Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) has handed over a staggering order of 22 Mercedes-Benz Atego 918/42 trucks to the City of Tshwane. These vehicles will beef up the city’s Electricity Department fleet, which is used in the maintenance of street lights and other facilities.

CLINTON SAVAGE, Mercedes-Benz Trucks divisional manager, says: “The Mercedes-Benz Atego is the ideal truck for the City of Tshwane’s Electricity Department. This vehicle can manoeuvre in narrow city streets and copes well with rugged terrain. Additionally, given the economic climate, the Atego is an outstanding match for the city’s mandate, which called for a vehicle that is durable, economical and robust.” Savage elaborates that what sets the Mercedes-Benz Atego apart is its low maintenance cost. “The Atego also offers low fuel consumption and its low carbon emissions align well with the global drive to reduce and minimise carbon emissions.” The Atego is the benchmark in its market segment and offers unsurpassed performance, safety and uptime among other things. Optimal total cost of ownership supported by the backing of MBSA’s extensive value chain offerings makes a strong business case for the Atego. “In line with other innovative fleets in our customer base, the city has opted for our progressive CharterWay Service plan – our MBSA commercial vehicles value chain offering for service and maintenance contracts.”

Superior service to the city
Ndwamato Tom Mutshidza, acting strategic executive director in the Services Infrastructure Department at the City of Tshwane, says: “This monumental project marks the continuation of our long-standing relationship with MBSA. It is a result of consolidated efforts by Mercedes-Benz and its suppliers. We are glad that these vehicles will boost our efforts to deliver a superior service to the residents of the city.” Mutshidza jested that Mercedes-Benz is also the city’s client because the City of Tshwane provides services to the company.

Rapid, space-efficient aerial platforms
The Mercedes-Benz Atego trucks are fitted with Scorpian 1490 Smart aerial platforms by the Germiston-based specialist Smith Capital Equipment. The SCORPION 1490 SMART commonly finds application in overhead line works, telecommunications and street lighting maintenance.

Uven Moodley, operations director at Smith Capital Equipment, says: “The platform fitted on the Mercedes- Benz Atego is a leader in its class, with its unique ability to be set up and ready to work faster than most of its competitors. It is very popular in Europe and we import this platform from Oils & Steel SPA in Italy. The City of Tshwane is the second municipality in South Africa to have the Oil & Steel SPA platform in the country. We are indeed very proud to have partnered with MBSA on this flagship project.”

These aerial platforms have a high-quality tubular and sheet steel structure that is bolted onto the chassis. They are equipped with four A-type stabiliser feet. A slew bearing rotates the aerial device and it is driven by a hydraulic motor and reduction gear with a normally closed parking brake that opens automatically. Moodley explains that the telescopic design of the unit allows the operator to position the platform and then aim directly at the work applications, allowing for more accurate means of getting to the work application.

The design of this unit also minimises the amount of space occupied on the road during operation of the unit. “The main boom has an operating range of -25 to +80o degrees in relation to the horizontal and has two telescopic extendable parts, which move on sliding blocks made of low-friction material that is self-lubricating and has a very low friction coefficient,” says Moodley.

Fuel efficiency and safety: the programmable special modules
Synonymous with the Atego’s characteristics of comfort and durability, the operator’s platform has a generously proportioned front opening for easy access, guarded by a bar.

Fuel efficiency is enhanced by remote startstop functionality, which is made possible due to the Mercedes-Benz programmable special modules (PSM) that are fitted to the Atego trucks. This functionality allows the operator to start and stop the engine from the platform, thus improving efficient use of fuel. The PSM modules are also programmed to prevent the vehicle from being driven with the platform deployed, in keeping with Mercedes-Benz’s emphasis on safety. The platform uses a hydraulic pantograph system with two cylinders in phase to level the platform.

Meeting specifications
The Scorpian 1490 Smart has a sterling performance that includes a maximum working height of 14 m, carrying capacity of 250 kg (two operators) and a maximum outreach of 9 m. For the crew cabs, TFM Manufacturing was roped in. This East London-based bodybuilder manufactured and mounted a flat deck body to meet the specifications of the Tshwane Municipality. “We achieved this by designing the subframe and load body to meet the requirements while adhering strictly to the directives by MBSA. This involved a steel structure complete with an aluminium non-slip floor to allow for safe working conditions when walking on the truck body. Access steps were provided for safe access on to the body,” says Brian Haviland, MD at TFM Manufacturing.

Safety and comfort
To optimise the use of space, the design incorporates a toolbox under a comfortably cushioned seat for the crew and includes two-point seat belts for safety. For increased visibility at night, the vehicles are fitted with external warning lights. Low profile bull bars provide additional protection to the front of the cab. N otably, the Atego aced the Focus Truck Test 2013 by Charmont Media.