The vehicles are Arocs 4143 AKs with ClassicSpace M-Cabs, 428bhp six-cylinder engines and PowerShift 12-speed automated transmissions. Their Danish-built Epoke gritting bodies were fitted and supplied, along with demountable Riko V snowploughs complete with Küper blades, by UK agent Scarab, of Tonbridge, Kent.
Key to the order, won by dealer Intercounty Truck & Van, was the availability of a factory-fitted front drive axle, as well as the proven reliability of previous Mercedes-Benz vehicles and dealer back-up.
The council’s fleet of 47 gritters, leased through Essential Fleet Services, are mainly 6x4 Mercedes Axors. The four new 8x6 Arocs have replaced 6x6 vehicles by another manufacturer – two are based at its Willingham Hall depot near Market Rasen, and one each at Horncastle and Manby.
The 32-tonne Mercedes-Benz chassis offers a gritter body with carrying capacity of 10 cubic metres. The vehicle can travel further and stay out for longer than its 26-tonne predecessor before it has to reload.
As with previous gritters, the council’s new trucks are equipped with sprayers that pre-wet the dry salt with a brine and water solution just before it reaches the spinner, so it clings better to the surface and is not blown away. This allows the salt to melt snow and ice more quickly.
David Davies, the council’s principal maintenance engineer and fleet manager, says: “Three-drive axles are essential for operation in the Lincolnshire Wolds, which are very susceptible to bad weather coming off the North Sea. The fact that our new Arocs were available direct from the factory as a complete, winterised package makes a big difference – Mercedes-Benz have met all our expectations.”
The Arocs are the subject of 10-year agreements with Lincoln-based Essential Fleet Services, which supports 42 local authorities from its nationwide service centres. It owns a fleet of more than 1,000 trucks, some 300 of which are Mercedes-Benz rigids, among them a number of Econic refuse vehicles.
Essential’s national fleet engineer John Dimbleby agrees that the availability ex-factory of the 8x6 Arocs chassis was crucial: “The online build is very reassuring in terms of anticipated reliability and warranty cover, because once you start dealing with ‘add ons’ you’re just introducing another element that can go wrong,” he says.
“Gritting chassis don’t cover high mileages but although they’re washed down after every run, they do spend time standing in wet, salty atmospheres that can play havoc, for example, with their electronics. Mercedes-Benz trucks are without doubt the most reliable on our fleet,” he adds.