Vosa prosecutions prove Driver CPC value

The latest 2011 / 2012 figures from Vosa show that 81% of all prosecutions in the top 10 list of offences are related to Drivers’ Hours and Tachograph / Records. These are very concerning figures and serve to reiterate the importance of driver training and professional analysis so that operators can accurately monitor and assess driver infringements, writes Tachodisc MD Karen Crispe.

We understand there is intense pressure on operators and transport managers to balance the commercial aspects of a business with compliance needs. But compliance has to be a number one priority; these prosecutions result in expensive fines and are damaging to a company’s OCRS score and potentially to a business as a whole, but worse they could lead to someone being seriously injured.

The solution is simple because there are many ways now in which driver’s hours and tachographs can be cost effectively managed using professional analysis services.

Plus, with Driver CPC being a mandatory requirement for drivers, it would make sense in light of these statistics that operators and drivers proportion part of the 35 hours of training to legislative-biased courses, ie those focused on drivers hours law and tachographs. 

Tachotrain, devised by Tachodisc’s legislative training experts, is another part of the solution. The web-based training management system enables companies to test and periodically assess drivers’ knowledge on key legislation subjects. These online assessments provide companies with the unique ability to periodically test, assess and reinforce drivers’ knowledge on key legislative subjects. 

It can also automatically track, manage and report on all staff training requirements by employee, job type, depot, location and reporting line for Driver CPC as well as wider HSE requirements. 

Given all the technology, services and tools available, these statistics are really quite shocking. And, we must be reminded of the importance of Drivers’ Hours Law and Tachographs because they are in place to protect and safeguard drivers, and others, while on the road. 

Mercedes-Benz unveils the Arocs range

Mercedes-Benz could at last be poised to become a significant player in the UK’s heavy construction truck market, thanks to a huge line-up of new Arocs construction vehicles ranging from 18-tonners to multiwheelers and tractor units.

Unveiling Arocs in Germany last week, the just-promoted head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks Stefan Buchner explained why the company developed a complete range of construction trucks rather than merely adapting haulage chassis. Noting an increasing degree of specialisation, Buchner said: “One size fits all is a thing of the past.”

That explains why Arocs vehicles have their own chassis, which use C-section cross-members rather than the tubular ones of the Actros and Antos chassis. This is designed to give a little more flex to Arocs frames.

There are seven cab types, five of which are 2.3m wide but with different lengths and heights, each with a choice of two mounting heights giving an engine tunnel height of either 320mm or 170mm. The other two cabs are flat-floored, 2.5m-wide sleepers. Better angles of approach and steel bumper corner-sections mark these out as construction vehicle cabs.

According to their gross weight, Arocs variants are powered by one of four engines, all six-cylinder, Euro-6 units: 7.7-, 10.7-, 12.8- and a new 15.6-litre engine. Power ratings span from 235hp to 617hp. Mercedes has taken the bold move of making its automated manual PowerShift 3 transmission standard in every model, with eight-speed versions for lighter chassis and 12-speed or even 16-speed boxes for heavy models. They include crawl and rocking mode. Nine- or 16-speed manual gearboxes are demoted to the options list.

New front axles are almost straight instead of cranked, increasing ground clearance. For the same reason, off-road models have hub-reduction drive-axles, whereas road-going Arocs units have single-reduction axles. Brakes can be drums all round, all disc or a combination of both, depending on the model. The standard suspension set-up for on-road Arocs is steel at the front and air at the back; off-road models have parabolic steel-leaf suspension at the rear with two, three or four leaves according to axle capacity.

Far lighter option

Mercedes is offering two-, three- and four-axle configurations, from 4x2 18-tonners to 8x8. Four-axle vehicles are available with electro-hydraulic steering for axles one and two, rather than mechanical linkages. For operators only occasionally needing extra traction, there is a far lighter, switchable hydrodynamic front axle option, using hydraulic motors in the front wheel hubs, driven by the PTO.

