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Rhys Davies lands a ‘double first’ with Mercedes-Benz and Lawrence David

Rhys Davies Logistics is breaking new ground after commissioning four Mercedes-Benz tractor units and five urban semi-trailers by Lawrence David. The Actros are its first Euro VI trucks while the 10.8m curtainsiders are its first short trailers.

The company, which operates from headquarters in Cardiff and nine depots nationwide, specified its new tractors with fuel-saving ActivFreddie air deflectors which can be adjusted automatically to match the differing heights of the trailers they are pulling.

The Actros StreamSpace 2543s were supplied by Dealer Euro Commercials (South Wales) and, in another ‘first’ for Rhys Davies, are also fitted with Daimler FleetBoard telematics systems.

The urban trailers, meanwhile, arrived along with a single 15.65m double-decker – the company was already running another three of these maximum-length versions, as part of a DfT-sponsored trial.

Rhys Davies Logistics, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2012, serves a wide range of industries, including paper, coatings, food and chemicals, and is also active in several niche markets.

It runs 180 vehicles, the majority of them 18- and 26-tonne rigids, and 200 semi-trailers. Mercedes-Benz is one of three truck manufacturers represented on the fleet, and accounts for some 65 vehicles in total.

The company surveyed established and potential customers before embarking on a major rebranding last year, which entailed the development of an eye-catching set of trailer liveries.

Rhys Davies Managing Director Mark Richmond explained: “The feedback from the survey was very positive, and we wanted our new image to reflect some of the things people said about us. Messages like ‘Challenge us, we can take it’, ‘It’s not a problem’, and ‘You only have to ask’, which are now emblazoned across our brightly coloured trailers, underline our commitment and positive approach to logistics.”

Rhys Davies ordered its first vehicles from the current Actros generation after trialling demonstration units by several manufacturers. The operator also purchased four Euro V Mercedes-Benz Axors from Euro Commercials last year – with average returns of between 9 and 10 mpg they have been the most fuel-efficient tractors on the fleet.

Double-shifted, the new Actros are making local deliveries within a 100-mile radius of base during the day, then trunking at night between depots – Rhys Davies operates its own pallet network. They are the subject of five-year Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contracts.

Fleet Operations Manager Andy Williams said: “These trucks will each cover up to 200,000 km a year and we’ll be monitoring their performance closely, particularly in terms of fuel consumption and general running costs. We’re also testing the ActivFreddie air management kit, and looking at how the data provided by the Daimler FleetBoard telematics systems can be applied to support our driver training programme.”

Developed by Hatcher Components in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz and Cranfield University, ActivFreddie employs a sensor which detects the trailer’s height and automatically adjusts the spoiler accordingly. Meanwhile, pressure sensor monitoring allows the deflector continuously to optimise its position relative to the constantly changing wind speed and direction, while the vehicle is on the move. Tests have shown that ActivFreddie delivered an 11% fuel saving when pulling a 4.95m refrigerated trailer at 50 mph, compared to a unit fitted with a fixed deflector.

Rhys Davies’ new trailers, meanwhile, feature slim-line prefinished bulkheads, load-bearing, TUV-certified wraparound curtains, and Lawrence David’s unique strap-safe system, which secures the load directly to the vehicle floor.

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