Unimog U5023 - Northern Powergrid (15)

Northern Powergrid has taken delivery of seven new all-terrain Mercedes-Benz Unimogs.

The vehicles, which represent an investment of £1.75m by Northern Powergrid, were supplied by specialist dealer South Cave Tractors of Brough in East Yorkshire.

All seven vehicles are U5023 UHE Extreme Off-road Unimog models, and fitted with Versalift hydraulic access equipment.

The trucks are used by Northern Powergrid’s overhead line repair and replacement teams.

Each lift has a basket big enough to accommodate two engineers working at a height of up to 20 metres.

Northern Powergrid also has a fully serviced contract hire agreement with sister company Vehicle Lease & Service (VLS) for the seven vehicles.

Both firms worked closely with their counterparts from South Cave Tractors and Versalift in drawing up the specifications for the vehicles.

South Cave Tractors and Versalift also delivered detailed handover sessions at Northern Powergrid’s training centre near Leeds.

Alistair Walton, overhead lines programme manager for Northern Powergrid’s South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire region, said: “These vehicles are deployed daily across our operations and are used by our teams of overhead linesmen to access wood pole overhead power lines which can carry anything from 240 to 66,000 volts.

“Many of these are in difficult-to-reach locations but the Unimog’s fantastic off-road capability allows us to traverse the most challenging of terrains.

“The access platform’s 20 metre maximum reach, meanwhile, represents a big improvement on the 15 metres achieved by the vehicles we were using previously for the same task.

“While considering the design we also asked our teams for their input and as a result have included extras like heated lockers and additional working lights, which will be a great help if they are called out at night or in difficult weather conditions to restore power for our customers.”

All Unimogs have 4x4 chassis with single rear wheels, while gross weights vary from 7.5 to 16.5 tonnes.

The U5023 is powered by a 5.1-litre four-cylinder engine producing 170 kW (230hp). Standard equipment includes a central tyre inflation system, which allows the driver to drop the pressures from the cab when the vehicle is off-road.

The Versalift LT-56-NE telescopic boom also offers a nine-metre outreach and each basket will lift up to 230 kg.

VLS commercial manager Justin Bower said: “These are highly specialised vehicles and with its unique set of capabilities the Mercedes-Benz Unimog is by a long margin the best base chassis for such a demanding application.

“Its off-road ability is legendary, of course. No less important, though, given that these vehicles can be called upon at any time of the day or night, and in all weathers, is the superb, and well proven reliability of the chassis and the access platforms.

“The first-class customer service we receive from South Cave Tractors and Versalift is another major benefit – we’ve been working with both for around 20 years now, and have developed excellent professional relationships.”

Northern Powergrid has eight million customers across 3.9 million homes and businesses.

Walton added: “This significant investment in these hugely capable vehicles demonstrates our commitment to being there for our customers and ensuring our teams have what they need to work safely, quickly and efficiently to keep the power flowing and respond to any electrical emergencies.”