Air Products has ordered 90 Mercedes-Benz Actros for industrial gas distribution after a tender.

Supplied by North-West Dealer Roanza Truck & Van, most of the new vehicles are 6x2 Actros 2545 StreamSpace tractor units with state-of-the-art 330 kW (450 hp) 12.8-litre engines.

But 15 are 26-tonne Actros 2533s with ClassicSpace cabs and 10.7-litre powerplants which generate 240 kW (326 hp).

The trucks will work from Air Products’ gas production facility and distribution hubs across the UK and Ireland. The tractors haul gas tank trailers while the rigids, which have tank bodies, deliver to locations with restricted access.

“Our initial analysis of the bids we received focused on the total cost of ownership, including projected expenditure on acquisition, servicing and repairs, and fuel, as well as residual values,” said Air Products’ Category Specialist Andy Stanfield.

By our calculations, the Actros was clearly the best buy.

“We also demanded the highest standards of safety, and evidence that we could rely on our new trucks to spend the maximum time out on the road rather than in the workshop. Thanks to their ground-breaking technology the Mercedes-Benz trucks ticked both of these boxes too.”

Air Products’ new trucks are fitted with Fleetboard telematics and optional Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) systems. FleetBoard records and processes technical data from the vehicle, then rates the driver’s performance at the wheel. It will help operators target training where shortcomings in technique are identified.

PPC is an innovative cruise control that employs digital 3D mapping and GPS data to scan the road ahead.

“PPC also encourages a more relaxed driving style and is just one example of our commitment to staff welfare,” said Stanfield.

Most of the Actros have replaced Air Products’ previous Mercedes-Benz trucks.

“This investment underlines Air Products’ determination to deliver a best-in-class customer experience through the safe, reliable and efficient execution of our daily operational activities, and underpins Air Products’ goal to be the safest and most profitable Industrial Gas Company in the world,” added Stanfield.

“For their part, Mercedes-Benz and Roanza have also demonstrated impressive levels of care and attention. Both have worked hard to ensure we get the best from our new fleet, putting in the time to understand our requirements, arranging a ‘one-stop’ pre-delivery inspection service which also covered ancillary items, and providing familiarisation sessions for our own driver-trainers. The whole package has been superb.”