CV Sector Truck

W H Bowker celebrate 42 years with Volvo Trucks

03 November 2014 #CV Sector #Truck

Lancashire-based logistics firm W H Bowker, is celebrating 42 years of working in close collaboration with Volvo Trucks.

The company, which began operating Volvo trucks in 1972 and became a 100% Volvo fleet in 1978, has marked this milestone with the purchase of twenty-three,Euro 6-compliant, new series FH.

The order, all of which are replacement vehicles, comprises twenty one tractor units and two 6×2 rigid drawbar, prime movers. Specifications include Globetrotter cabs, Volvo’s 13-litre, D13K engine, rated at 460hp, I-Shift automated gearbox and Dynafleet telematics.

The family-owned and managed company, one of North-West England’s largest and most successful hauliers, is one of Volvo’s longest established customers in the UK.

W H Bowker Director, Bill Bowker reveals how, for more than four decades, the company has enjoyed an unparalleled, close relationship with Volvo Trucks’ engineers in Sweden and the UK.

Thanks to the involvement of, and passion for quality, espoused by W H Bowker’s late Group Fleet Engineer and Director Geoff Whittle, the company was involved in field trials of many new Volvo components and technology.

A selection of prestigious ‘firsts’ for W H Bowker, includes being the first UK operator to run FL10s on full air suspension. They also ran the first FL10 in drawbar configuration and the first low height chassis FL10 into service in the UK. In 1994, thefirst low-height chassis FH12 arrived in the Bowkers Transport yard. This was a 6×4 rigid, powered by the D12 engine at 380hp. Bowkers also operated the first Volvos in the UK with full air suspension.

W H Bowker was the first in Europe to operate the F10 ‘Eurotrotter’ drawbar concept. This was a short cab mounted on 6×2 drawbar prime mover rigid. The driver’s sleeping accommodation was in a factory-fitted ‘pod’ mounted on the cab roof. The cab was built on the line at the Volvo factory in Umeå. In the late 80s, Bowkers field tested a new variant of the FL10. The 6×2 tractor unit was fitted with the first Pusher Axle to be seen on a Volvo in the UK.

The 6×2 Pusher Axle went on to become the most popular three-axle tractor unit configuration, especially with the advent of 44-tonnes GCW in the UK. During the 1990s and 2000s, Bowkers were also intimately involved in the testing and on-going development of Dynafleet telematics.

Thanks to the late Geoff Whittle’s eagle-eyed foresight and robust focus on the long term issues affecting vehicle specifications, Volvo Trucks and Bowkers have benefited from the close working relationship that was forged over forty years ago.

The long-term partnership with Volvo Trucks and local supplying dealer Thomas Hardie Commercials in Preston, meant that W H Bowker’s input has provided a vital part in the development of many new transport solutions over the last forty two years.

Speaking a few days before his untimely death in June 2014, Geoff Whittle commented that: “We took the decision to go with a Volvo, single make fleet policy in 1978. We based that decision on the fact that Volvo was the best, the safest, had the best back-up and the best resale value. We made that choice and have grown with it. It’s a partnership and we have a track record to prove its benefits.”

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