Special feature: Scania platooning

By: Rob McKay and Greg Bush


Special feature: Scania platooning Special feature: Scania platooning
Special feature: Scania platooning Special feature: Scania platooning
Special feature: Scania platooning Special feature: Scania platooning
Special feature: Scania platooning Special feature: Scania platooning
Special feature: Scania platooning Special feature: Scania platooning

Trucks travelling in convoy fashion are nothing new, but the Europeans have taken it to a new level in the form of platooning. Rob McKay checks out Scania's money-saving strategy.

While automated platooning is the cause of widespread debate, a more hands-on version is already under way in northern Europe and paying dividends.

An example of how it can work was presented recently by Scania Transport Laboratory (STL) at its headquarters in Södertälje, Sweden, to a delegation of Australian journalists, along with the then New South Wales freight minister Duncan Gay and his entourage.

Duncan, who was on a worldwide northern hemisphere tour of the US and Europe to gauge technological and regulatory developments in transport, heard that STL uses platooning to test onboard systems and save fuel.

The concept made headlines in March and April 2016 during the European Truck Platooning Challenge, a demonstration by European manufacturers aimed at grabbing political attention on potential efficiency and productivity advances.

Platooning generally is part of STL's function to test Scania's vehicles in real transport scenarios, its internal systems, and to aid its internal supply chain
logistics needs.

Close encounters

STL—aptly named Scania Transportlaboratorium—runs up to four of its trucks with gaps as narrow as six to seven metres using active cruise control at 80km/h."That's the closest gap you could have with the safety features that are on the trucks," STL vehicles manager Cem Kizilkaya says.

He admits drivers initially viewed it as too close but soon got used to it, to the alarm of project managers early on.

There are possible fuel savings of about seven percent to be had even for the lead truck due to backdraft, though not as much as those behind, with an average of up to 11% for them.

At the time of the visit, SCL had lifted its percentage of women drivers from 18
to 20%.

One of the more insightful hands is Andreá Pedersen, who went from school to truck cab almost seamlessly. Andreá is a fan of platooning as a fuel-saving technique.
Her focus is on the truck in front and she stays alert this way to gauge how the other driver is doing, as well as listening to music and audiobooks.

Scania -platooning --2

"We always keep in touch to keep the platoon going," she says of using mobile phones through the truck's communications system to check how other drivers are bearing up.

The hard thing is to get non-STL drivers interested in joining the file, she reckons.
On SCL's experience of platoon driving, Cem says drivers are urged to be flexible with other vehicles on the road.

It has had no complaints in the three years, "not from the police, not from people around us writing e-mails, nothing like that".

He adds that some platooning is under way in Germany, at the European limit of 90km/h and with less space between vehicles than SCL allows.

Andreá says the slower Scania platoon is a source of minor frustration to other European drivers. Logically, SCL sees platooning's future as being towards reducing the space between trucks and communications and understanding with other transport companies being such that impromptu platooning can occur at any time based on common power and weight.

Efficient operations

The STL operational testing concept began in 2008 when the research and development brains trust decided "direct feedback" and control of new concepts were needed to keep initiatives and new ideas grounded, STL managing director Jan Björklund says.

Originally, the thought was to have as pure an experience as possible and buy its own trucking operation but that was scotched due to customer concern in and around Södertälje, where Scania's global headquarters is based. Horns were pulled in and STL has only one customer—the group. It runs two freight transportation services using 37 trucks and 120 Krone trailers from Germany.

International long haul between Södertälje and Zwolle in the Netherlands is on the road 24/7, with 112 weekly loadings of axles, gearboxes, and engines going south, and other parts such as air deflectors and palleted goods on return.

There are 48 drivers at 3.5 drivers per truck for the 14 trucks and 90 trailers covering 400,000km a year at 80km/h maximum and 74km/h on average.
Between Södertälje and Malmö, also in Sweden, they use B-double equivalents and semis in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.Local distribution testing is pickup and delivery covering 30,000km a year with 30 drivers at 1.5 drivers per semi travelling at 80km/h maximum and 28km/h on average.

Test track operation tests fatigue, software validation surveys, and internal operational testing using 30 drivers.

These two divisions have one 'operative coordinator' for every 10 drivers and someone is available 24/7 to support them when needed.

With 630km or 10–11 hours driving time between Södertälje and Copenhagen and about the same between Copenhagen and Zwolle—but only nine hours a day allowed in the European Union—STL keeps an eagle eye on fatigue, with driver pools at each major stop and driver swaps in between.

Long haul

Onboard IT has shown that carrying 34 gross weight tonnes for the long-haul task, Scania's average fuel consumption for 410–580hp (306–433kW) using 10 trucks over four million kilometres was 26 litres per 100km.

With an optimised specification for the 410hp engine, this fell to 24 litres over 1.2 million kilometres using three trucks.

The best 10% of drivers in three trucks over 500,000km manage 22 litres, and others over 1.6 million kilometres in four trucks manage 27 litres. SCL believes the European average is around 30 litres but its best trips—taking into account weather, driver, truck, and trailer variations—can go as low as 20 litres.

