Safety at Volvo Trucks

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Intelligent and innovative safety technologies developed by Volvo Trucks promise zero accidents.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

Safety is endemic to the Swedish society. It lays much emphasis on accident prevention. If this will help to explain why safety is synonymous with Volvo, which has a long history of establishing safety milestones, at its Experience Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden, recently provided an insight into the safety technologies it has developed. With high commitment to safety, the Swedish truck giant is working on a plethora of technologies that could lead to connected vehicles, and eventually to truly autonomous machines. Present in 68 countries, including India, Volvo Trucks is pro-actively expanding the envelope of automotive safety. With an eye on rising vehicular population, and the resulting challenges, the company is focusing on smart safety technologies like emergency braking and collision warning.

The root of both these technologies lies in accidents where the following vehicle rear-ends the vehicle ahead. The results of which are often disastrous. Underlining the phenomenon of better infrastructure leading to more vehicles and higher traffic speeds, Helene Mellquist, Senior Vice President, Volvo Trucks International, expressed that rear-end collisions account for one-fifth of the overall accidents that involve trucks. “Since November 2015, it is mandatory to equip every two and three-axle trucks with an automatic emergency braking system across the European Union,” she said. According to the EU legislation, the braking system should be effective in slowing down a truck by 10 kmph. The target for next year is 20 kmph. Of the opinion that the amount of jerk that will emanate from such an excercise will cause the driver pain. To avoid this, Volvo Trucks, according to Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Products Safety Director, has developed a system that alerts the driver well in advance. If the driver does not pay heed to the warning, the emergency brakes are applied. Mentioned Almqvist, “If you are driving at 80 kmph when the emergency braking system is deployed, there is a need to cut down the speed by more than 20 kmph to avoid a nasty collision because the vehicle ahead has come to a standstill.”

Offering a first-hand feel of the technology on a Volvo FH16 750 carrying a load of over 40-tonnes, the engineers of the company explained how the system works. Noticing another vehicle in front, the truck shed speed from 80 kmph to a standstill in less than 40 m. The braking speed recorded was up to seven-meter per second square. The system, with standard ABS deployed on both the tractor and the trailer, is laced with a camera and radar technology to monitor the vehicular movement ahead of the truck. It is engineered to brave adverse weather conditions. Sensing the risk of a collision, the system gives out a sharp audio warning, closely followed by an escalating lighting combination. If the driver fails to respond, emergency braking is activated. At other times, when the system notices a lack of steering movement, it engages the parking brake in five seconds to avoid a roll over. To warn the following traffic, brakes lights begin to flash.

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Self-driving refuse truck

The self-driving refuse truck Volvo engineers have developed in association with Renova aims for safer, and efficient refuse handling. It provides an insight into how the refuse trucks of tomorrow will be like; how safe they will be. Meant to create a better working environment for drivers, the truck is driven manually the first time it visits a locality. The on-board system constantly monitors and maps the route with the help of sensors and GPS technology. The next time the truck visits the locality, it knows exactly which route to follow, and at which bins to stop. At the first stop with the automated system activated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and empties it exactly the way it is done with a conventional refuse truck. When the operation is completed, the truck automatically reverses to the next bin upon receiving the driver’s command. The driver walks the very same route that the truck takes. He thus has a full view of what’s happening in the direction of travel always.

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By reversing the truck, the driver can constantly remain close to the compactor unit instead of having to repeatedly walk between the rear and the cab every time the truck is on the move. And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at every start and stop, there’s less risk of work related injuries such as strain on the knees and other joints. Carrying the same genetic pattern of autonomous Volvo trucks operating in Kristineberg mine in northern Sweden, the autonomous refuse truck, according to Almqvist, comes to an immediate halt if the sensors monitoring the surrounding area notice another object in close vicinity. The commercial application of such a refuse truck is still some time away. There’s more research to be done, and especially in the wake of the regulation that does not allow trucks to be reversed for reasons of safety. Issues like these, and others need to be addressed. A detailed story on the autonomous refuse truck is featured ahead in the issue.

