An unstinting commitment to safety across all aspects of its operation was key to the decision by the Essex-based Industrial Chemicals Group to order a new fleet of 38 Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor units.
ICL has specified its new trucks with optional Safety Packs, which include the manufacturer’s remarkable Active Brake Assist 3 autonomous braking and Proximity Control Assist systems.
“Working in the chemicals industry, often with hazardous products, risk management is integral to everything we do and critical to our company ethos,” revealed Managing Director Edwin Strang.
"These Mercedes-Benz vehicles lead the field in terms of safety technology and their introduction underlines our commitment to the protection of our own employees and other road users. What’s more, it can only enhance ICL’s reputation as a responsible operator in the eyes of our customers.”
Eye-catching in ICL’s smart new livery over metallic silver paintwork, the new trucks are Actros 2548 BigSpace models and the subject of a CharterWay contract hire agreement with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. They are being supplied by Dealer S & B Commercials, with most due to enter service over the coming weeks.
The Actros are powered by second-generation 12.8-litre, OM471 straight-six engines producing 350 kW (476 hp) and offering fuel savings of around 3% compared to their already frugal predecessors. To further boost economy they are also equipped with optional Predictive Powertrain Control systems.
ICL was founded as a transport company 40 years ago, before branching out first into chemicals trading and then production. ICL is now one of the UK’s largest, privately-owned manufacturers, handling more than one million tonnes of chemicals per year on its headquarters site in Grays and at a larger, more modern facility in nearby Thurrock, as well as at five other locations in the UK and one in Louisiana, USA.
The company supplies a wide variety of chemicals to customers involved in the water treatment and other industries; most, among them hazardous products such as hydrochloric and sulphuric acids, caustic soda and bleach, are transported as liquids in various types of tank trailer.
The Actros are fitted with wet kits for pumping equipment and are replacing vehicles of another marque, which have reached the ends of their contract terms. Mr Strang continued: “Prior to ordering our new tractor units we took soundings from other industry contacts and conducted extensive research, which validated the manufacturer’s claims regarding fuel-efficiency and environmental compatibility.
“The trucks look great in our fresh new livery, and can only enhance our image. Two of our driver-trainers also attended a RoadEfficiency LIVE event staged recently by Mercedes-Benz and were hugely impressed by all that they saw and heard, which is very encouraging.”
In addition to its Actros tractors, ICL has ordered five 26-tonne Actros 2535 rigids and a single 12-tonne Atego from S & B Commercials, all of which will have curtainside bodies.
Mr Strang added: “S & B Commercials have worked hard to win our business, and have been well supported by the manufacturer. This order represents a major investment so we went to great lengths to get it right – I’ve every confidence that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
The Mercedes-Benz Active Brake Assist 3 system already out-performs the requirements of General Safety Regulations which do not come into force for another two years. Using a combination of radar and cameras, it monitors moving and stationary objects in front and sounds an audible warning when it senses potential for a collision. If the driver takes no action, the system will apply staged braking – and eventually full braking power – to prevent a crash, or dramatically reduce the effects of an impact.
Proximity Control Assist works in conjunction with the cruise control, intervening automatically to restrict the truck’s speed and maintain a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front.
Customers for the Mercedes-Benz Safety Pack, which also includes a driver’s airbag and a large, easy-to-read instrument cluster, can make a substantial saving on the price of these items if purchased separately.
Predictive Powertrain Control, meanwhile, employs digital 3D mapping and GPS data to scan the road ahead. Armed with this information it manages gear changes and vehicle speed, making full use of the truck’s EcoRoll function to restrict diesel consumption and emissions. Mercedes-Benz claims fuel savings of approximately 5% for PPC, although many operators report more substantial improvements.
Will Davey, Truck Sales Director at S & B Commercials, commented: “Industrial Chemicals Group is an Essex ‘success story’, having grown from small beginnings to become a major concern, operating on a national and indeed international basis. We are proud to be supporting this highly professional company, and look forward to building upon our new relationship over the months and years to come.”