2006 Hino FY 700 3213 8×4 tipper

Precon Products, which supplies specialist equipment to the construction industry from its Bury St Edmunds HQ, has acquired a prototype 26-tonne flatbed delivery truck which allows safe access along the sides of even a full load when delivering to sites in London, while still allowing easy access for fork-lift trucks. The body, from a relatively new body-builder, ZJB Engineering of Wisbech, features hydraulically-operated 500mm-wide walkways on each side of the loadbed, accessed by fold-down steps and with fall-arrest restraints which deploy automatically when the sides are lowered. Strobe lights beneath the walkways increase their visibility to passing traffic.

They body is fitted to a fully FORS Gold compliant Mercedes-Benz Econic 2635L, supplied by Orwell Truck and Van and funded by Mercedes-Benz Finance. The new vehicle marks a change from Precon Products’ traditional transport policy which use three contracted hauliers to deliver on its behalf and in its livery. The GBP44m business also has depots Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire and Surrey.

“However, we’re employing a driver and running the Econic ourselves,” says Precon managing director Mike Philpot. “It’s all multi-drop work in London, which means that drivers often have to access the back of the truck to move products and materials around, and get them off. “These days customers insist that vehicles must have side rails so no-one falls, which is great from a health and safety perspective. But if the truck is fully loaded there’s no room for the driver, so he ends up clambering over everything.

That’s potentially dangerous in itself, and understandably the sites don’t like it. “I therefore came up with the idea of adding walkways down the sides of the vehicle, which the driver can deploy at the touch of a button when he arrives on a site. He can then do whatever he needs to do, before getting off the back of the truck without risk of injury.”

“I’m not an engineer, so sat down with the bodybuilder and together we came up with a plan. There are other vehicles out there with variations of our walkway which drivers have to pull out manually. But when you’re on multi-drop deliveries time is of the essence, and to be quick you need an automatic solution.

The truck is a prototype but the initial feedback from customers who’ve seen it has been very encouraging.

If it works as we hope it will, then it could be a game-changer.”

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