Ms. Marriott about to drive...and win the Asia Pacific FuelWatch Challenge 2015
The Volvo Trucks Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge 2015 was held in Hua Hin, Thailand from 15th to 18th September recently. Following an inspiring performance, Ms. Louise Marriott from New Zealand was announced the most fuel-efficient driver in the on-road category. Ms. Marriott became the first female driver in the competition’s history to achieve a podium finish at the event, joining Mr. Ravi Poleboina from India who was awarded the most fuel-efficient driver in the off-road segment. In addition to being the first female driver, Ms. Marriott was also the first representative from New Zealand to attain the top prize at the Fuelwatch Challenge. I wrote about this earlier if you have been following this website. However, the Volvo Trucks Malaysia press release is posted below right after this article - it differs from the one published earlier.
Malaysia’s very own champion, Mr. Nor Rahmat Bin Abd Talib (above), a driver with logistics company Prifaria Sdn Bhd was one of the 17 top drivers from the Asia Pacific region who took part. I thought I'd share you readers a bit about someone who is actually like one of us, a Malaysian, and one who rose to the occasion.
The Volvo Trucks Malaysia's’ annual Fuelwatch Challenge was held as a training and competition for truck drivers and it offers a treasure trove of skills and information, equipping truckers with the ability to churn out the best fuel consumption possible for their vehicles.The qualifying round of roadshows across various cities and towns in Malaysia kicked off earlier in April of 2015 This was the sixth instalment of this annual competition, and this year’s challenge saw an overwhelming participation of over 1,000 drivers – an increase from last year’s participation of 800 drivers. Mr Nor Rahmat Bin Abd Talib, from Prifaria Sdn Bhd, Prai, basically defeated them all. He also beat 17 other semi-finalists who were all vying to become Malaysia’s most fuel-efficient truck driver.
He recorded the highest overall accumulated score based on theoretical tests during the preliminary rounds, Mr Nor Rahmat Bin Abd Talib was one of the 18 truck drivers to push through to the semi-finals and finals – where contestants needed to battle it out in a real time driving challenge covering a 45km distance. During the real time fuel efficiency test, Mr Nor Rahmat Bin Abd Talib achieved the lowest fuel consumption, clocking 2.83 kilometres with just one litre of fuel while carrying a load of 20 tonne in the Volvo FM 440 with i-shift technology. In winning, he booked a spot at the regional finals that would be held at Hua Hin.
Now I suppose this was the easy part. Travelling to another country to compete with the best in the region is another matter. This time the Asia Pacific finals was to be held at Keang Krachan Circuit (above - a nice, tight circuit) and the surrounding areas in Hua Hin, Thailand on the 15th to the 18th of September 2015. He would be going up against the best of the Asia Pacific region.
The Malaysian 'contingent' consisted of Mr Nor Rahmat, Prifaria's Assistant Head of Division Mr Wan Ahmad Farhan Wan Ahmad Azmi, a handful of Malaysian journalists and staff of Volvo Malaysia. Most of us were based in the Klang Valley but Mr Nor Rahmat was still working on Sunday evening, delivery a cargo of fuel somewhere in Penang. He had to be up and about by 4.00am on Monday to catch the early morning flight to KLIA2 so that he could catch the 110pm flight which we were scheduled to take to Bangkok. I heard he could not sleep much that night. It must have been the excitement. Anyway, the flight to Bangkok was delayed for over an hour before we finally left meant that we actually reached Hua Hin, by nightfall. Hua Hin is about 199km from Bangkok and took us around three hours by a Volvo coach (obviously) to get there. So day 1 was a whole lot of travel for Mr Nor Rahmat. And for all of us too.
Drawing lots to see who drives first...
At least on Tuesday he managed to get some rest. The Hilton Hotel where all the competitors stayed was very accommodating. Participants started to check in on Tuesday and the hotel was starting to be filled with Volvo truckers, Volvo Trucks staff and also journalists from around the Asia Pacific region. Now hopefully the plan by Volvo Trucks Malaysia to fly in our champion a day early can get him rested for the finals that would be held on Thursday, 18th September.
On Wednesday, we had some recreational activities to ease the mind of the competitors. They were treated to some outdoor activities like paintball target shooting, archery and ATV riding. Of course, the most important was the time allocated for them at the Keang Krachan Circuit (about one and a half hours away from Hua Hin) to familiarise themselves with the truck that would be used for the competition.
