When most businesses buy their first ever tractor unit, they reasonably might be expected to opt for a fairly standard model or perhaps even a second-hand truck. Cornish operator Brunel chose an alternative route in ordering the top-of-the-range 16-litre 625hp Actros 1 – one of a limited edition run of just 400 and just 35 in the UK.

Still, the family waste and recycling business that also owns Plymouth Albion Rugby Club is keen to invest their money in top quality.

In addition to the Actros came another new vehicle – an eight-wheeled Arocs tipper, which had been pre-bodied for the Dealer’s stock and was delivered at short notice.

Actros tractor unit & Arocs Tipper
In addition to the Actros came another new vehicle – an eight-wheeled Arocs tipper

The Truck Buyer

Having traded previously as Brunel Recycling, it has just adopted a fresh new image. “This business has grown to offer so much more than just recycling,” explained Managing Director Brian Venables. “Our rebrand reflects this. We will now be known simply as Brunel.” 

Brunel is accredited to Bronze standard by the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) and runs 11 trucks, all but the oldest of which wear three-pointed stars and arrived via Dealer Rygor Commercials. The new vehicles are the first to wear the new, shortened form of the company’s name.

Family-owned Brunel operates from headquarters in Saltash. Its roots date back to 1989, when David Venables established a landfill business, to which he then added a waste transfer station and skip hire venture.

The founder retired in 2014, at which point his son Brian took over and adopted the ‘Remove-Recycle-Reuse’ motto which is also proudly emblazoned on its Mercedes-Benz trucks. Today, the company provides a comprehensive portfolio of haulage, demolition, recycled aggregates and concrete services to customers throughout Devon and Cornwall.

Brunel’s graded aggregates are widely used for construction projects in Plymouth and the surrounding area. The firm also supplies interlocking blocks, readymix concrete and recycled aggregates, undertakes site clearances, demolitions and muckaway work, and offers low-loader haulage and heavy plant and machinery hire services.

The Truck Specifications

Based on the GigaSpace cab, the Actros Edition 1 is instantly recognisable thanks to its gloss black grille, darkened headlamp covers and rims, and branded sun visor incorporating four extra LED main-beam headlamps. Transport Manager Steve Allen enthused: “It’s a fantastic truck; there can’t be a better looking one on the road.”

Like most examples, Brunel’s is powered by a 15.6-litre in-line six-cylinder engine that produces 625 hp. The Edition 1 works with a pair of new trailers by Kel-Berg, both of which have already seen action  on one of the city’s biggest ever civil engineering projects, the Forder Valley Link Road, in which Brunel is heavily engaged. The tri-axled low-loader transports the company’s own plant, while the Hardox steel tipping trailer carries up to 27 tonnes of soil and stone to and from the site.

The new 8×4 Arocs is a 3243K model with ClassicSpace M-cab. It is powered by a 10.7-litre in-line six-cylinder engine that produces 428 hp, and has a steel Predator Ultimate tipping body by Abba Commercials.

Mercedes Actros Edition 1 & trailer
“There can’t be a better looking truck on the road,” said Brunel Transport Manager Steve Allen

Saving Money with Mirrorcam

Like the Edition 1, the Arocs is fitted with MirrorCam – Steve Allen is already a confirmed fan of the system, not least because the compact, roof-mounted camera housings hold out the promise of financial savings as well as safety gains.  “We have a lot of narrow, hedge-lined lanes in this part of the world, so like every other operator down here we’ve always had to contend with a certain amount of mirror damage.

“Being so much smaller and higher, though, the cameras should be a lot less vulnerable to knock-offs. We’ve also noticed that the cameras don’t get anything like as dirty as mirrors do when the truck is working on sites.”

The Driver’s View

The Edition 1 is assigned to driver Anthony Ruby, who joined Brunel in 2014, when it expanded into tipper work. “Everywhere I go, people want to talk to me about the Actros, and to photograph it,” he said.

“MirrorCam is very easy to use, and represents a big step forward in my opinion, while the big engine is a joy – I just put it in cruise control and let it do its stuff. I feel genuinely privileged every time I climb up into a vehicle that’s so comfortable it’s like sitting in your front room.”

Both trucks also came with Multimedia Cockpits, which replace traditional switchgear with twin screens. The Edition 1’s upgraded interactive version incorporates a larger, 12in primary colour display, and offers extra functionality.

The operator purchased its first 8×4 Arocs 3240K tipper from Rygor Commercials in 2015. It now has six of these vehicles, as well as a tipper-grab, a hook-loader, a volumetric mixer and the Actros tractor unit.

As with its previous Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the operator’s latest orders were managed by Rygor Commercials Truck Sales Executive Marcus Cahalin. “Brunel has a very strong brand image and one of the best-looking fleets in the south-west,” he said.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with Brian and his team – they’re commercially astute businesspeople for whom an acquisition must always make sound financial sense, but they’re also enthusiasts with a real passion for their trucks. In other words, the perfect customer for the awesome Actros Edition 1.”