Saving to win

The Asia-Pacific round of Volvo Fuelwatch Challenge 2016 finals was held in Sweden with a prime objective of saving fuel.

Text & Photos: Bhargav TS

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Anil Reddy worked hard to get to Falkenburg, Sweden, to participate in the Asia-Pacific round of Volvo’s Fuelwatch Challenge 2016 finals. If he won (in the off-road category), he would go to the global finals. One of the 11000 drivers sensitised by Volvo Trucks India for the Indian part of the championship, under the Asia-Pacific region, Anil drove past 230 drivers to the semi-finals. A hardy soul, he kept climbing, and made it to the team of 30 drivers selected for the India finals. Anil won the finals held at the desolate Besur coal mines, 70 kms to the south of Nagpur in peak summer with temperatures close to 50 degree Celsius. Under the watchful eye of Haribabu, who heads the Volvo Driver Training Centre at Bangalore, Anil used all that he had learnt over the years to make it to the top. He fought a fierce battle where each contestant did all that he could to win the challenge; to be the most frugal over a five-kilometre mining track at Besur’s Gokul Coal Mines. Volvo Trucks deployed Dynafleet, their proprietary fleet management system, to measure the performance of each driver. It measured the drivers on four key aspects – braking, speed adaptation, engine and gear utilisation and standstill. Data on fuel efficiency, driver’s uptime and overall productivity were collected to gauge contestants’ performances and identify specific areas for improvement.

Confident of winning the finals, Anil flew to Sweden, the first time he would ever step into the European Union, and into Volvo’s home country. Some trepidation did find a way to Anil as he got on the plane to Sweden. He simply shrugged it away, lost in the thought that he had to win the title. Conditioned by the desolate mining landscape and harsh working environment, he found his way to Falkenburg. At that point, he had no clue he would have a story to take back home to his fellow drivers, and all those who played a role in getting him to Sweden.

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Born out of the need to care for environment

The history of Fuelwatch Challenge dates back 10 years when Volvo’s Korean officials kicked off the event at the national level. They did so with a view of encouraging their customers and drivers to be more responsible towards the environment, drive frugally and reduce the carbon footprint. The Swedish major also saw a way of telling about their efforts to build efficient and technologically adept trucks through their customers and drivers. The message was clear: Volvo’s customers could build sustainable business and engineer high operational efficiency. Working tirelessly to increase the fuel efficiency of its trucks by infusing new technologies, the company has turned the Fuelwatch Challenge into a global event. It is divided into two parts, an on-road event for its on-road truck drivers and an off-road event for off-road (tipper) truck drivers. As part of the Asia-Pacific leg of the challenge, the challenge in India was kicked off by Volvo seven years ago. It was decided to limit it to the off-road category. This is about to change as Volvo shifts gears once again in India, and renews its focus on on-road trucks. The on-road challenge in the Asia-Pacific region is currently held in Korea, China, Malaysia and Singapore among other countries. In the last edition of the Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge, P Ravi of S V Engineering Construction (SVEC) won the off-road category. The finals were held at Thailand. Following in Ravi’s footsteps, Anil, working for the same company, flew to Falkenburg, with just the thought of winning and retaining the title for India. One of the 14 drivers crowned at their respective national levels in the Asia-Pacific region in the off-road category, Anil would indeed have a story to take back home.

Expressed Per Bruun Hansen, Driver Development Manager, Volvo Group Trucks, at the start of the event on the Falkenberg Motorbana (FM) Racetrack, “In order to achieve good fuel economy the drivers will have to shift gears as less as they can. They will have to shift progressively to ensure better torque. They will need to plan, and be gentle on the accelerator and brake; use them as little as possible. They will also have to reduce idling and constantly check the tyre pressure to achieve the best fuel economy.” “The carriage of overload will increase fuel consumption by one to two per cent. If all the steps mentioned are considered, one could achieve better mileage and increase the operational efficiency,” he added.

The event

Anil and the 13 other participants drove a Volvo FMX 500 8×4 tipper across a designated track created especially for the purpose at the Falkenberg racetrack. The heavy-duty tipper was equipped with D13K500 VEB+, Euro 6 engine that develops peak torque of 2500 Nm, and is mated to an I-Shift AT2612F gearbox. The front of the truck was fitted with leaf spring suspension (FAL20). The rear contained an air suspension (RTH2610F). The tipper was also equipped with Volvo Dynamic steering.

