National Veterinary Services, the UK’s largest wholesale supplier to the veterinary industry, has ensured compliance for operation in London and other cities by switching from tractor units with big, flat-floored cabs, to narrower, lower variants.
What has not changed, though, is that like the vehicles they have replaced, its latest trucks wear Mercedes three-pointed stars.
Working from its headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent, the 11 new Actros pull temperature-controlled semi-trailers and will service a network of 11 hubs that deliver to 2,700 veterinary practices nationwide.
The company has been supplying and distributing products to animal health practices and other approved outlets since 1989 and stocks more than 15,000 lines, including pharmaceuticals, instrumentation, pet products and accessories.
StreamSpace cabs are 2.3m wide
Supplied by eStar Truck & Van, the new Actros are all 2545 models and their StreamSpace cabs are 2.3m wide – the narrower of the two widths available – and have 170mm engine tunnels.
This combination, together with the Mercedes’ MirrorCam technology that has replaced conventional mirrors, and the additional windows fitted in the lower half of the nearside doors by Astra Vehicle Technologies, of Ellesmere Port, means the trucks attract an impressive three Direct Vision stars from Transport for London.
In addition to its 11 tractor units, NVS operates a single fridge-bodied Actros 18-tonner.
The Actros are powered by 12.8-litre engines that produce 450 hp and are now being maintained under Mercedes Finance contract hire agreements by the workshop team at eStar Truck & Van’s Stoke branch.
‘Recognising and responding to the direction of travel’
The firm’s transport operations manager, Phil Bate, said: “It’s all about recognising and responding to the direction of travel in the industry.
“Unsurprisingly, our drivers loved the spacious, flat-floored units they were in previously.
“But they also understand the rationale behind our decision to move to smaller cabs that offer better direct visibility.”
He added: “We’ve embraced Mercedes Trucks’ MirrorCam and other technology because of the tangible benefits it offers in terms of compliance, not only for London but for other towns and cities too.
“By moving to three star-rated vehicles we’ve effectively future-proofed our fleet.”
‘Safety of our driving colleagues and of the public in general’
Mr Bate continued: “We’ve also done everything we can to ensure the safety of our driving colleagues and of the public in general, particularly vulnerable road users, while at the same time specifying a few additional features to make what can be a very tough job that bit more comfortable.
“We’ve been running Mercedes trucks for a number of years and enjoy very good relationships with the manufacturer and its local representative.”
He added: “The 10 Actros units we stood down to make way for the new ones did a very good job, while eStar Truck & Van understands our business and what we need in terms of back-up.
“Inspections and routine services are carried out at times that suit us, and if ever we have an issue, we know the dealer will do everything it can to get the vehicle back on the road as quickly as possible.
“Communication is all-important at such times and eStar’s is excellent.”