The new tractor units are all Actros 2545s, powered by Mercedes 450bhp straight-six engines, driving through Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmissions.
Lombard managing director Simon Fraser says that fuel efficiency is already impressive at “well over 10 mpg”, which he describes as excellent.
“The Actros is a great all-round package. Our drivers like them and they’re reassuringly reliable, with downtime reduced to an absolute minimum,” states Fraser.
“This is partly down to the fact that the Actros is a superb piece of engineering, but also because if we do ever have a problem, the team at [dealer] Orwell Truck & Van invariably deal with it quickly and professionally,” he continues.
“They understand our business and are always willing to be flexible to help keep our trucks on the road, where they earn their keep,” he adds.
For Fraser, the secret to his trucks’ fuel-efficiency is down to a combination of three factors.
First, Lombard uses the FleetBoard telematics hardware, fitted as standard, to monitor driving style and highlight incidences of over-revving, harsh braking, etc, that impact fuel consumption.
“It’s a highly effective educational tool,” comments Fraser. “By compiling a league table of scores we’ve fostered a real spirit of competition between our drivers, to see who can be the most economical.”
Secondly, though, Lombards’ new Actros trucks have also been fitted with Mercedes-Benz PPC (Predictive Powertrain Control) system, which combines cruise control with GPS mapping – enabling the trucks to ‘see’ the road ahead and optimse gear shifts and throttle.
Finally, Fraser says Lombard’s drivers took coaching from Orwell Truck & Van’s fuel-saver driver-trainer Lee Betts.
Lombard’s new Actros tractors are the subject of Agility funding from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services – offering the benefits of hire purchase with a balloon payment plus additional flexibility at contract end.
“The Agility payments are highly competitive and we’re able to put off deciding what to do at the end of the contract until much nearer the time,” confirms Fraser.
“Orwell don’t just sit and listen. They come to us with suggestions if they think they can help us to operate more cost-effectively,” he enthuses.
“For instance, they recently submitted a proposal to retrofit PPC to several 18-tonne Antos rigids, which we set on the road last year,” he explains.
“We’re currently crunching the numbers to calculate what level of saving we could potentially achieve.”
Mercedes’ own tests show PPC can deliver savings of 5%, although many UK operators report much higher gains.
One of the new Actros is based in Ipswich, and hauls shipping containers from the dockside at Felixstowe to distribution centres in the Midlands. The remaining four work out of Liverpool, undertaking haulage and groupage duties between mainland Britain and Ireland.