One of the UK’s largest plant, tool and equipment hire specialists has commissioned its first Mercedes-Benz Vans after identifying a new opportunity to extend its service to customers.
Latest additions to the A-Plant rental fleet are 10 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 313 CDIs, which were supplied by North-West Dealer Roanza and converted by Oughtred & Harrison, of Goole, Humberside, for operation as welfare vehicles. A-Plant has a further 20, identical units on order.
It has also purchased six more Sprinter 313 CDIs – three panel vans and three chassis cabs with dropside bodies by Preston-based Fosters Commercials. Most of these vehicles are assigned to its A-Plant Lux Traffic Control & Management division, the UK’s market leader for portable traffic signals, although one of the dropsiders wears the livery of Eve, which supplies temporary roadways, walkways and other access systems.
Part of Ashtead Group plc, the world’s second-largest equipment rental company, A-Plant has over 130 Service Centres throughout the UK. It is the first time that welfare vans have featured within its vast portfolio of non-operated equipment, which ranges from accommodation units, cement mixers and compressors, to excavators, power tools and scissor lifts.
The new vehicles are designed to serve as refuges in which site operatives, many of whom may be working in remote areas, far away from any recognised amenities, can take breaks.
Safety was a priority for A-Plant when specifying its welfare vans. The Sprinter comes as standard with a comprehensive armoury of active and passive safety systems, and the Medium-length, high-roofed 313 CDIs are additionally fitted with high-visibility reflective strips and roof-mounted beacons front and rear, reversing cameras, and battery guards to ensure against any power loss – extra batteries have been installed to run the ancillaries.
Interior fixtures include five seats with three-point belts, a table, a galley with microwave oven and water heated by an on-board boiler, a section for drying wet clothing and an electric flush toilet, as well as an independent heating system.
Weight limits mean most 3.5-tonne welfare vans can only travel with four personnel in the rear section, in addition to the three in front. However, the front axle on each Sprinter was uprated at the Mercedes-Benz factory, allowing them to carry five at the back, so eight in total.
The welfare vehicles will be available for spot hire and longer-term rental and as A-Plant’s District Sales Director Jason McNally explained, demand is likely to be high. “We already have confirmed orders for every one of these new vehicles, and the feedback we’ve had from the first customers has been very positive.
“A lot of operators drive onto our yards in these vehicles and we thought, ‘Why can’t we provide the welfare facilities ourselves?’ By adding this extra string to its bow, A-Plant is once again demonstrating its flexibility and commitment to customer service.”
He continued: “We asked a lot of users which chassis they preferred, and received the same answer every time: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. It’s a top-quality vehicle that promises a highly competitive cost of ownership.”
Shaun Winstanley, A-Plant’s Director of Transport Services, is responsible for some 850 vans, as well as 300 trucks and 350 cars. He said: “We’ll be benchmarking these new Mercedes-Benz Sprinters against our established supplier’s vehicles, and the after sales back-up will be crucial.”
A-Plant’s Sprinters are the subjects of Mercedes-Benz Complete Care Service Contracts, and covered by the manufacturer’s Service24h emergency roadside assistance programme.
“All vehicles, no matter how good they are, will go wrong from time to time,” said Mr Winstanley,” so it’s how we’re looked after when this happens that will really count. We’re encouraged by the fact that Mercedes-Benz is a genuine commercial vehicle manufacturer, and understands that because these are specialist vehicles it’s essential that downtime be kept to an absolute minimum.”