Most people looking at the front of an Econic would think “Refuse Truck”.  There are an increasing number of operators recognising the benefits in terms of cab access and all-round visibility that these low entry cabs can offer.

Of course, they are not ideal for every operation, but one involving a crew and local work – especially in urban environments – then they should be on every operator’s shortlist for an 18 or 26-tonner.

Mercedes Econic Traffic Management Dropsides
Mercedes Econic Traffic Management Dropsides

Early Adopter

Infrastructure support service leader Amey were an early adopter of the Econics for use in a non-waste environment and have confirmed the success of this decision by ordering another dozen of the 18-tonne trucks.

The company commissioned a batch of 11 traffic management vehicles and barrier rigs as long ago as 2009.

Amey Supply Chain Manager Jason Clement said:

Our experience over more than a decade confirms that the Econic is simply the best vehicle for this job. It’s well-built, reliable and cost-effective to operate. Just as importantly, the Econic leads the field in terms of safety, and is very popular with our crews. The opinions of front-line colleagues are key to Amey’s vehicle procurement strategy, and the low-entry Mercedes-Benz scores particularly highly in terms of cab space and comfort.

These trucks are part of a larger order that also contains three Arocs tippers that join the 500-strong truck fleet where Mercedes hold the lion’s share of the business.

All but one of these vehicles are destined for operation on the £325-million Area 10 Highways England maintenance and response contract on which Amey began work in 2019. This 15-year agreement covers routine maintenance, defect repairs, emergency incident responses and severe weather services, on 420 km of motorway and 80 km of major A roads in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire and South Lancashire.

The Econic Specification

Dealer group Rygor Commercials has just delivered the first four new trucks – two traffic management vehicles with sign boards and Scorpion crash cushions, and a pair of multi-purpose barrier rigs with Palfinger cranes and cone wells.

The traffic management vehicles were built in Calne, Wiltshire, by leading specialist Acklea, while the barrier rigs are the work of Palfinger UK.

All of Amey’s Mercedes-Benz vehicles arrived via Rygor Commercials, a Dealer with which it has enjoyed a relationship that goes back many years. As with previous orders, the latest fleet is the subject of a contract hire agreement with supply chain partner and vehicle provider Hitachi Capital.

The 12 Econics are 1827L models with 7.7-litre in-line six-cylinder engines producing 272 hp. These are paired with 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated manual transmissions.

The Econics due for delivery later this year are also being built to traffic management vehicle specification by Acklea. The only one of these which has not been ordered for the Area 10 contract will work in Scotland, as will a 26-tonne Arocs 2630 gritter.

The two remaining vehicles, a pair of tippers which are also based on Arocs chassis, in this case 18-tonne 1824 variants, are earmarked for Amey’s Area 7 contract with Highways England, which covers 787 km of roads in the East  Midlands.

Mercedes Econic 1827L Traffic Management Dropside
Mercedes Econic 1827L Traffic Management Dropside

Safety is the Key

The Econic rides on full air suspension, and employs Active Brake Assist 4 emergency braking technology. Programmed to recognise other vehicles at higher speeds, as well as pedestrians when moving more slowly, this is capable of bringing it to a complete stop.

The truck, which has been awarded a five-star Direct Vision rating by Transport for London, also has an air-conditioned cab with deep panoramic windscreen, and accommodates up to four passengers. The driver’s low seating position, and the full-height, glazed folding side door specified by so many operators, including Amey, further aid visibility.

A single step and a predominantly flat floor that makes for easy cross-cab access also contribute to health and safety for operatives who may be in and out of the vehicle many times in a working day, by encouraging them always to use the safest side. To this comprehensive standard safety specification, Amey has added a full suite of cameras providing 360-degree visibility for drivers.

Jason Clement added: “Rygor Fleet Sales Manager Jeremy Price has been managing our account for many years and the relationship continues to work very well. He understands our requirements and liaises with the other suppliers involved to make the acquisition process as simple as possible for my team.”