Commencing operations in Kortenhoevenseweg, Lexmond, Johannes van Eck manufactured farmer tools such as wheelbarrows, milking stools, wooden cabins and folding trailers. In 1932, with one of his four sons, Johannes van Eck switched from the farmer wagons to cabins and loading platforms on A and T Fords. After a fire in 1961, the company moved across the road of Kortenhoevenseweg.
In 1969, Van Eck developed the very first compression semi-trailer for transporting polyether foam, offering 250 per cent more volume. This product became a milestone in the Van Eck’s success story and over the 1970s, Van Eck became an international semi-trailer manufacturer.
By 1983 the company introduced its first airfreight trailers with five- and seven main-deck-pallet-loading capacity. In 1986, an old fire station in Beesd had been acquired to expand and to move the production. Since then, Van Eck continues its operations from Beesd.
During the 1990s the company shifted its focus on the lightweight and loading capacity optimisation in its product offering. In 1995 and 1997, the manufacturer developed what would be known as the precursor to the twin deck configurations of today: palm tree transport equipment for Ten Kate Flowers and a roll-on-toll trailer for Albert Heijn.
Van Eck’s product range currently comprises Eckstreme, Eco Co2mbi, Eckcellent, Eckspress, and Eckspert Series.
First introduced in 2003, Van Eck twin deck trailers are reported to enable a 40 per cent CO2 emissions decrease by providing 60 per cent more loading capacity. With a twin deck trailer, Van Eck acquired the Top 3 in Trailer Innovation 2005 Awards.
Producing its first Long Heavy Vehicle (LHV) in 2004, Van Eck’s Ecko Co2mbi series enables sustainable transport by decreasing CO2 emissions by 40 per cent. Within Ecko Co2mbi Series, Van Eck can build any LHV Combination, including LHVs with twin decks.
Eckspress Series Aircargo Vehicles is the company’s reliable solution for airfreight and airline companies by offering a Roller Conveyor System that enables safe and reliable road freight services and has a double deck system to increase load factor.
Eckcellent Series Distribution Vehicles offers tailor-made transport solutions for both day and night operations. Eckcellent Series are built with a reinforced upper structure for product longevity.
The introduction of airport equipment under the Eckspert series was made in 2003. With Van Eck’s Eckspert series, Van Eck design and manufacture very special vehicles that completely address the very special transport challenge of its customers.
Innovations in logistics – The twin deck concept
In December 1995, van Opijnen from Deventer came to Van Eck with a specific requirement of extreme internal height of 3485mm to meet the flower and palm tree transportation of their customer Ten Kate Flowers. Such a trailer, according to Hans van Eck, had never been made before.
“The challenge was the palm trees could not have been transported horizontal as it would damage the flower and spoil the soil pots,” he said.
“So, the trailer – that is the champion for lower CO2 emissions – got its inspiration from mother nature as well.
“Van Eck’s engineering team worked on the solution to lower the floor of the vehicle. For this project Van Eck had manufactured everything by itself, all the chassis parts, for example the wheel cabinets and connections axles. Different than the twin deck that is available today, this was the first twin deck without a second floor.”
Two years later in 1997, Albert Heijn came to Van Eck with a fast loading and unloading challenge.
“Operating without a tail lift to save time on operations, the trailer ended up being a very low one deck trailer equipped with a very special spoiler for less fuel consumption,” said Hans van Eck. “It was a great challenge to produce 20 of these trailers in the scope of one month but we won the challenge as a team with our hardwork and our experience from building the extreme height trailer from three years back. The result was the satisfaction of our client. The trailer ended up using 10 per cent less fuel and accommodated side loading to make the most convenient loading operations.”
The development continued with the special request of DHL at the beginning of 2003.
“Not the twin deck we know today but a drawbar twin deck trailer was requested,” said Hans van Eck. “As the developer of the exact solution for the customers’ challenges, we took on the job. This time the vehicle was indeed a double deck with lifts. So, after lowering the floor, maximising the internal height and solving all chassis issues we had finally integrated the double floor option to the trailer. Another benchmark on the way to the twin deck trailer we know today was completed.”
What is now industry standard, the twin deck fully came to realisation with Emos in the summer of 2003. Five trailers with second floors and tail lifts were delivered in that same year and the twin deck trailer is now the industry standard vehicle for capacity maximisation.
Trends in sustainability and state-of-the-art road freight transportation
The Dutch government’s goal is to decrease the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions by 49 per cent by 2030. Particularly in the logistics sector, the Dutch have been pioneers in pushing for more sustainable freight solutions.
“Our customised trailers are designed and built with uncompromising quality in Beesd for the aim of getting an increased return for our customers,” said Hans van Eck. “As a result, we focus on maximising the load factor while providing smart loading and unloading systems to eliminate operational lags and inefficiencies. More capacity and payload per trip helps decrease CO2
consumption which supports our development goals in delivering more sustainable solutions.”
