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Growth is in the driver’s seat at DAF Trucks in Flanders

For over half a century, DAF Truck’s production of cabins and axles for medium- and heavy-duty trucks has been one of the driving forces behind Flanders’ automotive industry – and vice versa! Here’s what makes the story of DAF Trucks in Flanders one of steady growth, innovation and increased competitiveness – a success story that also led to the company’s nomination for Flanders Investment & Trade’s 2020 Foreign Investment of The Year Trophy.

Part of the American PACCAR Group, the Dutch truck manufacturer has steadily built an industry-leading reputation. Its network extends over 4 world-class production facilities and 1,100 independent dealer locations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. One of its main plants is located in Westerlo (Flanders), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016.

Making history in Flanders

To say that the Flanders-based plant has a rich history would be an understatement. In the ‘swinging sixties’, a time of post-war economic growth, DAF trucks were in high demand. At its site in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the company had a hard time finding enough personnel, while Flanders offered a readily available workforce that spoke the same language and was just a border away.

This encouraged DAF to open a site along the A13 highway in Westerlo. Covering 40,000 m², it became home to a new cabin factory, where the first four cabs rolled off the assembly line in May 1966. From then on, production in Flanders grew rapidly, encompassing axles in the early seventies.

Continued dedication

Over the past 20 years, DAF’s axle and cab factory continued to grow into one of the most advanced industrial truck plants within Europe. During these two decades, around EUR 900 million was invested in the plant, making it a major employer in the region. Currently, it provides job security to more than 2,400 employees. “Their commitment and dedication are a vital part of the company’s success,” says Harry Wolters, CEO of DAF Trucks. “With our continuous investments in DAF Trucks Vlaanderen, DAF demonstrates its confidence in the future of its activities in Flanders.”

With our continuous investments in DAF Trucks Vlaanderen, DAF demonstrates its confidence in the future of its activities in Flanders.

Harry Wolters
CEO of DAF Trucks

Record-breaking investment in growth

Thanks to its high-quality trucks, first-class services and a highly professional dealer network, DAF has become the premier truck brand in Europe and market leader in numerous countries. After commissioning a state-of-the-art cab painting facility, the truck manufacturer seeks to expand and enhance its business in Flanders yet again.

With a new EUR 200 million investment announced in 2019, DAF is gearing up for the future. Harry Wolters: “Both new production facilities will enable DAF to continue growing in Europe and beyond. Even more, the investment provides job security within the region for the next 20 years.”

Steering toward the future

The new project will expand both the body department, where truck cabins are assembled, and the trimming department, where the upholstery and finish are added. In total, the expansion will almost double the existing surface area of the site, adding another 33,000 m².

The production line will be equipped with 130 high-tech robots and 135 fully automatic welding guns that are superior in quality, efficiency and ergonomics. Jos Habets, Director Operations at DAF Trucks: “The new facility will be the most modern of its kind. Because we are not only increasing the size of the two local plants but also further enhancing production flows and efficiency, we are prepared to meet future production volume demands. This will contribute to DAF’s worldwide success.”

The new facility will be the most modern of its kind and prepared to tackle future production volumes. This will contribute to DAF’s worldwide success.

Jos Habets
Director Operations at DAF Trucks

30 November 2020

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