Ready, steady, fill holes.

Two Econic trucks smooth the way in the London construction business.

How can we contribute proactively to more road safety for all road users? That is what the Ferns Group asked themselves when they needed to acquire two new vehicles with mounted cranes. After comparing a number of low-entry trucks, they made their choice – for two Mercedes-Benz Econic trucks with tipper body and crane. In London and the surrounding area, the 32-tonne vehicles are now in operation for road resurfacing.

Top quality road resurfacing.

Ferns Surfacing is part of the Ferns Group, which has its headquarters near Maidstone, Kent, and operates with a network of ten depots in the south-east of England and East Anglia. The company's main business is as a service provider for gas, water and electrical utilities – and it specialises in tailor-made repair and restoration of roads and walkways when its customers have completed their work.

The work includes filling in dips and other road repairs – filling about 150,000 holes per year, plus thousands of other repair jobs, both on public motorways and private premises. The work is done with short lead times and in tough conditions, and that means: "We need tough, reliable vehicles that can be integrated seamlessly into our short-distance work stream," explains Transport Director James Gupwell.

All good reasons come in threes.

It had to be low-entry – at Ferns Surfacing, that was clear from the start. James Gupwell reports: "In all our fields of business, safety is high priority and our director Ian Fern is actively in favour of purchasing low-entry vehicles."

The second criterion: space. Auxiliary assemblies such as the hydraulic tank, the crane feet and the 60-kg support for the upright tamper all have to be fitted in. In all, a lot of space is needed on the chassis. The Econic provides more usable space between the chassis rails compared with other vehicles – thus providing an excellent complete package for Ferns Surfacing.

Finally, the Mercedes-Benz Aftersales Service won them over too. "We've been really impressed by the support we've been given by the Mercedes-Benz dealership network," says James Gupwell.

Crane and tipper body combined.

Finally, the choice went to two Econic 3235 L 8x4 ENA. Steered leading and trailing axles and tandem axle units ensure super-high manoeuvrability. The economical 7.7-litre six-cylinder engines have an output of 260 kW (354 hp) and are linked to an Allison six-gear automatic transmission.

The steel tipper skips of the tipper grabs are made by body-builder Thompson, and the Epsilon M125L crane has a dual-clamshell grab and maximum reach of 8.2 metres – an optimum basis for shifting loose material.

The two Special Trucks are kept in the depot in Wembley, west London. They are both equipped with acoustic Sideguard Assist on the left and all-round video monitoring systems: maximum support for the drivers, who thus have a clear view of both sides of the vehicle and the rear of the Econic. If the worst should come to the worst, the film material from the blind spot camera system also records the events on an external hard drive.

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Outstanding safety.

The Econic with its DirectVision cab was awarded the maximum 5-star safety category by "Transport for London", the body responsible for coordinating London's transport and traffic. With the low panorama windscreen and the all-glass folding door on the co-driver's side, the cab of the Econic provides unbeatably good visibility, which is particularly advantageous in areas of heavy traffic. The driver has direct eye contact (without technical aids) with cyclists, motor cyclists and pedestrians, which increases safety, particularly at busy junctions.

James Gupwell's workmates too have only good things to say about the new arrivals. "The drivers' experience is that driving in congested areas is considerably less stressful thanks to the better visibility. Also, we can man the Econic with a team of up to four, including the driver – a real plus point. They get in and out many times a day, and they say that the low height of the truck, the easy access to the cab and the air suspension all make work much more comfortable."

The drivers find working with the Econic is considerably less stressful.

 

James Gupwell, Transport Director for Ferns Surfacing

Financing made easy.

For the financing, too, Ferns Surfacing hit on a clever idea: the new vehicles supplied by the Mercedes-Benz partner Sparshatts Truck & Van, are part of a contractual rental scheme with Ferns' long-term partner MC Rental – as is the major part of the fleet.

James Gupwell is totally sold on the two new arrivals – and he's confident that up to ten more Econic trucks will be added to the fleet of the London business in the near future.

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