Platooning

A convoy of three Volvo FH trucks, as part of an exercise to forward the cause of vehicle automation, under the supervision of the Dutch government, travelled from the Volvo headquarters at Gothenburg to Rotterdam in March 2017. As part of the European Union truck platooning challenge, the three Volvo trucks were driven through five countries while communicating wirelessly with each other through cameras and radars. The communication between the trucks was carried out through G5, a special frequency dealing with encrypted data traffic. The frequency enabled either truck to match the speed of the other trucks, which is essential to a platoon. With a one-second gap between the two trucks, the rate of acceleration and deceleration matched. A glimpse of how the system works was had with the camera fitted on the lead truck sending the footage to the two other trucks in the platoon. While the other drivers continued to steer the vehicle, acceleration and braking was automated. Traveling at 80 kmph, the trucks in the platoon maintained a 22 m gap between each other. The seemingly small gap reduced wind drag. Developing autonomous steering as an effort to reach the goal of a truly self-driving truck, Volvo is aware of the associated risks; the need for the drivers to be ready, and to accept it commercially.

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Visibility and driver awareness

Volvo Trucks is working closely with the Swedish Government to impart training to drivers through the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), Lindholmen. VTI, in 2011, inaugurated its Sim IV simulator, which produces a large stroke liner motion in both lateral and longitudinal directions. A system consists of three LCD screens for rear view mirrors and nine projector modules for 180 degree forward field view. It is designed such that it studies the driver reactions and imparts training on maneouvring the truck in different situations. The number of accidents involving trucks has fallen as per the Volvo Trucks Safety Report for 2017. The report has mentioned that there are still a considerable number of drivers who do not wear a seat belt. Highlighting the need to focus on pedestrian safety, and that of the cyclists and motorcycles, the report has emphasized on active safety measures like increased seat belt usage, driver awareness as well as direct and indirect visibility from the cab, driver coaching services that provide direct feedback to the driver, and Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB) system.

The current AEB system as per the legislature, is designed to mitigate or avoid rear-end accidents. It will have to, in the future, include scenarios involving pedestrians and cyclists (VRUs). This would call for detection systems that identify VRUs in close proximity to a truck. Also, Cooperative Intelligent Traffic Systems (C-ITS) that enable communication between vehicles and infrastructure. Opined Peter Wells, Head, Volvo Trucks Accident Research, “Often there are these minor factors that foster a safe environment. They also lead to product improvement.” Volvo engineers have set up cameras that complement the rear view mirrors. The combination of cameras and mirrors is aimed at eliminating the limitations posed by a human eye. “There are blind spots around the truck for a driver. Different traffic situations call for them to be dealt accordingly. It is a joint responsibility of the society to see and be seen to elevate road safety,” averred Almqvist. He concluded, that it is important to educate the young and the adults.

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Singrauli hosts Volvo Fuelwatch Challenge

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Volvo Trucks hosted the eighth edition of Volvo Fuelwatch Challenge at Singrauli.

Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

The eighth edition of Volvo Trucks India ‘Fuelwatch Challenge’ was held at Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh. Home to five thermal power generation plants with an estimated power generation capacity of 13295 mega-watt, Singrauli, saw 29 top contenders – winners of regional rounds, from 29 different Volvo Trucks customers, pilot the new BSIV Volvo FMX 460 8×4 mining tipper on a 3.4 km track in the Dudhichua coal mine. The Dudhichua mine is one of the largest mines among the 10 mines that Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL) operates in the Singrauli region. With rich coal deposits spread over an area of 2,200 sq. km, Singrauli has 15 Volvo Trucks customers, including its biggest customer BGR Mining & Infra. Together they operate 850 FMX trucks. Given the need of the operations, Singrauli has no 8×4 Volvo FMX trucks. All the trucks that operate there are 10×4 FMX 520 and FMX 480. A total of 273 trucks out of the BGR’s fleet of over 500 trucks operate at Singrauli. The mines of Singrauli have 85 FMX 480 trucks, and 30 FMX 520 10×4 trucks. Replacing the mighty dump trucks, the 850 Volvo mining trucks at Singrauli have come to earn the respect of their drivers. They are ably supported by the Volvo service structure.

Choosing to hold the challenge at the Dudhichua coal mine to simulate the exact conditions under which its mining trucks ply, Volvo Trucks got a 3.4 km track, leading up to a discarded dumping site, built. With tight corners and loose surfaces thrown in for good measure, the track, 1.7 km one-way, saw each of the 29 drivers drive with load and without load.

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Aimed at enhancing driver efficiency and skills, which would in-turn help to elevate the energy efficiency of Volvo trucks that they drive, the eighth ‘Fuelwatch Challenge’ paid particular attention to how a Volvo mining truck driver planned his drive; employed his skills, and drove safely. In the desolate landscape of a coal mine, one error can lead to costly accidents and damage.

