On to a winner
The team from Scania South Africa loves Truck Test! This was certainly evident in 2017 – where it put in a superb showing and did the brand proud
With Truck Test making a return to the busiest transport corridor in the country – the N3 between Johannesburg and Durban – the team from Scania had much to celebrate. The N3 is, after all, increasingly becoming a Scania stomping ground as the company’s good reputation continues to rise among local operators.
“I like that we went back to one of the most famous and well-known routes in South Africa,” says Alexander Taftman, GM product and marketing. “And, if there’s one route where we see a lot of R500 customers, it’s the N3,” he quips.
Of course, this flagship model from Scania SA’s long-haul catalogue was an obvious entry, as the vehicle is nicely matched to the route and its hilly terrain.
“The R500 is a high-torque, high-performance vehicle. Its V8 provides a smoother power delivery and the torque curve, which starts from low down, is of benefit to fuel economy. On the other hand, its high power helps with productivity,” explains Michael Marosi, pre-sales engineer.
“You can really benefit from this vehicle when you climb to high altitude, especially from sea level. If you put a V8 on the route over an extended period, and calculate the trip time, it will definitely be quicker than a vehicle with different engine characteristics,” says Taftman.
Scania’s volume seller in the “premium” sector of the market was joined by its volume-selling option in the “fleet” sector: the G460.
“This vehicle is also very relevant to the N3 route,” says Andre Vermeulen, pre-sales engineer. “It, too, ran well and made the most of its 460 hp (343 kW).”
However, says Vermeulen, success is not down to the vehicles alone.
“The drivers play a large role, especially in areas like Van Reenen’s Pass that require a lot of skill – the vehicle is only as good as the driver.”
“William Mabote and Reginald Naidoo, from the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal driver-training teams, really did us proud. They are two of our expert driver trainers,” adds Jaco Swart, pre-sales engineer, who, along with Marosi, acted as an observer during the test.
For the two men, the chance to enjoy driving in competitor vehicles as observers was not to be missed.
Taftman sums it up: “Truck Test affords such a good opportunity for colleagues from around the industry to get together and share information. Our observers really appreciated being able to change vehicles this year. By doing this, one has an opportunity to socialise more; it’s more fun and there’s more knowledge to be shared, which everyone is so open to doing because we’re in the same industry with the same challenges and opportunities.”
While Marosi and Swart took to riding shotgun, the two men comment, almost in chorus, that an event such as Truck Test requires a true team effort. “Preparation before the test, and even following up after the test, requires a lot of involvement internally. Thankfully, we’ve got personnel who are enthusiastic about it and they deserve a heap of thanks,” they concur.
“The simplest things that every professional operator will do with his fleet – like ensuring maintenance wouldn’t be a problem and ensuring the wheel alignment is 100 percent – make the biggest differences,” adds Vermeulen.
“It was also beneficial for each entrant to have the opportunity to run the route beforehand, with the load and trailers. Our drivers were able to set their own benchmarks while being guided by our Scania Fleet Management System,” says Marosi.
The system is fitted as standard to all Scania vehicles. Another spin-off was the ability to ensure it allowed for the maximum data utilisation for the route.
“As the market is a bit down, it all really comes down to the total operating cost and giving the customer as much benefit as possible with solutions such as the Scania Fleet Management System,” adds Swart.
For Taftman, the overall goal of Truck Test 2017 was simple: to show that well-maintained vehicles performing at their optimum, with a well-trained driver behind the wheel, can deliver figures achievable by any operator.
“I’m pretty sure that we reached that goal,” he smiles. “As this is the only test in the country that’s truly objective, it is a benchmark and the results are very valuable to operators and transporters – everyone looks at them.”
“I must add that one thing that I loved seeing on the day of the test was that everyone who was there held such a passion for the industry – we really have that in common, which is why we all get along so well at these events.
“I’d like to give a big ‘thumbs up’ to everyone involved in the whole event. It’s a truly important test and it’ll be great to see it evolve in years to come, because it’s a winner!” Taftman concludes.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.