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Story: COLIN DAWSON

Downsizing success for furniture maker's delivery fleet
A lightweight, high-sided body design was devised by Ciceley Commercials, which supplied the Sprinter chassis cab models, and Alloy Bodies of Manchester

Could downsizing your fleet work for your business? It’s been a success for Warrington-based bedroom furniture maker Starplan which replaced its fleet of 7.5-tonners with 3.5-tonne Mercedes Sprinters for home delivery work.

Starplan transport manager Steve Whittle told Business Vans: “There are obvious advantages to using 3.5-tonners – they’re cheaper to buy and to run, easier to manoeuvre around residential streets and don’t require an Operator’s Licence.

“But our vehicle bodies must also be tall enough to carry our standard 2,220mm-long bed frames vertically – which is unusual in this weight class – as well as providing enough payload capacity to allow us to make multiple deliveries in one journey.”

Starplan worked closely with Blackburn dealership Ciceley Commercials, which supplied the Sprinter chassis cab models, and Alloy Bodies of Manchester, to come up with a lightweight, high-sided body design. The resulting vehicle has a 1,100kg payload with a driver and full tank of fuel on board, and an interior height of more than 2.3 metres. The Alloy Bodies’ aerodynamic pod helps the 129hp Sprinter 313CDI maintain its improved fuel consumption, which is 15 per cent better than that of its equivalent predecessor. CO2 emissions have also been reduced by 13 per cent compared with the previous model.

The six box-bodied vans, which are based at depots in Warrington and Wednesbury, West Midlands, are now delivering beds and bedroom furniture manufactured in Starplan’s 150,000sq ft Warrington factory direct to customers’ homes nationwide.

Steve Whittle continued: “Mercedes-Benz is a premium brand and our new Sprinters are clearly finished to a very exacting standard, so we have every confidence they’ll provide the absolute reliability that we demand. The three-pointed star also portrays a professional, high-quality image, which is important when you’re delivering to customers’ homes. It makes these vehicles a perfect ‘fit’, given our own position in the market.”

He said the Sprinters had been competitively priced and the service from Ciceley throughout the specification and purchase process had been excellent.

Downsizing success for furniture maker's delivery fleet
The six box-bodied Sprinters are based at Starplan's depots in Warrington and Wednesbury, West Midlands

“The dealer’s ability to provide out-of-hours servicing is sure to come in very useful too, because it means our business vans will always be available for work when we need them.”

Keep up to date with developments in our Business Van News section.

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