The drivers did two laps in the FMX500. The maximum time they were allowed to drive was 18 minutes. Each driver took off from the start point, got on to the off-road track, climbed a gradient and descended it from the other side. After descending, the driver brought the truck to a complete halt for five seconds. He then drove into the next terrain consisting of mud and sludge. He also drove over a plain area before completing the second lap. During the entire competition, the inter-axle differential lock was engaged. The I-shift lever position was determined by the driver, except when starting. When starting the position was in the automatic mode. Traveling with the gear lever in neutral position resulted in disqualification.

Jangh Yun Son of Korea was announced as the top-most fuel-efficient driver in the off-road category. He is the owner of Moa ICT transporting aggregate, construction waste in Korea. Hsu Chin-Lung of Taiwan was announced as the top most fuel-efficient driver of the Asia Pacific region in the on-road category. He is a professional driver at a big Transport company of Petrol Chemistry, Industry indicators in Taiwan. Anil Reddy was announced the 1st runner up in the (off-road) challenge.

President of Volvo Trucks International, Heléne Mellquist, congratulated the winners. She mentioned, “The great performances offered by our contestants underline the importance of driver when it comes to achieving optimal fuel efficiency. This competition is all about sharing insights to improve drivers’ performance and benefit businesses in the long run.” “For the current edition more than 5800 contestants have participated, and the event is growing year on year,” she added.

Accolades for Anil Reddy

Competing with five contestants and being judged as the first runner-up having stood from the winner with a marginal difference in the off-road category, Anil Reddy attracted much attention for his efforts. GV Rao, Director – Product, Brand and Marketing of Volvo Trucks India, congratulated him. He averred, “It is a proud moment for India and its driver community. With each edition of Fuelwatch, the competition is becoming more intense. Indian drivers are becoming increasingly competitive in their quest to win a global competition like this.” “A competition like this signifies the importance of driver behaviour and its contribution towards achieving higher fuel efficiency, productivity and safety,” he added.

Reddy expressed that he was proud to be a Volvo truck driver. He said that he is looking forward to share his learning from the Fuelwatch event and spread awareness on the importance of fuel efficiency among fellow drivers in India. Mentioned Anil about the training rendered by the Volvo driver training centre in Bangalore. This centre continuously trains drivers, both in Bangalore and at customer’s mine sites. The centre point of driver training is

fuel efficiency.

While Volvo lays stress on fuel efficiency, and goes to the length of formulating, holding and expanding the scope of a challenge called the Fuelwatch Challenge, it may be interesting to note that transportation is responsible for 28 per cent of India’s carbon emissions, second only to power plants, which are responsible for 31 per cent of the emissions. Heavy duty vehicles in India are growing as infrastructure and transportation needs of the country change. This is having an effect on the environment. The drivers of heavy vehicles can contribute towards preserving the environment by saving fuel and ensure that the trucks they pilot, emit less. The task of building trucks that are environmentally friendly, Volvo is already

doing.

BOX

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Per Bruun Hansen, Driver Development Manager,

Volvo Group Trucks

Q. How do you rate the current edition of Volvo Fuelwatch 2016?

A. Without any doubt I would say that the current edition is better than the last edition. This year we saw that the drivers were extremely dedicated. They were highly competitive. In fact, after the results the ones that did not win should have no reason to feel bad. They are still among the best drivers in the world.

Q. In the off-road category, what was the deciding factor?

A. I think it was time management. Managing the time as you go around and make sure you control the throttle rightly as you climb the hill and climb down is important. This really makes a lot of difference in achieving better fuel economy. If two of the drivers are same in fuel economy then we will see the time consumed and finally the costing. This is how we decide the winners.

Q. The difference between the winner, the first runner-up and the second runner-up?

A. I cannot give you that figure, but I can say that the fuel consumption difference between them is less than three per cent. And, that’s quite exiting. That’s why I said that there should not be any hard feelings for the second and third runner-up. Next day, in a different weather condition and on a different track they can be the winners. They are all top drivers. It is because the Dynafleet can record very minute figures, that we have been so accurately able to gauge the performance of the drivers. It is the best tool so far in tracking all the parameters.

Q. How does the Dynafleet help the drivers?

A. Earlier I would need to spend more than four hours with the drivers to understand their driving behaviour and pattern. With Dynafleet my job has become much easier and simpler. With Dynafleet to assist, I am able to train the driver in the area that he should improve in. Dynafleet clearly indicates the area of improvement such that the driver cannot blame me as a trainer. Neither can be put the blame on any external factor. The result is in black and white.

