Picture of a Mercedes Arocs gritter

Four Merc Arocs gritters ready for Lincolnshire Wolds

Published:  16 November, 2016

The UK’s first 8x6 Arocs gritters have been bought by contract hire specialist Essential Fleet Services for Lincolnshire County Council to ensure the roads remain open this winter.

The bulk of Lincolnshire County Council’s fleet of 47 gritters are Mercedes-Benz Axors in 6x4 configuration. However, the new 8x6 Arocs have replaced 6x6 vehicles.

The Arocs 4143 AKs feature ClassicSpace M-Cabs, advanced 335 kW (428 hp) six-cylinder engines and Mercedes PowerShift 12-speed automated transmissions.

The 32-tonne Mercedes-Benz chassis offers a gritter body with carrying capacity of 10 cubic metres. The vehicle can go further and stay out for longer than its 26-tonne predecessor before it has to return to base to reload.

Their Danish-built Epoke gritting bodies were fitted and supplied, along with demountable Riko V snowploughs complete with Küper blades, by UK agent Scarab, of Tonbridge, Kent.

Key to the order was the availability of a factory-fitted front drive axle, as well as the reliability of previous Mercedes-Benz vehicles and its own, high-quality back-up.

Lincolnshire County Council has been at the forefront of the development of winter roads maintenance technology for many years. As with previous gritters, its new trucks are equipped with sprayers that pre-wet the dry salt with a brine and water solution just before it reaches the spinner, so it clings better to the surface and is not blown away. This allows the salt to melt snow and ice more quickly.

Although Lincolnshire is known as a flat county, the Lincolnshire Wolds are full of hills and steep valleys and feature the highest ground in eastern England between Yorkshire and Kent. The authority is responsible for the upkeep of some 2,000 miles of roads across England’s second-largest county.

Picture of a fleet of Mercedes Arocs gritters with their drivers

David Davies, principal maintenance engineer and fleet manager, said: ‘We have been running Mercedes-Benz vehicles for a number of years now, and they have proved to be very reliable.

‘Three drive axles are essential for operation in the Lincolnshire Wolds, which are very susceptible to bad weather coming off the North Sea. The fact that our new Arocs were available direct from the factory as a complete, winterised package makes a big difference – Mercedes-Benz have met all our expectations.’

The Arocs are the subject of 10-year agreements with Essential Fleet Services, which operates from headquarters in Lincoln and supports 42 local authorities from a network of service centres nationwide. It owns a fleet of more than 1,000 trucks, some 300 of which are Mercedes-Benz rigids, among them a number of Econic refuse vehicles.

National Fleet Engineer John Dimbleby said the fact that the 8x6 Arocs chassis was available ex-factory negated any need to deal with a specialist, third-party converter.

‘The online build is very reassuring in terms of anticipated reliability and warranty cover, because once you start dealing with ‘add ons’ you’re just introducing another element that can go wrong,’ he observed.

‘We need to be ready for the worst that winter can throw at us. Gritting chassis don’t cover high mileages but although they’re washed down after every run, they do spend time standing in wet, salty atmospheres that can play havoc, for example, with their electronics. Mercedes-Benz trucks are without doubt the most reliable on our fleet.’

Four Essential Fleet Services technicians are on out-of-hours standby throughout the winter months, to provide breakdown cover for Lincolnshire’s winter maintenance fleet.

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