The UK’s first Volvo FE Low Entry Cab (LEC) 6×2 rigid for truckmixer application has entered service with Trenchcon in North West London. The new truck’s low seating position and overall excellent visibility provides optimum direct vision for the driver as part of Volvo’s world class approach to safety, especially with reference to vulnerable road users.

Trenchcon specialise in the excavation, piling and construction of concrete structures, both above and below ground.

According to Company Managing Director Ronan Byrne, much of the work takes place in areas of high-end residential buildings in the Capital. He explains how the Company, which has been operating for 20 years, needed a specialist 6m³ mixer to be used exclusively for work in Inner London, with all the operating pressures that entails, including heavy, slow-moving mixed traffic in close proximity with large numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. The tight access to construction sites down residential streets lined with parked vehicles is also a daily challenge.

He says, “With the Volvo FE LEC, we believe that we are paving the way for a new type of construction truck for use in the urban environment. One of our main reasons for choosing the FE LEC is that we are committed to safety for vulnerable road users. The greatly enhanced direct vision afforded the driver, which is aided by his sitting about 400mm lower in this truck compared to a standard six wheel mixer, we believe brings the percentage chance of harm to such as cyclists and pedestrians, down by a significant amount.”

“The type of work we do means that the FE LEC doesn’t need to go off-road. When we spec’ed it up, we chose Volvo for the best quality and the fact that this truck is top-of-the-range and entirely suited to our needs,” explains Ronan Byrne. “We needed the rear-steer lift axle for manoeuvrability and the I-Shift automated gearbox as the best solution available to help the driver manage deliveries through the constant stop-start heavy traffic. It’s the first truck of its kind for Volvo and I think that we will see many more operators opting for this type of mixer in London.”

To ensure that the truck met all the requirements for the best possible Direct Vision, as well as safe manoeuvring in the often confined access situations found in London’s residential streets and mews, Ronan Byrne worked closely with Volvo Trucks’ Head of Product Management John Comer and his team at Warwick and in Sweden, on the development of the specification of Trenchcon’s new FE LEC 6×2 rigid truckmixer.

Asked about the suitability of a low entry cab mixer for the urban construction sector, John Comer said that: “The Volvo driveline with the 320hp engine, coupled to a direct top I-Shift automated gearbox and a single reduction rear axle, appears to be a far more efficient solution than other vehicles designed for the city environment based on refuse specs, that call for automatic transmission coupled to a hub-reduction axle, especially in and around the orbital roads. In this respect the Volvo FE LEC will help with both London Direct Vision, carbon and increasingly more important, air quality demands, and it is better for the bottom line.”

In addition to air suspension on all three axles, the 3500mm wheelbase FE LEC is equipped with a hydraulic steered tag-axle. The Volvo steel safety cab features two step entry and a lowered window in the nearside door to increase the driver’s visibility alongside the cab.

The FE LEC is equipped with a CIFA truck mixer body fitted by Wilcox and a Brigade four-camera safety system.

The I-Shift gearbox, which the FE LEC’s driver reports is a major boon to driving safely in London’s congested streets, is equipped with Volvo’s distribution and construction software package. Additional safety equipment specified on the truck includes Lane Keeping Warning System, Forward Collision Warning and AEBS Emergency Braking System.

The FE LEC, supplied by Volvo Truck and Bus Centre London at Enfield, joins Trenchcon’s 20-strong fleet which includes 4, 6 and 8m³ mixers. The company also operates a large fleet of excavators and line pumps.