NS Clarke Transport is recording fuel savings worth up to half a mile per gallon from some of its first Mercedes-Benz New Actros tractor units, among them a Euro 6 model.
But the Staffordshire bulk haulier wouldn’t be running them at all, were it not for the exceptional service it receives from Midlands Truck & Van, which keeps its trucks on the road under three-year Mercedes-Benz repair and maintenance contracts.
Managing Director Shaun Clarke explains: "The dealer’s Wolverhampton depot is about 16 miles from our base in Lichfield, and much of that journey is on congested roads. So when we bought our first five Mercedes-Benz trucks in 2009, it was on condition that they provide a collection and delivery service for routine maintenance and inspections. The deal would never have happened without that commitment."
In fact, not only does Midlands Truck & Van collect and deliver NS Clarke’s vehicles, it also sends mobile technicians to the operator’s yard most weekends to undertake a range of tasks, thus keeping downtime to a minimum.
Says Mr Clarke: "Some weeks we’ll have 15 pieces of equipment going over to the workshop, while the fact that they’ll also come over here on a Saturday or Sunday is very convenient. Dealers rarely get praised but Midlands Truck & Van work very hard and do an excellent job."
Underlining the success of the relationship, four years on from that first order, 33 of NS Clarke’s 51 tractor units now wear three-pointed stars, as do nine of its 15 rigids at 7.5 and 18 tonnes gvw. The operator also uses eight refrigerated Sprinter vans for urgent and temperature-controlled deliveries.
NS Clarke is celebrating its 30th anniversary – Mr Clarke was just 23 and his wife Janet 22 when they founded their business in 1983 with a single truck. Today, with sons Russell and David also on board, they provide UK and Continental bulk haulage of a wide range of commodities, as well as associated transport services, to an impressive customer base.
Latest additions to the fleet include eight 44-tonne New Actros BigSpace tractor units, among them a 2548 model with 480 hp Euro 6 engine. There are also two 450 hp 2545s, while the rest are 510 hp 2551s.
"The 450 hp units are between .2 and .3 of a gallon ahead of the 460 hp units from the current Actros range, which we’ve been running," reports Mr Clarke. "They’re ok for curtainside work but for the bulk tipping industry they’re a bit underpowered.
"The 510s and the Euro 6 480, on the other hand, are a full half a mile per gallon better, which represents a very welcome saving. Looking ahead, we reckon the Euro 6 version will be perfect for our operation."
Adds Mr Clarke: "Our trucks have to perform, of course, and the New Actros are certainly doing that, which explains why we intend to buy another 16 before March. But so, too, do the dealer and, indeed, the manufacturer. It’s all about the complete package, and that’s what we get from Mercedes-Benz."
Gary Banks, Workshop Controller at Midlands Truck & Van’s Wolverhampton dealership, says: "We appreciate how important it is to our customers that we keep their vehicles on the road and earning, and will do whatever it takes to achieve that end."