The latest addition to the Mercedes-Benz-dominated fleet Norris Waste Management offers a perfect compromise between the carrying capacity of an 18-tonner and the compact size and manoeuvrability of a 7.5-tonner.
Like all of the company’s Mercedes-Benz skip-loaders, its first 16-tonne Atego drives through an Autotrans automated transmission and arrived via reigning Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle Dealer of the Year Sparshatts of Kent.
Norris Waste Management is based in Orpington and serves customers throughout South London, North Kent and East Surrey. It supplies a wide range of aggregates, sands, soils and mulches, and recycles an outstanding 93 per cent of the waste arriving at its Materials Recovery Facility – recycled products offered by the company include crushed concrete, glass-derived sand, tarmac planings and shredded rubber.
The former Peter Norris Haulage was founded 40 years ago by the now retired father of current directors Peter and Kieron. Purchased in 2005, the operator’s first Mercedes-Benz truck was also Britain’s first Mercedes-Benz skip-loader with an automated transmission.
Today, 19 of Norris Waste Management’s 26 vehicles wear three-pointed stars. Most are 18-tonne Axor 1824s which have 240hp engines and are fitted, like the new Atego, with Hyva skip-loading equipment.
However, the line-up also includes:
·A 7.5-tonne Atego 816 skip-loader;
·An 18-tonne Axor 1833 skip-loader with more powerful 330hp engine, specified because this vehicle also carries a second skip on a close-coupled drawbar trailer, thus allowing the company to reduce its fuel costs and carbon footprint;
·Two 8×4 Actros 3244 hook-loaders;
·An 8×4 Axor 3240 tipper, and
·A 510hp 6×4 Actros 2651 tractor unit, which pulls an ejector trailer.
Peter Norris commented: "We work on the basis that anything we can do to make our drivers’ lives easier and safer is money well spent. So as well as automated gearboxes, which also protect drivelines from abuse and help to maximise fuel efficiency across the fleet, we specify air-conditioning and handbrakes that lock all four wheels rather than just those on the drive axle.
"The drivers love their Mercedes, while they’re also very cost-effective to operate, good on tyres and fuel-efficient, with hardly any downtime."
Sparshatts’ Norris Waste Management account is managed by Truck Sales Executive Kevin Haynes, who recently beat of the challenges of colleagues representing dealers nationwide to win Mercedes-Benz UK’s Top Truck Sales Masters award – Kevin also won the prize for Top Canter Sales Performance of the Year, while Sparshatts took the Top truck Sales Team title.
"Kevin is a very proactive salesman who is rigorous in his management of the build process and ensures the vehicle always arrives on time and exactly as ordered," said Mr Norris.
"With his help we’ve adapted the specifications of our Mercedes trucks as we’ve gone along. For example, we started fitting narrow mirror arms a while back, because they’re less vulnerable to damage than the standard items.
"We also delete the rear cab wall extension now, which means the loader can sit further up the chassis thus allowing us to reduce the overall length of the vehicle. As a result, while most 18-tonne skip-loaders are on 3.9-metre wheelbase chassis, we specify the 3.6-metre option. So our vehicles are more compact and manoeuvrable, but can still carry 14-16 yard skips."
Norris Waste Management’s Mercedes-Benz trucks are serviced under seven-year Repair and Maintenance Contracts by the workshop team at Sparshatts’ Dartford depot.
"There’s not a bad truck on the road these days and it’s the after sales back-up that really makes the difference," added Mr Norris. "A lot of manufacturers will only do six-year R&M deals so the fact that Mercedes-Benz can offer seven years says a lot for its faith in the product.
"Its R&M rates are also very competitive. Another make of truck might be cheaper at the front end but once I’ve factored in the maintenance costs over seven years the Mercedes will invariably be more attractively priced, sometimes by as much as £10,000."
Mr Norris also praised Gary Wilson, Manager of Sparshatts’ Dartford and Tunbridge Wells depots. "Gary is very responsive and provides a great service – he’s a real asset to the dealer," he said.