Innovation  |  Technology 

Heavy boys

The transport of timber is known as a particularly demanding sector in the truck-driving industry. MAN ProfiDrive® now offers special training for this particular line of business. And as the pilot training showed, even die-hard timber drivers can still learn a lot – much to the thrill of those participating.

A 40-tonne MAN vehicle on the off-road terrain of MAN ProfiDrive®
On the off-road terrain, drivers practise how to accelerate a fully loaded 40-tonner up a 20% incline – forwards and backwards.

Heading straight for a passenger car mock-up at a speed of 50 kilometres per hour, Nikolaj Mann faces a difficult mental challenge: the truck driver is not supposed to slow down, rather leaving that response to MAN’s Emergency Braking Assistant (EBA II). And it works: just short of impact, the truck comes to a halt on its own. Nikolaj Mann is thrilled. “This is the most amazing experience,” he says. Practising with the brake assistant is part of the pilot training for short-log timber transport offered by MAN ProfiDrive®, which attracted ten drivers with their fully loaded tractor trailers to the test course in Munich, Germany.

Nikolaj Mann in his driver’s cab.
Nikolaj Mann in his driver’s cab.

“That is truly something special, made specifically for this line of business,” says Rolf Lechner, team leader of the training section at MAN ProfiDrive®, when describing the new training agenda. It focuses primarily on driver safety, commercial vehicle technology and proper securing of cargo. According to Lechner, the timber drivers must master a “very complex technique,” as they must operate the crane to load up their cargo in rough terrain alone in the woods and in all weathers – which necessitates solid handling of both crane and proper load securing. So this is not just about the latest technologies in MAN vehicles. The senior customer service representative of Austrian crane specialist Palfinger Epsilon also provides information about safety while handling the loading crane, while a colleague from the Swedish cargo securing expert ExTe briefs participants on rests, stanchions and cargo securing systems of his company.

The day begins with a theoretical interval of about two hours, after which Lechner points to the testing ground encompassing 128,000 square metres. “This is our playground today,” he announces. By the afternoon, every attendee is scheduled to have enhanced his expertise at the hands-on stations comprising off-road, safety training, cargo securing and loading crane. “The high level of hands-on practice in these training sessions makes us stand out,” emphasises Lechner. With a team of currently 140 trainers, MAN ProfiDrive® has provided continuous and advanced training to drivers, driving instructors and experts for 35 years. “On average, we register about 7,000 participants a year,” calculates Lechner.

The industry-specific training for timber transport evolved out of a co-operation with UPM, one of Europe’s largest paper manufacturers, which employs numerous transport companies. “We intended to develop a kind of previously non-existent training that was tailored to ideally support the health and safety efforts of UPM,” explains Andreas Meggendorfer, Senior Manager Logistics & Shared Services CEWS at UPM, and refers to the characteristic features of the timber industry: driving in rough terrain, the orientation on forestry trails, load securing and handling the crane. “As everything takes place in the woods, the person affected is on his or her own. In addition, it all takes place outdoors and in any kind of weather,” emphasises Meggendorfer, and notes that these operators need outstanding driving skills.

Nikolaj Mann is also more than aware of the adverse conditions in his job. He has been driving timber for 14 years. “One time, the crane snapped off in the woods and I keeled over. My entire side here was blue,” says Mann, pointing to his upper torso. Nevertheless, driving timber remains his passion. “Ever since I was a child, this has been my dream job.” Mann lives in his truck throughout the entire week, driving as far as 3,000 kilometres. He has turned his driver’s cab into something resembling a miniature home. Adorned with an elegant drape, the cot can be turned into a sleeping cave, the dashboard with its fastidiously lined up pens serves as an office, and a folded towel with bathroom toiletries hangs in the passenger door.

Trainer Malte Meiners can still teach some basics such as steering and braking, even to full-blooded timber truckers like Mann. “An essential part here is realising ingrained behavioural patterns,” he says. In addition, he practises the handling of current vehicle technology. “Many obtained their licences when there was still no ESP, no shock absorber regulation or ABS,” explains Meiners and calls for a full braking manoeuvre at 50 kilometres an hour. While the massive articulated vehicles come to a halt rather reluctantly in the beginning, the drivers dare hit their braking pedal more decisively with every training round. Ultimately, the braking path is reduced to a mere 13 metres and the drivers are amazed.

After the training session, Nikolaj Mann drives home with a beaming face. “I am truly excited! There are so many new things I have heard and experienced. That really was a surprise,” he concludes. UPM also considers the pilot event a success, with Meggendorfer receiving positive feedback from the forwarding experts throughout. In terms of this training, MAN is the “ideal partner with regard to competence and wide area coverage,” he says. Soon, the training sessions are also scheduled for other locations.

Rolf Lechner makes theory more tangible for the drivers.

Theory before practice

In the theoretical session of about two hours, Rolf Lechner offers tips and information to drivers before it is off to the testing ground for the remaining day.

Trucks are parked in front of the training centre.

Fully loaded

To render the training as close to daily work routine as possible, the timber drivers proceed onto the track with their own, fully loaded articulated vehicles.

An MAN ProfiDrive® testing truck heads for an obstacle.

No impact

Automatic stop just a few metres before the crash: drivers are particularly impressed by the test drive with MAN’s Emergency Braking Assistant (EBA II).

In the driver’s cab, an MAN ProfiDrive® trainer offers tips.

Relearning the well known

Trainer Malte Meiners (right) explains the technological achievements of modern MAN trucks and practises manoeuvres with the drivers such as ABS-assisted swerving at full braking.

Two trucks on the testing course.

Fast success

With every training round, participants increasingly dare to stop their extremely heavy truck ever more vigorously and ultimately reduce the braking path to merely 13 metres.

Loaded timber transporter at full speed.

At full speed

On the asphalt track circling the training site, the timber trucks are racing towards an obstacle course of pylons. The drivers are experienced: most of the cones remain standing.

MAN ProfiDrive® trainer in front of a loaded timber transporter.

Properly secured

The matter of proper cargo securing is also an important aspect of the timber transport training, as taught by Franz Schnitzbauer, for example.

MAN ProfiDrive® truck on the ascent.

Starting up on the slope

Not every driver succeeds immediately in moving the fully loaded 40-tonner up the gravelly hill but MAN HydroDrive® provides reliable assistance.

Benedikt Fuchs in conversation with the MAN ProfiDrive® trainer.

Satisfied participants

Southern Germany, he still raves about what can be learned during the training, relating to aspects such as drivers’ safety, economy and technology.

MAN ProfiDrive® truck on the off-road terrain.

Space for learning

The testing track in Munich, Germany, encompasses about 128,000 square metres. The training sessions conducted by MAN ProfiDrive® stand out due to their high level of hands-on practice. Every year, around 7,000 drivers, driving instructors and experts participate in the courses.

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MAN ProfiDrive®

The transport of timber is known as a particularly demanding sector in the truck-driving industry. MAN ProfiDrive® now offers special training for this particular line of business.

Find out more

Industry-specific training

Find out how the industry-specific training for timber transport is conducted at MAN ProfiDrive®

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