So impressed was Spire Healthcare with its first batch of Mercedes-Benz Atego 7.5-tonners that when the time finally came to replace them after nearly eight years of reliable, cost-effective service, it opted to do so with a like-for-like fleet bearing the three-pointed star.
Not, though, before the leading private hospital operator had undertaken a comprehensive evaluation process which entailed trialling demonstration vehicles and receiving tenders from several other manufacturers.
"The criteria on which our acquisition decision was based included price, R&M service, vehicle performance and account management," explains Gill Kite, Spire Healthcare’s Senior Buyer – Indirect.
"The respondents were scored and Mercedes-Benz came out on top in all areas. We also invited our drivers to test and comment on the various demonstrators and their feedback was also factored in – the Mercedes was definitely the drivers’ choice."
The seven Atego 816s are based at Spire Healthcare’s National Distribution Centre in Droitwich, Worcestershire. Supplied by Kidderminster dealer Rygor Commercials, they are the subject of a CharterWay contract hire agreement with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, under which each will cover some 115,000 miles a year.
The trucks are powered by fuel-efficient 150hp, 4.25-litre engines. Like all Atego models with manual transmissions they also came fitted as standard with the MSS (Motor Stop Start) system. This further boosts economy and cuts emissions, simply by switching off the engine whenever the vehicle is in neutral and stationary for three seconds – for example in heavy traffic or at lights – then switching it back on again automatically as soon as the driver depresses the clutch.
The trucks’ box bodies, meanwhile, are by Fred Smith & Son, of West Bromwich, which also fitted their Dhollandia 1,000kg tail-lifts with ‘auto-erect’ side gates and applied the operator’s eye-catching liveries.
Spire Healthcare was formed in 2007 from the sale of BUPA hospitals, to which were added Thames Valley Hospital and 10 former Classic hospitals in 2008. The company now operates 38 hospitals throughout mainland Britain and is using its new Ategos to make daily deliveries of a wide range of consumable items to this network of facilities, ensuring that stock levels are always topped up.
Gill Kite continues: "The support we have come to rely upon from the team at Rygor Commercials, Kidderminster, was also key to our decision. The dealer’s account management is efficient and its service very good – Rygor help us, for example, with pick-ups and fast turnarounds, thereby minimising inconvenience to our own transport team and ensuring that our trucks are always ready for work when we need them.
"Our previous experience of operating Mercedes-Benz vehicles was very positive and we’re delighted to be doing business with the brand once again.