TOP TRUCK - Magnificent Merc a driver’s dream

Friday, February 8, 2019

The first big Mercedes-Benz dedicated to stock in the RTL operation, this month’s Top Truck is about as good as it gets when it comes to representing its brand, its owners, its suppliers, and looking after its occupants.

Photo: The Arocs looks stunning against the Southland backdrop.

Those familiar with the Road Transport Logistics (RTL) company will know that any number of their units could be a Top Truck contender. Consisting of Beckers Transport, Buchanan Transport, Tuapeka Transport, West Otago Transport, and Clinton Waipahi Holdings, their liveries are familiar throughout the south, and on this occasion it’s a new Mercedes-Benz in the Clinton Waipahi Holdings colours that graces New Zealand Trucking’s pages.

There was homework to do before Shona Robertson, the group’s CEO, and the wider management team gave the go ahead to purchase the truck. RTL’s mantra is ‘working together’ and Shona says this doesn’t just apply at the operational coalface; it goes much wider than that. “Working together with our clients, communities and staff. Investing in smart gear ticks our responsibilities regarding environmental impacts, health and safety, animal welfare, efficiencies and driver comfort.”

Photo: We know the big Benz’s cockpit well. It’s a tough one to beat if you’re a Euro truck connoisseur.

RTL run nearly 70 trucks mainly on rural cartage throughout the lower South Island. The Arocs is the first Mercedes-Benz on livestock and is one of a few in the fleet solely dedicated to livestock work. But the company is familiar with the brand and the back up that Prestige Commercial Vehicles provide, with four Mercedes-Benz spreaders also in the Clinton Waipahi Holdings colours.
As is the case with many of their suppliers, RTL fleet manager Bruce Robertson’s praise of Prestige Commercial Vehicles is high.
“We have always had a great relationship with the team at Prestige. Russell Marr and Theo Ferreira are excellent at what they do, so that was one of the reasons for looking more closely at the truck.” The fuel usage on the Clinton Waipahi Arocs is already looking promising, Bruce says.
Bruce, Ken Thompson and Anton Hoffman, who help manage the RTL operation, also looked into driver comfort, driver safety, and the welfare of the livestock that they would be carrying with this unit. The chassis sits 20mm lower than the other Euros in the fleet so they have been able to make the crate pens a bit deeper to give livestock that little bit more room. Any less and ground clearance for the truck would be jeopardised.

“We travel into some remote stations with numerous river crossings and ground clearance was important,” says Bruce. Having the pleasure of driving the unit is Garry Kennedy. Garry comes out of an aging Argosy that was running under Buchannan Transport colours. “The Argosy was a good truck but the Merc is a huge step up.” Garry has been with RTL for four years, mainly on livestock cartage, and it’s something he really enjoys. Vehicle utility and efficiency are key drivers at RTL and Garry essentially packs a bag at the start of the week, getting home on a Friday night or Saturday morning. Although he’s more than happy with the lifestyle, RTL have looked after him, with driver comfort and safety being high on the agenda. ”It’s my home away from home. I’m in it for the week,” he says. “We want to improve client service and keep the trucks loaded. Better gear with more HPMV units, with hopefully fewer trucks on the road,” adds Bruce.
“It’s just so bloody comfy,” says Garry. “Some trucks you have to move your arse around in the seat but not with this one; you enjoy being in it and I’m happy to go anywhere, including the North Island. I can stand up in the bloody thing! The more I’m in it, the more I like it.”

Photo: Garry Kennedy at a great point in life.
A new Mercedes-Benz Arocs and Lacy Kennedy, his truck-mad granddaughter.

The Arocs boasts the OM473 engine producing 470kW (630hp) at 1600rpm and comes with a three-stage compression brake. Behind the engine is the company Powershift 3 12-speed AMT transmission.
The truck’s not shy on standard creature comforts either. Leather driving seats, leather multifunction steering wheel, electric glass sunroof, heated and electric rear vision mirrors, under-bed fridge, touchscreen multimedia with audio, navigation, and Bluetooth connectivity. Over and above the standard trim there’s a new 20” LED TV as well. The all-aluminium 2-deck cattle/4-deck sheep Delta stock crates were kitted out in Feilding and look stunning in the Clinton Waipahi blue. To help Garry, an electric winch has been fitted to the trailer crate ramp for ease of operation, and once again driver safety and wellbeing. Jackson Enterprises built the truck deck and 10.4m monocoque alloy chassis livestock trailer.
Although the popularity of the new Mercedes-Benz range is clearly evident in the market, this new RTL dedicated livestock unit is certainly turning heads throughout New Zealand.