Mercedes-Benz Actros are ‘black magic’ for start-up HNC Transport.

Mercedes-Benz Actros are ‘black magic’ for start-up HNC Transport.

July 2016.

Nathan Chambers and Hannah Doolan grew up around the family transport business and its fleet of Swedish-built trucks, but when launching their own Manchester-based company the brother and sister team decided to set themselves apart with five Mercedes-Benz tractor units.

HNC Transport took delivery of the gleaming black Actros 2548s from Dealer Roanza Truck & Van, which has a branch just yards from the new operator’s base at Trafford Park’s Euroterminal.

Fuel-efficiency was at the top of the siblings’ ‘wish list’ and a three-week trial clinched the deal – the Actros beat its competitor from their parents’ favoured brand by a wide enough margin to hold out the promise of significantly lower running costs, while also winning a resounding ‘thumbs up’ from drivers.

Powered by 350 kW (476 hp) straight-six engines which drive through smooth-changing Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmissions, the trucks are highly specified with optional extras including leather upholstery, fridges and airhorns, and fuel-saving Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) systems.

“We’re delighted with our new Actros,” confirmed Hannah Doolan. “They’re on container work so the weights can vary, but across the five trucks we’re averaging 9.9 mpg, while on certain runs individual units are recording 11-12 mpg. These are excellent figures.”

She continued: “Our drivers are very happy with their new vehicles, while we’ve also been highly impressed with the service from Roanza. Nathan and I have already built up a strong relationship with its Sales Executive Dawn Wilson-Smith – she went to a lot of trouble to outline how the Actros could deliver unbeatable fuel efficiency, and then provided both a Mercedes-Benz ‘Fuel Challenger’ unit and the Dealer’s own demonstrator to prove it.

“Dawn also arranged for Roanza’s Driver-Trainer Chris Cooper to go out on the road with each of our drivers and explain how to get the best from the various high-tech fuel saving systems on the Actros, particularly the Predictive Powertrain Control.”

PPC is an innovative cruise control that 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 CO2 emissions.

By also applying engine braking at every opportunity the system reduces component wear and tear, while drivers are less stressed and safer because it leaves them free to concentrate fully on the road ahead. Tests have shown that PPC can deliver savings of 5%, although many UK operators have reported much higher gains. The system is available as an option on new Actros and can now also be retro-fitted to vehicles already on the road

“As an overall package the Actros is a winner, while the fact that Roanza’s Trafford Park Service department is open 24 hours a day is another big advantage, and will help us keep downtime to an absolute minimum,” concluded Hannah.

“We’re now using the trucks’ Mercedes-Benz Fleetboard telematics systems to monitor their fuel consumption closely, and looking forward to adding more units as our business grows.”

Although it has only been operating for a month, HNC Transport hit the ground running with a full order book of container haulage work. “We might be new in business but we know what we’re doing,” asserted Manchester University Business Management graduate Hannah, who looks after the administration of the company while brother Nathan handles the transport operation. “We’re determined to operate efficiently and provide the best possible service to our customers – our Actros are helping us to deliver on both fronts.”