Residents of South Tyneside are set to benefit from more reliable bin collections following their local authority’s investment in a fleet of state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Econic refuse trucks.

The 16 Econic 2630 chassis were supplied by North-East Dealer Bell Truck and Van, then fitted by specialist municipal bodybuilder Farid Hillend Engineering, of Dunfermline, with waste compactors and bin lifting equipment.

The new 26-tonners now form the backbone of South Tyneside Council’s waste collection fleet, having replaced a similar number of ageing trucks which were proving increasingly expensive to keep on the road.

Councillor Nancy Maxwell, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Many of the vehicles in our fleet were reaching the end of their lives and needed replacing.

“The new trucks will help us provide a more resilient service by reducing the risk of breakdown, which causes disruption and delays to bin collection rounds – downtime can also be a costly issue in terms of repairs and the need to hire replacement vehicles.”

She continued: “Our fleet provides vital front-line services, so it is important that it remains fully operational. Not only will the introduction of ‘greener’, more efficient vehicles help to save money for the Council in annual vehicle maintenance costs, but it will also provide our workforce with the tools and equipment they need to ensure reliable and efficient services for residents.”

The low-entry Mercedes-Benz Econic’s deep, panoramic windscreen affords drivers an unrivalled view and allows them to make direct eye contact with vulnerable road users. A survey conducted in November by Mercedes-Benz Trucks to coincide with Road Safety Week revealed that 88% of motorcyclists and 82% of cyclists need to see a driver’s face in order to feel safe on the road. The Econic is also easily accessed by crew members, and comes with Active Brake Assist emergency braking technology as standard. South Tyneside Council has added a 360-degree camera system, by Vision Techniques, of Blackburn.

Fleet Manager Tom Turner commented: “We take the safety of our crews and local residents extremely seriously, and believe the Econic is the best vehicle on the market for operation in densely populated residential areas.”

The 6×2 chassis are powered by Euro VI, 220 kW (299 hp) 7.7-litre engines paired with six-speed Allison automatic transmissions, and have rear-steer axles for optimum manoeuvrability. Farid Hillend Engineering fitted either PowerLink single-compartment or TwinTrak split bodies. The trucks’ Terberg lifters, meanwhile, are electrically powered – as well as saving fuel compared to lifters powered by the truck’s diesel engine, these are quieter in operation.

All Mercedes-Benz Econics are backed by three-year Mercedes-Benz warranties, but South Tyneside Council has added ExtendPlus cover, which adds full protection for a longer period – in this case, five years. “The extended warranty gives us complete peace of mind and means we will be able to provide local residents with an efficient, cost-effective service into the future,” added Mr Turner.

South Tyneside Council operates a fleet of around 350 vehicles, and undertakes the majority of maintenance tasks in its own workshops. The authority and its partner, South Tyneside Homes, deliver a diverse range of front-line services, including waste collections, highways maintenance, neighbourhood and handyman services.