Held over three days, the ‘Fuelwatch Challenge’ saw the 29 drivers try all the tricks under the sun to ensure that their’s was the most frugal drive. The most tricky part of the challenge was perhaps the turn at the half-way mark, which required the driver to make a three-point turning maneouvre. Also challenging proved to be the loose soil surface. It called for the right use of traction. The weather was not the most pleasant during the three days of the challenge. B Dinakar, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Volvo Trucks, expressed that the event is not a competition. It is a culture.

Volvo’s telematics platform, Dynafleet, was pressed into service to record the performance of each and every driver. With the new 8×4 Volvo FMX 460 BSIV (with I-Shift automated manual transmission) as the basis, Appana Babu of BGR Mining and Infra managed to be the most frugal and disciplined. Rajkaran Kushwaha of Baghel Infrastructures (Singrauli) came second, and Bablu Ghatwal of Coal Mines Associated Traders came third. Said Dinakar, that none of the 29 drivers that participated in this edition of the Fuel watch Challenge has ever participated in this event. He drew attention to a rule that restricts entry for three years to those who have participated. Expressed Dinakar, “Since its inaugural event in 2010, more than 20,000 participants have become ambassadors of the Fuelwatch community. They share their skills and knowledge to promote a more fuel-efficient industry.” Stating that it takes more than driving for the drivers to go further, Dinakar said that they are working towards a model where the ‘Fuelwatch Challenge’ turns out drivers that become trainers for other drivers in the fleet.

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To represent India in the finals held at Sweden, Babu expressed that it is not just about driving, but is also about understanding the terrain, the vehicle, and to move in harmony. Lauding the efforts put in by the drivers, and their ability to think quickly, Dinakar mentioned, “This also helps us to relook at the technology we offer, and improve upon it.” This edition of Fuelwatch saw an increased participation from over 400 drivers of 29 customers. “The fuel-efficiency margins clocked by the winners have achieved new targets for possible savings in a real-world context, which is testimony of the fact that driver training is pivotal to ensure increased fuel efficiency,” expressed Dinakar. Claiming to spearhead the Fuelwatch mission in the industry, Dinakar explained that they have trained over 55,000 truck drivers nationwide. Stressing upon drivers achieving up to 30 per cent better fuel efficiency over average drivers with regular driver engagement through driver training programs, Dinakar concluded that Indian truck drivers are proving to be top contenders. They are making their mark in the global Fuelwatch Challenge, he averred. If Babu wins the finals at Sweden, his efforts will bring fame to his friends, family and the energy generating region of Singrauli. It will also inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

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Driving the Volvo FMX 460 8×4 tipper

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In terms of appearance, Volvo FMX 460 does not look any different from the Volvo FMX 440 8×4 mining tipper. BSIV emission compliant, the FMX 460 flaunts a Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR) exhaust after-treatment system. Most SCR components are away from the naked eye except the AdBlue reservoir between the left front and second wheel. An AdBlue pump is integrated into the plastic tank of 32 to 90-litre capacities. Claimed to require topping up every three days considering the continuous operation of the tipper, the FMX 460 features a day cab with comfortable and ergonomic driver area. Powering the truck is a 460 hp, D13K, 12.8-litre, six-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel engine mounted on a robust and reinforced ladder chassis. Producing a peak torque of 2300 Nm at 900-1400 rpm, the engine has an I-Shift automated manual transmission coupled to it. Power is routed to the road through two live rear hub reduction axles.

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Behind the wheel of the tipper, a sense of sitting higher up is had. Behind the large four-spoke steering wheel is a large rectangular instrument panel. Slide the shifter into neutral, and turn the key. The straight six-cylinder motor comes to life and settles down to an idle. Slide the shifter to ‘A’, release the electronic parking brake on what looks like a thoroughly modern and well put-together dashboard, and step on the accelerator. There is no clutch. The truck starts moving. A noticeable improvement in refinement and noise is evident at once. The BSIV compliant machine is driver friendly and comfortable. In a desolate mining environment, the air-conditioned cockpit is a pleasant place to be in.