As well as the usual 8x4 layout, there is a mixer chassis with one front and three rear axles (axles two and three driven), similar to Volvo’s Tridem. There is an 8x2, but weight-hungry mixer operators can also cut kilos by choosing the Loader 8x4 mixer chassis. This has single tyres instead of twins on the drive axles. These 385/65 R22.5 tyres normally have an axle load rating of nine tonnes, but it is claimed that these Continental HSC1 tyres are specially produced for Mercedes and carry a 9.5-tonne rating. Single tyres give a wider track, improving stability, and Mercedes reckons reduced traction should not be a problem for most mixers. This, and a host of other weight-saving features, allows the 8x4 Loader to carry 8.5m? instead of the usual 8.0m? of concrete, claims Mercedes.

Precise weight data is not yet available for the Arocs range, but the huge number of chassis, cab and engine permutations suggests operators should be able to save weight where it suits them. Euro-6 EGR and exhaust after-treatment inevitably add kilos, but the new OM470 10.7-litre engine is 141kg lighter than the OM471 12.8-litre engine, opening up a real weight-saving opportunity. With power and torque ratings of up to 422hp and 2,100Nm, this 10.7-litre engine looks like a wise choice for the 8x4 Arocs. First impressions suggest they have potential to challenge the Scania, Volvo and Daf triumvirate that dominates the UK 8x4 construction chassis sector.  n

New engine

Mercedes also revealed its new 15.6-litre, in-line, six-cylinder engine, the OM473, offered in both the Arocs and the Actros. This is Mercedes’ fifth new truck engine in less than two years. It completes Mercedes’ Euro-6 engine range, which boasts a smooth progression in terms of both swept volume and power ratings, from 154hp to 617hp.

Available only as a Euro-6 engine, the OM473 supersedes the 15.9-litre V8 OM502LA engine in the top Euro-5 Actros. Whereas the V8 comes in 503hp, 542hp and 590hp ratings, the new OM473 ups the ante, to 510hp, 570hp and 617hp, with rated speed cut from 1,800 to 1,600rpm. Torque is better too, 200Nm more than the V8, with the 617hp unit reaching 3,000Nm.

Although Mercedes has no plans to gate- crash the Swedish 700hp-plus club, head of truck product engineering Georg Weiberg said we can expect to see more than 617hp from the OM473 once testing has proved that higher power does not jeopardise durability.

The key features of the new engine echo those of the 12.8-litre OM471, namely twin overhead (hollow) camshafts and Bosch/Daimler amplified common-rail fuel injection (dubbed X-Pulse by Mercedes). The latter provides injection pressures of up to 2,100bar along with rate shaping by means of pilot, main and post injections for each firing.

Unlike the 12.8-litre engine, this new 15.6-litre unit uses turbo-compounding. Its Holset turbocharger is followed by a second turbine that extracts the thermal energy from the exhaust stream and feeds it back to the engine’s crankshaft via a hydrodynamic clutch (fluid coupling) to supplement output. But the turbine is spinning at approximately 60,000rpm, so two stages of reduction gears are needed to bring the speed down to match the engine’s 1,500rpm.

Turbo-compounding only pays dividends if the engine is working hard, when there is lots of energy to be harvested from the exhaust. Daimler reckons turbo-compounding gives fuel savings of around 2% under high load conditions. So the OM473 will shine at high weights and in mountainous terrain rather than taking life easy at 40 tonnes and 1,000rpm on the M1.

Like its two smaller siblings in the new OM engine range, the OM473 has a powerful integral three-stage decompression brake, better known under its proprietary ‘Jake brake’ name from US-based Jacobs Vehicle Systems.

NOx reduction is handled by cooled EGR in the engine, plus SCR exhaust-after-treatment. The OM473’s dry weight is quoted as 1,284kg, which we understand to be about 100kg more than the current 15.9-litre V8. It is also 150kg more than the 12.8-litre OM471, which has ratings up to 503hp.