This is important in a construction vehicle
16 SEPTEMBER 2017
During long-term testing of a new-generation Scania construction truck, Tommy Transport found that for some assignments, the company could do with a lighter truck with a smaller engine.
“For us to meet our customers’ demands we need an experienced and understanding partner, and that’s Scania,” says Niklas Marklund, driver and coordinator of gravel trucks for Tommy Transport, a haulage company situated in Skellefteå in northern Sweden.
For a year and a half, Tommy Transport has participated in a field test of the new-generation construction vehicles from Scania. A G-cab in the new truck generation and a new 13-litre 376-horsepower engine with significantly lower fuel consumption than is usual in the construction industry are the main components that the company has been involved in developing.
The construction industry today is very much about tonnage; the economic realities of the industry make it necessary to load as much as possible. This means that the weight of the vehicles transporting these tonnes is becoming more and more important.
“This truck is lighter”
“We are basically a V8 haulier, and nearly all of our fleet is made up of vehicles that have big, strong Scania engines,” Marklund says. “But here we are testing a much smaller and lighter engine, which we are finding still works very well for running heavy loads of gravel. This truck is lighter, can load more and has a significantly lower fuel consumption and environmental impact than we are used to in this business. It’s proof that you do not always need the big engines.
“But,” he adds, “for some operations, V8 trucks are outstanding.”
As well as driving the Scania field-test truck, Marklund is a controller for Tommy Transport, which sees him coordinate the use of all the gravel trucks at the haulage firm. His most important task is to ensure that the vehicles are always in use – and making money – in an industry with thin margins.
“For us, robust and reliable trucks are everything,” he says. “But for the vehicles to function at its best and always be rolling, it’s also essential to have a good, close relationship with the vehicle manufacturer and its service network.
“In this aspect Scania gives us the security we need,” he continues. “Scania has clearly understood that if we have satisfied customers who come back to us, we will also be satisfied and stay with Scania. We have a close partnership.”
What demands do you experience as a construction driver?
“When I begin work, very early in the morning, my truck must start and be able to work directly,” Marklund says. “That means always, even if it’s minus 30 degrees Celsius and there’s a metre of snow on the ground. Then I have to trust that my vehicle is working throughout the day. It’s all about the vehicle’s uptime.”
What else is important in the construction vehicle?
“When you are working in construction, safety is key,” he says. “There are always a lot of other people running around our vehicles, doing their job while we do ours. In that case, visibility from the cab is very important. In this new-generation construction truck from Scania the visibility is outstanding, with the lower dashboard and narrower corner pillars.
“Work as a construction driver can be quite stressful at times. It’s fast-paced and there are many different moments and many things that you have to keep track of. Therefore, it’s important that the work environment inside the cab is functional and comfortable.”
Marklund says he feels that the new construction truck has much better handling – a better turning radius, steering feel and gear changing.
“If I compare the new truck with one of the previous ones, it’s like two different worlds,” he says. “This new one, with the electronic tag axle steering, has improved and simplified my job very much. It provides a shorter turning radius of the truck, and I can turn faster and more accurately.”
Do you feel that the new cab has improved, too?
“In many ways I use the cab as an office while I’m driving,” Marklund explains. “The new cab interior is a step in the right direction, and in the future I would like to see an even more ‘office-like’ cab interior, with writing boards and dedicated storage for a mobile phone, sunglasses and pencils and so on.”
Scania field-test engineer Max Nensén is responsible for the new construction vehicles that are being tested in the Skellefteå area.
“We conduct these field tests to try out our new advanced vehicles in real customer operations before releasing them onto the market,” Nensén says. “It doesn’t matter how many tests we do in-house; we will never achieve the same degree of testing results as when the vehicles are being run in real time by our customers.
“At such temperatures even steel can be brittle”
“The first challenge of testing in northern Sweden is the very cold weather,” he continues. “The temperature can be as low as minus 35 degrees Celsius. At such temperatures even steel can be brittle, and things that would otherwise stick together can break.
“The second challenge is the heavy loads combined with the many big hills in this part of Sweden. An engine with lower power output like this one has to work very hard. That’s what we are aiming for – to push the engine to its absolute maximum. Overall, these vehicles and parts are subject to very high stress tests.”