Growth is in the driver’s seat at DAF’s expanded cab plant in Flanders

There’s plenty of activity at the site of truck manufacturer DAF in Westerlo (Flanders). It’s not business as usual, though. With the construction of its new body and cab trimming plant well underway, the Dutch firm – which operates under the wings of its American parent company PACCAR – moves up a gear. Its existing site will nearly double in size. What’s more, for over half a century, DAF’s production of cabins and axles for medium- and heavy-duty trucks has been one of the driving forces behind Flanders’ automotive industry, with the firm rolling out 230 cabins per day. “Thanks to the most recent investments announced in 2019, we can soon boost this number to 300. An all-time best,” enthuses Harry Wolters, CEO of DAF Trucks.

The investment project is a prime example of DAF’s passion and continuous drive for innovation, earning the company a nomination for Flanders Investment & Trade’s 2020 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy. DAF is one of five corporate nominees, with the winner to be revealed during the Foreign Investment Trophy event on 11 February 2020. Pick your favorite and cast your vote! 

Innovative trademark technologies

Within the commercial transport sector, DAF trucks has steadily built an industry-leading reputation. The brand’s network extends over four world-class production facilities and 1,100 independent dealer locations throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

After a highly successful and award-winning year in 2018 – which marked the company’s 90th birthday – DAF continues down the same track, engineering and manufacturing the highest-quality transport solutions. The latest DAF CF and XF series, for example, are industry-leading in terms of reliability, efficiency and driver comfort, while meeting the latest and most stringent emission standards. A range of electric and hybrid innovation trucks were developed to illustrate the company’s ‘green’ leadership. The DAF CF Electric model was even presented with the Green Truck Logistics Solution Award.

Making history in Flanders

Just four years ago, in 2016, DAF Trucks celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Flanders production plant in Westerlo. 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.

“With our continuous investments in DAF Trucks Vlaanderen, DAF demonstrates its confidence in the future of its plant in Belgium."

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 for more than 2,400 employees. “Their commitment and dedication are a vital part of the company’s success,” says Wolters. “With our continuous investments in DAF Trucks Vlaanderen, DAF demonstrates its confidence in the future of its Flanders-based activities.”

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 paint 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. Wolters: “Both new production facilities will enable DAF to continue growing in Europe and beyond. Even more, the investment provides job security within the Flanders region for the next 20 years.”

“The new units will enable DAF to continue growing in Europe and beyond.”

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, superior in quality, efficiency and ergonomics. Wolters: “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 EUR 200 million investment will boost the production capacity of the cab plant by some 45% to 300 cabs per day in a two-shift operation. This number is consistent with the capacity of the cab paint factory, which was officially opened at the end of 2017 following an investment of EUR 100 million.”​

“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.”

Find out more about the other nominees and cast your vote.

Facts and figures

  • Headquarters: Eindhoven (the Netherlands)
  • Locations in Flanders: Westerlo
  • Number of production facilities worldwide:  4
  • Investment amount in Flanders: EUR 200 million
  • Annual turnover:
    • Worldwide: EUR 5.5 billion
  • Number of employees:
    • Worldwide: 10,500
    • In Flanders: 2,400