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Renault Trucks make lighter work of bulk LPG deliveries for BP

2nd June 2009 Print
Renault Trucks BP Gas is benefitting from the arrival of four new Renault Trucks equipped with Allison fully automatic transmissions. The 18-tonne rigid Midlums were specified as part of a fleet replacement programme to increase efficiency, cut vehicle component maintenance and replacement costs, and improve driver comfort on deliveries to domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers in Scotland and the North of England. Working out of three BP LPG gas depots in the north of the UK – Cairnhill in Aberdeenshire, Carlisle and Evanton in Rosshire – the new tankers allow the logistics team to maximise bulk capacity via a chassis which can adeptly handle steep, windy, single track roads from the Lake District to the Scottish Highlands.

Renault shines with lightweight chassis
Moving away from a fleet of various wheelbases and tanker sizes, BP Gas instigated a rigorous tender process to select one vehicle and a standard tanker size, to improve efficiency. “We needed a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to create a leaner logistics operation; a tanker capable of carrying sufficient volumes of LPG to clusters of remote customers, that could also handle all possible driving conditions, such as tight manoeuvring on a farm,” explains Willie Anderson, logistics support engineer for BP Gas. The short wheelbase Midlums proved attractive due to their lightweight chassis which allowed the overall payload of the vehicle to be increased (to 8.2 tonnes), while maintaining the required vehicle agility and driver comfort. The Renaults carry gas cylinders with a capacity of 20,000 litres, supplied by Clayton Commercials. Another key factor supporting the choice of Renault was its ability to deliver the trucks with shorter lead times than competitors.

Allison tried and tested
The Allison transmission was first tested by the BP Gas vehicle procurement project team in a variety of vehicle applications and arduous conditions at an Allison awareness seminar at the Millbrook proving ground. “It was a great day during which we were able to experience the extra stability provided by the fully automatic transmission working with surge plates, especially under frequent stop-start conditions, and also the effectiveness of the retarders under endured braking,” adds Anderson.

Beside the benefits to driver comfort of a fully automatic gearbox, BP Gas cited improved fuel economy, as well as significant savings in a number of clutch and gearbox repair and replacements per year, as reasons to adopt the Allison. The choice also promises to reduce the amount of vehicle downtime and customer service interruptions caused by such maintenance work.

“A fully automatic transmission irons out the inconsistencies in driving styles of the two to three different drivers per vehicle that are accentuated by the highly variable nature of our delivery routes, and this improves overall fuel economy,” says Anderson. “Efficiency is complemented by the Allison torque converter which provides grunt directly to the wheels, only when we need it, and by going for the automatic, we still keep the truck weight down with no flywheel, clutch or peripheral clutch components required. On top of that, Allison is continuing to work with us to reduce fuel efficiency by optimising the powertrain according to the types of roads and performance needs on our typical routes,” concludes Anderson.

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Renault Trucks