Bulk haulier NS Clarke Transport says it has seen a significant reduction in repair costs since it became one of the first to enjoy new options designed to protect Mercedes Actros that venture onto off-road sites.
The firm’s managing director, Shaun Clarke, led calls for Mercedes Trucks to introduce a more resilient steel front bumper that could be specified instead of the standard plastic item.
He was naturally delighted when the manufacturer responded by adding to the long list of Actros options not only the steel bumper, but also the same straight front axle and headlight arrangement as a flat-floored unit from the Arocs range, which is purpose-designed for construction-related applications.
The result is an Actros that offers up to 85mm – depending on tyre choice – of additional ground clearance and carries a lower risk of underbody damage caused by ‘bottoming out’ or getting stuck while manoeuvring on rough ground.
NS Clarke Transport also took the opportunity to equip its Actros with rubber-mounted steps that allow for some lateral movement.
Popular with Arocs customers
Already popular with Arocs customers, these rugged steps also offer repair cost savings.
Mr Clarke said: “We’ve always favoured the Actros over the Arocs because our trucks spend most of their time on the road.
“However, they also go to quarries and onto other sites, where they can take a bit of a battering.”
He added: “It can be very easy to take out a front corner, and if you’ve lost the headlight as well, you’re looking at a pretty expensive repair bill.
“Over time the steel bumpers might not look as smart, as they get knocked about and the paintwork suffers, but I can live with that.
“Most importantly, the combination of raised height and the more rugged and durable construction bumper means we’ve seen a noticeable reduction in accident damage to our latest units.
“This, in turn, has resulted in some very welcome cost savings.”
Rubber-mounted step option will not necessarily break
He said that the rubber-mounted step option brings some ‘give’ so if a driver catches one on a kerb it will not necessarily break and need replacing.
Mr Clarke said: “It’s to Mercedes Trucks’ credit that it listened to what we were saying and introduced the steel bumper we were calling for.
This option won’t be right for many operators, but for us, and for others in the same line of business, it’s a very important development.”
NS Clarke Transport works from headquarters in Rugeley and runs a fleet of 155 trucks which is dominated by the three-pointed star.
The firm’s latest Actros are 2551 variants with flat-floored BigSpace cabs, and their 12.8-litre in-line six-cylinder engines produce 510 hp and are paired with smooth and fuel-efficient 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift automated manual transmissions.
In addition to its bulk powder and tipper operations, the company provides general haulage, flatbed transport and courier van services.