The Elite+ is replacing the highly successful Elite 6, used in refuse collection vehicles for 8 years, from which it has evolved. But the new cab, while clearly rooted in Elite heritage, has a new focus. The designers say it is not so much a cab as a workstation for the modern refuse crew.
“We’ve made great strides in improving the efficiency of our vehicles and we’re still pursuing this goal,” said Sales and Marketing Director Richard Taylor.
“But our latest development – the one that will provide the greatest benefits to our customers’ operations – is focused on the people who operate them.
“We’ve produced an outstanding working environment for both drivers and crews. By making it safer, easier to use, more convenient and more comfortable, we are also helping to make them feel valued and positive about their important roles.
“And the benefits to employers will range across the full spectrum of their operations, from increased productivity to staff retention, improved safety and operational efficiency.”
The introduction of the Elite+ comes as driver shortages challenge operations, emphasising their important role in waste management. And since the cab is the main human-machine interface, it was the obvious focus of the engineers.
The Elite+ inherits all the safety features of the Elite 6, which was independently tested in 2019 and found to provide the best direct vision of any truck on the UK’s roads. Now enhanced and refined, Dennis Eagle has taken its market leader and made it even better.
And above all, the Elite+ has been ergonomically refined to put the driver in more in control than ever before.
Those controls and switch bank are now more intuitively arranged and have a very user-friendly touch and feel thanks to new materials with improved finishes.
The seat and the steering column are more adjustable, enabling drivers to position them precisely to suit their own body shape and size. And the in-cab screen is mounted on a ball and socket joint, allowing drivers to angle it as required and making room for a second screen if needed.
Entry to the cab is still the lowest on the market at just 495mm from ground-to-floor, making it easy and safe for getting in and out. The floor itself remains obstacle-free, so you really can walk-through. And the driving seat is still positioned low to put drivers closer to eye-level with other road users and encourage direct eye contact.
Driver + 1, + 2 or + 3 seating options apply to Both Standard and Narrow vehicles but now each crew member has an individual seat instead of a shared bench. This helps provide them with their own space and increases their comfort.
The outer seat has been recessed slightly, making it even easier to get in and out. But that is not all. It also increases the driver’s near-side view which, combined with the larger rear windows on both sides, improves direct vision. So, what was the safest truck on the UK’s roads has just got even safer.
The ride quality has been improved by the development and introduction of better mountings. And the increased cab insulation reduces noise reaching drivers and crews inside, enabling the Elite+ to provide a quieter and less stressful working environment.
Outside, the Elite+ looks reassuringly familiar and road-friendly in the communities in which it will operate. It is, of course, designed not to appear intimidating to other road users. But the new vehicle has also been put through onerous safety tests to ensure it meets the required standards.
Modern working practices have also been catered for, such as plenty of USB ports for crew members to charge their mobile phones. There’s also more storage room in the header locker, which is easier to reach.
The Elite+ is being phased in while existing orders are fulfilled to customers’ preferences across all conventional RCV models. It won’t feature in the all-electric eCollect which has its own specialist cab.
The first Elite+ rolled off the production line at Dennis Eagle’s cab production facility in Blackpool and were delivered to three local authorities in Nottinghamshire; Broxstowe Borough Council, Erewash Borough Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council.
And the early customers have given the new vehicle a resounding vote of confidence. Broxtowe’s Transport and Stores Manager Roger Wakefield said: “The drivers report the switches and controls are somehow easier to use. The new materials and the way they are finished make them very responsive to touch and control. And the new arrangement of the switches is very welcome.
“They say the Elite+ is more comfortable. The steering column and seat are very adjustable so you can get the right position for your individual shape and size. And that seems to be the starting point for the arrangement of all the controls and switches as well as the in-cab screen, which itself is very adjustable.
“Getting in and out is easier as the outside seat is slightly set back, giving you more room as you step into the cab. The crew appreciated this even more as they are the ones getting in and out most often. It’s all this attention to detail that makes a real difference and is really appreciated.”
And true to form, Dennis Eagle has added one final touch in response to countless requests from customers; yes, they’ve provided more cup holders.