Introduced in 2003, Van Eck’s twin deck trailer offers 60 per cent more volume, enables 30 per cent cost reduction, reduces CO2 by 40 per cent, improves road safety for pedestrians and cyclists while the upper body construction decreases air drag on the sideways and improves overall fuel consumption.
Next to its expertise in volume optimisation, Van Eck focuses on LHV for cargo transport maximisation per trip and is unparalleled with its extensive experience in LHV as well.
One of Van Eck’s LHV lightweight reefers with an automated loading and unloading system, for instance, can carry up to 33 tonnes of cargo and drives every day from the North of Holland to the South and has done so for the past decade. Having begun development in 2004, Van ECK LHV Ecko-combi series is a proven vehicle that is operational on the road.
Van Eck’s current LHV development is the linkable chassis in its continuing work for a load and length maximisation in a safe and efficient way.
Also, Van Eck designs and produce its own rollerbed system. Since 1983, Van Eck has been producing rollerbed box and curtainsider vehicles. In 2007, Van Eck introduced the innovative Van Eck rollerbed system for air cargo transportation, which is in full compliance with Lufthansa technical requirements. Air Cargo vehicles, with rollerbeds integrated into the bottom of the trailer, offer internal height advantages and can carry up to seven pallets per vehicle. The Van Eck roller conveyor system is designed with an automated driving unit system requiring less manpower when loading and unloading the high and heavy air cargo pallets.
Taking its inspiration from air cargo like loading and unloading efficiencies as well as packing standardisation and warehouse management ease of use, Van Eck’s expert team had been working in European commission backed Horizon 2020 project developing smart loading units namely NMLU – new modular loading unit to streamline all general cargo packing loading, unloading and documentation process like the air cargo business.
With its innovation named Smart Rollerbed Vehicles with NMLU (New Modular Loading Unit), Van Eck took third place at Trailer Innovation 2021 Award category ‘Environment’.
The AEROFLEX Project and Van Eck’s involvement
In line with Van Eck’s vision to reinvent the modern road transport with sustainability goals, since October 2017, Van Eck has been active in the AEROFLEX Project for developing aerodynamic and flexible trucks for the next generation of long-distance transport.
Within this project, Van Eck contributes to the development of Aerodynamics of LHVs as well as the development of the e-dolly.
One of Van Eck’s key focuses is the aerodynamic structures of the LHV. Carrying over from Van Eck’s work on European Commission backed Transformers project, the design of the vehicle is optimised for the best aerodynamic performance and different new aerodynamic designs are tested in wind tunnels, promising a high success.
Furthermore, Van Eck is working on the EMS-2 vehicle within the AEROFLEX project. For this design, an e-Dolly is needed to recuperate the energy. Due to the big turning circles of the very long EMS-2 vehicles, Van Eck equips e-Dollys with a smart steering to keep EMS-2 vehicles in the same turning circle standards as the LHVs.
The company is also developing a high productivity trailer combination which is the equivalent of a B-double, the Super Eco Combi.
While Van Eck produced its first LHV in 2004, uptake only gained momentum when the Netherlands allowed the use of LHV combinations in 2012. As a result, Van Eck has accumulated an extensive experience in the longer and heavier vehicle segment.
“It’s crucial to point out that each LHV is a unique challenge both for the manufacturer as well as the customer,” said Hans van Eck.
“Even though the benefits of a LHV combination is clear, especially in the long term, it requires a meticulous planning process to find the right LHV combination with the right product specifications to make the best out of the LHV concept.
“Taking into account requirements for a successful LHV fleet management, starting from highly qualified drivers and on-site personnel to route planning, as Van Eck we invest our engineering capabilities into the concept development to develop the right LHV for our customer’s specific challenge. Starting from the country specific regulations to the load itself that needs to be carried, we are able to develop and produce the right LHV combination with or without a dolly specific to our customer’s unique requirements.”
Consequently, Van Eck is able to offer 30 per cent cost reduction, sustainable transport by decreasing CO2 emissions with automated loading and unloading systems complete with occupational health and safety features.
“Van Eck has the vision to find new and sustainable solutions in modern road transport that is a result of the passion for high-quality and innovation and has the goal to provide the best possible solution to specific transport challenges with the best Total Cost of Ownership (TCO),” said Hans van Eck. “To achieve its targets, Van Eck will continue to work with its stakeholders and in this way; Van Eck will offer its customers the most innovative vehicles with the lowest TCO.”
Van Eck is the leading developer of aerodynamics systems and as a member of the international consortium in the EU Research Project, Transformers, Van Eck designed a load-optimised trailer that features an electric roof height adjuster, a load volume sensor and a double floor system.
If the maximum permissible mass of the trailer is reached without its volume being fully utilised, the roof can be lowered to reduce the aerodynamic drag.
