The countdown is on as Mercedes-Benz truck drivers from nine countries across the world – including South Africa – prepare to compete against each other for the coveted title of FleetBoard Drivers’ League champion for 2010.We’ve always known that South African truck drivers are amongst the best in the world... well now we have a chance to prove this on the international stage. For the first time ever, South African drivers will compete in the FleetBoard Drivers’ League, an international competition for Actros drivers.
The annual FleetBoard Drivers’ League is both unique and fascinating. It pits drivers from across the world against each other in terms of economical driving – and they compete against each other while remaining in their respective countries.
The entire process starts when drivers register at www.driversleague.com. Then, for four weeks (June 1 to 30 specifically), all the participants’ daily trips are measured by FleetBoard Performance Analysis. The drivers might experience diverse operating conditions. But, because they are all driving the Mercedes-Benz Actros and their driving is measured by Daimler’s onboard telematics system, FleetBoard, their individual driving styles and expertise can be measured and benchmarked – allowing for a truly international competition. FleetBoard will monitor a bundle of factors, including preventative driving style, economy, speed changes and braking behaviour.
At the end of this process, the best truckers from each country will be named. They will then be invited to the finals in Germany, where their driving skills will be put to the ultimate test.
The FleetBoard Driver’s League 2010 is the eighth of its kind, and the first in which South African drivers will compete, joining Actros drivers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania in competing for top honours.
“FleetBoard was first introduced to the South African market in 2009 and has so far registered over 50 customers,” says Pascal Weiss, manager sales, FleetBoard South Africa. The introduction of FleetBoard to the local market not only gives Mercedes-Benz clients an exceptional value-add to their purchase of a new Actros III; it has also opened the way for South African drivers to showcase their skills internationally.
Getting on board
Introduced to the international market in 2000, FleetBoard is the first onboard driver and vehicle management system of its kind to be designed and fitted by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Simply put, this means that the telematics system is designed based on Mercedes-Benz-specific vehicle paradigms and an intimate knowledge of the design and functionality of the Actros, Daimler’s flagship commercial vehicle.
Whereas aftermarket telematics systems make use of international fleet management system (FMS) protocols which manufacturers must make available for their products, the intellectual rights to FleetBoard are actually owned by the manufacturer and are therefore based on Mercedes-Benz’ closely protected codes: vital fuel, brake and systems information that allows the system to measure fuel efficiency to a degree of accuracy other products simply cannot achieve. FleetBoard can even measure brake wear to a percentage point.
“FleetBoard offers objective and comparative data from each freight vehicle in the fleet, which provides an overview of the operational performance of individual vehicles, fuel levels and consumption as well as drivers’ work profiles, which includes evaluations and gradings,” explains Weiss. “In this regard, the fleet manager gets support to identify causes of high fuel consumption and can use these figures to reduce costs across the entire fleet. Ensuring optimal flexibility, maintenance and service information can also be easily called up online.”
Interestingly, in a world first, FleetBoard comes standard on all Actros III trucks sold in South Africa. “The new Actros is pioneering the idea that this technology should be a standard feature,” Weiss elaborates. “Operators will need to activate the technology, but the option is there, built-in.”
According to Weiss, Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) has a strong, loyal Actros customer base. “Operators here know what they want, and they are looking to better their operating costs,” he explains. “We believe it’s the perfect market to test FleetBoard as a standardised feature of the Actros. And if it does well, it will become a standard Actros feature across a number of Mercedes-Benz markets across the globe.”
Although standard in the new Actros, FleetBoard can be retrofitted to any Actros I or II as well.
“We are very excited that we are participating in the FleetBoard Drivers’ League for the first time, which allows us to showcase the success of FleetBoard here in South Africa. This event also enables us to identify the best and most skilled truck drivers in South Africa, and will prove the efficiencies of the Mercedes-Benz Actros by means of FleetBoard,” concludes Weiss.
The 8th FleetBoard Drivers’ League will be held from 1 to 30 June 2010: local operators are encouraged to enter their drivers immediately. Companies need to register their drivers for the FleetBoard Drivers’ League by 28 May 2010.
The drivers stand to win some quite brilliant prizes, with the winner receiving a ticket for two people to Madrid, courtesy of UTA. As well as experiencing Spain for one week, the winner will attend the finals of the European championship Truck Race on 3 October, 2010. The prize includes flights and hotel accommodation, as well as two entrance tickets for the racetrack in Jarama. The transport operator employing the winning driver will also win free use of an Actros for three months.
For more information visit www.driversleague.com or call 0861-353-382.
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