As the world’s top-selling truck manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz is well-positioned to bring together a group of men who are representative of the best-of-the-best in the global truck-driving community.
For the last eight years, Daimler FleetBoard, the proprietary Fleet Management solution for Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles, has conducted an international heavy-duty truck driver competition called the FleetBoard Drivers’ League, or ‘˜Truckermania’, which gives Mercedes-Benz customer drivers the opportunity to compete at both national and international levels in the quest for professional distinction.
The participating nations this year were Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and South Africa. For four weeks earlier in the year, each driver was closely scrutinised by the FleetBoard Performance Analysis tool while performing daily duty.
“Placement in the national rankings depended on the driving style grade as determined by FleetBoard,’ says Pascal Weiss, Manager Sales, FleetBoard South Africa. “This is composed of various factors such as: preventative driving style, speed change as well as braking behaviour which, depending on the degree of difficulty, provides an objective evaluation regarding the economical handling of the truck. The winners of the national competitions went on to the live finals in Germany.”
Making it to the finals held at the Mercedes-Benz Plant in WÃ¶rth, Germany in September were South African drivers from Imperial Logistics member company, Fast ‘˜n Fresh, as well as Timber 24. Pieter Adriaanse from Fast ‘˜n Fresh finished in 16th place overall, while Timber 24’s Bert Koning flew the flag proudly and took an impressive 13th place finish out of 21 finalists from an initial international entry pool of over 8 000 drivers.
“For the first time, truckers from Poland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and South Africa joined the competition, and thanks to the particular motivation of the competition, all Drivers’ League participants were able reduce their CO2 emissions by an additional 1%, which corresponds to approximately one additional tonne of CO2 per year per truck,’ says Weiss.
According to the official Drivers’ League website, “the live exercises included a 60 km long tour on public streets where the economical driving style was measured with FleetBoard Performance Analysis. This considered total consumption and wear-relevant criteria during daily transport work conditions. The right-hand drive truckers from the United Kingdom and South Africa demonstrated impressive skill in the left-hand drive exercises. Due to their enthusiasm, all drivers gave peak performances and exceeded all expectations. The decision was, therefore, very close.’
Says Abrie de Swardt, Imperial Logistics Marketing Director: “Both Pieter’s and Bert’s achievements and those of the 350 drivers who competed in the South African stage is important. It proves that many of South Africa’s truck drivers have world-class skills that can positively impact on safety on our roads and contribute to ensuring supply chain compliance.” De Swardt asks: “Does skills development need high level attention from government? Yes. But it also needs business to push progress where it matters. Long term practical training solutions are imperative to develop human capital in a sustainable way.’
He adds that if South African youth understands the central role that logistics – and transportation in particular – plays in moving our economy, we will begin to attract a critical next generation to our industry. “We can leverage success stories such as Pieter’s (and Bert’s) to teach and inspire not only today’s but tomorrow’s workforce,” says de Swardt. Adding to this, Weiss says the increasingly high performances at the top of the ranking lists show that more and more drivers and companies are concerned with the consequent implementation of driving styles that protect our resources.
It’s all the right stuff.