Robust and smart
Transport Magazine

Robust and smart

The Arocs and Actros of Meichle + Mohr are on the road all around Lake Constance.

The Arocs remains true to its virtues – it is still as robust and reliable as ever.

Gently rolling green hills, with some proper mountains now and again. Winding roads through an ever-changing landscape, with a different view opening up over every crest and behind every bend, the rising sun burning away the morning haze – welcome to Hegau in the far southwest of Germany, one of its most beautiful regions.

It is also a region where there is a great deal of construction going on. Good for Meichle + Mohr and their 18 locations spread around Lake Constance, supplying customers in the construction industry with gravel, crushed stone, concrete and precast concrete parts. “A crucial factor in our service delivery is logistics,” says Roland Maier, the fleet manager of the group of companies which was established in 1924 through the merger of two family-owned businesses and is now being managed by the fourth generation.

And this is where the Arocs comes in. Maier looks out of the window of his corner office on the first floor of the unassuming administration building at the Radolfzell site and nods with satisfaction. Almost all of the company’s 106 Arocs and Actros are on the road. There is a constant hustle and bustle around the silo, the weighbridge and the concrete mixing plant. 6×4 tipper trucks, four-axle truck mixers and articulated dump trucks arrive in a constant flow, are cleaned, loaded and weighed before setting off again.

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Roland Maier, fleet manager at Meichle + Mohr and responsible for 106 construction trucks.

On the one hand, the Meichle + Mohr vehicles always depart from the yard with a full load – on the other, with all its beauty the topography of this region around Lake Constance is also quite challenging. “Here you can’t just drive in a straight line from A to B. We constantly have to cope with gradients and steep descents, winding roads, crossings, roundabouts and speed limits,” says Maier, who started his career behind the wheel of a truck.

This made him all the more interested in two key innovations on the Arocs. The first of these is the optional MirrorCam: the Arocs is fitted with cameras to the left and right of the roof frame. The cameras send the visual information they capture to displays mounted on the A-pillar inside the driver’s cab. The driver’s rear view has turned digital – the rear-view mirrors have gone.

“If you’re talking about asking a lot from a vehicle, then we certainly have something to offer.”

Roland Maier, fleet Manager at Meichle + Mohr
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Handsome detail: The engine start-stop button.

The other innovation concerns Predictive Powertrain Control. The cruise control and transmission control system uses digital road maps that contain data about topography, the course of bends, the geometric layout of junctions and roundabouts, and also traffic signs. Thus, the system isn’t solely for use on motorways and main roads, but also on inter-city routes. Even on winding roads, it is able to optimise the driving style.

Felix Amann, the driver of the Arocs, is very enthusiastic. He makes a brief stop and talks about his experiences so far. “Driving round corners, junctions, roundabouts – Predictive Powertrain Control always selects the right speed. All you have to do is watch out for other vehicles having the right of way – apart from that, you can just keep on rolling. And I am equally relaxed when I am approaching speed limits or signs marking the beginning of a built-up area. The speed is always spot on when I pass them.”

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Great all-round view, unobstructed vision: Felix Amann at the wheel: MirrorCam and the displays on the A‑pillars replace the rear-view mirrors.

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Amann wants to find out what the system is really capable of. Earlier this morning he had put it to the test: he drove from the shores of Lake Constance all the way to and over the mountain pass on the Schiener Berg, at an altitude of over 700 metres, with the Predictive Powertrain Control system activated. Driving over a mountain pass using cruise control might seem a bit of a stretch, but Predictive Powertrain Control is much more than just a simple cruise control system. “As a precaution I set the cornering speed to minus five – because almost 27 tonnes of gravel do press very hard around tight corners. Even so, the Arocs was just cruising stoically up the mountain and through the forest. This really is as good as can be,” said Amann, a driver with 24 years’ experience. Whenever I think, ‘I would reduce speed about now’ the system kicks in – or sometimes it will let the Arocs roll on just a moment longer, which then results in a higher average speed, with lower consumption.

“Corners, junctions, roundabouts – Predictive Powertrain Control always selects the right speed.”

Felix Amann, driver at Meichle + Mohr
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Expanded Predictive Powertrain Control: The system also selects the right speed for regional traffic automatically – even in roundabouts.

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Expanded Predictive Powertrain Control: The system also selects the right speed for regional traffic automatically – even in roundabouts.

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Expanded Predictive Powertrain Control: The system also selects the right speed for regional traffic automatically – even in roundabouts.

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Expanded Predictive Powertrain Control: The system also selects the right speed for regional traffic automatically – even in roundabouts.

Fleet Manager Roland Maier shares Felix Amann’s enthusiasm. At Meichle + Mohr, being sparing with resources is a matter of course. And that doesn’t just apply to obtaining raw materials in the wet-mining process and in quarries, but also to the topic of energy efficiency and fuel consumption. In the past ten years, intensive driver training has enabled the company to reduce consumption by around 15 percent. “But that’s only possible if you always invest in the latest technology at the same time,” explains Roland Maier. “We’ve measured a fuel consumption reduction of several percent.” Even an extremely good Arocs driver with excellent local knowledge can’t achieve the same consumption values without using Predictive Powertrain Control. “With the system, drivers cover every single mile with optimum fuel consumption values,” Maier tells us.

“With this system drivers can be sure of optimum fuel consumption every kilometre of the way.”

Roland Maier

The MirrorCam is also an important factor here. The streamlined mounts for the camera on the left and right-hand sides of the roof frame and the absence of large rear-view mirrors reduce the aerodynamic drag of the Arocs. “This also contributes to the reduction in consumption,” Maier explains.

The driver, Felix Amann, also considers the MirrorCam a significant improvement in terms of convenience and safety. “The two displays on the A‑pillars to the left and right are completely within my field of vision, and that makes it easier to be aware of what is going on around the vehicle. To look at the rear-view mirrors I have to turn my head, but here I don’t,” he says. As a result, he can decelerate more quickly in situations where a vehicle is overtaking him and he can see that things will end up a little too tight out front. At roundabouts and when cornering, the advantage is that the driver can keep the entire trailer in view throughout because the camera image is panning along.

When manoeuvring the truck, the fact that the display automatically switches to provide the optimal overview is a big plus. Another advantage is that the view diagonally forward near the A‑pillar is unobstructed as there are no huge exterior mirrors. This makes manoeuvring easier and improves visibility in tight corners.

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“We use every opportunity to treat resources as responsibly as possible. Thanks to the Arocs we can take another step forward with regard to fuel efficiency.”

Roland Maier

For the fleet manager Roland Maier, it is yet another point in favour of the Arocs: “We operate a considerable number of large and heavy vehicles in this region, also on minor roads and within built-up areas. For us, safety is an extremely important factor, because we are ultimately dependent on being accepted by the locals.” He makes sure that the drivers employ not only an economical driving style, but also a defensive one. What is more, at Meichle + Mohr putting pressure on the drivers is taboo.

This is how Maier sums it up: “We use every means at our disposal to use resources as carefully as possible. The Arocs lets us take another leap forward in terms of fuel efficiency. CO2 emissions are also reduced, and this is another important factor for us and for many of our customers.”

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Photos: Christoph Börries
Video: Alexander Tempel