The Transformer trailer that is the result of Project Transformers ‘transforms’ itself into the most optimal aerodynamic shape according to the height of the cargo that is transported. The Flex Floor is a very flexible double stock system and is a floor that can be lifted out of the bottom of the trailer when needed.
Van Eck’s work on the Transformers project also provided the basis for its development of Aerodynamics of the vehicles in the AEROFLEX project.
Delivering the best trailers by adapting to the needs of the customer
Van Eck has always listened to its customers and commits to research and development to find the best transport solutions.
“I think the development of the now industry standard twin deck sheds light on how as a company we work and the drive behind successful customer deliveries this year as well,” said Hans van Eck. “By listening to our customers and delivering the highest quality solutions to solve their challenges, we continue to deliver top of the line trailers. Hence during 2020, Van Eck strengthened the fleets of several leading companies such as Yamaha and KLG Europe, Dekker Chrysanten, Hugelshofer, and Georgi.”
KLG Europe invested in a series of special Van Eck Twin Deck trailers to accommodate the specific demands of Yamaha Motor Europe. Since 2003, Van Eck has developed twin deck trailers and now is the industry standard for twin deck.
Van Eck Twin Deck Trailers enables the operator to save on every kilometre while reducing the CO2 emissions with 60 per cent more loading capacity. Eckstreme series twin deck are available as box, refrigerated box, with two or three axles, with inner lift or movable platform to make best out of the available loading capacity.
Dekker Chrysanten also added B-Double LHV vehicles into its fleet. Van Eck’s B-Double LHV can carry a total of 42 pallets.
Van Eck also delivered a new Eckstreme twin deck trailer to Swiss logistics service provider Hugelshofer. With twin deck trailers, Hugelshofer reduces the number of trips and saves up to 30 per cent CO2 emissions.
German specialist in air freight, Georgi, has been a reliable business partner of Van Eck for years and recently added Mega Curtain Aero Engine Carrier and Mega Aero Engine Carrier into its fleet.
Van Eck vehicles are offered with the internal loading height of more than three metres. Thanks to the sliding roof option, Van Eck offers the possibility to raise the entire roof 60cm over its full length. Moreover, six roller conveyors have been concealed in the loading floor to quick and safe loading and unloading operations.
“Van Eck culture is rooted in listening very carefully to the customer to understand their most specific transport challenge and with our experience and expertise finding the solutions to the customers problems, and often building the trailer that has never been built before,” said Hans van Eck. “This is how evolution, innovation from bottom up in the road transport sector happens. As always, our customers always need more efficient trailers to reduce costs. What we called fuel savings in 1990s is now proven to be the goal of all our industry in our fight for sustainability and reduction of carbon emissions. We bring our field experience and engineering expertise to all the EU research projects to collectively lead the industry towards a more sustainable future.”
What it takes to provide a solid customer experience
Early last year, Van Eck expanded its aftersales network – adding 99 new service points from 13 countries to sustain the continuity of customers’ operations.
Van Eck serves customers from the Netherlands and from all European countries whose operations are EU wide.
“As Van Eck, listening to our customers to address their transport challenges includes top service assistance as well,” said Hans van Eck.
“In this context, we have made an agreement with 99 new service points from 13 different countries to assist our customers directly with service and maintenance issues they may face. Regular training and evaluations are being carried out as part of upkeep of our network as we constantly improve the competencies of these new service points to offer the service quality parallel to the highest quality of the Van Eck trailers.
“Van Eck’s Beesd location home to Van Eck manufacturer’s service is also our main service point. Our experienced service team provides maintenance and repair, planned maintenance service, and spray painting and advertising. Expert damage repair as well Van Eck vehicle changeover projects produces results that are akin to having a brand new Van Eck vehicle. Acting as our main spare parts warehouse, all needs are also coordinated from Beesd.”
Van Eck values the expectations of its customers, provides special and non-stop services to them and steadily improves its aftersales services. In this context, recently Randy van Venrooy, joined Van Eck as Aftersales and Service Manager.
“We believe that Randy’s deep technical know-how and extensive experience in the sector, as well as his customer-centric approach will be appreciated by our customers,” said Hans van Eck.
In 2020, Van Eck invested in a new website for easier communication with the most up to date information. As part of this effort, the company added a ‘Find Service Point’ page that includes all the points that are now in service of Van Eck customers. Access via desktop for planning or on mobile for assistance new features includes route directions for ease of use.
“As Van Eck, we have a strong tradition of innovative logistics solutions and we will continue our operations with full motivation,” said Hans van Eck. “As of April 2019, I continue to support and oversee Van Eck as a Board Member and I’m sure that in 2021, we will continue to listen very carefully to our customers to understand their transport challenges in order to find the best trailer to suit their needs and offer advanced after-sales services to them.”