Licence increase granted despite previous shortcomings

Hayfields Dairy has taken delivery of a Mercedes-Benz Unimog and put it to work as a milk collection vehicle. The 12.7-tonne U430 short model has a factory-fitted tipping body, front-mounted linkage and DIN plate and a PTO, which allows it to operate with different attachments. It is powered by a 299hp 7.7-litre engine via a synchronised electropneumatic transmission, which can switch between manual and automatic modes both while the vehicle is stationary or on the move.

It is also fitted with the manufacturer's Variopilot system, which allows the driver to swap between left- and right-hand-drive configurations by moving the steering wheel, instrument panel and pedals from one side to the other, which Mercedes claims can be done in less than a minute. Supplied by Lloyd, the Unimog replaces an agricultural tractor and is used to collect milk in Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire. It tows a 16,000-litre tank and can cover up to 250 miles per day.

The operator said it was much faster than its predecessor, cutting journey times by up to three hours, and much more economical, with the capacity to save more than 75 litres of fuel on some working days. "If this was its only role, we'd run a conventional truck, but I need a vehicle that can also be used to undertake a wide variety of other tasks on the farm," said Hayfields MD Rob Huntbach. "If I'm honest, I wasn't sure it was going to be up to the job... [but] when it comes to road work, the Unimog has a 56mph cruising speed, which makes it significantly quicker than the tractor we'd been using to pull the tanker.

It's also nimbler, more comfortable, and much more fuel-efficient.

 "We've also used it with hedge cutting attachments, and for pulling a silage trailer over the fields - we couldn't do any of that with a standard truck."

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