MAN has teamed up with Bevan Group to deploy a new fleet of eight purpose-built logistics vehicles for St John Ambulance.
The vehicles will initially be used to provide front-line support to the NHS and local communities, such as supplying vital medical equipment to satellite sites, from where it is despatched to re-stock ambulances.
Earlier this month, St John Ambulance announced it was upgrading its fleets with 35 new MAN box-body ambulances, which are lighter, more spacious and cheaper to operate than its existing vehicles.
Based on MAN TGE flat frame chassis cowls, the 3.5-tonners have been fitted by Bevan Group with crash-tested bulkheads and plastic bodies.
The vehicles will carry equipment equipment required to build and kit out mobile medical centres at major events and incident scenes.
The on-board inventory includes defibrillators, oxygen cylinders, wheelchairs and stretchers, as well as generators and inflatable shelters, all of which is stowed on shelving and in cages.
The front-wheel drive MAN sits 190mm lower than a standard TGE chassis cab, while the plastic box is bonded directly to the chassis, rather than being bolted onto a sub-frame.
This meant Bevan Group could devise a drawbridge-style, full closure rear door that doubles as a ramp – the relatively shallow load angle allows heavy equipment to be winched onto the load bed, it also allows weight saving over a tail-lift, that would require two LOLER inspections each year, and specific training for operatives.
Rob MacIntosh, national fleet manager at St John Ambulance, says that in the past, the organisation used two or three panel vans to do the same job as one of the new logistics vehicles, or 7.5 tonne trucks, which it had now stood down due to the requirement for drivers without ‘grandfather rights’ to have an additional C1 entitlement on their licences.
MacIntosh said: “The challenge, therefore, was to come up with a 3.5-tonne concept capable of fulfilling this role.
“The vehicle as delivered is entirely fit-for-purpose – everything has a place on the body, and we’ve been undertaking familiarisation training with volunteers from all over the country, so they understand how best to remove and return equipment as efficiently as possible.”
Air-conditioned and fitted with satellite navigation systems and DAB radios, the MAN TGEs are powered by 140 hp engines which are paired, in most cases, with eight-speed automatic gearboxes. To ensure compliance, Bevan Group also installed axle load weighing systems.
The eight logistics vehicles are the first to be commissioned, but the manufacturer will be supplying vans of other sizes and specifications over the coming months, as the charity continues to upgrade its fleet.
Dan George, international and national key account manager at MAN, said: “We selected a sub-contractor that shares our own premium values, and could be relied upon to produce a body able to withstand an arduous 10-year life cycle.
“Having worked successfully with the bodybuilder’s team on other projects involving not only TGE but also heavier models from our product range, we know that its excellent reputation within the industry is well merited.
MacIntosh said “Our initial build interpretation meeting with MAN and Bevan Group marked the beginning of a consultative process in which with all three parties worked together extremely well.”