Potato haulier AB Texel UK has harvested a bumper crop of its own in the shape of five new Mercedes-Benz tractor units.
All are premium specification Actros 2446 Long Distance models with small-wheeled (17.5in) mid-lift axles that offer a weight saving of around 250kg compared to the standard, 22.5in version, and 550-litre fuel tanks in place of the usual 450-litre items.
Peterborough-based AB Texel UK runs 28 tractor units, all of which work at 44 tonnes gvw and are equipped with the latest real-time tracking, management and communication systems, allowing customers to benefit from precise updates on delivery schedules. This core fleet is supplemented with rented vehicles.
Its new Actros are the subject of a Mercedes-Benz Financial Services contract hire arrangement and arrived via city dealer Intercounty Truck & Van, which is also maintaining them.
They are the only vehicles on the AB Texel fleet to wear three-pointed stars. However, the operator recently stood down a batch of Mercedes-Benz Axors that had reached the end of their five-year lives, and its Dutch parent operates more than 200 tractors by the German manufacturer.
"The Actros came highly recommended by our colleagues in The Netherlands," confirmed AB Texel UK Managing Director David Eady. "Initial impressions of its comfort and driveability are extremely positive and the drivers are certainly happy, while the small mid-lifts have given us a very useful increase in payload. The trucks are still bedding in, of course, but we’re also encouraged by the early mpg returns."
AB Texel UK transports a wide variety of agricultural and other products, but potatoes account for most of its work – it transports some 400,000 tonnes a year. While its trucks do venture onto the Continent it is essentially a domestic operation, collecting produce from growers and delivering it to the factories, processing plants and storage facilities of ‘blue chip’ food companies.
The Actros pull bulk trailers with conveyor belts in the floors – the trailer is simply unhitched then plugged into the customer’s electricity supply so that unloading can take place, while the truck returns with one that has previously been emptied.
AB Texel UK will now be monitoring the performance and running costs of its new Mercedes-Benz units to see how they stack up against its other vehicles.
"We’re looking for a long-term relationship with a supplier who will work with us as part of a team, and have high hopes for these Actros and our new partnership with Intercounty Truck & Van," added Mr Eady.
"It took us probably seven months to decide what we were going to do vehicle-wise but the dealer, and particularly its truck sales executive Paul Hind, were very good – they didn’t hassle us but did exactly what we wanted, when we wanted it done."
AB Texel has been in business since 1925 and is now considered to be the largest and most successful potato transport specialist in Europe.