New Actros gets the drivers’ vote at Wessex Water 10 December 2012

Following a truck evaluation exercise that included drivers from Wessex Water's sludge operations team, the company has chosen to buy its first Mercedes-Benz tractor units.

The New Actros came out on top in the trials, which led to the regional water and sewage treatment business ordering 10 tractor units to work with tank trailers.

Supplied by Pentagon Commercials, all the trucks are 2545 versions with ClassicSpace cabs and 450bhp engines mated to Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmissions.

"When the time came to replace the tractor units we decided to trial products by three manufacturers, and to give the drivers a key role in the decision-making process," explains Wessex Water group manager for fleet and plant, Martin Crocker, who is responsible for around 100 vacuum tankers and tippers, many of which have grabs, as well as some 800 vans and 200 cars.

"So we went out on the road with the drivers to make sure we had a complete understanding of the operation, then conducted a series of de-brief sessions," he explains.

Crocker says the drivers were a bit daunted initially by the prospect of going from a manual gearbox to the fully automated PowerShift 3 transmission of the New Actros. However, obviously not for long.

Another key addition to the new vehicles is Daimler FleetBoard telematics hardware, which analyses driver performance against a range of criteria, including the usual over-revving, harsh braking, idling, speeding and 'green band' driving.

Crocker was clearly impressed: "FleetBoard is an excellent system, because it allows us to concentrate our training efforts on those areas where the biggest improvements in driver behaviour can be achieved."

Joihn Challen

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