South West Highways and Devon County Council were equipped to keep the county moving during this winter's severe weather, after an investment of almost £1 million by SWH in a fleet of 12 new John Deere 6R Series tractors and six front loaders plus ancillary equipment, supplied by dealer Masons Kings of Chudleigh under a John Deere Financial contract hire agreement.
Eight 6115R and four 6140R John Deere tractors were specified for winter use with front-mounted snow ploughs and rear-mounted salt spreaders (pictured), as well as front linkages for all 12 machines to carry other implements such as road brushes, verge ploughs and snow blowers. The deal also included six tipping trailers and 12 side-arm flail mowers.
Throughout the rest of the year, SWH will be using the tractors for general road maintenance services around the region, including grass cutting throughout the summer. These are the first John Deere tractors that SWH has bought, as replacements for an older fleet, and they are based at local depots across the county: Barnstaple, Honiton, Ivybridge, Newton Abbot, Okehampton and Tiverton.
The tractors were bought with PowerGard Protection cover, John Deere's comprehensive service and maintenance programme. This is a straightforward solution to equipment servicing and repair, which is designed to help tractor customers budget accurately for the total cost of ownership.
"The tractors were primarily bought for road cleaning and grass cutting, but with this winter's abnormal weather they have been used for a great deal of snow and storm clearance work," says SWH agent Dan Trott. "They all have the option to be fitted with John Deere's JDLink system, which records the work carried out by each individual tractor, and SWH has been working to see how this can best be adapted to suit our business. They are all fitted with front suspension as well, which gives a better ride when travelling.
"The decision to go with John Deere and Masons Kings was based on a number of factors, including the location of the dealer and the quality of the service on offer. Several SWH employees have an agricultural background, as well as a lot of experience using tractors on highway works, and all the operators seemed happy driving the demonstration model that the dealer provided."
Ben Pyle, managing director of South West Highways, was present at the handover of the new fleet, which took place at Masons Kings' premises (pictured). "We are always looking at ways in which we can improve our service to customers, and this is a sign of our commitment to looking after them," he said. "We have a responsibility to maintain a high level of service, whatever the weather, and this investment reflects that."
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, who was also present, added: "We have a highway network in Devon of 8000 miles, which is bigger than any other local authority in the country, so these new John Deere tractors are a welcome addition to our maintenance fleet. It means we are able to increase our severe weather response, for example, without increasing costs, as the tractors can be used by South West Highways for other maintenance work throughout the year."