Refrigerated bodybuilder Paneltex has handed over its 1000th bodied refrigerated vehicle to leading retailer Iceland Foods, at a special handover ceremony held in Deeside.
The 1000th vehicle was a Mercedes Sprinter 314 CDI and was presented to Iceland’s Commercial Vehicle Fleet Manager Alex McKinlay jointly by Paneltex Group Sales Director Dave Evenett and Mercedes Benz Vans UK Managing Director Steve Bridge. All 1000 Paneltex refrigerated bodies have been fitted onto a combination of Mercedes Sprinter panel vans and chassis cabs over the last four years, with the relationship originally starting back in 2007.
In 2016, Iceland Foods and Paneltex were winners of the ‘Refrigerated Panel Van of the Year’ Award at the TCS&D Awards, scooping this award for these innovative dual temperature refrigerated panel vans that were developed specifically for Iceland’s home delivery operation.
Commenting on the milestone achievement with Paneltex, Alex McKinlay from Iceland Foods said, “We originally began our free home delivery as long ago as 1996 and as such we have been very much pioneers in the sector. This success with home delivery operations led to the need for higher capacity vehicles, which also provided excellent temperature controlled, combined with a best in class driving experience. Following extensive trials of new vehicle prototype, our relationship with Paneltex blossomed and they began building refrigerated vehicles for us in significant volumes from 2012 onwards.”
The largest proportion of the fleet is made up of dual temperature 3.5 tonne Mercedes Sprinter panel vans supplied through Mercedes Benz’s Deeside dealer Roanza Truck & Van. The Paneltex refrigerated van conversions are fitted with Alex Original refrigeration, supplied and maintained by fleet management specialists VMS, providing deep frozen temperatures within the front compartment, accessed by a freezer sliding door, and a large chilled compartment at the rear. Lightweight racking allows Iceland tote boxes to be slid easily and quickly into position and retained automatically.
Paneltex has also supplied Iceland Foods with larger home delivery vehicles, based on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis cabs, equipped with Paneltex insulated dual compartment bodies. These have a larger capacity than the panel vans and are used by Iceland where demand and routing makes them more attractive.
At the Paneltex factory in Hull, there is a dedicated refrigerated van conversion line for Iceland, which is fed with components from various other departments within the company. This allows all the vehicles to be converted and taken to PDI stage in a single location.
The Paneltex conversion involves the manufacture of moulded GRP door systems and refrigeration housings, including the patented Paneltex Somers Direct Air refrigeration cover system. Paneltex manufactures and fits the vacuum bonded insulated panels and laminating, as well as the manufacture of aluminium racking modules, assembly and installation operations.
“Iceland Foods has a fantastic company culture, which embraces the idea of close partnerships with suppliers to support its activities. Paneltex was set the objective of delivering a product that would match the Mercedes base vehicle, with high technical performance at the lowest possible whole life cost and to do it both consistently and reliably, “ said Chris Berridge, Managing Director, Paneltex, “Because of the commitment Iceland has given to Paneltex over the years, we have been able to invest both in designing a product to Iceland specific requirements as well as investing in an efficient production line to build the bodies. Iceland Foods has high expectations and over the time of this partnership, we have built a customer/supplier relationship that has genuinely added value to both businesses.”
Iceland’s long established and highly successful home shopping service services over 200,000 customers every week from a network of over 800 stores nationwide.