MAN Truck & Bus
Heading straight for a passenger car mock-up at a speed of 50 kilometres per hour, Nikolaj Mann faces a difficult mental challenge: the truck driver is not supposed to slow down, rather leaving that response to MAN’s Emergency Braking Assistant (EBA II). And it works: just short of impact, the truck comes to a halt on its own. Nikolaj Mann is thrilled. “This is the most amazing experience,” he says. Practising with the brake assistant is part of the pilot training for short-log timber transport offered by MAN ProfiDrive®, which attracted ten drivers with their fully loaded tractor trailers to the test course in Munich, Germany.
“That is truly something special, made specifically for this line of business,” says Rolf Lechner, team leader of the training section at MAN ProfiDrive®, when describing the new training agenda. It focuses primarily on driver safety, commercial vehicle technology and proper securing of cargo. According to Lechner, the timber drivers must master a “very complex technique,” as they must operate the crane to load up their cargo in rough terrain alone in the woods and in all weathers – which necessitates solid handling of both crane and proper load securing. So this is not just about the latest technologies in MAN vehicles. The senior customer service representative of Austrian crane specialist Palfinger Epsilon also provides information about safety while handling the loading crane, while a colleague from the Swedish cargo securing expert ExTe briefs participants on rests, stanchions and cargo securing systems of his company.
The day begins with a theoretical interval of about two hours, after which Lechner points to the testing ground encompassing 128,000 square metres. “This is our playground today,” he announces. By the afternoon, every attendee is scheduled to have enhanced his expertise at the hands-on stations comprising off-road, safety training, cargo securing and loading crane. “The high level of hands-on practice in these training sessions makes us stand out,” emphasises Lechner. With a team of currently 140 trainers, MAN ProfiDrive® has provided continuous and advanced training to drivers, driving instructors and experts for 35 years. “On average, we register about 7,000 participants a year,” calculates Lechner.
The industry-specific training for timber transport evolved out of a co-operation with UPM, one of Europe’s largest paper manufacturers, which employs numerous transport companies. “We intended to develop a kind of previously non-existent training that was tailored to ideally support the health and safety efforts of UPM,” explains Andreas Meggendorfer, Senior Manager Logistics & Shared Services CEWS at UPM, and refers to the characteristic features of the timber industry: driving in rough terrain, the orientation on forestry trails, load securing and handling the crane. “As everything takes place in the woods, the person affected is on his or her own. In addition, it all takes place outdoors and in any kind of weather,” emphasises Meggendorfer, and notes that these operators need outstanding driving skills.
Nikolaj Mann is also more than aware of the adverse conditions in his job. He has been driving timber for 14 years. “One time, the crane snapped off in the woods and I keeled over. My entire side here was blue,” says Mann, pointing to his upper torso. Nevertheless, driving timber remains his passion. “Ever since I was a child, this has been my dream job.” Mann lives in his truck throughout the entire week, driving as far as 3,000 kilometres. He has turned his driver’s cab into something resembling a miniature home. Adorned with an elegant drape, the cot can be turned into a sleeping cave, the dashboard with its fastidiously lined up pens serves as an office, and a folded towel with bathroom toiletries hangs in the passenger door.
Trainer Malte Meiners can still teach some basics such as steering and braking, even to full-blooded timber truckers like Mann. “An essential part here is realising ingrained behavioural patterns,” he says. In addition, he practises the handling of current vehicle technology. “Many obtained their licences when there was still no ESP, no shock absorber regulation or ABS,” explains Meiners and calls for a full braking manoeuvre at 50 kilometres an hour. While the massive articulated vehicles come to a halt rather reluctantly in the beginning, the drivers dare hit their braking pedal more decisively with every training round. Ultimately, the braking path is reduced to a mere 13 metres and the drivers are amazed.
After the training session, Nikolaj Mann drives home with a beaming face. “I am truly excited! There are so many new things I have heard and experienced. That really was a surprise,” he concludes. UPM also considers the pilot event a success, with Meggendorfer receiving positive feedback from the forwarding experts throughout. In terms of this training, MAN is the “ideal partner with regard to competence and wide area coverage,” he says. Soon, the training sessions are also scheduled for other locations.
We intended to develop a kind of previously non-existent training that was tailored to ideally support the health and safety efforts of UPM.