However, due to a lack of a second floor in the trailers, engines taking up most of the floor space mean trailers run at as little as 16 tonnes.

While Australian industry still argues about lowering speed 10km from the 100km/h maximum, the division insists raising it from 80km/h to 90km/h, which ultimately would mean—at a cost of 10% per cent less fuel—one percent more time is taken for the task, repair and maintenance costs are higher, and the risk of deadly accidents rises 40%.

Interestingly, SCL's drivers also have forklift licences and load their own trucks.

As with other European Union drivers, Andreá has credit card-sized electronic diary that slots into her truck's dash to record her performance through the tachograph.
It must be downloaded every 21 days and, along with company data, it acts as proof to regulators that she is keeping to her hours.

Driver behaviour

Scania gets to test the value of its telematics on driver behaviour regularly, though Cem indicates it is used to inform and validate personal discussions
with drivers.

As an example, managers found that their competitive nature allows low-cost driving skills, such as keeping to lower speeds, to rub off on colleagues, as they prefer to drive with the better performers where possible. And this is measurable.

In return and, as a paying customer, SCL gets to use all that Scania offers—trucks, trailers, finance, insurance, repair and maintenance, service planning, Scania Assistance, fleet management, driver training, and driver coaching—and be demanding and give feedback. For instance, parts-carrying trucks have a three-hour window in the just-in-time schedule before vehicle production is impacted. And maintenance services look to have specific work done on a needs basis in a two-hour period, with only the particulate filter taking slightly longer than that to replace, an aspect that will be under design review as that is viewed as taking too long.

It also gets to test other makes of truck, including a Mercedes-Benz, a MAN, and one from local rival Volvo—the latter two being the second generation of their Euro 6s.
Comparative performance is measured for the truck as well as the competitors'
own services.

The operation's costs breakdown has 33.4% due to drivers' generous Swedish wages. Fuel is at 18.5%, but Jan says the European average is closer to 30%.
Vehicle fixed cost is at 5.3% for insurance and leasing, while 4.1% goes on repair and maintenance and trailer fixed cost is 4.3%.

Pathway to platooning

Swedish truck driver Andreá Pedersen was handed the keys to a Scania despite little experience. Now she's driving an R560 across three countries.

Andreá is not only a truck driver for STLbut she is also an assistant traffic manager. On the day owner/driver called into STL in Södertälje, Sweden, Andreá was filling in for the traffic manager who had been called away for a meeting.

Despite her father being a former truck driver, she initially had little desire to take up the profession.

However, her road to getting behind the wheel of a Scania was fast-tracked, an almost unheard of scenario for would-be Australian professional drivers.

"My father used to work for Scania," she says. "Everybody who lives in the area has parents who either work for Scania or AstraZeneca, a medical company. They are the two biggest companies in this city. So it was destined to be."

Andreá was still at school, studying to be a car mechanic when a call through
from STL.

"A girl who went to the same school I did and works in the office called our teachers and said, 'Do you have a good driver you can recommend?' and they recommended me."

With little training, Andreá was put under the wing of one of STL's employees, who quickly taught her to connect a prime mover up to a trailer. Then it was time for a quick drive.

"I was super frightened because I'd never driven outside of school without my teachers before.

"Then sat down and drank some coffee. I was supposed to go and collect my
access card.

"And I was like 'can somebody drive me?' and our traffic manager said, 'take this car, go by yourself'."

Nowadays, Andreá is one of the drivers taking Scania truck parts from Södertälje to Copenhagen and the Netherlands in a platoon formation. The convoy's trucks can often be hauling two trailers, although one trailer has to be dropped off at Malmö in Sweden's south due to restrictions on the Öresundsbron, an eight-kilometre bridge that links Sweden with Denmark. It's a lengthy exercise, although it fits in well with the drivers' two day's rest.

Andreá's regular rig is the Scania R560. "It's powerful, it's not humungous … it's perfect," she says.

And there's also an occasional run behind the wheel of a Scania CNG-powered truck. She says some of her former school friends view her career choice with surprise.

"But most of them are like, 'oh, that's really cool' or 'I would never be able to drive that big of vehicle'.

"It's actually quite funny to see the reaction, but they're very positive."

For Andreá, however, truck driving is not the end of her career journey.

"I don't want to do this forever," she explains. 'I'm actually planning on studying to become an engineer.

"This was a solution for now but I want to design trucks in the end.

"And now I have an advantage because I have actually driven the trucks,"
Andreá continues.

"I know how they behave on the road, I know how much space you need, and what you would want in a truck."

Levels of driving automation

Full: the full-time performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver

High: the driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene

Conditional: the driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene

Partial: the driving mode-specific execution by one or more driver assistance systems of both steering and acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment, and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task

Driver assistance: the driving mode-specific execution by a driver assistance system of either steering or acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment, and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task

None: the full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when enhanced by warning or intervention systems.

Source: Society of Automotive Engineers

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