Volvo Trucks India conducted the seventh edition of the annual Volvo Fuelwatch Challenge in Umred, near Nagpur. After the regional rounds, which saw participation from 230 drivers across India, 30 of the most fuel-efficient drivers contested in the final round. The competition is a means to sensitise drivers about fuel-efficient driving since fuel alone accounts for 50 per cent of the operational expense in the mining industry. Anil Kumare Reddy from S V Engineering Constructions, Telangana, won the championship and will go on to represent India in the Asia-Pacific finals which will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden in September this year. The difference in fuel economy between the winner and the runner up is 2.4 per cent. What was also incredible is the difference in the fuel-economy recorded between the winner and the last contestant is a staggering 37 per cent.
The participants drove the Volvo FMX 440 8x4 Tipper truck across a designated 4km track that had been created in the premises of a mine. The truck develops 440PS at 1,400rpm to 1,800rpm and a colossal 2,200Nm between 1,050rpm and 1,400rpm.
There were two trucks, one with a manual transmission (14 forward gears) and one with i-Shift automatic transmission (12 forward gears). Each truck had to be driven twice across the circuit, once unladen and once with a 30-tonne load. That made it four rounds in all. The fuel economy was recorded by the on-board telematics system Dynafleet, and the average of four runs was used to decide the winner.
The terrain was tough and included tight hairpins and steep inclines. The driver's ability to keep the engine spinning in the right rpm band and maintaining momentum was key to squeeze out the best possible fuel economy.
Speaking about the event, Rama Rao AS, executive vice president, VE Commercial Vehicles, said, Customers highly appreciate this initiative from Volvo Trucks. This is the seventh consecutive year that Volvo Trucks is conducting this event. Customers understand that if the drivers drive well, they tend to be more profitable. Therefore, we see a high level of involvement, participation and encouragement from our customers. Our driver training centre in Bangalore continuously trains drivers both in Bangalore and at customers' mine sites. The centre point of driver training is fuel efficiency. We have till date trained around 50,000 truck drivers. Since our inaugural event in 2009, hundreds of driver participants of the Fuelwatch Challenge have become ambassadors of the Fuelwatch community, sharing the skills and technical knowledge that they have picked up at the event to catalyse our goal of a fuel-efficient industry. Together with them, we look forward to championing the Fuelwatch mission for the industry and the society."
The drivers too had a great time competing at the event. To find themselves amongst the top 30 most fuel-efficient drivers in the country gave them a sense of achievement. The difference among each of their fuel consumption readings was a few millilitres but even that count.
The increased fuel savings also translates to more profitability for the owners of these trucks. For example, if a customer has 100 trucks in his fleet and each truck manages to save 10 per cent fuel, it would save Rs 2-2.5 crore per year.