Outstanding reliability from its first Mercedes-Benz Actros steered Teesport owner PD Ports back to North-East Dealer Bell Truck and Van with a follow-up order for another nine.

Commissioned in 2017 as part of an evaluation exercise which also involved tractor units by two other manufacturers, the initial vehicle has lived up to the Actros range’s reputation for fuel-efficiency, while also proving popular with drivers.

The ‘clincher’ for PD Ports, however, was the fact that with expert, customer-focused back-up from the workshop team at Bell Truck and Van’s Billingham branch, the Mercedes-Benz ran for an entire year without any unplanned downtime.

The nine units that PD Ports has since commissioned as a result of this resoundingly positive experience are the subject of a contract hire agreement with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. All are Actros 2545 models with aerodynamic StreamSpace cabs, and advanced, 330 kW (450 hp) 12.8-litre straight-six engines.

Operating from headquarters in the North-East, the award-winning ports, shipping and multimodal logistics business also owns ports at Hartlepool, Groveport, Howden, the Isle of Wight, and Keadby, and has other operations in Billingham, Felixstowe, Immingham, on the Thames and at Swadlincote. Its 10 Actros are now working alongside 21 other trucks based at the Teesport deep-water complex. Most assignments are undertaken on a contract logistics basis within the North-East region.

Russell Spink commissioned the truck comparison shortly after joining PD Ports as its new General Manager – Transport. He recalled: “With a single exception, the drivers all preferred the Mercedes-Benz to one of its competitors, while they were evenly split as far as the other was concerned. It proved economical, too, consistently returning mpg figures in the high nines, although there wasn’t a lot to choose between any of the vehicles in terms of fuel-efficiency.

“Where the Actros really scored, however, was in its reliability. We had no problems whatsoever with the Mercedes-Benz – it never missed a beat.”

‘Maximised use’ is one of the three pillars of Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ all-embracing RoadEfficiency strategy, the others being ‘Low total costs’ and ‘Greater safety’. A professional, focused Dealer Network which is committed to keeping its customers’ vehicles on the road and earning, is key to the achievement of this goal.

“The Bell Truck and Van team are great to work with, and highly professional in their support of a first-class product,”

affirmed Mr Spink.

“Truck Sales Executive Craig Graham provides an excellent service, while the Dealer makes life easy for my team by collecting our Actros when inspections and maintenance are due, then returning them afterwards. The work is carried out overnight, or at weekends, so the trucks are always available for work when we need them.”

Like all customers for road-going Euro VI Mercedes-Benz trucks covered by Complete Service Contracts, PD Ports also benefits from the manufacturer’s Zero Tolerance on Downtime pledge. In the event that its own vehicle cannot be repaired and set back on the road within 24 hours, Mercedes-Benz will either provide the operator with a like-for-like replacement, or reimburse it for the cost of renting one.

“The Zero Tolerance on Downtime commitment is certainly reassuring,” added Mr Spink, “although given what I’ve seen of the Actros in operation I don’t envisage having to resort to it any time soon.”