Q. What would be your advice to the competitors?

A. I would tell them to stay calm, and be gentle on the accelerator. I would also tell them to not follow what others are doing. Concentrate on your own performance and the rest will fall into place is what I would tell them.

Q. Some drivers feel that driving premium trucks is difficult. Is it true?

A. In India we are located in Hosakote, Bangalore. There we have a training centre run by highly trained and professional trainers. There are no obstacles therefore in familiarising with new technologies. When drivers come to train, they think that they know everything. However, after a day or two, they realise how different and easy it is to learn new technologies. The day one stop’s learning, he is dead. That is what I believe. I therefore do not think that there’s an issue about premium trucks being difficult to drive.

Truck platooning demonstrated

On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Challenge 2016 finals, Volvo Trucks demonstrated truck platooning at Falkenburg. One truck led the way, and others followed it in a convoy, copying every move of the truck in front. Separated by as little as 25 ft., like a convoy of cyclists in Tour de France, each truck, except the one at the front, benefitted from a drop in wind resistance. Said Hyder Wokil, Mobility & Automation Director, Volvo Trucks, that such a formation could save six per cent fuel. He averred that platooning requires vehicle-to-vehicle communication and an amount of autonomous driving. Pointing at technological solutions that aren’t far from turning commercial application, the platooning demonstration endorsed the fact that incremental steps are being taken to make trucks efficient than they are today. “Truck platooning can bring significant fuel saving and reduce CO2 and toxic emissions. It can also help to reduce congestion through efficient use of existing infrastructure, thereby reducing pollutants and greenhouse gases further. In the long run, haulage companies in particular will benefit from faster transhipment of goods through fewer traffic jams. Roads will be used more efficiently. Through harmonisation of regulations, the automotive industry will be able to work on the smooth introduction of self-driving trucks,” mentioned Wokil.

Ravi and Anil lead the way

At the finals held at Thailand, it was P Ravi who won the championship. He and Anil Reddy works for S V Engineering Construction (SVEC), a company that participates in mining, infra and agricultural projects. Both, Ravi and Anil are leading the way in reflecting upon truck drivers that they should save fuel and care for the environment by doing their bit. There’s also something that SVEC is doing right, that has got Ravi and Anil this far. Established in 1973, SVEC transitioned from irrigation projects to mining in 2000. It has now transitioned into infra projects due to the slowdown in mining activities. Working on infra projects like the construction of second runway at the Bangalore Airport, SVEC has 110 Volvo tippers and 28 Volvo 48-tonne excavators. A loyal Volvo customer since the first truck that SVEC bought in 2000 continues to operate even today, N Vinod Reddy, Managing Partner, SVEC, informs that his company calculates the fuel consumption of its drivers and the best driver is sent to the Volvo Fuelwatch competition. Of the opinion that such a competition motivates the drivers and results in a huge improvement, both Ravi and Anil have been working for SVEC since 2014. Both had the experience of driving premium trucks, but the Volvo driver training and on-site training helped them to learn to achieve better fuel economy. “Anil and Ravi will be made trainers for the rest of the drivers at SVEC so that their journey motivates other drivers,” Reddy stated. Interestingly, for the fleet operator, a rise in fuel savings translates into more profitability. If he has 100 trucks for example, and each truck saves 10 percent fuel, the savings in monetary terms amount to Rs.2-2.5 crore per year.

A system named Dynafleet

Dynafleet make look like just another telematics-based fleet management tool developed by a truck manufacturer, it is however much more than that. According to Volvo sources, it helps to deliver on an important count of fuel efficiency. It measures the fuel economy of a truck, and is designed to provide an insight into the management of the entire fleet, truck-by-truck. Helping to pick up information for a deeper understanding the truck operator’s business, Dynafleet also helps to take corrective measures. It can generate reports from a wide range of parameters and discover why a particular driver consumes more fuel than the other when he is driving the same truck. Potential savings are easy to identify, and quickly. Enhancing profitability, Dynafleet reports vehicle data and driver times to both the driver and the office. This information assists in transport analysis and forms a reliable basis for the vehicle manager’s work and the office’s wage calculations. A complete transport management system, Dynafleet presents a range of logistical functions including the vehicle’s position. This makes the system the transport planner’s daily tool for planning, managing and following up transport assignments.

CAPTION

ò Volvo Trucks officials with Indian contestant and last year’s APAC winner.

ñ FM 500 being used for on-road competition.

ð After the competition all the data are acquired from the Dynafleet by the Volvo official.