Lincolnshire County Council has added four additional Mercedes-Benz gritters to its fleet.
The UK’s first 8x6 Arocs models will see action should temperatures plummet in the Lincolnshire Wolds.
The four trucks were supplied by Essential Fleet Services and dealer Intercounty Truck & Van, with a factory-fitted front drive axle.
The latest arrivals are Arocs 4143 AKs with ClassicSpace M-Cabs, advanced 335 kW (428 hp) six-cylinder engines and smooth Mercedes 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.
The 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 go further and stay out for longer than its 26-tonne predecessor before it has to return to base to reload.
As with previous gritters, its 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.
The authority is responsible for the upkeep of 2,000 miles of roads across England’s second-largest county.
David Davies, principal maintenance engineer and fleet manager, said: “We have been running Mercedes-Benz vehicles for a number of years now, and they have proved to be very reliable.
“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 Essential Fleet Services, which operates from headquarters in Lincoln and supports 42 local authorities from a network of service centres nationwide. 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.
National fleet engineer John Dimbleby said the fact that the 8x6 Arocs chassis was available ex-factory negated any need to deal with a specialist, third-party converter.
“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 said.
Four Essential Fleet Services technicians are on out-of-hours standby throughout the winter months, to provide breakdown cover for Lincolnshire’s winter maintenance fleet.
“We need to be ready for the worst that winter can throw at us,” Dimbleby continued.
“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.”
Dimbleby added: “Intercounty support us very well when it comes to warranty claims and technical issues for which we might need diagnostics assistance. We’re very happy that these latest vehicles are perfectly tailored for the job.”