Waitrose has added the latest Actros 2541s 6×2 tractor units from Mercedes-Benz to its 240-strong distribution fleet.
The trucks feature BlueTec Euro 5 engines, and are fitted with fuel-saving air management kits from Hatcher Components and Daimler FleetBoard telematics systems.
Ray Collington, fleet engineer for both John Lewis and its food division Waitrose, reckons the fact that John Lewis is a worker co-operative was “crucial” when it came to order the trucks.
“We’ve been trialling an Axor for the last seven months. But the Actros is more spacious and better equipped, so it’s no surprise that our drivers prefer it. They are co-owners of the business, which means their opinions carry more weight than might be the case if they drove for some other companies,” he said.
“This, coupled with some highly competitive pricing, the very intensive utilisation of these vehicles, and the fact that we are able to access more telematics data on gross weights from the technologically superior Actros, explains why we chose it ahead of Axor for this application.”
The Actros arrived via Rygor Commercials, which also recently supplied Waitrose with eight new Axor 18-tonners, all of which are fitted with Gray & Adams box bodies.
The 44-tonners will be used for a new trunking operation, in which they will be double-shifted and travel between Waitrose’s largest regional distribution centre, in Bracknell, Berkshire, and two other regional depots at Bardon in Leicestershire, and Brinklow, Milton Keynes.
“Our new Mercedes are working day and night, and can each make three round trips in a single 24-hour period,” said Collington. “As expected, the driver feedback is very positive, while they were also sensibly priced and accord with our policy of limiting our brand exposure.”
Waitrose plans to run the trucks for six years. “We’ve had a handful of Actros on the John Lewis fleet for some time and they’ve proved very reliable, so I’m confident these latest Mercedes will last the pace”.
The Euro 5 engines attract Reduced Pollution Certificates which bring £500 savings in Vehicle Excise Duty, annually for the life of each unit. “That’s certainly a very welcome bonus,” said Collington.
“We have high hopes for FleetBoard’s telematics system. As well as giving us useful information on laden weights and the locations of the vehicles while they’re out on the road, it will also enable us to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual drivers by analysing their performances against a range of criteria such as over revving, harsh braking, idling, speeding and ‘green band’ driving.
“Armed with this information, we will be able to provide feedback and instruction that will enable us to raise standards even further, thereby saving on our fuel bills while at the same time reducing our carbon dioxide emissions,” he added.