"Passing value to customers through fuel efficiency and product support is our prime focus."

Fuelwatch Competition 2013

Adhering strictly to its declared policy of environmental care and fuel efficiency, Volvo Trucks has recently organized a FuelWatch Competition (FWC) 2013 at Naigaon mining site near Chandrapur for the tipper drivers with an objective to bring out the best teamwork of men and machines to achieve the highest fuel efficiency, productivity, and safe driving practices.

Volvo India will keep looking towards developing fuel-efficient solutions through its on- and off-highway tipper trucks and tractor trailers. According to the senior officials of the company, Volvo's tipper trucks and tractors are well positioned in delivering fuel efficiency to the customers as being equipped with high fuel efficient engines. However, good driving skills and proper vehicle maintenance also play important roles in achieving better fuel and operational efficiency, which could be obtained through necessary driver development programmes. Volvo initiated its first FuelWatch programme in 2010 followed by its 4th season in 2013 as such an initiative towards drivers' development. Under the programme, the drivers operate the tipper trucks in real mining conditions. The competition aims to acknowledge and reward drivers having derived best fuel efficiency in the tipper trucks.

In an interaction with P.P.Basistha, Mr.A.K. Birla, Executive Vice President-Sales, Marketing and After Market, VE Commercial Vehicles, Mr.GV Rao, Vice President, Volvo Group Product and Brand Strategy and Mr.Rama Rao A.S, Senior Vice President After Market, VE Commercial Vehicles spelled out details on the company's product support, business initiatives and strategies for expanding market presence and the fuel watch programme. Excerpts.

Please give us an overview and the intention of involving drivers in its Fuel Watch programme.
FuelWatch competition involved selection of best 20-25 drivers from Volvo's key customers after rigorous evaluation on driver experience and background. These 20-25 drivers are set out in a field competition, which lasted for two days where drivers drive two Volvo tippers FM 400 8X4 and FMX 440 8X4 twice (loaded and unloaded) each under identical operating conditions. Each driver drove approx. 19 kilometers which gave sufficient data for analysis.

During our 2013, 4th season of competition, we found that the difference in fuel consumption between the highest and the lowest fuel efficient driver was a whopping 24% which emphasized the point that a good driver can make a big difference. Volvo trucks are completely focused on improving fuel efficiency and thereby customers profitability, while encouraging safe driving practices and environmental care through reduction in emissions.

Since there is no third party verification on the fuel efficiency, how authentic is the competition?
Our trucks have electronic management system that records the trip data including fuel consumption. Before starting of each trip the trip meter is reset and at the end of the trip we download the data thru our "Dynafleet" trip manager (software), thus the information is taken from the truck itself. There is no manual intervention in recording the readings leading to any possible human errors. The whole process is very transparent and well explained to all participants prior to beginning of the contest.

Please brief us on your driver training programme?
Even before we rolled out our first truck in India, we had set up driver training centre (DTC) in Bangalore. This was the first of its kind initiative taken 15 years back. Since then Volvo trucks driver training centre has trained over 35,000 CV drivers. Volvo trucks DTC offers training for Volvo trucks & buses. DTC offers both onsite training for Volvo tipper customers and training in Bangalore for Volvo tractors & buses. The training programme is conducted over 5 days and is constituted of 20% classroom & 80% practical classes. The programme is offered to customer drivers as well as open market drivers. Over the past 15 years, we have even customized our training programme to meet customer's specific needs. We offer both fresh as well as refresher training programmes.

What is the current sales portfolio of the company?
So far we have sold more than 8000 units in India, 80% of our sales account through sales of mining tipper trucks and 20% through tractors in over-dimensional project cargo transportation. We have elaborate revenue channels derived through both product sales and service support.

Could you please tell us the reason of moderate presence in over dimensional cargo transportation?
The segment has been growing at a slow pace due to delayed awarding of power and refinery projects as well as other industrial projects. We are optimist to expand our presence in the segment with the projects getting pace.

Precisely, getting quality fuel at remote construction site or at major ODC cargo loading and unloading points is an issue in India. How are your tippers and project cargo trucks positioned through their engines to address the same?
Tipper_Truck
Our trucks are equipped with electronic engines. Being fully integrated with the base machine, it delivers high equipment uptime. Secondly, the engines are having advanced filtration systems, so as to counter sufficient filtration abuses that may be faced by the truck operators due to availability less than desired quality of fuel. We would like to point out that our tipper trucks get scrapped without replacement of a single injection system.

Are there any plans to launch newer variants of tipper trucks for the construction aggregate sector as well as for other loose bulk cargo viz sand through modified bodies?
With Tippers, we are primarily present in the Mining sector for both Ore and Overburden Removal. Based on payload material density, we are offering both rock and box body variants with varying volumetric capacity for different applications. We are also offering tipping solutions through heated bodies, for vehicles operating at the sites where the moisture content in the Overburden is more, so that the vehicle does not keep on moving with extra dead weight tonnage. Having identified the long haulage requirements and shortage of labourers at various unloading sites, Volvo had pioneered as the first company to introduce tipper trailer concept in the Indian Market. The solution has been beneficial to construction companies moving sand or other loose cargo. Also, based on requirements from tunneling and hydroelectric power construction sector, we have developed vehicles that have shorter wheel base and can turn at shorter radius, as there are space restrictions at the concerned project sites. We will look forward towards making customization in the chassis and the bodies, based on specific operational requirement.

What product and customer support services you are offering to ensure that the tipper trucks are affordable to own and operate? Are there any onsite support programmes?
Being positioned in the premium segment of trucking business, we look towards providing total economical solutions to our customers. To ensure that our tippers and on-highway trucks produce minimal downtime, we own and operate 180 dealership locations. Most of the network is exclusively owned by Volvo India. Operators are well acquainted with various operational features of the engines and the fed parts. We also provide onsite training and maintenance programmes to the operators. Based on the size of the fleet of the customers, we also provide container warehouses which house both our engineers and parts. Currently, we are supporting customers across the country with five container warehouses. Our engineers at the container warehouses, which can be termed as full-fledged mobile workshops, can assemble and dissemble the trucks within a span of 48 hours. We also sell the custom built containers to our customers. To make our products affordable to own and operate, we have an extensive "Re-man" or remanufacturing programme to provide spare parts at the affordable price as an alternative to Genuine Volvo parts. Under the programme, we provide complete reconditioning of the equipment including the engine which was initiated in 2012. This includes cabs, chassis or any other parts, based on the maintenance requirements of the customers.
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