Competitive market shapes vehicle development

In the highly active RCV market the big prizes offered by public and private sectors buyers to chassis and body builders, plus lifting equipment and accessory suppliers, continue to stimulate innovation and improvements across the board as LAWE reports in the latest of the Tracking Trends series. Change is also the name of the game on the manufacturing front with major companies coming under new ownership or relocating production in response to increasing competition.

Seddon Atkinson, one of the leading marques in the municipal chassis sector, has been making the news on two fronts which reflect current conditions in the RCV market: the company is transferring production from the UK to Madrid while maintaining its flow of orders with major business such as the recent delivery of 22 new Pacer RCVs to Leeds City Council. That order increased Seddon Atkinson's representation in the council's domestic refuse fleet to over 95%, the company reports.

The group says the change is part of a Europe-wide review of Iveco Group manufacturing operations and should stem losses at the UK company. Production will move to the Iveco plant in Spain and engineering work will be conducted at the Iveco Engineering Centres in Ulm, Germany and Turin, Italy.

The company says that the decision should be seen "against the backdrop of overcapacity in the entire industry - a situation which is predicted to continue for at least the next year."

Iveco underlines that it is "anxious to ensure that Seddon Atkinson retains its market leading status in the refuse collection market in Britain and believes that the move will allow the company to strengthen its already string brand image."

The 22 vehicles delivered to Leeds are evidence of the strength of the brand. The RCVs are built on the 26 tonne Pacer 6x4 chassis, with a six-man crew cab and a mixture of bodies, manufactured by Dennis Eagle, Faun and Semat. Terberg and Otto have supplied the wheeled bin lifting equipment.

"Seddon Atkinson won the order for these new 26 tonners because of its ability to supply a proven municipal chassis, backed by the after sales support of its local dealer, Knottingley Trucks," said Carl Snowden, Manager Fleet Services for Leeds City Council.

Each Pacer 6x4 is powered by the Cummins 8.3 litre, ISC.260bhp Euro 3 engine, which is capable of producing up to 260hp at 2,200rpm and a maximum torque of 1,060Nm between 1,200 and 1,600rpm.

North of the Border, the Highlands Council has taken delivery of five new Seddon Pacer RCVs to operate on the Isle of Skye, with a further three on order to serve mainland locations. The initial delivery of five vehicles comprised Pacer 4x2 and 6x2 midlift chassis, plated at 18 and 23 tonnes, respectively, and equipped with Farid refuse bodies. Also on order are a further three Pacer chassis made up of one 18 tonne 4x2 and two 26 tonne 6x2s, each fitted with crew cabs and Heil refuse collection bodies. These vehicles will be located in Inverness, Caithness and Fort William.

The truck chassis manufacturer also displayed a wide range of municipal vehicles at IWM Torbay 2002 . In addition to RCVs Seddon Atkinson showed a tipper, a cess pool tanker, hook lift and multi-functional highways maintenance truck.

New design wins sales
Also notching up new business in both the private and public sectors is Dennis Eagle which reports "unprecedented demand" for its Phoenix 2 which was launched in September last year.

The company's Managing Director of Commercial Operations, Norman Thoday, states that Phoenix 2 accounts for nearly half of current body production, rather than the one third at this point of time predicted last year.

The new generation of RCV bodywork in the shape of Phoenix 2 is proving particularly popular in Ireland, where the company's distributor, Manvik Plant has taken delivery of 26 Phoenix 2 bodies, 21 of which have been supplied with Dennis Eagle Euro 3 Elite chassis.

Operators already using the Phoenix 2 are Dublin City Council which operates 55 Dennis Eagle vehicles through Manvik Plant. Cork Corporation, Oxigen Environmental, Thornton's Recycling, the County Councils of Cork and Waterford, the District Councils of Fermanagh, Strabane, Cookstown and Magherafelt fit, and Castlereagh and Coleraine Borough Councils also have the new vehicles.

Dennis Eagle is also set to launch Phoenix 2 body additional narrow vehicle concepts later this year and will introduce further improvements to the Elite cab and chassis.

The company is also setting its sights on expanding into Europe by establishing an operation in France. Details are due to be announced soon when Dennis Eagle France will be launched on the back of the Phoenix 2 body based on the Elite 4x2 with the Cummins Euro 3 275 ISBe engine and Allison MD3060 World Series gearbox.

Logistics deal

In another initiative Dennis Eagle has awarded its aftermarket logistics parts contract to Lex Auto Logistics, the UK market leader in the automotive aftermarket sector.

The 10-year contract, stated to be the first of its kind within the RCV industry, sees responsibility for Dennis Eagle's logistics parts operation transferred to Lex Auto Logistics based in Chorley, Lancashire. Under the agreement, however, in recognition of the close working relationship Dennis Eagle has with its customer base, direct contact with them will remain the RCV company's responsibility. Dennis Eagle Chief Executive, Mike Molesworth, says the company "will be able to significantly enhance our service support offering to our customer base."

Another part of the Lex Service group, Lex Transfleet, has announced a major contract which underlines the increasingly significant role played by the major vehicle and plant management service providers in the municipal market.

Dumfries and Galloway Council, serving the third largest council area in Scotland, has awarded Lex Transfleet a renewal to its contract to supply 280 vehicles and plant machinery for refuse collection, building and maintenance, grounds maintenance and property services. The contract will run for seven years, with an additional three-year option.



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