Liebherr fuels big fleet investment

The fuel efficiency of Liebherr equipment has been a crucial element of the purchasing proces­s as a construction group beefs up the fleet of its earthworks and ground improvement division...

The Middlesbrough-based Applebridge Family is made up of eight specialist businesses, one of which is ZTL Contracting, providing a full earthworks service from site investigation and modelling through to bulk muckshifting and remediation.

How much – or how little – fuel is consumed by plant fleets has assumed greater importance in recent times as users cope with punishing price hikes and the removal of the red diesel rebate from construction equipment. With electric and battery technology not yet at the stage that could benefit large-scale earthmoving and stabilisation projects, ZTL continues to focus on managing its diesel bills. And a collection of new Liebherr dozers, dumptrucks and excavators is playing a vital role.

ZTL runs a large, mixed fleet and as the order book continued to grow needed to expand its plant holding, initially concentrating on dozers. Demonstration units were brought in from several manufacturers and it was Liebherr’s 24-tonne PR 736 that stood out from the crowd and was put to work on a long-term demonstration where it continued to impress with its productivity, operator comfort and in particular, its fuel economy, so much so that another four were ordered, the final two of which are scheduled to arrive this month.

The machines currently on the books have been busy on two demanding projects in Yorkshire: one where the loads are a mixture of heavy clay, the other where old pit muck is the order of the day. Gavin Metcalf, ZTL’s Contracts Manager, has been monitoring fuel usage. ‘We have been very impressed with the fuel burn considering the heavy material they have been pushing out. We are currently getting figures in the region of just over 19 litres per hour across the three machines.’

The three dozers have similarly impressed when push comes to shove. ‘I’ve used a variety of dozers in my previous jobs and the Liebherr has certainly surprised me with its ability,’ Metcalf added. ‘It’s also very comfortable to sit in, has a well laid-out cab, is quiet and has a great view to both corners of the blade.’

With the first Liebherr arrivals performing to expectations, ZTL turned its attention to the German manufacturer’s TA 230 dumptrucks to compare against existing vehicles supplied by a rival manufacturer. The outcome was an order for five of the 28-tonne capacity vehicles that would subsequently be deployed to the same projects as the dozers. Fuel consumption has been “very good” according to Metcalf. ‘They are using in the region of 5-7 litres of fuel an hour less than our existing fleet. That equates to an average between all five trucks of just over 18 litres per hour. Over a week, this is giving us a huge cost and emissions saving.’

Officially launched in 2021, the new generation TA 230s have been impressing customers across the country. Re-designed from the ground up as a direct competitor to the market-leading brands, they are powered by a 12-litre engine developing a class-leading 360hp and driven through an 8-forward, 4-reverse, automatic powershift transmission. Automatic gear selection enables the truck to automatically adjust to its current speed and load so that it always delivers the optimum torque levels to achieve high production and low fuel burn.

The spacious operator’s cab has drawn compliments from drivers. It’s easily accessed via the large glass door to the rear and once inside, the layout is functional and well-designed. Also getting the thumbs-up is the suspension when traversing rough ground while visibility from the seat is rated as one of the best around.

‘Operator acceptance of a machine is very important to us,’ Metcalf commented. ‘It’s hard enough to find good operators these days so giving them a machine that they are comfortable in and is up to the job keeps them happy.’

ZTL’s investment in Liebherr didn’t end there. The trucks and dozers were quickly followed by two 30-tonne R 930 excavators. Part of the manufacturer’s stable of Generation 8 machines and designed and built in Colmar, France, they marry the structural quality of the previous Generation 6 excavators to the latest Stage V engines and have since been joined by an R945 G8.

The new dozers and excavators form part of ZTL’s drive to move the fleet towards “intelligent” machine control and are all equipped with Trimble Earthworks systems to increase productivity and accuracy. Trimble has been used on the trimming tractors for some time and the greater accuracy and speed achieved meant that rolling out the system to the rest of the earthmoving fleet was a natural progression. The machines were supplied pre-wired for the systems, essentially providing “a plug and play option”.

Although fuel consumption was the main factor in specifying Liebherr, availability also helped swing the deal. Metcalf explained: ‘We looked at other brands and their delivery times were very long in comparison. The Liebherrs were available either from stock or with a short lead time. They have also looked after us with the servicing package and so far, I can’t fault the dealings we have had with the team.’


ZTL Contracting is part of the Applebridge Family, a collective of eight businesses providing a complete ‘end-to-end’ sequence of services.

The strategy on every project centres on ‘zero to landfill’ with materials re-used in an environmentally sensitive manner, according to Construction Director Andrew Blighe. ‘Using ground improvement techniques, we are able to offer our clients a sustainable value engineered solution whilst minimising the effect of waste to landfill.

Other members of the family are: AD Plant Hire, Applebridge Civils, Applebridge Utilities, Applebridge Building Services, Geocast, Retaining UK and Tarcon.

Associated Businesses

  • Liebherr-Great Britain Limited and Liebherr-Ireland are subsidiaries of Liebherr-International AG, providing national sales and after-sales product support for the Group's complete range of construction equipment throughout the UK and ...