Nine point evaluation finds for MAN and Mercedes 05 January 2010

Home Delivery Network (HDNL), one of the largest contractors for online goods deliveries in the UK, has now taken delivery of 158 new MAN rigids and 500 Mercedes Sprinters. They're all fleet replacements, which is unremarkable, except that in these tough economic times, they're pretty big numbers. And HDNL says there will be more next year – 750 vans and 200 additional tractors.

On the truck side, Cartwright is fitting demount bodies to 84 4x2 7.5-tonners – all MAN TGL 150bhp BLs (steel front suspension, air rear), while Bevan is building box bodies with tail-lifts for another 61 (TGL 4x2 BBs – springs all round). The remaining 13 are all 18-tonners (MAN TGM 240bhp 4x2 LLs) with Cartwright two-axle drawbar trailers and, again, demount bodywork. All are being provided on four and five year repair and maintenance packages, plus MAN Fleet Management, its online VOSA and O-licence compliance tool.

Brian Wheadon, director of HDNL's fleet, facilities and securities, explains that the demount trucks (both the 18- and 7.5 tonners) are the workhorses, for the serious miles between HDNL's two hubs and its regional depots. Meanwhile, the box trucks will see service between the depots and customers. "Our timescales meant we had to split the bodywork order between Bevan and Cartwright," he states.

From an engineering perspective, though, what's particularly interesting is HDNL's evaluation process.

"For the trucks, we outlined nine criteria and went out to tender with four manufacturers," says Wheadon. Fuel efficiency was key, along with dealership support in terms of R&M, opening hours, distances from HDNL's sites nationally, breakdown response times and out of hours servicing. "We also checked availability of aftermarket parts against a basket of our top 50 abuse items [commodities], looked at residual values, and our own drivers evaluated the trucks on trial."

The final criterion was manufacturer's vehicle warranty – although Wheadon says that, early in the process, the team also reviewed HDNL's own workshops in Bolton and Oldham to assess whether to take maintenance in house or go for an R&M package.

"MAN won five of the nine categories outright," he says, adding that "another big plus" was its EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) engine technology at Euro 4, "meaning no AdBlue worries". For him, AdBlue storage and usage have presented problems. "We've had instances where drivers put diesel in the AdBlue tank and that cost £1,000 a time to put right. But we also assessed fuel economy and, on our trials, MAN, with the auto box, came out best on a mix of urban and long haul cycles."

As for the van evaluation, Wheadon says the process was much the same, with Mercedes, Ford, Vauxhall and Citroen all initially in the frame, but Mercedes winning four of the criteria. He explains that the Sprinters were selected despite the fact that HDNL had purchased 500 3.5-tonne Vauxhall Movano vans just 12 months earlier. "Going with Mercedes this time, and their R&M package, meant we were able to close down nine of our depot-based workshops," he states.

Wheadon says his team is now working on the next tender exercise – starting from scratch because of the differences at Euro 5. "MAN say they won't need to change to SCR [selective catalytic reduction] and AdBlue for Euro 5 until they get to the heavyweight trucks. But we don't mind who wins. We're doing another full evaluation, with security, health and safety and our operational managers. For example, we carry a lot of high value goods so we need to look at locking mechanisms, window grilles etc."

What about the O-license tool? Wheadon reckons that being able to access all the MAN truck maintenance and road worthiness records, via the Internet, will make a difference in terms of controlling fleet compliance. "I can see it saving us time and money in our admin team," he says.

Brian Tinham

Related Downloads
21798\Engineer to engineer.pdf

Related Companies
Bevan Group Bodies Ltd
Ford Motor Co
MAN Truck & Bus UK Ltd
Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd
The Cartwright Group
Vauxhall Motors

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