A visit to RoadEfficiency LIVE event helped convince Port Express that its next batch of trucks should be equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz safety technology.
The privately-owned container transport specialist ordered 15 Actros tractor units with optional Safety Packs which include the pioneering Active Brake Assist 4 and Proximity Control Assist systems, as well as a driver’s airbag.
Supplied by East Anglia Dealer Orwell Truck & Van, most will operate from Port Express’s headquarters in Felixstowe. The remainder will be allocated to the depot in Southampton which it opened three years ago.
The trucks’ flat-floored BigSpace sleeper cabs offer exceptional room for living and storage, and are additionally fitted with refrigerators and electric sunroofs. To further enhance economy from the 2545 model’s fuel-efficient 330 kW (450 hp) 12.8-litre six-cylinder engine, Port Express has added air management kits by Hatcher Components, of Framlingham, Suffolk, and the well proven Predictive Powertrain Control system.
Port Express works for shipping lines, freight forwarders, importers and exporters, and operates from all major UK sea ports. It runs a fleet of 82 tractor units in which Mercedes-Benz and one other manufacturer hold sway.
When ordering new Actros it always ticks the option box for PPC, an innovative cruise control that employs digital 3D mapping and GPS data to scan the road ahead. Armed with this topographical information the system manages gear changes and vehicle speed, making full use of the truck’s EcoRoll function to restrict diesel consumption and CO2 emissions. By applying engine braking at every opportunity it reduces component wear and tear. Drivers are also less stressed and safer because it leaves them free to concentrate fully on the road ahead.
Acquired with competitive funding support from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, the new Actros are the subject of four-year Service Contracts – Port Express’s Felixstowe-based trucks are inspected and maintained by the workshop team at Orwell Truck & Van’s Ipswich branch, while those that work from Southampton are looked after by the manufacturer’s local representative.
Explaining the decision to specify the Mercedes-Benz Safety Pack for the first time, co-founder and Director Karl Dawson recalled the visit made by his son Adam, the company’s Transport Operator, to last November’s RoadEfficiency LIVE at the Millbrook proving ground in Bedfordshire. A highlight of the event was a demonstration of Active Brake Assist 4’s awe-inspiring stopping power, delivered on the facility’s high-speed bowl, in which guests in an Actros tractor unit bore down on a stationary van.
“Adam was hugely impressed by the experience,” reported Mr Dawson. “His feedback, coupled with our determination to do everything possible to prevent one of our vehicles being involved in an accident, convinced us that the Safety Pack represented a wise investment.”
He continued: “Our Actros are highly reliable and average a very acceptable 9.5-9.6 mpg, while the drivers also like the comfort and handling of their vehicles. That’s important given that they do a difficult job in conditions which can sometimes be very challenging, so we like to provide them with the best possible working environment.”
Mr Dawson added: “I enjoy an excellent relationship with Orwell Truck & Van, which has developed over many years. I know I can always trust the Dealer’s advice, and its service is second to none.”
Greater Safety is one of the three pillars of Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ comprehensive RoadEfficiency strategy, the others being Low Total Costs and Maximised Use. Also available on Antos and some Arocs models, the Mercedes-Benz Safety Pack represents exceptional value – not only does it help fleet managers to meet their Duty of Care obligations, but it also offers them significant savings on the price of the options if purchased individually.
Active Brake Assist 4 employs multi-mode radar to monitor moving and stationary objects in front of the vehicle from a speed of 15 km/h, and sounds an audible warning when it senses potential for a collision. If the driver takes no action, it will apply staged braking followed by full braking power to prevent a crash, or dramatically reduce the effects of an impact.
The system incorporates a ‘world first’ in the form of pedestrian recognition. On detecting a moving pedestrian – even one stepping into the truck’s path from behind a parked car – it can apply partial braking, simultaneously activating acoustic and visual warnings, up to a speed of 50 km/h.
Proximity Control Assist works in conjunction with the truck’s cruise control to restrict speed and maintain a pre-set distance from a vehicle in front. This system reduces the risk of rear-end shunts and promotes more comfortable, stress-free driving in nose-to-tail traffic.