Vehicles in the laboratory’s fleet range from a G 280 right through to an R 730, and are used to transport cargo, including gearboxes and engines, between Scania’s production units in Södertälje, Sweden, and Zwolle, the Netherlands. The gross vehicle weight of vehicles within the fleet is on average 35 tonnes, with weights ranging all the way from 22 tonnes to 78 tonnes.
The Scania Transport Laboratory is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Scania, but is operated as an independent haulage company. Its ceo is Anders Gustavsson. “Our mission from Scania Research and Development is to quickly generate operational data on new vehicles,” Gustavsson explains. “The data collected is then used to further improve Scania’s products and transport solutions.”
Gustavsson notes that the average fuel consumption for the R 580 has been 29.8 litres per 100 kilometres.
Scania employs some 100 drivers to keep the transport laboratory’s fleet operating 24 hours a day, allowing it to perform its important mission. The distance between Södertälje and Zwolle is about 1,300 kilometres, and four to six drivers work in shifts to get the job done. Each vehicle travels approximately 10,000 kilometres every week, and the fleet’s uptime is close to 100 percent.
Cem Kizilkaya is Scania Transport Laboratory’s Vehicle Manager. “Running such an operation requires extensive driver planning, and we have an exceptional way of managing this,” he says.
Japanese transport company Transweb studied the laboratory’s planning tool and found it to be so efficient that it copied it. Drivers and executives from Transweb have now visited Scania Transport Laboratory on three occasions to learn more about efficiently driving trucks and operating a fleet.
You might think that the professional drivers working for Scania Transport Laboratory wouldn’t care which truck they were assigned to drive. But even here, the V8 is king. “Most of the trucks are referred to by their number plates, except for the R 730,” Kizilkaya says. “Even for experienced drivers, driving a V8 truck is something special.”
- With its odometer expected to hit 900,000 kilometres in October 2015, a Scania R 580 owned by Scania Transport Laboratory is almost certainly the world’s most well travelled Euro 6 V8 truck.
- Experienced operator Annette Lindström has three decades’ experience as a driver, the past five with Scania Transport Laboratory.
Research on the go
Annette Lindström is one of close to 100 drivers who work for Scania Transport Laboratory, the company’s research facility for obtaining real-life transport industry data. Legend managed to catch up with Lindström before she left for an assignment in an R 580.
- How is working for Scania Transport Laboratory different to working for other long-haul transport companies?
There’s a big difference. I’ve been driving since 1986 and have a lot of experience with the transport business, and I’ve now worked for the transport laboratory for five years. What makes the workplace so special is that it’s great fun to be involved in the development of the industry through the research being undertaken here.
Driving for the transport laboratory is also extremely safe. I always have access to wonderful assistance if anything should happen. And there’s a constant stream of new vehicles coming through, which means that no two days are ever the same. It’s taken a little while to get used to this new way of working. For example, if I drive southwards from Sweden, I get a new vehicle nearly every day on the way to Holland, which has been amazing. Before, of course, I just used to drive the same vehicle.
- What’s it like driving a 31.5-metre rig, compared to the normal 25.25-metre variety?
There’s not actually a big difference when I’m driving straight ahead. I notice the rig’s length primarily when I’m pulling in to take a rest. I need to think about where I’m going to find space for the more than 31 metres that I’m hauling, and that can be a challenge in some parking areas.
- What’s it like driving V8 trucks?
It’s outstanding. They can handle more, which is something I particularly notice when I’m driving up hills. Nowadays, even the double-loaded rigs don’t lose as much speed. I’m really hoping to get the chance to drive an R 730 soon. It’s a vehicle I’m really looking forward to.
- You’ve received additional training at the transport laboratory. Has this affected your driving and, if so, how?
What I’ve particularly noticed since joining Scania is the focus on economy driving. Before it was all about full throttle, but with today’s higher demands, you’re constantly challenging yourself to drive in a more environmentally friendly and economical manner.
- You also drive a V8 when you’re not working, a 1960 Oldsmobile. What’s that like?
My Oldsmobile convertible is my big hobby and the apple of my eye. I’m constantly restoring her, and this year I’ll be fixing one or two things, including touching up the paintwork and changing the upholstery. In my free time, I’m often out driving, and this summer I’m going to Tallinn with a couple of friends to go cruising.
Annette Lindström, Driver Scania Transport Laboratory
Family: Four children and two grandchildren
Interests: Old American V8s, cats and her family.