Eye of the … Griffin

Eye of the … Griffin

Scania’s Top Team 2012/13 challenge delivered the best-of-the-best of the company’s southern African professional service teams in its riveting technical competition. JACO DE KLERK and GAVIN MYERS attended to bring you this report.

One could easily imagine that Scania’s Top Team participants felt like Rocky Balboa, from the Rocky film series, just before the boxer entered the ring to face some or other Russian goliath … As competitors waited to participate in the international competition – based on knowledge, efficiency and teamwork – on February 16, at Scania’s Parts Delivery Centre in Aeroton, Johannesburg.

The Top Team challenges are held exclusively for Scania’s technical teams. “This is to give the guys some recognition as the technical department usually pulls on the short end in an organisation,” says Luiz da Silva, Top Team coordinator and commercial trainer.

Scania South Africa joined the Top Team party in 2002. At that time, the competition wasn’t on the scale it is now – with only two South African teams taking part. “However, things have progressed considerably since then, with the company making an event out of the last two competitions,” Da Silva explains.

This growth led to the inclusion of competitors from across southern Africa in the Top Team 2012/13 challenge, with three cross-border and three South African teams entering. The former included two teams from Zimbabwe, the Harare Eagles and Bulawayo Five, and one from Namibia, the Welwitschias.

Top Team contestants worked their magic in fixing the trucks mechanical faults.Two of the South African teams came from Rosslyn, Team High Range and the Rosslyn Boys, and one from Bloemfontein, the Cheetahs. These contestants were selected out of 19 southern African teams. In the preliminary rounds teams had to complete questionnaires. The scores of the first round (during August) and the second round (in September) were added to determine the top six teams to take part in the final round of Top Team 2012/13.

The challenges

When participants geared up for the day’s trials, one could almost hear the iconic song “Eye of the Tiger” (made famous by the Rocky movies) or rather “Eye of the Griffin”, as this majestic beast is used on Scania’s emblem. The challenges included six events at as many stations, to test the professional service teams’ product knowledge and technical skills:

• Station one – this saw a Scania G420 truck with various engine problems built in, which participants had to identify and fix;

• Station two – here the Top Team members had to identify and fix electrical faults on Scania’s ethanol bus;

• Station three – the contestants had to repair the electronic level control (ELC) air suspension on a Scania R500 workhorse.

The Top Team participants had full use of diagnostic equipment and, therefore, needed to be familiar with Scania’s diagnostic programme. They also had to complete an additional questionnaire at each of the technical stations.

Stations four to six had a theoretical approach, and Top Team members had to demonstrate that they were well rounded:

• Station four – here the contestants received technical questions on Scania vehicles and were evaluated on their product knowledge;

• Station five – this station didn’t from part of the scoring for the day, but rather served as an information session. The contenders took part in an interactive presentation on Scania’s Retail Systems (SRS) which demonstrated the importance of standards;

• Station six – this brought Scania Finance to the party, which helped the Top Team competitors to form a bigger picture about the synergy between the finance and the technical departments. After a presentation, the contestants had to complete a questionnaire and provide quotes about Scania Finance and Insurance.

The teams had 20 minutes to complete each event.

Steps to glory

Following a day of “blood, sweat and tears” where their work was clearly cut out for them, the six competing teams knew they had what it takes to be a Scania Top Team. But the real challenge for glory wasn’t over yet … “Scania is a premium brand and behind the brand is a premium promise. Our customers pay for a good, high-quality product, but that cannot stand alone,” says Steen Gram, after sales director at Scania South Africa.

Namibia’s Welwitschias will jet off to Sao Paulo Brazil, as the champions of southern Africa.Gram, who has a history with Top Team dating back to 1989, explains how Top Team fits in to the Scania culture: “When a customer is standing in front of you, there is pressure on you to use all the skills, tools and experience you have to undertake an analytical fault-finding approach. You need to identify the core of the problem and resolve it correctly and effectively from the start. That’s why Top Team has been created; it’s all about having professional, top teams in our workshops. Our teams are our ‘everyday heroes’ and that’s why we invest in this sort of thing to motivate them to become extremely professional.”

And each team proved to be extremely professional in all the events including the Finance and Insurance sub-event. Matthew Lawrence and Kevin Meyer of Scania Finance and Insurance believe: “We might be the boring members of the organisation, but we definitely see finance and insurance as an important part of Scania, and hope that this part of the challenge provided a valuable learning experience for the teams.” Four prizes were awarded in this event, one for each of the top three teams and one for the team Lawrence and Meyer felt gave the best quote about insurance.

In third place were the Eagles, second place went to the Cheetahs, and in first place was Bulawayo Five. The team Lawrence and Meyer felt gave the best overall answers was Namibia’s Welwitschias. Each team scored full marks in the questionnaire.

For the main event, each team was awarded medals and certificates, with the top three teams each receiving elegant glass trophies and a cash prize for each member. (Third place was awarded R2 500, second place R5 000 and the winners R7 500.)

When the scores were tallied, the overall order was:

• Sixth place – Bulawayo Five

• Fifth place – Cheetahs

• Fourth place – Eagles

• Third place – Rosslyn Boys

• Second place – Team High Range

• Winners – Welwitschias.

The Welwitschias will now jet off to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in May, where they will compete against other Latin American and Middle Eastern teams. The top two teams selected here will then compete in the world finals in Sweden in November.

“I want our team there,” says Gram. “We still have a lot of work to do, but let me assure you, I am fully behind our team. I
am committed and believe we will get there.”

And that challenge for glory? “These top teams are actually the guys selling the next Scania,” notes Gram. “It’s all up to how they perform on the workshop floor, in the parts department and the customer reception. The product is the base, but without good people supporting the product we would not be here.”

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