A “remarkable” improvement in fuel efficiency from its first four units, coupled with the achievement of a key payload target, persuaded Hopkins Concrete to place the UK’s biggest single order yet for trucks from the new Mercedes-Benz Arocs construction range.
Crucial, too, was the customer-focused, five-year Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contract from supplying Dealer City West Commercials.
Somerset-based Hopkins Concrete supplies readymix concrete and aggregates, and provides muckaway and concrete pumping services, throughout the South-West. Its landmark order is for 50 vehicles, the majority of them 8×4 rigids with S day cabs and 290 kW (394 hp) Euro VI engines.
Of these, 25 will be Arocs 3240B models with lightweight Hymix mixer drums, and 20 will be 3240K tipper chassis fitted with steel muckaway bodies by Abba Commercials. The remaining five vehicles will be Arocs 2545 tractor units with StreamSpace cabs, 330 kW (449 hp) engines and mid-lift axles.
Hopkins Concrete operates from headquarters in Wincanton, where it has invested heavily over recent years in modern batching and mixing facilities, and a second depot in Bridgwater. The company, which reports big increases in demand as the construction industry recovery gathers pace, runs a fleet of 60 trucks, most of which will be stood down to make way for the new Arocs.
Among those to be retained are its first Mercedes-Benz vehicles, four Arocs 2645 StreamSpace tractors with tag axles, which entered service in June. These trucks pull a variety of trailers, including concrete mixers, bulk tippers and flat beds, and have been on harvesting as well as construction duties over the summer – the family-owned Hopkins group also farms some 3,500 acres, and has used the Arocs to transport grain.
Operations Manager Ben Legg said the impressive fuel efficiency of these first four vehicles was key to the company’s decision to order another 50. “We’ve seen a remarkable improvement in economy from the Arocs,” he confirmed. “In some cases they’re as much as a mile and a half per gallon ahead of our established vehicles.
“The nature of our work – we don’t have the luxury of motorway trunking and we spend a lot of time on hills and country lanes – means we’re never going to achieve the highest fuel figures. But the Arocs are typically returning 8 mpg and sometimes a little more, on runs where previously we’ve been getting 6.5-7 mpg.
“An improvement of that magnitude, if replicated across the entire fleet, is worth a lot of money to the business. What’s more, our new Mercedes-Benz vehicles are not even fully run in yet; we should start to see the optimum fuel performance once they have 30-40,000 miles on their clocks.”
Also important to Hopkins Concrete was the highly competitive body and payload allowance of the 8×4 Arocs mixer chassis. “Weight has become a major issue in the concrete industry, because as a result of Euro VI, trucks have inevitably become heavier,” continued Mr Legg. “But City West have demonstrated that with a bit of fine-tuning to the chassis, and with Hymix’s lightweight bodies, we’ll still be able to carry our standard, 8m3 load of concrete.”
He added: “The Mercedes-Benz team have been very professional and positive throughout the negotiations over our fleet renewal programme. City West will be inspecting and servicing our new trucks during the evenings, so they are always available for work when we need them.”
Hopkins Concrete began trading more than 30 years ago. Initially, it produced concrete solely for the group’s own development work, but it quickly became apparent that there was a big opportunity to sell its services to local builders and others. It is now a major supplier to the construction industry in the South-West.