Northumberland County Council is getting the best possible value for taxpayers’ money with its latest batch of Mercedes-Benz and Fuso Canter trucks.
The two 26-tonne Mercedes-Benz Axor 2629s and five 7.5-tonne Canter 7C15s are equipped to carry out multiple roles, thus maximising their cost-efficiency.
Supplied by Newcastle dealer Bell Truck and Van, the Axors are fitted with demountable grit hoppers and spreaders by Ripon-based Econ Engineering, and can also work with snowplough blades.
They have joined the authority’s fleet of more than 30 gritters now doing battle with snow and ice to keep the county moving this winter.
The fact that the gritting equipment is demountable means that rather than stand idle in summer, the trucks can be pressed into service for other road maintenance duties. These chassis were specified for operation with liquid tar tanks and spraying systems for resurfacing the county’s roads with chippings.
Transport & Fleet Category Specialist Brian Jones said: "Traditional gritters have fixed bodies and only work when the roads need salting – they are simply parked for the rest of the year. It’s the same with road surfacing vehicles, which tend to be unused during the winter. These new Axors give us the best of both worlds and can work all year round."
The Canters were also supplied by Bell – the popular Fuso light truck range is sold and supported by Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealers in the UK – and are also kitted out for a variety of tasks. Each has a cage tipper body with a side-mounted bin lift and a rear tail lift, fitted by Euro Truck Bodies, of Durham.
These tough little trucks are now being used to pick up bins from households where access is tight, and which larger refuse vehicles cannot reach. They can also collect loose litter from roadside bins, and remove large, heavy or bulky domestic items such as old freezers or washing machines, which can be hoisted into the cargo area safely and easily via their tail-lifts.
"The Canters can also fulfil a variety of roles," Mr Jones said. "It’s all about getting the best possible deal for our Council Tax payers, increasing efficiency, and carrying out our work with the minimum number of vehicles."
He continued: "We chose the Mercedes-Benz chassis as their toughness and reliability in a demanding emergency role is second-to-none. We run a lot of Mercedes-Benz trucks in our winter fleet and they perform extremely well.
"The Canter 7.5-tonners are very well suited to the range of tasks we demand of them too. The vehicle’s compact exterior dimensions make it ideally suited to work in areas with access problems, while it also offers an exceptionally high payload capacity – even with the body and lifting equipment fitted, ours can still carry well over three tonnes."
Mr Jones added: "The back-up from Bell Truck and Van is first class. We run our own network of workshops and carry out all routine maintenance in-house, but the dealer supports us with regular parts deliveries and expert technical assistance is always just a phone call away."