Norfolk residents are now benefiting from improved waste and recycling, street cleansing and grounds maintenance services following the introduction of a new fleet of Mercedes-Benz and Fuso trucks.
The vehicles have been drafted in by Kier Street Services, which has just begun work on the first of two jointly procured contracts together worth £68 million over eight years.
Dealer Sparshatts of Kent has supplied an initial batch of 16 26-tonne Mercedes-Benz Econic 2629 low-entry refuse vehicles, an 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz Axor 1824 and 15 Fuso Canters – eight 3.5-tonne 3C13 models and seven 7.5-tonne 7C15s – for operation on behalf of North Norfolk District Council (NNDC).
The 6×4 Econics are fitted with Faun Variopress compactors and the Axor has a Link Tip top loader body. Most of the Canters have caged tipping bodies by Specialized Group, the only exceptions being a couple of the 7.5-tonners which are equipped with Farid compactors and used to access restricted areas the Econics cannot reach.
Kier Street Services begins work on the second contract, which is with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (BCKLWN) and covers waste and recycling collections, in April 2013.
The cross-boundary arrangement – which comes with the possibility of a further, eight-year extension – is designed to deliver the most efficient service possible for more than 240,000 residents living across a 2,500sq km, distinctly rural swathe of the county that takes in much of The Broads as well as the towns of Cromer, Downham Market, Hunstanton, Fakenham, King’s Lynn and North Walsham.
Later this year Sparshatts will deliver a second batch of trucks to Kier Street Services, which will be put to work on a contract with East Northamptonshire Council. This order comprises seven more Econics, one an 18-tonner, to be fitted with Faun bodies with side-loading food pods, and a further five Canters.
Kier Street Services has headquarters in Basingstoke and provides a range of environmental services to a fast-growing portfolio of clients that includes local authorities, government agencies and private industry.
It has not previously operated Mercedes-Benz or Fuso vehicles and, as Business Development Director Mark Hogan confirmed, the decision to place its latest orders with Sparshatts of Kent was only taken after a detailed tender and evaluation process.
"We held various meetings and conducted an in-depth study that focused on everything from operational suitability, fuel efficiency and environmental compatibility, to maintenance costs and residual values. The Mercedes-Benz Econic and Fuso Canter emerged as the most appropriate chassis for these contracts.
"The Econic is the perfect platform for Faun’s 22m³ body and its low-entry, air-conditioned cab has been well received by the crews working in North Norfolk. In addition to its low-emission Euro 5 engine, the Mercedes also runs on full air suspension which makes it exceptionally quiet in operation, a significant advantage when working in built-up neighbourhoods."
As well as undertaking kerbside collections the Econics are used to ferry dry recyclables to a Kier facility at Aylsham, and tip on a landfill site at Edgefield, where their double-drive capability ensures that traction is always available and the option to raise the vehicle’s ride height means chassis damage is not an issue.
The 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz Axor has a split body and collects glass from bring sites, while the cage-bodied Canters are assigned to general street cleansing and grounds maintenance duties – two have tail-lifts and are used to pick up relatively bulky items, including those dumped by fly tippers.
Mr Hogan continued: "Our Canters are powered by clean, ‘green’ Euro 5 engines and offer the strength and durability we require. We like the fact that whereas most 3.5-tonners are van-based the Canter at this gross weight is built like a small truck, while the 7.5-tonne Canter combines a compact ‘footprint’ with a very high payload and an excellent towing capacity, which makes it a great all-rounder and ideally suited to the role."
He added: "Having ‘knocked on our door’ for some time now, Sparshatts’ truck sales executive Keith Baker has proved to be very professional and flexible. We are keen to work with our supply chain to introduce new technology and innovation, and add value for our customers. Sparshatts have demonstrated their shared enthusiasm for this approach from the outset."
Kier Street Services is a division of Kier Group, a leading construction, development and service group that employs 11,000 people worldwide and has an annual revenue of £2.1 billion.