Grain, seed and fertiliser merchant Nidera is benefiting from increased fuel efficiency after commissioning its first Mercedes-Benz tractor units.
The five new trucks, supplied by East Anglia Dealer Orwell Truck & Van, are all Actros 2445 models with StreamSpace cabs and small-wheeled (17.5-inch) mid-lift axles, which offer a weight saving of 300kg compared to the standard version with 22.5-inch wheels.
The lighter mid-lift axles are contributing to improved economy when the vehicles run empty, as well as increasing payload capacity. However, Tim Capey, operations director at Nidera, believes the main reason for the improved mpg performance of the new vehicles is its adoption of Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC), and the associated driver training delivered by Orwell Truck & Van’s designated ‘Fuel Saver’ Lee Betts.
PPC cruise control works in conjunction with the Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmission and employs three-dimensional GPS mapping to read three kilometres of topography ahead. It responds by controlling gear changes, speed and braking to maximise fuel efficiency.
Mercedes-Benz says the system, which is particularly effective in hilly terrain, can cut fuel costs by up to 5%, though some operators have reported significantly higher savings.
Capey said: “It is difficult to make precise comparisons given the different routes and the varying ages of our vehicles. However, it’s fair to say that in terms of fuel returns the early indications from these new PPC-equipped vehicles are very positive.
“This is partly down to the technology but also to the excellent coaching provided to our drivers by Orwell’s Lee Bett. In one case, the result has been an improvement of as much as 0.6 mpg, which is very encouraging.”
Paul Simpson, truck sales manager at Orwell Truck & Van, said: “Given the nature of the work and the fact that Nidera’s trucks spend a relatively high proportion of their time on A and B roads, it’s pleasing to see the positive effect that Predictive Powertrain Control is having on their fuel efficiency."
Nidera’s latest trucks are powered by 449hp straight-six engines and, like its other Actros, are also fitted with Mercedes-Benz FleetBoard telematics systems. FleetBoard analyses driver performance against a range of criteria, including over revving, harsh braking, idling, speeding and ‘green band’ driving, and highlights areas in which improvements can be made.
Nidera purchased its first Mercedes-Benz trucks in 2000 and since then Orwell Truck & Van has steadily increased its share of the fleet. By the end of 2015, its entire fleet of 40 vehicles will be Mercedes-Benz.
The vehicles are serviced at the dealer’s Ipswich, Colchester and Newmarket workshops under seven-year Mercedes-Benz repair and maintenance contracts.
Capey added: “Fuel efficiency is certainly important but we focus on all elements of the wholelife cost calculation. Reliability and residual values are also key and so too is our very close working relationship with our supplier.
"Orwell Truck & Van understands and meets the requirements of our business – we make full use of its overnight servicing capability and if we have an issue, as you always will from time to time, we know who to contact to get it quickly sorted.”