So delighted was MJ Church with its first Mercedes-Benz Arocs eight-wheelers that a year after they entered service it has just commissioned a pair of 80-tonne tractor units from the same, muscular model range.
One of the biggest civil engineering, earthworks and waste management contractors in the South-West, MJ Church is based at Marshfield, near Chippenham, Wiltshire. Its new heavy-haulers were supplied, like their 32-tonne predecessors, by Avonmouth Dealer City West Commercials.
The operator has traditionally favoured another truck brand. The Arocs, which were purpose-designed for construction-related applications, are its first Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
The 6×4 tractors have flat-floored StreamSpace cabs and are now being used primarily to transport diggers, excavators and other heavy plant between sites and rental customers on new, four-axle King low-loader trailers.
Both are 2651 models with advanced, 380 kW (517 hp) six-cylinder engines mated to 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmissions. Features include optional high performance, three-stage auxiliary brakes which reduce wear on the service brakes while also enhancing safety and control.
MJ Church introduced its first 8×4 Arocs 3240s in the spring of 2015, following successful trials of a demonstration unit. It is now running eight with steel Charlton tipping bodies and, in two cases, Palfinger Epsilon grabs, which are all on muckaway work, as well as a pair of Hyva hook-loaders based on the same chassis.
Established in 1974, family-owned MJ Church also offers a comprehensive portfolio of services that complement its core contracting activities. These include transport solutions, plant, skip and tipper hire, and waste management and recycling.
“The driver feedback on the new Arocs tractors has been really good and very positive,” confirmed Transport Manager Karl Wintle. “They’re impressed with the engine and gearbox, particularly in terms of low-speed manoeuvrability, while the cab – although slightly smaller than they’ve been used to – has also won praise as a spacious, well-designed workplace.”
City West Commercials’ driver-trainer Justyn Marshman delivered a programme of instruction on the 80-tonne units. “I spoke afterwards to one of our drivers, who I’d describe as quite ‘old school’,” recalled Mr Wintle. “He couldn’t rate Justin highly enough. This is because he wasn’t being told how to drive; rather, he was shown what the vehicle’s capable of and how he could make life easier for himself.
“So, for example, this particular individual would never use the engine retarder on his previous vehicle, but he’s certainly doing so with this one. He’s also driving in a more predictive manner, anticipating rather than reacting to changes in road conditions.
“This means less fatigue for him, which is also better and safer for other road users. And as a fleet operator I’m happy too, because I know there’s going to be less wear and tear on the vehicle.”
Eight-wheelers form the backbone of MJ Church’s 80-strong truck fleet and with their combination of driver appeal, fuel efficiency and all-round usability, the Arocs tippers and hook-loaders have been a big hit.
“The drivers who use these Mercedes-Benz vehicles definitely rate them over our other truck marques in terms of ride comfort,” continued Mr Wintle. “The Arocs are also well ahead in terms of economy – at 9.2 mpg, their average returns are a mile and half better than the competition, which is brilliant.
“City West have been excellent too,” he added. “The Dealer has delivered on all of its promises and is providing a first class after sales service.”