Date: 19 October 2015
Grain, seed and fertiliser merchant Nidera is benefiting from increased fuel efficiency after commissioning its first Mercedes-Benz tractor units to be equipped with the manufacturer’s ground-breaking Predictive Powertrain Control system.
Their introduction has opened the way for the Ipswich-based operator to stand down its last three non-Mercedes-Benz trucks, so that by the end of 2015 every one of its 40 vehicles will wear a three-pointed star.
Supplied by East Anglia Dealer Orwell Truck & Van, the five new trucks are all Actros 2445 models with wind-cheating StreamSpace cabs and small-wheeled (17.5in) mid-lift axles, which offer a weight saving of some 300 kg compared to the standard version with 22.5in 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 impressive early 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 is a clever cruise control that 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.
“It is difficult to make precise comparisons given the different routes and the varying ages of our vehicles,” explained Tim Capey
“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 Betts – in one case, the result has been an improvement of as much as 0.6 mpg, which is very encouraging.”
Nidera’s latest trucks are powered by state-of-the-art 330 kW (449 hp) 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 has been forging ahead strongly after two years of good harvests and high yields. Its tractor units pull bulk tipping trailers and make
-nationwide deliveries of cereals, oilseeds and pulses to customers in the food, feed and bio-energy industries.
The company purchased its first Mercedes-Benz trucks in 2000 and since then Orwell Truck & Van has steadily increased its share of the fleet. The vehicles are serviced in the Dealer’s Ipswich, Colchester and Newmarket workshops under seven-year Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contracts.
Mr Capey added: “Fuel efficiency is certainly important but we focus on all elements of the ‘whole life 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.”
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.