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Driver CPC legislation: Mercedes-Benz ProfiTraining: By professionals for professionals
- Training for 160 Heidelberg Cement AG drivers in compliance with Driver CPC legislation
- Effective Eco Training: Heidelberg Cement sees potential savings of up to eight percent
Wörth/Heidelberg – The drivers who work for Heidelberg Cement, one of the world's leading building materials companies, spend their working hours at the wheel of mixer trucks, concrete pumps and tankers based on the Arocs and Actros, transporting aggregates, cement and ready-mixed concrete. At the beginning of February, instead of heading to the cement works or the construction site, however, the company's complement of just under 160 drivers made their way to Wörth on the Rhine to take part in a two-day training course in compliance with Driver CPC legislation. The exciting and varied event featured experts from Mercedes-Benz Professional Training and specialists from various professional bodies.
Eco Training - the theory and the practice
Detlef Wisbar, authorised signatory at Heidelberg Cement and responsible for vehicle technology, was on site representing his company and explained why it made sense to take a brief break from day-to-day business for an event like this: “The training is mandatory for us and we finance it too. It's a way of showing our respect and appreciation for our drivers. Also, and this is not something to be sneered at, after the first Eco Training in 2015 we saw significant changes in consumption levels. We believe that we could potentially achieve savings of between two and eight percent.”
The focus of the two-day training event was therefore on the theory and practical implementation of Eco Training. The participants began by looking at the principles of economical driving: what influence do factors such as aerodynamics, tyres, engine speed and individual driving style have on fuel consumption? How does the tool FleetBoard Eco Support work? Exactly what is Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) and how does the system interact with the Mercedes PowerShift 3 transmission? Over the course of three and a half hours the drivers were given detailed explanations and tips on how to use the advantageous technology in their vehicles.
To put this into practice, they headed straight out on the road in Mercedes-Benz Professional Training's eight fully equipped Actros 1842, 1843 and 1845 combinations with Active Brake Assist 3, Lane Keeping Assist, Proximity Control Assist and the anticipatory cruise control system Predictive Powertrain Control. The training route took them through the hilly landscape of the Pfalz region and the drivers experienced how the PPC system uses GPS data to scan the road ahead and optimise the truck’s gear changes. They continued along major roads to Karlsruhe, encountering several bends and roundabouts. Here the drivers were asked to apply what they had learned in the theory session about “anticipatory” driving. The professional trainers were on hand in the co-driver’s seat to provide relevant pointers. “ We also give each participant an individual analysis of their journey and they can see instantly the effect that the Mercedes-Benz driving philosophy brings,” explained Mercedes-Benz professional trainer Steffen Martin, who led and coordinated the event.
Because the Heidelberg Cement drivers spend a significant part of their time on construction sites and in various off-road scenarios, practical training did not end with the road trip. There followed a further driving exercise at the Mercedes-Benz off-road facility in Ötigheim.
The facility not only offers a wide variety of different scenarios, with steep rises and sharp drops, but participants found eleven Arocs and Atego dump trucks with different axle configurations and engine variants awaiting them. One of these was an Arocs 1845 LS tipping semitrailer with Hydraulic Auxiliary Drive (HAD). The selectable hydraulic wheel hub drive at the front axle briefly transforms the standard tractor unit into an all-wheel drive at the touch of a button. So forays into tougher terrain are not a problem, even for a semitrailer tractor. An Arocs 4151 AK 8x8/4 with turbo retarder clutch impressively demonstrated how the combination of hydrodynamic start-off clutch and primary retarder works. “Roping down” backwards a 60 percent incline without the brake light lighting up once? The easiest of exercises with a retarder brake power of up to 720 kW, available from low speeds. The exercises continued: “ When you're operating off road, safe and low-wear driving is paramount,” emphasised professional trainer Steffen Martin. “For example we provide information on correct use of the engine brake to protect the service brake or explain how to manage the various locks, i.e. when it makes sense to use the inter-axle, inter-wheel or differential locks.” The participants appreciated the useful information that would help them in their day-to-day work.
Seven steps for improving health and safety
While the first groups were busy with Eco Training, the other participants were at the Daimler customer centre completing a circuit of seven additional training stages.
