Minus temperatures and icy roads, short days and poor visibility: Winter presents both the trucks and their drivers with a particular challenge. Finnish transport company Vähälä has 65 of their own trucks and is putting their trust in the new Actros for their daily routines in the extreme conditions of Finland which are unmatched across the rest of the continent. The Finnish winter has days that start with temperatures slightly above freezing, which will then reach minus 40 by the time drivers arrive at the northern provincial capital of Rovaniemi in the evening, having travelled a good 900 kilometres from the south of the country to get there. “We’re delighted with the new Actros,” says Ville Vähälä who is at the helm of the family business, now managed by the third generation. The 42-year old was one of the first customers in Europe to have used the vehicle as part of long-distance road testing. The vehicle has since become an integral part of the company fleet. Operated on a multi-shift basis, the annual mileage is an impressive 250,000 to 300,000 kilometres.
Operation as a “high-capacity truck” – not a problem thanks to the MirrorCam
Vähälä uses the Actros 2663 as a “high-capacity truck” with two semitrailers. Trailers like these, reaching up to 34.5 metres in length and weighing 76 tonnes in total, have only been permitted in Finland since the start of 2019. And the new Actros appears to have been perfectly designed for this role. Finnish law dictates that any towing vehicle with a train length of 28 metres or more must have a digital camera system – something the new Actros includes as standard with the MirrorCam.
The MirrorCam has replaced the main and wide-angle mirrors on the outside of the truck with two compact, streamlined camera arms on the roof frame. The images captured are transmitted to displays on the A-pillars in the driver’s field of vision. The system thus provides assistance when navigating bends, for example, whereby the image of the curve inner moves in accordance with the vehicle’s own movement. The driver thus always has the end of the trailer in their sights. Plus, the large display switches to a wide-angle mode when reversing, thus providing the driver with a better overall view.
Powerful cameras, minimum soiling – a real bonus during the winter months
All truckers generally benefit from these features. However, those truckers looking to safely navigate the poor visibility of Finland’s dark and gloomy winter days, particularly with an extra-long truck, certainly appreciate this additional support.
The MirrorCam provides even more benefits, especially during the winter months. The system functions reliably in all weather conditions as the camera lenses are heated once temperatures drop below 15 degrees. Furthermore, the intensity of the light means the MirrorCam ensures good visibility even at night. And, the compact design of these cameras means they are far less prone to getting dirty, for example from slush.
Support from Active Drive Assist in all speed ranges
In addition to the MirrorCam, the new Actros boasts a number of other innovative features – certainly a valuable asset when faced with challenging winter conditions. The new Active Drive Assist, for example, which supports the driver when braking, accelerating and steering in all speed ranges. Or Active Brake Assist 5, the latest generation of the emergency brake assistant.
An improved version of the Predictive Powertrain Control, the intelligent cruise and transmission control, has been included in the new Actros. With additional map material, it is also practical for inter-urban routes. A big plus for those navigating the sparsely populated regions of Finland, in particular. Not forgetting the new Multimedia Cockpit with its two new digital displays and convenient intuitive operation.
Low fuel consumption leverage fully utilised
Predictive Powertrain Control not only increases safety but also fuel efficiency – a particularly important aspect for Ville Vähälä. “Mercedes has certainly reached new heights here with this feature.” Further leverage here includes the economical Euro VI engines, finely tuned drivetrain configurations and further improvements to the aerodynamics, thanks in part to the absence of outside mirrors. Vähälä’s 65 trucks travel a total of eight to nine million kilometres every year. The reduced fuel consumption is thus noticeably reflected in diesel costs.
Reliable operation with Mercedes-Benz Uptime
Long distances covered in often adverse weather conditions, through sparsely populated regions and with customers who can’t tolerate downtimes: circumstances that demand nothing less than maximum reliability. Since the purchase of his first Actros in 2006, Ville Vähälä has only had positive experiences with Mercedes-Benz. “We can cover up to 150,000 kilometres between two service appointments – that’s extraordinary.” Not only does the new Actros boast a particularly solid and durable design, it is supported by sophisticated axles, frame components, chassis and suspension components, as well as an operations-oriented braking system. Vähälä also makes the most of the comprehensive truck services offered by Mercedes-Benz. “All of our trucks are covered by Service Contracts and are fitted with Mercedes-Benz Uptime. We have no need for our own workshop any more,” he explains.
Long journeys and extreme weather conditions characterise Finland’s transport market
Vähälä Logistics, with its headquarters in the northern Finnish city of Oulu, has around 200 trucks in operation. This also includes vehicles from subcontractors. Two-thirds of the company’s 65-strong fleet of trucks are made by Mercedes. Their freight ranges from pulp for paper manufacture to medical products, not to mention foodstuffs for supermarkets. Another important pillar is the transport of cargo on behalf of DB Schenker. Vähälä functions as a national network partner of the German logistics giant.
Finland’s transport market is certainly a challenging environment. For a country almost as big as Germany, it only has 5.5 million inhabitants, most of whom live in the southern and western regions. Nevertheless, goods need to be regularly transported to the most remote parts – regardless of the weather!
Source: Daimler Trucks