Over the years Scania’s new construction trucks have been tested in a multitude of tough and unusual environments, but nowhere has been more challenging than an extinct volcano.
Experienced field-test driver Uwe Sommer is putting a new Scania construction truck through some challenging paces.
Sommer works in the forests north of Koblenz, Germany, maintaining forest tracks on behalf of transport company Forstunternehmen Krobbach, based in nearby Melsbach. Part of his work involves venturing into an extinct volcano in the Eifel mountain range, where he loads crushed lava that will be used for strengthening and improving a forest pathway that lies ten kilometres away.
Within a typical hour Sommer and the truck must master three completely different conditions and surfaces: firstly, slow progress on the muddy lava slag in the 10,000-year-old volcano; next, travel at full speed along a newly paved country road; and finally, slow progress again to negotiate the muddy and rutted forest pathway.
Road conditions are normally bad in the forest, and the whole operation can be limited during severe rainfall, when the trucks get stuck in the mud. “It takes a lot of experience,” Sommer explains. “You should know the different construction trucks, and how they react. And you also need experience of the surfaces on which you drive, since they all differ so much.”
Forstunternehmen Krobbach was founded 45 years ago by Rudi Krobbach, a postman, and his wife, Edith. Krobbach wanted a sideline, so he began growing and recycling Christmas trees. Over the years the business developed into a more diverse forestry construction business, which soon meant a fleet of construction trucks were required.
The Krobbach fleet consists of more than 40 vehicles
The company won contracts with large companies and governmental institutions such as the Kevag, German Rail, the Süwag and various forestry departments and municipalities throughout Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. Today the Krobbach fleet consists of more than 40 vehicles, from trucks to special forestry equipment, excavators and wood choppers. Now the new Scania truck has joined the fleet.
Uwe Sommer has been driving construction trucks for 30 years, and he’s impressed with the new-generation Scania. “The overall driving comfort of this new truck is fantastic,” he says. “I was always happy with the comfort of Scania trucks, but this one is outstanding; it drives beautifully straight.”
Sven Wittke, Transport Manager at Forstunternehmen Krobbach, is a genuine Scania fan. He talks for hours about the gear changing and the interior of the new truck, but has even more to say about the partnership his company feels that it has with Scania.
“We are always shown the various options and available configurations by Scania”
“When we want to order a new vehicle, a sales rep usually visits us,” Wittke explains. “Together we review the company’s needs. In most cases we know what we want: high reliability, a lot of vehicle uptime and a good support service. We are always shown the various options and available configurations by Scania. We can have different wheel bases and axles, as well as different gearboxes, engines and cabs. In the end we always get exactly the right specification for our business.”
The field-test truck, an R 450 LB8x4 tipper with a short cab and low roof, has been in service for Forstunternehmen Krobbach since spring 2016.
“I know from the other construction trucks we have that you can trust Scania a thousand percent,” says Wittke. “And it’s the same with this field-test vehicle. Since we work and drive so much in forests, the vehicles must endure a lot. But we have never had any major damage, just the normal wear and tear. I think you can’t compare Scania with any other truck manufacturer, as no other manufacturer meets the robustness of Scania.”
While the field-test truck is loaded with more tonnes of crushed lava, Sommer once again enjoys all the new features in his cab. “The leather steering wheel has a really nice grip,” he says. “The switches are clearly arranged and can be operated easily and quickly. The overview from this vehicle has been vastly improved compared with its predecessor – it’s wider and you can see more, and the blind spots have been reduced. I just love it.”