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With good visibility ahead, through the large single windscreen, the FMX 460 does not call for much effort to pilot. The overburden at the rear feels a matter of course. The FMX 460 moves away without hiccup. With small increments in speed, the 12-speed splitter and range gearbox with automated gearchanging system begins swapping cogs promptly. With the rev needle hovering on the ‘green’ band of the tacho, the FMX 460 amazes with its ability. A considerable improvement in refinement over the BSIII FMX 440 is evident at once. Having earned a strong reputation for its ability to go deep down into a mine, the FMX 460 further elevates the abilities the FMX mining tipper range is known for.

The Dudhichua coal mine where I had an opportunity to drive the FMX 460 is full of FMX 520 and the FMX 480 10×4 trucks. They operate in severe conditions. Exhibiting strong traction, the FMX 460, in severe operating conditions, impresses with its ability to keep noise and dust out. No wonder, one of the 29 drivers participating in the Fuelwatch Challenge expressed that they were longing to get behind the wheel of their trucks to escape the warm, humid and dusty environment of the mine! On the move, the engine brake of the truck makes for good control. The brakes exert a strong bite when called upon to retard the truck. Acknowledging the advantages had by maintaining good mining tracks, BGR has deployed a good number of water spraying tankers and motor graders. If the diff locks help to negotiate narrow winding tracks with loose soil, the inter-axle locks help to carry out the task at hand without interruption. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Is that what the FMX 460 is trying to convey? I think, it is.

Volvo CV plant to make Volvo cars

In what is looked upon as an interesting development, Volvo Cars and the Volvo Group are said to have entered into an arrangement to assemble Volvo cars in India at Volvo Group’s CV plant at Hosakote, Bangalore. The arrangement will enable the Swedish luxury car maker to avail of lower duties. The first car, the XC90 SUV, is expected to roll out of the Hosakote plant at the end of this year. Volvo cars are currently imported as CBUs, and attract high duty of approximately 120 per cent. This puts them at a cost disadvantage when compared to their competitors, which have invested in a plant locally. Volvo Group’s plant at Bangalore assembles the FM and FMX range of Volvo trucks. The new generation heavy-duty Eicher Pro 8000 series trucks are also made at this plant. The bus plant, separated by a wall, produces inter-city, city buses under the Volvo brand for local consumption and exports. The Group also makes UD city buses for local consumption.

Volvo bus supply to BMTC

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Volvo Buses India has announced the supply of 100 Volvo 8400 city buses with the 330 hp, 8-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine manufactured at the VE Powertrain facility, Pithampur. UBS II compliant, the buses are fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission, and an integrated retarder and optimised rear axle ratio. This is the first instance when the locally made 8-litre engine has been deployed in a Volvo city-bus according to sources close to Volvo. Optimised to ply on congested routes with frequent start-stops, the 8400 city bus, claim Volvo sources, provides quick acceleration, and supports rapid transit time. Promising optimal power-to-weight ratio, which translates in instant acceleration, air-conditioning performance and gradeability, the 8400 city bus is designed to do 17-hour duty shifts. Easy to drive, and comfortable to travel in, the 8400 city bus is air-conditioned. It is rollover protected, has powerful disc brakes on all wheels, roll stabilisers and a bus oriented suspension. The doors are equipped with sensitive edge to prevent passenger injury during accidental door closure. Said Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO, Volvo Group, “Volvo Buses has been at the forefront of introducing new technologies in India. Our partnership with BMTC has been integral to this journey. We delivered the first city bus in 2006, and are proud that BMTC has over 700 Volvo buses in its fleet. The order for next generation city buses is the start of the next phase of our shared drive to promote sustainable mobility.” With entry height of just 350 mm, the 8400 city bus is passenger friendly, for those with impaired mobility. It also features a kneeling feature. The clear door width at front and rear is 1200 mm.

Himachal Road Transport has 100 Volvo buses

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Himachal Road Transport Corporation’s AC bus fleet has come to have 100 Volvo buses. The corporation’s fleet size has swelled from 1,600 buses to 3,100 buses in the past years according to the state transport minister G S Bali. Flagging off the Palampur-Chandigarh and Palampur-Delhi Volvo bus services recently, Bali said that Himachal Pradesh would soon become the first state in the country to ply electric buses on the Manali-Rohtang route. These buses would later be introduced in other parts of the state to reduce air pollution, he said. Various steps taken by the Himachal Road Transport Corporation, its revenue has increased by Rs 8 crore. The corporation has been laying emphasis on improving its buses services and equipping the bus stands with better facilities. Bali announced that the Palampur-Chandigarh Volvo bus service will start from Palampur in the morning and reach Himachal Bhawan in Chandigarh such that it will facilitate the return of people coming to Palampur the same day

Volvo’s hybrid drive

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Volvo Buses India is offering the 8400 low-floor hybrid city bus to help cities fight the menace of pollution.

Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

It is drizzling for the last one hour. Any chance of it stopping looks slim. The Vardah cyclone that devastated Chennai is showing its after effect at Bangalore. The drive to Hosakote on the outskirts of Bangalore is uneventful with tiny droplets colliding against the car windows. As the wipers work to keep the unseasonal rain from obscuring the vision of the driver, an impression is had that urbanisation is fast overtaking any attempts by the local inhabitants to carry out farming. The lure of big money from the sale of fertile parcels of land is too precious to be ignored. Described as the IT capital of India, Bangalore is perhaps the best example of how urbanisation is spreading its tentacles in every direction, bringing with it the need for efficient modes of transport. One of the modern, if not the most efficient means of transport at Bangalore are the Volvo buses. They are found the moment one steps out of the Kempegowda International Airport. The plant that manufactures these buses is where I am going. I will be spending time with the new hybrid city bus the Swedish bus major has launched. Two 12 m hybrid low-floor city buses have already been supplied to the Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport against an order of five. The third bus will soon leave Hosakote for Navi Mumbai. It is currently undergoing trials and validation. Reflecting upon Volvo’s experience in producing hybrid and electrical buses (the first hybrid bus Volvo produce is claimed to be the 2008 B5LH low-floor city bus), the low-floor hybrid city bus that I will spend time with, is a diesel-electric. It adds to the count of 6000 hybrid and electric buses Volvo has produced till date. A parallel hybrid, the bus, in terms of appearance, looks no different than the diesel powered 8400 12 m long, low-floor city bus. The Volvo 8400 diesel bus is found in over 30 cities in India.

Smart proposition

Smart the 8400 low-floor diesel city bus looks. The 8400 hybrid bus mirrors the 8400 diesel bus in appearance. The body structure is 100 per cent local, and flaunts good fit and finish levels. The use of materials, paint, and build standards hint at world-class construction. They also hint at the need the company felt in investing in a captive body building plant at Hosakote in 2008.

Based on the Volvo B5RLE platform, the 8400 hybrid city bus adds to the premise, which VRV Sriprasad, Managing Director, Volvo Buses India, describes as instrumental in persuading people to leave their vehicles behind and take to public transport. The 8400 hybrid bus seats 32 people apart from the driver. Its low-floor height makes it easier to enter and exit. There are two pneumatically operated doors on the left side of the vehicle for the purpose. With 2×2 seating arrangement, the hybrid bus, says Sriprasad, has much of its content coming from Sweden as far as the chassis is concerned. “Since the 8400 qualifies as a strong hybrid, the customer,” adds Sriprasad, “is entitled to a subsidy of Rs.61 lakhs for the bus that costs Rs.2.3 crore.”

Building on the experience of deploying hybrid buses in Australia and Singapore, Volvo in India, launched the 8400 hybrid city bus after the central government formally announced the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme in April 2015. The 8400 hybrid bus, it is clear, is not, about numbers. It is about providing a sustainable solution to cities battling with the issue of pollution. Claim Volvo sources, that the 8400 hybrid bus requires no supporting infrastructure. The parallel hybrid nature of the bus, they add, makes for a smart proposition. In the case of an electrical failure, the bus can still run, albeit on the diesel engine.

Smart tech

At the core of the 8400 hybrid bus is a 215 hp 5-litre Volvo D5 four-cylinder diesel engine (installed longitudinally at the rear), and a 160 hp electric motor. The engine and the motor produce a peak torque of 800 Nm each. The electric motor serves both, as a propulsion motor and as a generator. When the brakes are applied, their retardation effect is harnessed to recharge the batteries. This energy would have been wasted otherwise in the form of heat. Repeated braking, which is typical of a city-bus operation as it stops and starts, proves to be of operational benefit thus. Due to its considerable torque, the compact electric motor offers good performance at low speeds. It is at low speeds, and when the bus moves away from stand still, that the diesel engine is most taxed. It is then that it pollutes the most. Supplementing the diesel engine’s superior properties at higher speeds by producing maximum torque right from the start, the electric motor provides excellent starting characteristics and driveability. Electric power is also used when the vehicle is standing still. When the bus stops to pick up commuters or at the traffic light, the diesel engine switches off automatically. The bus, as a result, does not produce exhaust gases, and makes for a silent operation.

