (including 130 Volvo FH with I-Save) and 450 refrigerated trailers.
Employees: Up to 600 drivers during peak times.
Location: Head office is located near Huelva in southern Spain, with an additional facility in Salvatierra, northern Spain. Both are equipped with filling stations and workshops.
Operations: Transportation of fresh berries from Morocco, Portugal and Spain to France, Germany, the UK, Netherlands and Belgium.