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Whatley & Co’s Mercedes-Benz Unimog proves that three into one does go

Wednesday 26th July 2017

A mighty Mercedes-Benz Unimog has delivered a huge efficiency boost for Whatley & Co by taking on the work of no fewer than three previous vehicles.

The long-established company specialises in installing water pumps and irrigation systems for agricultural customers, in the area surrounding its base in Wiltshire’s rural Vale of Pewsey. Its new U530 was supplied by Dealer Group Rygor Commercials, with funding support from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

When performing an installation on farmland Whatley & Co would previously have used a road-going truck to transport pumps and pipes to a point near the location, then a tractor and trailer to carry the items across the fields, and finally an ageing 4×4 7.5-tonner with crane to lift them into place.

The all-terrain Unimog can perform each of these tasks with equal aplomb. The 16.5-tonne GVW chassis is able to tow a trailer at a gross train weight of 40 tonnes, so hauling a full load on-road at 50 mph is no problem. Permanent all-wheel drive, ample ground clearance and extreme levels of axle articulation all contribute to the unrivalled off-road ability which allows the Unimog to cross rough, unmade ground with ease. And when it does arrive at the job site the 19-tonne/metre Palfinger crane, fitted by Trowbridge-based Peake Engineering, performs all required lifting duties.

Whatley & Co has roots that go back to the 1870s, and Managing Director Sam Thompson represents the sixth generation of his family to run the business. It has concentrated on water engineering since its earliest days, drilling boreholes and installing pumping equipment, tanks and reservoirs, and more recently carrying out ‘trenchless’ installations using horizontal directional drilling techniques.

In allowing Whatley & Co to decommission three vehicles, and providing much greater fuel economy off-road than a tractor, the Unimog embodies the Low Total Costs pillar of Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ all-encompassing RoadEfficiency strategy. Another is Greater Safety and the truck contributes here too: its robust, high-tech composite cab offers a safe working environment with excellent all-round visibility, and anti-lock brakes with automatic load-sensing control (ALB) are fitted as standard. Meanwhile, the fact that it is registered as a goods vehicle means it is fully compliant with all legislation for road transport.

Sam Thompson said: “We considered other options but there’s nothing else out there that can match the Unimog for the sheer range of its abilities. It’s not a cheap piece of equipment, of course, but by effectively replacing no fewer than three older vehicles it’s proving to be highly cost-effective.”

He continued: “These are still early days but the Unimog is already a hit. The truck’s many different capabilities mean that we’re turning to it even more often than we expected – its wheels have barely stopped turning. We’re even receiving a steady flow of calls from people in a range of similar applications who have seen it out and about, and want to know if it’s available for hire.

“The service from Rygor has been exceptional, too,” he continued. “Bill Kingsmill, the Dealer’s Fleet & Unimog Sales Manager, is a mine of information – his input, in helping us with the specification of a complex vehicle and all the surrounding compliance issues, has been invaluable. The workshop at Rygor’s Swindon branch is also open 24 hours a day, which will clearly help us to keep any downtime to an absolute minimum.”

Bill Kingsmill added: “As Sam and his colleagues are discovering, the Mercedes-Benz Unimog offers a unique combination of capabilities which make it a very attractive proposition. We were delighted to be able to deliver a vehicle built that meets this well-respected operator’s precise requirements, and through our commitment to Setting Standards now look forward to adding further value to its business by providing an industry-leading quality of aftercare.”