The German Road Safety Council and the German Occupational Accident Insurance Fund for Transport and Traffic's collision and roll-over simulators impressively demonstrated the importance of wearing a seat belt. “Unfortunately, despite the fact that wearing a seat belt is mandatory, around 50 percent of truck drivers regularly fail to use one,” traffic reporter Heinrich Wolf explained to his audience, while pushing the start button and “launching” his first test candidates. Strapped into the seat belt simulator, the drivers were each in turn able to feel how much force is exerted at an impact speed of just ten kilometres an hour and how the belt prevents gravity from catapulting the occupant out of the seat, over the steering wheel against the wall. Adjacent to this Jürgen Schöbel was sending other participants into a spin. The roll-over simulator, a genuine Actros cab, rolled over at a speed of 30 km/h. For the two people sitting in it, the world was suddenly turned upside down and they were left dangling in the air. “Many people underestimate the internal dimensions of a large cab. You're suddenly up at the equivalent of ceiling height and it's a long way to fall from there,” explained Schöbel.
Both safety experts agreed that when driving on construction sites it is particularly important to wear a seat belt. When a truck tips over on rough terrain, the outcome is often tragic, with the driver falling out and ending up under the vehicle.
The event would not have been complete without a lively practical driving exercise. The participants were asked to drive a pedal-powered vehicle around a course marked by cones and had to brake at specific points, steer round tight bends and carry out some tricky manoeuvring. Not only was the whole thing timed but, on the second run, the drivers had to wear “Drunk Buster” goggles. These simulate tunnel vision, which can be caused by alcohol or drugs and also by certain health problems. The unfamiliar effect sent some participants way off track, making clear once more how important it is to be sober, healthy and alert in real traffic situations.
Fitness and health were also the focus at the back health stand, where physiotherapist Andreas Mederer taught the drivers various exercises for the muscles and the spine. “In this profession people spend most of their time seated, which can quickly lead to curvature of the spine and a loss of muscle mass,” the trainer explained. After the exercises, Mederer went on to explain how the whole human “apparatus” is constructed and how the participants could counter their own individual problems in a question and answer session.
While this was going on, fitness economist Manuela Östreich was giving another group of participants some useful information about healthy eating. What do those cryptic nutritional values printed on packaging actually mean? And how long would it take to burn off all the excess calories in certain ready meals, snacks or soft drinks? The answers certainly surprised some of those taking part. As did the alarming height of the sugar cube mountains the participants went on to build, based on the sugar content of various different foods.
In the next training area, occupational safety, the trainers spoke to their groups about accidents at work. Slip hazards, trip hazards, safe tools and clothing and, not least, our own behaviour in everyday situations at work were discussed and highlighted with examples. One particularly interesting element for drivers from the construction site sector was the weighing device that measured the effects of jumping down from the cab. A sensor in the ground showed the extent to which jumping down from the cab or from the upper steps of the truck puts excessive strain on the joints. Yes, just jumping from the lowest step, a height of 40 cm, triples the load for a man with a bodyweight of around 100 kg. Always being in a rush does not pay off in the long term, and on top of this there is the increased risk of falling. Some colleagues who had experienced less than soft landings were quick to confirm this.
The last stage of the training circuit was a First Aid refresher lesson with Peggy Wenk and Detlef Fröhlich from the German Red Cross. After a short instructional film the training focused on correctly assessing accident situations, the correct sequence of actions to take and practising resuscitation using CPR. The two emergency response experts also presented the automated external defibrillator, or AED, and helped the participants to overcome their uncertainties about its use. With over 100,000 instances of sudden cardiac death every year, the cutting-edge compact devices, designed as an aid in the event of cardiac arrest, are being introduced in more and more companies as rapid reaction, above all at the work place, can save lives.
Professional training a big success
For the 21 participating trainers from Mercedes-Benz Professional Training this major event with 160 participants was a very good way to showcase how effectively training can be run, even on such a large scale. Their success was confirmed by positive feedback from the drivers. Detlef Wisbar, as the customer's representative, was also impressed by how the three days had gone: “We are very happy with Mercedes-Benz as a service provider. For us as a company there is a question of costs when you have to provide periodic training for so many employees. There has to be value for money. And that's what Mercedes-Benz offers. A big thumbs up!”
The drivers were awarded certificates for modules I (Eco Training) and III (Driver Workplace Training) and the next appointment will be in 2017. By 2018 a total of 600 Heidelberg Cement drivers across Germany will have undergone Mercedes-Benz Professional Training.