Mandarin Stone expands fleet with new DAF XF drawbar

Back in 1989, Alma Small was selling a few slate tiles out of the boot of her estate car. Today, the Monmouth-based founder and managing director of Mandarin Stone has just added the tenth, and largest, vehicle to her truck fleet, all DAFs supplied and supported by Watts TVC at Newport.

The new truck is a DAF XF530 FAN drawbar combination, pictured at handover with transport manager Mark Lane (left), Small and Watts’ salesman Kristian Seddon.

The XF’s Space Cab is finished in DAF factory grey metallic paint on the outside, with Exclusive leather trim, Xtra leather air seats and Xtra Comfort mattress inside.

Transport Enterprises supplied the bodywork with 16in triple aluminium dropsides and tailgate, and matching 24-tonne tri-axle drawbar trailer, connected by a Jost air-operated drawbar coupling. The new XF joins three XF450 FA 18-tonne and six LF 12-tonne curtainsiders.

Together, they deliver high-quality stone and porcelain floor and wall products to Mandarin Stone’s 13 showrooms, which employ 140 staff at Monmouth and Cardiff in Wales and across the whole of southern England as far up as Wilmslow, Cheshire.

DVSA relaxes moratorium on new ATFs

In 2017, DVSA stopped accepting applications to set up new ATFs “to help us support existing ATFs and meet their needs”. The DfT’s Heavy Vehicle Testing Review has now recommended that DVSA should consider taking steps to allow more ATFs to open.

The first step will be to consider applications for new ATFs under prescribed circumstances. These are if the new ATF:

  • Is a move of premises for an existing ATF, but it is within the same geographic area
  • Already has ‘approval in principle’ from DVSA
  • Is in an area with a substantial shortage of ATFs, currently Orkney and mainland Highlands of Scotland
  • Is in Southern England and is offering testing of fully laden fuel tankers (this is often known as a full pet. reg. site) or ADR testing
  • Will significantly improve the service to heavy vehicle operators, by reduced journey times or other efficiency benefits. Applications made under this criteria will be prioritised based on the certainty and scale of improvement in service the proposed ATF can offer.

Operators with facilities that meet these criteria are also invited to consider applying to join the ATF network.

DVSA accepts that there are other businesses that do not meet these criteria, and the next step will be to review how they can be widened in future.