‘Spot hire’ and long-term rental customers of Alltruck plc will be the first to enjoy the fuel-saving and environmental benefits of operating trucks with aerodynamic Bevan21 bodies.
A two-year trial of an aerodynamic Bevan21 truck body that delivered fuel savings which were “beyond our expectations”, prompted Argos to return with an order for 100 demountable boxes.
As well as featuring the curved roof design that has proved so successful for the Bevan Group, the new boxes are also significantly lighter than those used previously by Argos.
When mounted on 7.5-tonne chassis they are used exclusively to make deliveries to the homes of Argos and Homebase customers.
However, the high-profile retailer also transports the boxes on drawbar rigs deployed in a round-the-clock trunk operation from its regional distribution centres in Bedford, Darlington and Stafford, to a network of 29 customer service centres – Bevan’s aerodynamically efficient design smoothes the air as it flows off the back of the 18-tonne ‘prime mover’ and over the front of the trailer body, thus reducing drag and improving fuel economy.
Argos took delivery in 2008 of the very first streamlined Bevan21 body to be built by the Bevan Group, which is based in Halesowen, West Midlands. Part of an order for 77 boxes fixed to 7.5-tonne chassis, it has proved impressively fuel-efficient.
Aerodynamic enhancements will always deliver the biggest improvements in mpg performance if the vehicle is allocated to long, steady journeys.
But as David Rose, the retailer’s General Manager for Home Delivery, confirms: “Despite the fact that ours is a multi-drop operation, the Bevan21 has produced average fuel cost savings of around 4.5 per cent compared to our standard box bodies, which is certainly beyond our expectations.”
Bevan Group also supplied Argos with 30 demountable boxes in 2007. For this latest order, the bodybuilder’s designers worked closely with the Argos team to ‘engineer out’ as much weight as possible. A new base frame, ultra-light panels, plastic tie rails, and even pre-coloured and powder-coated extrusions and fixings – negating the need for coats of paint – were all used to trim a further 200kg-plus from what was already a lightweight unit.
Meanwhile, Argos has also added the first 25 Isuzu trucks to its home delivery fleet – the Japanese chassis is around 300kg lighter than the retailer’s established 7.5-tonner.
Mr Rose continues: “Bevan has been able to reduce even more weight than we’d hoped. As well as improving fuel-efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint, its latest boxes offer a very useful increase in payload, irrespective of the type of vehicle on which they are mounted.
“But when they are coupled with the Isuzu chassis the payload benefit is considerably magnified. Our planned routes typically entail 33 deliveries per day – the extra carrying capacity freed up by this new combination should allow our drivers to make an extra four or five ‘drops’, which represents a very useful increase in productivity.”
And he adds: “Once again, we have found (Bevan Group Managing Director) Anthony Bevan and his colleagues a pleasure to work with. They are always enthusiastic and open to our ideas, while also being very proactive in coming to us with suggestions and solutions. Their work is always of the highest quality.”