Northern Ireland’s Surefreight only needed a couple of new tractor units, but so compelling was the acquisition and aftersales package on offer from its local Mercedes-Benz Dealer that it came away having signed an order for 10!
The company’s latest Actros GigaSpace tractor units are now working from its headquarters in Newry, and a depot near the port of Heysham, Lancashire. They are being inspected and maintained by MBNI Truck & Van under a bespoke agreement which adds a third year to the two-year Service Contract that comes free-of-charge with all Actros, as well as five-year ExtendPlus warranties.
Revolutionary Mercedes-Benz Uptime maintenance technology employs an array of sensors that monitor the condition of each vehicle constantly, As a result, MBNI Truck & Van’s Service team know precisely what is required before the truck reaches the workshop, so can order parts in advance while allocating sufficient time during a single visit to complete all tasks.
The manufacturer’s industry-leading Zero Tolerance on Downtime commitment, meanwhile, gives Surefreight the peace of mind which comes from knowing that if one of its trucks is not back on the road within 24 hours of a breakdown it will be entitled to a free replacement vehicle (or the financial equivalent).
Surefreight, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year, provides road, sea and air freight services, as well as distribution and warehousing. The introduction of another 10 tractor units means that 42 of the trucks on its 170-strong fleet now wear three-pointed stars.
The Actros feature advanced, straight-six engine technology. However, Surefreight selected three outputs to reflect the fact that they have been assigned to various roles. Two are 2463 models with range-topping 460 kW (625 hp) versions of the 15.6-litre OM 473 LA, which generates 3,000 Nm of torque. Another pair are 2458s, with 425 kW (578 hp) variants of the same engine. The remaining six are 2445s, and powered by the 12.8-litre OM 471 LA in 330 kW (449 hp) trim.
Like most of Surefreight’s tractors, the midlift axles on its latest 6×2 units are fitted with smaller wheels – those on the Actros have 17.5-inch diameters, compared to the 22.5 inches of a standard set-up.
This layout is commonly favoured by payload-conscious operators attracted by the smaller wheels’ 300 kg weight saving. For Surefreight however, the motivation is different. “We rarely reach maximum weight so a small increase in carrying capacity is of no great advantage,” explained Vincent Waddell, who founded the business with co-Director Brian McManus in 1989.
“The main benefit to us is the extra space freed up on the chassis, which means we can fit larger fuel tanks on the passenger side. Each Actros can carry 700 litres of fuel, as opposed to the 450 litres of a standard 6×2, which significantly reduces the number of times they need to stop and fill up.”
Mr Waddell continued: “The fact that the wheels on the midlift have a narrower track than the front and rear axles also allows us to fit side skirts, which conceal them. As well as contributing to their smart, clean appearance, these help to improve the trucks’ aerodynamic profile.”
The Actros 2463s were chosen for a contract which entails transporting bagged peat and chipped bark to garden centres and builder’s merchants, as well as carrying bulk loads of raw peat from bogs in central Ireland for processing. The peat extraction sites can be up to two miles from the road, along unmade tracks, so the extra power can be a benefit in difficult conditions.
Equipped with hydraulics to power walking floor trailers, Surefreight’s 2458 units are working for a customer in the waste management industry. “Having plenty of horsepower on hand can also be a help when they occasionally have to get on and off landfill sites,” said Mr Waddell.
The six Actros 2445s, meanwhile, are based at Surefreight’s Heysham depot, where they are working alongside 20 other Actros tractors which have been providing reliable, cost-effective service since 2014. It operates other, similarly specified Actros from Bradford and Cardiff.
“We consider the 450 hp bracket to be the standard for a ‘fleet motor’,” Mr Waddell observed. “That’s especially so for work around mainland Britain. For trucks which spend a lot of their time on motorways, this rating offers the best combination of pulling power and economy.
“Irrespective of the engine, though, all of our Actros are exceptionally well appointed. The GigaSpace cab provides a great working environment for our drivers, while we’ve also enhanced the appearance of these latest Mercedes-Benz units with colour-coded grilles and Kelsa lightbars.
“Our experience over the last four years has shown the Actros to be well-built and extremely reliable. I’m confident, too, that the comprehensive aftersales package put together by MBNI Truck & Van will help to ensure highly competitive running costs.”