The truck that was used was a Volvo FH440 complete with a tanker carrying 20 tons of water. This differs very slightly from the FM440 that Mr Nor Rahmat was familiar with and the one used in the Malaysian leg of the Fuelwatch Challenge. Similar horsepower, but with a higher placed driver's cabin for better visibility (and to some extent, a more comfortable cabin for long distance travel). It basically needs an extra step up compared ot the FM models. Anyway, the competitors got a few laps to familiarise themselves with the rig. Mr Nor Rahmat actually liked driving the Volvo FH. It was easy and it felt like driving a car (it goes to show how much technology has made truck driving less of a chore these days).
Thursday was the day of reckoning. Unfortunately, the slightly packed schedule over the past few days had taken its toll on Mr Nor Rahmat. Bad luck as he caught a cold and had to take some medication. Determination made him carry on and once loaded up with medication, he competed that day. Even smiling to the cameras pointed at him.
It was a big day for him regardless of the outcome. I could see he gave all he got and saw a portrait of pride in what he did as he stepped down from the truck. He actually competed right after Asia Pacific champion Ms. Louise Marriott. I suppose it could have been the gentle touch of a woman that enabled Louise to clinch the title. But no regrets from our Malaysian champion. He had given all he had that day and basically learnt a fair bit from the other competitors here at the regional finals. It was not only driving smoothly, but achieving a high average speed too. The best drivers that day had a higher average speed aside from maximising fuel consumption. Something that he will put some effort into the next time he is allowed to compete in a Fuelwatch Challenge again (after at least two years).
He also noted that the drivers from Australia have technical skills that enable them to actually make on the spot repairs if they were stuck in remote places. He does note that Volvo Trucks has already been providing technical training to drivers through the company’s Driver Development Programme but he hopes that the overall trucking industry in Malaysia will also follow suit for the benefit of a larger crowd of drivers. He was also inspired by the champion Ms. Marriot and hopes that Malaysia too can one day have female truck drivers participating in the Volvo Fuelwatch Challenge.
On Friday, it was travelling day again. We met at the hotel lobby early in the morning, boarded to coach for Bangkok for a late afternoon flight back to KLIA2. After touchdown, we said our goodbyes, Mr Nor Rahmat was to catch the 730 flight back to Penang where his work awaits him. The event would leave him with unforgettable memories.
I have to give a big hand to the management of Prifaria Sdn Bhd, a transporter for most of the petroleum companies in Malaysia. They have their head office in Kuala Terengganu and have offices peninsular-wide. Mr Nor Rahmat is based in Prai but travels throughout Peninsular Malaysia transporting the precious petrol and diesel we use for our road transport. They have a strong belief that driver training can benefit them in terms of fuel usage efficiency, road safety, driver discipline and other holistic transportation principles. In fact, as early as 2011, Prifaria had been sending their drivers to compete in the Volvo Trucks Fuelwatch Challenges.
I can't wait for the next time Volvo Trucks let me cover the Fuelwatch Challenge. Why? It gets me closer to the people who are the backbone of the nation. It allows me to remember that these are people too instead of just mere transporters.
History made! – first female truck driver wins at the Volvo Trucks Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge 2015
- New Zealand’s Ms. Louise Marriott became the first female driver and New Zealander to be named Asia Pacific’s most fuel-efficient driver
- Mr. Ravi Poleboina from India emerged as this year’s most fuel-efficient driver in the off-road category
- Malaysia’s very own champion, Mr. Nor Rahmat Bin Abd Talib, a driver with logistics company Prifaria Sdn Bhd was one of the 17 top drivers who took part
- Fuel-efficiency margins clocked by the winners of the on-road and off-road categories would result in significant cost savings in a real-world context
[22 SEPTEMBER 2015, MALAYSIA] Volvo Trucks, a global leader in sustainable transport solutions, saw a record-setting Volvo Trucks Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge 2015, held in Hua Hin, Thailand from 15th to 18th September recently. Following an inspiring performance at the grand final, Ms. Louise Marriott from New Zealand was announced the most fuel-efficient driver in the on-road category.
