Tuffnells enjoys the benefits of enhanced van fleet visibility from Mercedes PRO connect


Tuffnells, a leading provider of delivery services covering big, long and bulky parcels, has begun adding the first 35 new-generation Sprinters to a van fleet composed entirely of vehicles from the multi-award-winning Mercedes-Benz range.

Reflecting the IDW (irregular dimensions & weight) freight in which Tuffnells specialises, the latest 316 CDI additions to the line-up have extra-long L4 bodies, as well as H2 high roofs. 

The last of the new vans is due to be delivered before the end of January by Dealer Roanza Truck & Van, a preferred supplier for the last three years. Stockport-based specialist VCL is installing the operator’s bespoke, half-length bulkheads, and these, coupled with the fact that the vans do not have passenger seats, allow consignments up to six metres in length to be carried. VCL is also fitting uprated security locks, while RS Connect, of Birmingham, adds a full complement of safety cameras covering all four sides of the vehicle.   

Tuffnells operates more than 100 vans, every one of them a Sprinter. A combination of replacements for older vehicles which are being stood down, and extensions to the fleet, the new vehicles are being distributed across the company’s UK network of 36 depots. They will be maintained at the most conveniently located Mercedes-Benz workshops under ServiceCare Complete Plans arranged by Roanza. 

Having run Mercedes-Benz Sprinters for many years, Tuffnells has full confidence in the ability of its latest vans to provide reliable, cost-effective service over the next five years, during which each will cover anything up to 250,000 miles. 

Simon Parsons, Services Director at Tuffnells’ parent company Connect Group PLC, confirmed: “The Sprinter’s specification, particularly in terms of safety and technology, makes it ideally suited to our operations. I’ve every confidence that these impressive new vans will allow us to continue providing our customers with a great combination of choice and service.”  

Key to the appeal for Tuffnells of the third-generation Sprinter range launched last year is its ground-breaking 4G internet connectivity. Mercedes PRO connect is an advanced manufacturer solution which provides operators with a range of fast, efficient and cost-effective vehicle management service packages. These allow vehicle data to be analysed in real time – everything from fuel consumption to vehicle locations, trip history, maintenance status and driver behaviour can be monitored.

“Mercedes PRO connect promises to be a highly effective new tool in helping us to manage the fleet efficiently and reduce our operating costs,” observed Simon Parsons. “Its introduction means decisions will be data-driven, so based on hard factual information relayed directly from the vehicles.”

The Sprinter’s completely redesigned cab interior combines class-leading style, practicality and quality, and offers unrivalled levels of comfort, quietness and smoothness. Drivers also benefit from the cutting-edge Mercedes MBUX infotainment system, which features a user-friendly voice control function. 

Mr Parsons recalled: “Roanza supplied us with a demonstration unit which gave us a useful insight into the new-generation product, and was exceptionally well received by those drivers who trialled it. The cabin has a premium quality car-like feel, with simple and easy-to-use controls that will help to make life as easy as possible for colleagues when they’re out making their daily deliveries.”

Meanwhile, to a reassuring armoury that has enabled the Sprinter to dominate the safety category at awards events for years, Mercedes-Benz has added more innovation. Standard features on the latest model include the autonomous Active Brake Assist system, with another ‘first’ in the shape of pedestrian recognition technology, and ATTENTION ASSIST, which detects drowsiness in drivers and encourages them to take breaks when tired.

Tuffnells’ new vans are powered by fuel-efficient 163 hp engines which drive the rear wheels – with the launch of the 2018 model range, Sprinter versions are now also available for the first time with front-wheel drive. 

Roanza Truck & Van also supplied Tuffnells last year with 35 new trucks, the majority of them 7.5-tonne Atego models. “The service we receive from Roanza is excellent,” confirmed Mr Parsons. “Together we have built a strong working partnership which means our new Sprinters are being integrated to the fleet seamlessly. 

“The manufacturer’s franchised network also provides first-class aftersales support. Our depot teams enjoy very good relationships with their local Mercedes-Benz service centres, and maintenance is regularly undertaken overnight, thus ensuring that vehicles are always ready for work when we need them.”

Tuffnells offers a wide range of delivery options for large parcels and freight. The company was founded in 1914 by Harold J Tuffnell, with a single horse and cart and an investment of £100. In 2014 – its centenary year – it was acquired by Connect Group PLC, a leading UK distribution and logistics provider which operates from a network of 76 locations nationwide.


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