The first Actros trucks to be fitted with a new offroad version of the acclaimed Mercedes PowerShift 2 automated transmission have been drafted onto a major waste management and recycling initiative on Merseyside.
Veolia Environmental Services ordered the fleet of Actros after winning a prestigious, £640-million contract from Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority which, working as part of the Merseyside and Halton Waste Partnership, is responsible for the disposal and recycling of the region’s municipal waste.
Under the 20-year contract, Veolia is operating a network of 16 Household Recycling Centres as well as a pioneering Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) at Bidston, Wirral – Veolia will also deliver a new £16-million flagship MRF and Visitor Centre at Gillmoss, Liverpool.
Supplied by Warrington dealer Enza, the new Mercedes line-up comprises 22 double-drive Actros 2644S tractor units and 13 8×4 Actros 3236K rigids. They are being used to transport waste and recyclables within the region’s infrastructure network.
The tractors, 12 of which have yet to enter service, have hub reduction axles and are on full steel suspension. The rigids, meanwhile, are fitted with Hyva hook loading gear and work with high capacity containers.
Power from the trucks’ low emission BlueTec® Euro 5 engines is transferred via the new, offroad version of the smooth and fuel-efficient 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift gearbox.
Actros last year became the first truck range to be equipped with an automated transmission as standard but this applies only to distribution models; on 6×4 tractors, and 6×4 and 8×4 rigids, the ruggedly reliable Mercedes PowerShift offroad is offered as an optional alternative to the standard 16-speed manual range change gearbox with splitter.
The first automated transmission to be purpose-designed by Mercedes-Benz for construction and associated applications, the new system makes very fast gearchanges to minimise tractive force interruptions. Not only does this prevent the vehicle from becoming bogged down or losing speed on inclines, it also protects the clutch and drivetrain.
Veolia Environmental Services is the UK’s leading recycling and waste management company and operates around 6,000 trucks. Mercedes-Benz currently accounts for some 30 per cent of the fleet but, as Fleet Director Rob Stubbs confirms: "The majority of trucks we now buy are Mercedes."
Veolia played a key role in the development of the low-entry Mercedes Econic chassis and now operates nearly 500, most of which are used for domestic refuse collections. But the company also has long experience of operating other models from the Mercedes-Benz range.
Says Mr Stubbs: "The Actros is an impressive performer, 6×4 and 8×4 units having proved durable enough to cope admirably with the demands of landfill sites and other rough terrain.
"So the new gearbox only serves to further enhance what was already a first class product. By preventing over-revving it puts even less stress on the driveline, while the system also promises improved fuel consumption and will thereby help us to further reduce our carbon footprint, a key target both for our business and for our customers."
When driving off under heavy load or in particularly slippery conditions, whether forwards or backwards, Mercedes PowerShift offroad makes the maximum torque available from as low as 1,100rpm.
A tilt sensor helps to ensure the new transmission always finds the right gear, while Power Offroad, Rock-Free and Manoeuvring modes are all designed to improve performance and enhance traction in arduous conditions.
Mr Stubbs adds: "Enza’s Truck Sales Manager Clive Wainwright understands our requirements and together with his colleagues provides a very good service. It’s an excellent relationship."