AET Transport Services’ new Mercedes-Benz eight-wheeler has a rear-mounted, 65 tonne-metre crane, one of the biggest to be fitted at the back end of a UK-registered 32-tonne chassis.

The Arocs 3248LK ENA has been assigned to the Poole-based company’s factory relocations team, who move machinery, plant and other large consignments throughout the UK and Europe for the likes of Airbus, Britax, Rolls-Royce and Sunseeker.

Supplied by south coast Dealer Marshall Truck & Van, the Arocs has a flat-floored BigSpace cab and an advanced, 12.8-litre straight-six engine, which transmits its 350 kW (476 hp) output via a smooth Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmission. The truck is additionally equipped to pull a drawbar trailer at a gross train weight of 44 tonnes

The AET Group, which also comprises AET Andover, Curvin Transport, Dorset Crane Hire, and Eaton Transport divisions, runs a combined fleet of 66 vehicles – 16 are by
Mercedes-Benz, all of them Actros tractor units with the sole exception of a 15-tonne Atego.

The line-up also includes three 32-tonne 8×2 trucks with cranes conventionally positioned immediately behind their cabs. A replacement for AET Transport Services’ previous eight-wheeler with rear-mounted crane, the Arocs is the Group’s first eight-wheeler to wear a three-pointed star, and was acquired with competitive funding support from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

Its chassis configuration is also a ‘first’ for AET – Mercedes-Benz ENA models feature a single, front-steer axle, double-drive bogie and, crucially, a rear-steer axle, which gives them significantly enhanced manoeuvrability compared to a standard 8×4 vehicle.

Newly-rebranded Palfinger UK, part of the TH WHITE Group, of Devizes, Wiltshire, built the truck’s platform body and installed its highly-specified PK65002D SH radio remote-controlled crane, which has five hydraulic extensions.

AET Group Managing Director Andrew Trotter explained: “A rear-mounted crane will always be more appropriate for some jobs, as it allows us to back into the premises and reach further.

“The truck’s rear-steer axle also gives us an excellent turning circle, which is a major advantage on some, difficult to access sites. We talked to another manufacturer which offers a chassis in the same configuration, but came down in favour of the Mercedes-Benz, not least because its axle loadings were better suited to the crane.”

A Palfinger UK team led by Head of Technical & Sales Office Les Drage worked closely on the design of the vehicle with Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ Product Manager Ian Knight, and Steve Trevett, Truck Sales Executive at Marshall Truck & Van.

Their aim was to shed as much weight as possible, without compromising stability and rigidity. So, for example, the low-height sub-frame was fabricated from a special, high-grade folded steel plate, which is stronger yet lighter than a standard, ‘off-the-shelf’ boxed material.

Having committed to build a platform body and crane installation which offered a maximum payload of as close as possible to the 9.5 tonnes achieved by its predecessor – albeit with a smaller crane – they have now delivered a truck capable of carrying 10 tonnes.

“I’m very pleased with that figure, as the extra half-tonne gives us a lot more flexibility,” confirmed Andrew Trotter. “An eight-wheeler which can lift 10 tonnes from the back end and then carry all of that weight is going to be a very productive addition to the fleet.”

He continued: “I felt all along that the Mercedes-Benz was the right machine for the job and so it’s proved. Our first Arocs is a beautiful truck; we couldn’t be happier with it.”

Founded by Mr Trotter’s father, also Andrew, in 1977, the AET Group acquired its first Mercedes-Benz trucks in 2014. The company relies on Marshall Truck & Van to inspect and maintain its Actros, Atego and new Arocs under Service Contract Completes.

Mr Trotter added: “Steve Trevett provided first-class sales support on the latest eight-wheeler, while his colleagues at the Dealer’s workshop in Poole make life easy for us by collecting and returning our vehicles. We’ve had very few problems with our Mercedes-Benz Actros, and when the odd issue has cropped up they’ve demonstrated the flexibility we need to keep us running.”