Let me tell you about my experiences from our first weekend with the Scania Student Intro program 2014. The event lasted Friday early morning to Saturday late afternoon and was, as you can imagine, crammed with activities.
As this special weekend drew closer I got more and more nervous. Even knowing what to pack was troublesome. I think it was mostly my need for control that was freaking out. I didn’t know what to expect during the upcoming weekend, and therefore I didn’t know how to prepare for it. Scary, I say.
The last night before the event I hardly slept at all. The alarm was set for 4.25 am (!) and I just couldn’t fall asleep. I kept opening my eyes to check what time it was so I wouldn’t oversleep… I wonder if my mind maybe deemed the night so short that it was unnecessary for me fall asleep at all. Thank you douchbag brain!
Thankfully, the train ride to Södertälje went smooth. Well on site at the Scania R&D building we were welcomed with breakfast and some papers that we needed to sign. I also got to feel as a celebrity getting my picture taken for this blog. 🙂
In total SSI consists of 24 students who are divided into two equally large groups, one Mechanics group and one System/IT group. I am in the Mechanics group.
After some information about the weekend we got to listen to presentations about Scania by two managers. Their main point was about Scania being a company who offers great possibilities for you to move around within the company. This sounds good to me because I think I might get bored if I’m kept doing the same thing for too long.
Then it was off to the demo centre!
After a brief presentation and safety prep they simply set us loose out on the parking lot, where we were greeted by a whole fleet of Scania trucks and buses. Each truck were accompanied by a Scania instructor at our service. Such a treat!
Of course my aim was the biggest and meanest of them all, the Scania R730 equipped with a V8 engine of no less than 730 hp! They also had one on display inside the Demo Centre.
The instructor opened the door for me, briefly pointed out how to adjust the seat and how to release the parking break, and then we were off. I couldn’t believe they actually let me drive this thing, just like that. A beast that (including its trailer) ranged 25.25 meter long, hauling a deadweight of 60 metric tons! It was a surreal feeling.
I was amazed how easy it was to maneuver the truck. It was really all smooth sailing. No manual shifting of gears, unless you wanted to. I kept looking in the rear view mirror to remind myself of what I was actually doing, since it was so effortless. However, I also had to keep close attention so we wouldn’t hit anything or end up in a ditch, careful not to let a wheel slip down the side of road. As you can see, we were quite huge!
The demo track was nice and long with hills and turns, just like an normal road. Soon I got the hang of it, but it was still pretty scary to be in control of such a large vehicle.
This next picture is of me being in a jolly good mood right after driving my first truck ever.
I got to try many different vehicles, e.g. a big tour bus, a gas driven garbage truck, and this cool G450 carrying a heavy load of crushed stone.
The instructor of this truck showed me how to reset the on board eco-score, a system which rates a driver’s eco-driving. Then he taught me how to use the retarder and told me the basics of eco-driving, which basically means to plan your driving. One tip was to release the gas throttle shortly before reaching the top of a hill. Then the huge momentum of the truck would bring you up the rest of the way for free. It really did help. By following his advice I actually managed to get a 100 % eco-score from my test run.
To be given the chance to test all these vehicles wasn’t only great fun. I also think it makes a lot of sense that personnel at Scania get to try this, so they get to know the product.
After lunch we went to the factory where the truck assembly takes place. During a guided tour we got to see a truck come to life, from chassis to placement of cab, which was really cool.
Finally back up on the mountain (Scania’s R & D department) we met with our mentors for the first time. It was nice to get a more personal impression of Scania as they showed us their office and answered a thousand and one questions. I was personally comforted by learning that also they felt a little uneasy and scared when they were all new.
After having dinner with the mentors we said goodbye and headed back to the hotel. I thought it felt quite luxurious to get to stay at a nice hotel downtown. It was also nice to hang out together with the whole group in the hotel bar before going to bed.
A funny thing that happened was that as I was ready to fall asleep and closed my eyes, I felt as if I was driving down the road in the air cushioned seat of that R370 V8 truck. Sweet!
The next day we had some more get to know each other activities and got to listen to an interesting presentation about Scania from another manager. We also carried out a case exercise where we were taught a useful technique called Root Cause Analysis which is used by Scania. It proved to be a great way to find the actual cause of a problem by using a systematical approach. In our case we were to analyze the root cause to why Titanic sunk. My group concluded that poor visibility together with high speeds were two candidates for root causes.
One of my personal expectations of the SSI program is to get to know the company and to see as much as possible of all the different types of jobs that are offered at Scania. My purpose is to see if I can find an area that suites me. Now, by the end of these two days, I am happy to say that I already feel that my expectations are being met. Also, I already see some possible area candidates where I might want to work. And this is only after the first SSI weekend out of four!
I want to thank all Scania employees who contributed to this weekend. I am very grateful for all that you do for us SSI students. It’s a privilege! I look forward to SSI weekend number two, not only to meet Scania again, but also to hang out with all my new SSI friends. See you soon.
All the best!