No road for a weakling

No road for a weakling

Per Hedmark transports everything – from houses to tyres – everywhere. He drives to copper mines north of the Arctic Circle and through forests and cities. His R 620 Euro 5 must be reliable in any weather and on any road.

However, Hedmark is not satisfied. He is on the way to Norsjö, a village 300 kilometres north of Sollefteå, carrying 25-metre-long plastic pipes for a water pipeline that the municipality is building. It is minus 8 degrees Celsius, and large snowflakes are falling from the sky. But Hedmark prefers even more wintry winter.

Per Hedmark.Tomas Bergman

“It’s almost tragic that Örebro [a city far to the south] has more snow than we do here in Norrland,” he says. “I can see large bare rocks in the mountains, and that’s not the way it should be in February. I long for a trip on my snowmobile with my girlfriend behind my back and a feeling of floating on fresh snow. But that requires colder weather and more snow!”

BIG DIFFERENCE IN PERFORMANCE

Nevertheless, the mild winter has its advantages for Hedmark, who spends several nights each week sleeping in his truck. “As long as it’s above minus 20, it’s warm enough inside the truck,” he says. “If it gets colder, I let the engine idle, but that makes it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.”

Hedmark works for the Renfors Åkeri haulage company, based in Boliden, which mostly uses its trucks to transport ore. Some 26 trucks are used to carry loads from the mines in Malmberget to the smelting plants in Boliden.

Since the summer of 2016, Hedmark has been driving an R 620 Euro 5 with an engine created for markets where Euro 6 is not yet mandatory. He has been everywhere in it. From the copper mine in Aitik, 90 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, to muddy forest roads and the busy Port of Gothenburg.

Hedmark therefore needs a truck that he can rely on in any weather and on any type of road. “I transport anything from houses to tyres and tractors,” he says. “The total weight is 60 tonnes, and sometimes the trailer is 30 metres long and ­occasionally 4.7 metres wide. It is important that the truck can manage this, and so far I have been very satisfied.”

The new V8 engine gives Per Hedmark 150 more horsepower than his old truck, an R 500. He has noticed a big difference in performance, but he thinks it is too soon to judge its fuel efficiency.

“On average, I drive 2,500 kilometres per week. But the loads and routes vary so much that I just can’t estimate its fuel ­efficiency yet. Even a headwind can affect it.”

FIRST FIELD TEST DRIVER ASSIGNMENT

This is Hedmark’s first job as a field test driver, and he thinks it was great Renfors Åkeri offered it to him. After 12 years as a professional driver, he has solid experience that he can rely on.

Driving a truck wasn’t Hedmark’s first career choice. “During my mandatory military service I wanted to become a tank driver, but I was too tall. So instead I got a truck driver’s licence. I was probably one of the last people who had the opportunity to do so. When I finished my military service, I had no other plans and it felt right to continue driving.”

Hedmark quickly realised that a nine-to-five office job would not be suitable for him. He still thinks that the variety and freedom that life on the road offers are its biggest advantages. “I can plan my day however it suits me,” he says. “Sometimes I open my lunchbox in the calm of the forest. When I’m transporting houses, there are typically escort vehicles with me, and we are on the road for a couple of days so we spend some time together. But I always think that it’s nice when I can say goodbye and be by myself again.”

COVERING SWEDEN

Nevertheless, Hedmark does seek ­company ­during the time he spends driving – ­typically five days a week. “I use the telephone a lot during the day,” he says. “Talking on the phone is how me and my colleagues keep in touch and keep ourselves entertained as the road goes by. Other than that I listen to audiobooks. I prefer English ones – they have good background effects and you avoid bad translations.”

He works all over Sweden, but Sollefteå in the north is his home. It is where he was born and raised and he has never seen any reason to move. “The town is the perfect size and offers everything I need,” he says. “But I’m not at home that often, so maybe I’m not the right person to ask.”

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