BM Stafford works its trucks hard – the latest additions to its fleet are on intensive, multi-drop duties and often double-shifted. The North-East operator is certain they’ll be up to the job, though, because its three new 18-tonners wear Mercedes-Benz stars.
The Antos 1824s are assigned to Houghton le Spring-based BM Stafford’s Palletforce contract, as well as making collections and deliveries for other customers. “The mileages are not huge but there’s no let-up,” explained Managing Director Mark Stafford. “These trucks are stopping and starting again all day long and regularly into the night, and the tail-lifts are in constant use. Their drivelines – and particularly the gearboxes – have to be strong to stand up to it.”
The Antos arrived via local dealer Bell Truck and Van and have ClassicSpace S day cabs and well proven 175 kW (238 hp) 7.7-litre engines, which drive through smooth-shifting Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmissions. Their curtainside bodywork, meanwhile, is by Robinson Truck Bodies, of Blaydon.
They have replaced vehicles by another manufacturer, which couldn’t take the pace. Mr Stafford continued: “We expect a seven-year working life from our trucks but the previous ones were completely worn out after just three. Bell put together an attractive package, so I was very happy to switch to the Antos. I’ve run Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the past so I know the build quality is excellent, and that they’re very robust. I’m highly confident they will give us the length of service we need.”
The new Antos have also impressed when it comes to fuel efficiency. “These are still early days but they’re already returning between 12 and 13 mpg,” said Mr Stafford. “That’s a good 1-1.5 mpg better than the trucks they replaced.”
And he added: “We’ve also been impressed with what we’ve seen of Bell’s service operation. We can’t afford anything more than the absolute minimum of downtime, so it’s a big help that the dealer’s Gateshead workshop is open through the night, because it means a driver can drop off his truck late in the evening, then collect it ready to start work again at 6.30am.
“This level of back-up, coupled with the fuel savings we’re making, means the total cost of Antos ownership is very competitive.”
Mr Stafford has also purchased a dynamic Vito Sport-X Dualiner from Bell Truck and Van. Used for occasional urgent local deliveries, it has a muscular V6 turbo-diesel engine, aggressive Brabus styling and a second row of seats. “My Vito is lovely to drive, as good as any car,” he enthused. “But the useful cargo capacity means it’s also extremely practical.”