In one of the year’s biggest orders for refuse collection vehicles, Enfield Council in north London has replaced 36 trucks by its previous supplier with a new fleet of Mercedes-Benz Econics.
All 6x2/4 models with rear-steer axles for enhanced manoeuvrability, the chassis were supplied by Dealer S & B Commercials and are fitted with environmentally-friendly Titan XLS bodies by primary contractor, CP Davidson & Sons (CPD).
Enfield Council’s Fleet Operations Manager Julian Minta confirmed: “The Econic emerged from our tender process as the clear winner. We were persuaded not only by its reputation for reliability and highly competitive whole-life operating costs, but also by the manufacturer’s reassuring, three-year/160,000 km warranty, and by S & B’s emergency roadside assistance service and attractively priced parts back-up.
“CPD also provided us with demonstration models which were extremely well received by our crews. They appreciated the general design of the Econic’s low-entry cab, and particularly the exceptionally good, direct vision afforded by its deep, wraparound windscreen and fully glazed, folding passenger door.”
A leading supplier to the municipal sector, CPD is a Qualified Partner of Mercedes-Benz Trucks – the overwhelming majority of the refuse collection vehicles that leave its production facility in Chorley, Lancashire, are based on Econic chassis.
Enfield Council’s single-compartment Titan XLS bodies have 19m3 capacities and offer fuel savings of up to 15%. Their 14-second compaction cycles are fast compared to the industry-standard of 18-22 seconds, as well as being exceptionally quiet, at 65dB(A).
Most of the new 26-tonners are equipped with high-level split lifts for domestic work. However, 13 have trade lifts – the council empties 1,600 bins for commercial customers each week. Several of the trade vehicles are also being trialled with MOBA weighing systems.
Mr Minta said the increasing cost of keeping its established trucks on the road had prompted the authority to revise its refuse fleet strategy. It anticipates the Econics will have seven-year working lives. The fact that those trucks on domestic work can be used to collect recyclables or non-recyclables, translates into cost savings in terms of staff training and maintenance.
Enfield Council holds Bronze accreditation from FORS, the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme, but has set its sights on Gold. Safety was therefore another key factor in its decision to switch to a vehicle which has been awarded a top, five-star Direct Vision Standard rating by Transport for London.
The vehicles also have 360-degree cameras and audible alarms which sound when the vehicle is turning left, while further protection for vulnerable road users comes in the form of Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ factory-fitted Active Brake Assist 3 emergency braking and Rearguard Assist systems. Rearguard Assist employs radar-based technology to support the driver when reversing at manoeuvring speed by displaying the distance from objects being approached via the instrument cluster and providing visual and audible warnings. The system can also brake the vehicle to a controlled stop when the distance to an object becomes critical.
Auxiliary night heaters further enhance the ‘green’ credentials of Enfield’s Econics by negating the need for high revving on cold mornings, and the trucks are also fitted with eye wash stations and fire extinguishers. Meanwhile, recordable live 4G CCTV systems are being used to enhance driver training and protect staff who may be the victims of abuse, as well as provide evidence that can be used in the event of insurance claims.
“The Econic is air-conditioned, roomy and extremely comfortable, which also helps to help explain why staff feedback has been so positive,” confirmed Mr Minta. “We’re maintaining the trucks in our own workshops, but have negotiated some very competitive parts rates with S & B Commercials, and are relying on the Dealer for warranty support.”
He added: “The level of communication from CPD was excellent throughout, and the order, build and delivery process went very smoothly from our point of view. Provided all goes well with this first batch – and I’ve every confidence that it will – we plan to replace our remaining refuse vehicles with CPD-bodied Econics at the first opportunity.”