For bus and coach operators, in-service breakdowns are a constant, damaging threat to successfully operating services daily. Leading Australian bus and coach brand Scania is dedicating significant resources to optimising the efficiency of vehicles to keep them healthy and safe so that breakdowns are few and far between.
“No one wants an in-service breakdown, especially if it is a coach on a tourist route or even a route bus that spends all day in heavily trafficked areas,” Scania Australia Director of Sales for Bus and Power Solutions Julian Gurney told ABC.
For Gurney and Scania, service is all about maximising operational uptime to increase the ability for operators to earn money and generate profits. Scania Australia is using sophisticated electronic diagnostic tools to ensure productive performance while also accurately predicting the durability of key components based on use profiles.
These predictions allow Scania to preventatively plan to replace components before they cause a breakdown while out on the road.
By constantly collecting and analysing in-service data, Scania is able to reliably predict the requirement for replacement service and wear parts and hold them on hand in Scania branches and warehouses to reduce vehicle off-road times. Using Scania’s own workshop parts vans, the brand delivers just-in-time to customers who service their own vehicles, helping to provide an efficient inventory management process for its customers.
Scania also has a refined process when it comes to delivering parts to more than 50 authorised independent Scania service workshop partners around Australia.
“Utilising our global network of more than 600,000 connected vehicles, Scania is able to build a reliable wear profile for key components,” Gurney says.
“This also allows us to understand when software updates are needed and keep Scania buses and coaches operational for longer.”
As remote diagnostics become more prevalent, more of the Scania fleet will be able to signal to the workshop what parts will be required and in what time frame, allowing an even more predictable flow of parts to the right place at the right time.
Scania Australia Aftersales Director Stefan Weber says this will again reduce time in the workshop and enhance uptime for bus and coach operators.
“Buses and coaches in Australia are expected to complete far longer working lives than in Europe, and that is why having the latest software updates regularly installed on your vehicle can assist in prolonging its working life,” Weber told ABC.
“The magic of the Scania Communicator is that it monitors so many aspects of the powertrain and the way the vehicle is driven so operators can understand much more about how their business asset is performing and also how it is being used.”
The Scania Communicator can be used to discern anomalies in fuel burn, identifying the issue and allowing for work to be undertaken to fix it before it becomes a wider problem.
Weber says this process can involve replacing a worn component. In other cases, it can be as simple as undertaking driver coaching to encourage safer driving habits.
“Drivers still tend to idle buses or coaches unnecessarily, which is just burning cash for no reason or benefit,” Weber says.
“The Scania Communicator detects all these issues and reports on them.”
Scania’s service capabilities extend across nine company-owned workshops around the nation filled with technicians familiar with the brand’s powertrain hardware. These workers follow Scania’s modular engine programme that’s been in place for several decades across truck and bus model lines.
“With our more than 170 technicians in our workshops we have plenty of expertise on hand, particularly for diagnosis and auto electrical problem solving,” Weber says.
At Scania, workshop changes have been afoot for a while preparing for the first waves of battery electric buses to hit Australian roads.
Weber says Scania has received its first batch of electric chassis, with the brand looking forward to getting them bodied up and on the road.
To prepare for this rollout, Scania bus and coach technicians around Australia have been undergoing training in workshops for the new generation of alternative fuel vehicles set to come into service.
It’s meant Scania Australia has had to fundamentally change the way it services vehicles, implementing new techniques that are focused on safety.
“As well as acquiring new BEV-friendly tools and equipment for the workshop, we’ve also had to buy suitable personal protective equipment for our technicians to wear,” Weber says.
“Safety is our top priority, so we have ben undertaking detailed training of all our employees, not just the hands-on technicians, to avoid any accidental injuries caused by exposure to live batteries or systems.
“We believe we are ahead of the curve on this, and our training programme won two impressive industry safety-related awards in 2022.”
This success boils down to the shared belief behind Scania’s doors that safety is a significant issue that the entire bus and coach service and repair industry needs to address in order to avoid injury or losses of vehicles while also protecting facilities.
To prioritise safety, Scania has also included a range of Advanced Driver Assistance systems in the New Bus Generation that was launched in February 2022. These rely on radar systems and cameras to monitor the vehicle and its surrounding in order to deploy advanced emergency braking or vulnerable road user protection systems.
Much like other parts of its operations, Scania’s move to embrace new technologies and keep them serviced on Australian roads all comes back to its core value, safety.
“Our technicians have been trained to be able to set this technology up and adjust it before delivery and after components such as windscreens have been replaced,” Weber says.
“The service and repair environment will become more complex and more focused on advanced technologies as we progress towards zero and low emission bus and coach products.
“Scania has been and continues to invest in our people and our facilities to ensure that we will keep you where you belong – safely on the road.”