One of Europe’s leading flooring underlay manufacturers is running its first Euro VI truck, a 6×2 Mercedes-Benz New Actros 2545 tractor unit commissioned following a comprehensive trial involving products from two other manufacturers
The new arrival wears the livery of Corby-based Ball & Young, which is part of the Vita Group. Sister company Vitafoam, a specialist producer of polyurethane foams for the furniture and bedding industry, of Middleton in Manchester, purchased its first nine Mercedes-Benz trucks – all 4×2 New Actros 1842 tractors – late last year.
Vita Group acquired all 10 trucks with funding support from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. Supplied by city Dealer Enza, they have narrow, 2.3m-wide versions of the wind-cheating StreamSpace cab and state-of-the-art straight-six engines – Ball & Young’s Euro VI vehicle produces 330 kW (449 hp) while Vitafoam’s Euro V units have 310 kW (421 hp) outputs.
The comparison exercise was led by Vita Group Transport Manager Dave Leigh, who oversees the Vitafoam fleet of 35 trucks – most are tractors, although the line-up includes half a dozen 7.5-tonners. Ball & Young runs nine vehicles.
Mr Leigh recalls: "We invited four manufacturers to submit demonstration units for trial, although one failed to respond so we ended up with three.
"Our 4×2 tractors are plated for operation at 28 tonnes gcw but as they’re transporting block polyurethane foam, a light yet bulky material, we don’t get anywhere near that. Fully loaded our trailers only weigh about 6.5 tonnes. They are 16 ft high, though, which means the main issue is drag.
"We ran each vehicle for a week at a time and used the same drivers on the same runs, so we could get a genuine mpg reading. The New Actros returned the best fuel figure of 10.68 mpg, while the latest model from our established supplier came back at under 10."
Not that fuel economy was the only criteria on which the Vita Group based its purchase decision. Mr Leigh continues: "We set up a matrix and considered everything from finance rates and driver comfort, to service and parts availability, and even image.
"Mercedes-Benz came out well on top. We visited the European Logistics Centre at Mercedes-Benz UK’s headquarters in Milton Keynes, and our Fleet Engineer Chris Colleavy, who played a key role in the decision-making process, has been out to the factory in Germany as well.
"Our drivers have undergone Mercedes-Benz training and love their New Actros, which look great on the road. Enza, meanwhile, is now managing an imprest stock of parts at our own workshop."
He adds: "From day one Mercedes-Benz has outshone the other manufacturers we approached in terms of its responsiveness and professionalism – the support we’ve had from its Business Development Manager Brent Manning and Enza’s Truck Sales Executive Dave Lee in particular, has been fantastic."
Formed more than 60 years ago, Vita Group now operates from 44 sites in 14 countries and supplies a vast range of materials for applications including transportation, general industry, construction, furniture, bedding and packaging.