Ms. Marriott became the first female driver in the competition’s illustrious history to achieve a podium finish at the event, joining Mr. Ravi Poleboina from India who was awarded the most fuel-efficient driver in the off-road segment. In addition to being the first female driver, Ms. Marriott was also the first representative from New Zealand to attain the top prize at the Fuelwatch Challenge.
The competition, recognised as an annual mainstay event in the industry, embodies the company’s Fuelwatch mission towards a fuel-efficient industry model. During the event, participants attended a one-day training session on fuel-efficient driving techniques and technical expertise, followed by the Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge grand finals on the second day.
Encouraging inclusive growth
The Volvo Trucks Fuelwatch Challenge kicked-off its local editions in Asia Pacific earlier this year, and saw 17 top drivers qualify to contest for the title of the region’s most fuel-efficient driver in the on-road and off-road categories at the Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge 2015.
This included four women, representing the expanding number of female drivers within the Fuelwatch community and the industry-at-large.
Expressing her elation over the record-setting performance, Ms Marriott said: “I’m absolutely pleased to be this year’s most fuel-efficient driver and to be the first contestant to bring the trophy home to New Zealand. While our industry is often thought of as being male dominated, the Fuelwatch Challenge has been a great platform for us to show that all drivers, regardless of gender, can perform at the highest level while being fuel-efficient. I look forward to sharing the experience at Fuelwatch with my colleagues back home.”
Malaysia’s very own champion, Mr Nor Rahmat Bin Abd Talib, a driver with logistics company Prifaria Sdn Bhd was one of the elite group of 17 top drivers who took part in the final. Although he did not bring back the trophy, nonetheless he is already a winner to Malaysia. He commented that the final challenge gave him an invaluable experience, as he echoed Ms Marriot’s sentiment about the competition.
“First of all, I was already so delighted that I was the winner, among 1,100 truck drivers who took part in the local challenge, to represent Malaysia at this final challenge. Participating in the challenge in Hua Hin certainly gave me an international exposure and boosted my confidence and skills as a truck driver!” said Mr Nor Rahmat.
He also said: “I had the opportunity to learn about and drive the Volvo FH model which is not available in Malaysia currently. It is such a robust yet smooth machine. I felt like I was driving a car! It’s that easy to drive! Overall, Fuelwatch Challenge has really taught me a great deal about defensive driving and combining it with a good knowledge of your truck so that fuel efficiency truly becomes a real benefit when you apply everything that you’ve learned.”
Mr Nor Rahmat also shared that he had the opportunity to talk to and exchange driving experiences with drivers from other countries, and what he learnt was that truck drivers in Australia are equipped with a lot of technical knowledge, and not just on driving skills. He said this knowledge will come in very handy in times of minor breakdown while on the road. While he acknowledges that Volvo Trucks has already been providing technical trainings to drivers through the company’s Driver Development Programme, he hopes that the overall trucking industry in Malaysia will also follow suit for the benefit of a larger crowd of drivers. And most certainly, he was inspired by Ms. Marriot and hopes that Malaysia too can one day have female truck drivers participating in the Volvo Fuelwatch Challenge.
Fuelling positive change
To win the title of the most fuel-efficient driver in the on-road category at this year’s Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge, Ms. Marriott clocked 17.5% less fuel compared to the highest amount of fuel burnt at the event.
In the off-road category, Mr. Poleboina clinched the top prize with a notable achievement of 12.5% less fuel consumption relative to fellow contestants.
Within the industry, fuel can account to up to 50% of the operating costs of a typical haulage business. Based on the fuel-efficiency margins recorded in the on-road and off-road finals, this would inarguably translate into significant cost savings potential in a real-world context.
Congratulating Ms. Marriott and Mr. Poleboina on their achievements, Christophe Martin, President of Volvo Trucks in Asia Oceania added: “I am delighted and proud to witness history made at this year’s Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge 2015, with the first female driver joining the ranks of past Fuelwatch winners. Louise’s achievements will no doubt encourage aspiring female drivers, which will benefit the industry as a whole.”
Mr Martin further commented: “We at Volvo Trucks are firmly committed to the Fuelwatch mission of optimising performance at minimum cost to businesses, society and the environment. Since our inaugural event in 2007, the more than 15,000 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”.
Volvo FMX for the Off-Road Challenge