Palmer and Harvey, the UK’s number one delivered wholesaler, has specified its first fridge-bodied Mercedes-Benz 18-tonners with the automated transmissions that have already contributed to a valuable fuel cost saving on its dry freight fleet.
An additional 60 Axor 1824s are being supplied by Pentagon Commercials to increase Palmer and Harvey’s overall chilled and frozen capability.
Although this is the first time Palmer and Harvey has used 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz trucks to undertake temperature-controlled distribution, it has long experience of running a fleet of 80 refrigerated vehicles based on 13.5-tonne Atego chassis.
It also knows the 18-tonne Axor chassis well. Last year Pentagon supplied Palmer and Harvey with 85 Axor 1824s with dry freight box bodies. Those vehicles were its first to be fitted with Autotrans gearboxes as well as air management kits, and have proved three per cent more fuel-efficient than the Axor 1824s delivered by the same dealer a year earlier.
Palmer and Harvey supplies more than 11,000 ambient, chilled and frozen product lines to 90,000 retail outlets in the UK, including convenience stores, petrol station forecourts and the larger supermarkets. The company’s distribution hub is in Coventry, and it has 13 distribution centres throughout the mainland UK and Northern Ireland.
National Transport Manager Rhys Thomas is responsible for a fleet of some 1,150 trucks and vans. He confirms: "Mercedes-Benz is now our primary truck supplier, not only for the reliability, fuel-efficiency and general ‘fitness for purpose’ of its vehicles, but also for the quality of its back-up.
"The support we receive from the manufacturer and its dealer is first class. We source all of our vehicles through Pentagon, which provides an excellent service. You’ll always get issues from time to time, of course, but these are addressed promptly and efficiently."
He continues: "Our procurement strategy is based on a five-year life cycle. This allows us to make a small extra investment in Mercedes-Benz trucks at the front end, knowing that by the end of the term they will have been demonstrably more economical and cost-effective to operate than other makes of vehicle."
Palmer and Harvey’s latest Axors are being fitted with multi-temperature insulated bodies and fridges by Gray & Adams, Paneltex and Solomon, and carry frozen, chilled and ambient stock.
Adds Mr Thomas: "As with all our Mercedes-Benz trucks, the feedback from the first depots to receive these new vehicles has been very encouraging. The drivers seem to like the two-pedal set-up.
"As well as saving fuel, this improves safety by leaving them free to concentrate fully on what’s going on around them without having to worry about which gear they’re in, and cuts downtime and maintenance costs by preventing abuse of the driveline."