So impressed was Wester Ross Fisheries with it first 7.5-tonne FUSO Canter that when the time came to stand the vehicle down it was always going to choose a like-for-like replacement.
Key to the Canter’s appeal for the oldest independent salmon farmer in Scotland are its market-leading payload, and the strength and durability which make it ideally suited to operation in the wild, rugged and remote north-west Highlands.
Ullapool-based Wester Ross Fisheries operates three seawater sites in Loch Kannaird, Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom, as well as a freshwater smolt production unit at Elphin, in Sutherland, a processing unit in Dingwall and a sales and administration office at Auldearn.
The company bought its first Canter in 2009. Five years on, its replacement has just arrived via Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles Aberdeen – the German manufacturer’s UK dealer network is also responsible for sales and support of popular FUSO light trucks.
The new vehicle is a range-topping Canter 7C18 model and powered by a clean, efficient 175 hp engine which drives through a DUONIC gearbox. The first twin-plate, dual-clutch automated transmission to be fitted to a light truck, DUONIC provides smooth shifting and economical performance with none of the frictional losses found in traditional automatic gearboxes.
The Canter is fitted with a 20ft alloy platform body by JWR Coachworks, of Airdrie, which is part of the same group as the dealer. It will be serviced under a five-year Repair and Maintenance Contract at Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles’ workshop in Nairn.
Wester Ross Fisheries began trading in 1977 and following the founders’ retirements is now owned by four of its original employees, Gilpin Bradley, Colin Milne, Hugh Richards and David Robinson.
The farm takes pride in the fact that from the fry stage through to harvesting its salmon are hand reared – so machines or cameras are not used to check how the fish are doing – and on its meticulous care of the environment.
Its new Canter is a general-purpose vehicle and undertakes a wide variety of tasks, such as moving pens and other materials between sites, all of which are within an hour’s drive of each other, collecting ice used when harvesting, and transporting fish for primary processing.
"We switched to our first Canter because it offered a significantly higher carrying capacity than our previous vehicles," says Managing Director Gilpin Bradley.
"This remains our most important consideration and with its lightweight body our new truck has a payload of 4,085 kg, which is as good as it gets for a 7.5-tonner.
"We specified the higher output engine on this occasion because there are a lot of hills in this part of the world and we didn’t want the vehicle to be working too hard. Our last Canter was exceptionally reliable and I’m confident the same will be true of its successor."
Soaring demand for farmed salmon as a healthy, ‘super food’ alternative to beef means that business is good for Wester Ross Fisheries. "We’re already eating more farmed than sea-caught fish and the gap between the two is only going to increase," says Mr Bradley. "Meantime, at 66 million tonnes last year, worldwide production of farmed fish has now exceeded that of beef (63 million tonnes) for the first time."