Less than a year after it commissioned its first 14 Mercedes-Benz Econics trade refuse collection vehicles, Gaskells Waste Services has hailed the low-entry chassis “a winner” for its five-star Direct Vision safety credentials.
Indeed, so happy is the Liverpool-based operator with its latest 26-tonners that it has just ordered another one from the local branch of Dealer Roanza Truck & Van, which is inspecting and maintaining them under Mercedes-Benz Complete Service Contracts.
All are Econic 2630 LL variants with advanced 7.7-litre engines producing 220 kW (299 hp). Gaskells has specified fully automatic six-speed Allison gearboxes – the Mercedes PowerShift automated manual system is also available – while each vehicle also features a rear-steer axle for increased manoeuvrability.
Like all new Econics supplied through the manufacturer’s UK Dealer Network, they are covered by three-year/160,000 km warranties.
The Econic has a deep, panoramic windscreen and Gaskells has specified a full-height glazed folding side door. This combination offers drivers unrivalled visibility. These attributes have made the vehicle increasingly attractive to construction and distribution firms working in busy urban environments, where trucks share roads with other cyclists and pedestrians.
However, the Econic remains best-known as a refuse collection vehicle, a role in which it excels. The flat-floored cab and single-step access make hopping in and out both simple and safe for operatives.
Gaskells Waste Services is a recycling-led, carbon-neutral waste management company offering collections services seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Established in 1991, the business now employs more than 100 people and processes over 75,000 tonnes of waste per year.
Its Econics are fitted with compactor bodies and trade bin lifters. Working from the materials recycling facility at the operator’s Bootle headquarters, as well as depots in Welshpool and on Anglesey, they collect commercial waste from a broad cross-section of customers across the North West of England and into North and Mid Wales.
Seven of the 14 have replaced other Mercedes-Benz models and Swedish-built vehicles, but the remainder represent further extensions to a fleet which has grown rapidly over recent years. Other additions to the 40-strong line-up this year include a pair of 8x4 Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3240 hook-loaders, while Roanza is also processing orders for another two Arocs eight-wheelers, which are to be fitted with front-end loader equipment.
“The expansion in our business has meant we’re doing many more multi-drop collection routes in busy urban areas – exactly the sort of work to which the Mercedes-Benz Econic is ideally suited,” said Gaskells Fleet Manager Carl Partington. “Not only is the Econic well-built and cost-effective to run, but the air-conditioned cab and full air suspension mean it’s also an extremely comfortable vehicle for our crews.
“Of course, it also offers the highest safety standards for our staff and other road users. As well as providing an unrivalled field of vision for the driver, whose low seating position allows direct eye contact with vulnerable road users, the cab’s design also minimises the risk of colleagues suffering injury when stepping in or out of the vehicle.”
He continued: “Safety is of paramount importance to Gaskells, and the Mercedes-Benz Econic is a clear winner in this respect. Our vehicles are also equipped with camera systems all round and audible warning systems to alert the driver to the presence of a cyclist at the truck’s nearside.
“Furthermore, all our drivers complete a cycle safety course as part of their DCPC training. I’m a cyclist myself, and have also driven trucks, so I understand the difficulties both sets of road users face. Unfortunately, unlike our drivers, most members of the public only see one side of the equation.”
Mr Partington also praised the quality of support that Gaskells receives from Roanza Truck & Van as ‘exceptional’. “The Dealer’s Sales Executive Richie Rainford knows our business well, and puts in a lot of time and effort to ensure that our trucks are always perfectly specified.
“We have an excellent relationship, too, with the workshop team at the Dealer’s Liverpool branch, who look after most of our vehicles. As a former truck technician I know exactly what I should expect in terms of customer service, and I’m happy to say Roanza look after us extremely well.”