The first vehicles to wear the smart new livery of packaging giant DS Smith are a fleet of 17 premium specification Mercedes-Benz Actros MegaSpace tractor units.
Replacements for a previous batch of Actros Long Distance units, they are based at DS Smith’s Kemsley Paper Mill in Sittingbourne.
The new vehicles are the subject of a three-year contract hire deal with Gullivers Truck Hire, under which each will cover nearly 210,000km per year, and arrived via local Mercedes-Benz dealer Sparshatts of Kent.
They are now being used to deliver recycled packaging products to third-party customers and to other DS Smith operations nationwide, returning with full loads of used cardboard from the leading supermarkets.
"These trucks are double-shifted and will be worked very hard," confirmed the operator’s Fleet Services Manager Mark Abbey. "Empty mileage is very low, our average unit loadings of around 26 tonnes equating to 42 tonnes gross. We wouldn’t ask a boy to do a man’s job and that’s why we choose the Mercedes-Benz Actros – we know it’s up to the task."
That confidence stems from DS Smith’s experience over the last five years, of running its previous fleet of Actros units. "Those vehicles had clocked-up more than one million kilometres apiece by the time we stood them down," continued Mr Abbey, "and had proved to be highly reliable, as well as fuel-efficient and popular with our drivers."
Explaining the decision to ‘upgrade’ from the Long Distance sleeper cabs it specified previously, to the range-topping, flat-floored MegaSpace cab, Mr Abbey said: "We have recently rebranded the business and these fantastic looking trucks and their new trailers have given us an enhanced visual presence on the road, which is certainly impressing our customers."
DS Smith’s latest Actros are fitted with safety cameras and telematics systems that provide GPS tracking and driver performance data. Sparshatts has also delivered a programme of instruction to the operator’s driver-trainer, with the aim of helping it to achieve the best possible mpg returns from the trucks’ 460hp Euro 5 engines.
It is the first time that DS Smith has worked with Gullivers and Mr Abbey has high hopes for the new partnership. "We researched the market carefully and spoke to several other companies that use Gullivers," he said. "It is clearly very highly thought of, not only for its ability to provide the right equipment at the right price, but also for its very high service levels.
"Meanwhile, as well as being very conveniently located for us, Sparshatts has an excellent reputation and a proven track record of maintaining our vehicles to a very high standard, from which we derive great comfort and peace of mind."
Barry Fulls, National Business Development Manager for Gullivers Truck Hire, added: "We pride ourselves on the ‘added value’ services we offer our customers and are delighted to be working in partnership with both DS Smith and Sparshatts of Kent."