Sometimes it doesn’t work

At the end of 2021, Perry Metal Protection took delivery of this eye-catching Mercedes- Benz 2653 6×4 and Roadmaster tri-axle flat- deck semi combination. The unit, based at Perry’s Hamilton facility, currently runs between there and customers in Auckland.

The Actros is one of five vehicles in the company’s fleet and has been bought on a 60-month lease through TR Group. “We purchased the Actros to relieve ourselves of some of the costs associated with using a third-party freight provider. I believe if we can control our own logistics internally we can run the trucks far more efficiently,” says general manager Steve Halse.

Driver and 20-year Perry’s veteran Geoff O’Sullivan was involved in selecting and spec’ing the truck from start to finish.

“We made sure that what we got was fit for purpose. Geoff knows what he needs and how to use it. We said to him, ‘Don’t worry about the cost, but if you have your dream vehicle, what would it be or what would you have?’” explains Steve. “We needed a truck with more horsepower due to the increasing load size and we looked at a number of vehicles. The Merc was a more expensive selection but fits the bill for our changing busness. We had to ensure we had the reliability to service customers.”

Interestingly, Steve says the MirrorCam system was not really a factor in selecting the Actros. “It’s cool tech, but it didn’t sway the decision.”

Unfortunately, in the week we were scheduled to meet Geoff and see the Actros in action, he was out of action due to Covid-19. However, we were able to chat with logistics coordinator Bonty Ranapiri and regional manager (northern) Angela Williams. They explain that the Actros is all it’s cracked up to be, but the MirrorCam system doesn’t work in Perry’s application.

“The fuel economy is really good, and Geoff enjoys the comfort. Driving- wise, he has no complaints,” Bonty begins. “The issue with the cameras comes just by the nature of our business; Geoff is required to reverse into fabrication workshops where the steel is only a couple of inches from his wheels. The cameras don’t give him the visibility to actually see where he’s reversing due to the change in external light to internal light. He often has to get out to double-check because he just can’t see.”

Actros is a great truck for Perry’s driver Geoff O’Sullivan, but he finds MirrorCam isn’t ideal for backing into fabrication workshops.

Says Angela: “It’s a bit of a health and safety issue. Geoff has sent us pictures while reversing into workshops, and you can’t make out steel or people due to picture clarity from the cameras. I wouldn’t want them [the cameras] from seeing the pictures, and he’s an experienced driver.”

“With hard mirrors, he has the ability to move in his seat and adjust his angle to see what’s on the back of his truck. With the cameras, he can’t,” Bonty adds.

Bonty explains that Geoff needs to be able to keep an eye on his load and has been caught out with the MirrorCam system by thinking something had moved on the back. “He pulled over and there was nothing loose. Geoff says the conversations he’s had with other MirrorCam drivers is that the cameras are great for hardsiders or containers where you don’t have to see what’s on the deck, just what’s behind you.

“For the nature of our business, it’s not quite there. But he loves driving the truck otherwise,” Bonty says.