The motor of the 8400 hybrid bus is actually an integrated starter alternator motor (permanent magnet motor that also works as a generator and diesel engine starter motor) that runs on alternating current. The clutch and the 12-speed automatic transmission are an integral part of the driveline. The electric (electronic) unit is said to feature an energy converter for direct or alternating current and the batteries. The brain of the hybrid system is an electronic control module, which regulates the engagement and disengagement of electric and diesel power as per the need. The module also influences gear changes and battery recharging. On the 8400 hybrid bus, the power steering pump, air compressor and cooling fan are powered by separate electric motors. Each electric motor operates only when it needs to. This saves energy.

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Behind the wheel

Like the diesel powered 8400 city bus, the driving position of the 8400 hybrid bus is low, and with a good view of what lies ahead. The driver cockpit is simple and functional. It is ergonomically well sorted, and has the instrument console at the centre. The console is made up of a large speedometer and tachometer dials. To the right are the air brake pressure dials. The other dials include the turbo boost pressure gauge, temperature gauge, fuel gauge and an engine oil pressure gauge. A portion of the console is occupied by an LCD readout. To the right, and adjoining the console is the parking brake switch. To the left is the AC control. Below is what could be described as a ‘pad’. It contains the transmission buttons. There are three of them. One is the ‘Drive’ button. The other two are the ‘Neutral’ and ‘Reverse’ buttons. Next to the transmission buttons is a round exterior light switch. A round blue lamp at the end of the pad indicates that this bus is hybrid by nature. It has ‘HYB’ written on it.

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Turn the key, and the diesel engine wakes up to a distant growl. The management system gets down to conducting various checks. Once it is done, the diesel engine shuts down. Silence prevails. The only noise is the whine of a motor. It is indicative of an utility running. With the parking brake disengaged, all that is needed is to press the accelerator. The bus moves away, with the only indication, the rising speedo needle. It is exactly at 24 kmph that the diesel engine cuts in (the next time it cut in at 20 kmph). The tell tale indicators are a distant whine of the engine and the rising tacho needle. The motor propels the bus, and highly capably. It does so at a time when the diesel engine could be most relied upon in a diesel bus.

Speeds in the region of 50 kmph are easily achieved. The bus exhibiting good stability and a pliant ride in the process. While the air suspension is made up of sturdy air bellows, the steering provides good feedback. The auto transmission shifts cogs smoothly. No jerks are noticed as the 12-speed auto-box does its duty. The suspended driver’s seat and a fully adjustable steering position make for a comfortable driving position. The large mirrors offer a good view of what is around, and at the rear. Noise levels inside the cabin, even with the diesel engine running are low. When it is time to slow down and stop, the brakes provide a strong bite. The feel is linear and progressive. The electronically controlled disc brakes of the bus are ABS equipped. The moment the bus halts, the diesel engine goes to sleep. The muted whine of the utility motor is audible once again.

Smart, comfortable and eco-friendly

Smart the 8400 hybrid low-floor city bus is. It is modern and comfortable. It is efficient and environment friendly. Volvo sources claim that the 8400 hybrid bus offers fuel savings of up to 30 per cent higher than a diesel bus. Speeds of up to 24 kmph are attained without the diesel engine waking up. The top speed of the bus, limited to 80 kmph, presents the 8400 hybrid low-floor city bus with a good opportunity to deliver an efficient and comfortable ride. Claim Volvo sources, that the advantage a parallel hybrid bus offers over a series hybrid bus is the use of battery pack. The battery pack is not subjected to heavy use, and lasts long, they add. They also draw attention to the bus’ ability to run on diesel in case the electric (electronic) section develops a fault. It has been five months that the two hybrid buses at Navi Mumbai have been operating. The learnings will take some time coming. The buses will have to clock many more kilometers. With lower exhaust emissions during travel and zero emission when stationary, the 8400 hybrid bus makes an interesting reflection of how technology in buses is progressing.

It is afternoon by the time I depart from Hosakote. The rains have stopped. The weather has turned pleasant. The sun is out. It feels fresh. Quite unlike Mumbai where smog is often mistaken for fog, and where the room for a bus like this is only growing.

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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

per-bruun-hansen-driver-development-manager-volvo-group-trucks-copy

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.