MAN Truck & Bus
Sascha Schulz’ daily rest period will end at noon today: it's Friday. His truck is already parked at one of Inapa’s (a paper wholesaler in Köln-Niehl) three loading ramps. His colleagues, Martin Schäfer and Peter Schwarznau, are parked at either side, all three in the new MAN TGX 18.580, which was licenced in July, because their employer, Spedition HVL Hoppenstock, which is based in Pattensen near Hanover, is among those German transport companies that decided to order a total of seven semi-trailer tractors from a limited series of just a thousand units. "That was really good decision by our boss", says Sasha.
He and Peter enter the spacious warehouse that was built just two years ago. Heinz Vogt, the loading forman, has already picked some of the customer pallets out of around 3000 articles. "We drive fixed routes for Inapa to nine locations in Germany", Peter explains. "Each of us has our own fixed route, and there is a dedicated gate for each route here at the warehouse". The two of them load the pallets into the trailers one by one. "To me, I find this scheduled service extremely convenient", says Sascha. "You have fixed hours and you always run into the same people at the various customer sites. And, I can count on spending every other day at home with the family".
The trailer is loaded by just after one in the afternoon and Sascha signs the goods receipt docket. A short while later, Peter sets off for Kelkheim. Martin is scheduled to set off that evening. In the cabin of his MAN truck, Sascha uses the MAN Drivers App on his smartphone to register his departure, then says goodbye to his two colleagues and leaves the premises by the fastest route heading towards the A 1. "It's the same old daily chaos", he gripes. "I have to drive to Langenhagen via the A 57, the A 46, the A 1 and the A 2 because the Leverkusen bridge is closed. That'll cost me about three-quarters of an hour in Friday traffic". Luckily, he has a co-driver along today, who drives the new MAN truck for most of the route (see the road test report “Entspannt im Stau” (Relaxed in a tailback) at www.eurotransport.de).
Cohesion Some drivers of HVL meet on Saturday in the company. This also contributes to the good climate.
The TGX in action Every day three HVL trains stand at the ramp of Inapa in Cologne. With a total of 13 articulated trucks, HVL Line operates for the paper wholesaler.
Teamwork The drivers load the trucks shortly before the scheduled departure when the pallets are ready there.
Truck of the Year Sascha Schulz is also enthusiastic about the new MAN and especially about the precisely working assistance systems on his line tours.
In row The own workshop in Pattensen does smaller jobs and tire changes. The last three new MAN models for this year also get the employees on the road. That makes a total of ten TGX 18,580.
The drivers at HVL have a high level of personal responsibility, which suits me fine. The thing I like most about the new MAN are the new driver assistance systems.
Sascha has nothing but praise for his new tool, especially the two radar-based, blind spot and lane change driver assistance systems. "In my opinion”, he says, “MAN has come up with a “great solution. The two orange lights in the A-pillar stand out in an emergency, but don’t distract you at other times. Frontal and side visibility has also now been significantly improved by repositioning the two wing mirrors. But the congestion assistant in particular really great, Because, unfortunately, tailbacks are something that we drivers have to live with. This makes them bearable".
Sascha unloads the pallets at the Inapa site in Langenhagen in the early evening, parks the truck on the HVL premises in Pattensen and drives home. “I joined HVL four years ago with a little help from a dispatcher I knew from my first company, after having spent several years working for a Danish long-distance haulage company: I'm doing really well here now".
The good working atmosphere at HVL is also evident on the Saturday morning. Those of the 25 drivers who don’t live too far away and who are allowed to take their trucks home over the weekend meet for breakfast in the haulier offices, adjacent to which is a workshop where tyres are changed, and the tenth new MAN is also being prepared for service. Managing Director Daniel Hoppenstock (46), who along with his brother Marc (26) is also a partner in HVL, is continuing the longstanding MAN tradition. “We’re a medium-sized company and we bought our 100th new MAN truck in the summer of 2019 when we also celebrated our 25th anniversary with our staff and their families at Marienburg near Pattensen".
Hoppenstock took over the management of the company in November 2014, following the deaths of company founders Katrin and Axel Hoppenstock, who both passed away within a short period. Since then, the company, which operates 28 of its own trucks in local and long-distance haulage, has been run as a limited liability company. Dispatcher Mario Blech joined at the same time. "We also changed our logo a bit when we bought the first seven new MANs", says Hoppenstock. The new motto "There's a solution for everything” has now been incorporated into the Truck livery.
The “route” is covered by a fleet of thirteen trucks with permanently assigned drivers, nine of whom cover the local area whilst another twelve, including Winfried Reuters and Andreas Vogt, prefer "the open road", in some cases making runs to long-term customers, for example to central retail trade warehouses. "I still have a certain amount of freedom here", says Winfried, who, like Andreas, is still driving the current MAN TGX 18.580. Andreas, on the other hand, sometimes drives the “route” when one of the permanently assigned drivers is on leave. "We drivers at HVL are still people, and not just numbers", he stresses. This regular exchange with the drivers they don't see during the week is part of Daniel and Marc Hoppenstock’s philosophy, and is one reason for the low staff turnover.
"We already have an excellent working atmosphere here", says Sascha who goes on to emphasise "the high level of personal responsibility expected of HVL drivers, if they can handle it in the right way”. The wages are above average. And, something that Andreas is particularly pleased about: "All of our drivers were paid a net bonus of 750 euro during the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s something we give our bosses credit for".