When Scania Australia won a major HVIA safety award last year, it did so by going the extra mile with its safety systems for the servicing and maintenance of its zero-emissions buses and coaches
At last year’s Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) gala dinner, many major manufacturers from around the world were represented in the room. When the time came to announce the 2022 Safety Innovation award winner, they all could’ve had claims for prioritising safety in their latest vehicle designs.
Yet it was Scania Australia that graced the stage in Brisbane to accept the award last November.
“The training we have undertaken and continue to undertake ensures everyone at Scania knows how to be safe around batteries and battery electric vehicles in general,” Scania Australia managing director Manfred Streit told ABC.
“We were delighted to accept this significant award and hope that we continue to lead the way in demonstrating the safest ways to deal with BEVs in workshops.
“Our focus on safety at Scania has always been acute and internally we promote safety as ‘my first choice’.”
The award was vindication for Scania Australia’s consistent dedication to prioritising safety when it comes to its development of zero-emissions buses and trucks.
But what is Scania doing in Australia to be deserving of such a prestigious safety award in not just the bus and coach industry, but the entire heavy vehicle sector?
For one of the leader members of the Australian bus and coach industry, Julian Gurney, it’s all about surpassing what is genuinely considered adequate safety for zero-emissions vehicles.
“Scania has a 100 per cent focus on safety across all of our activities and particularly with our public transport vehicles,” the Scania Australia director of sales for bus and power solutions told ABC.
“When it comes to the development of our battery electric buses, we have gone even further to ensure there’s multiple layers of protection built into the vehicle’s power architecture.”
As a passionate member of the bus industry and the leader of the Bus Industry Confederation’s (BIC) Suppliers Group, Gurney, like many at Scania Australia, is personally invested in maximising the safety of the nation’s buses and coaches.
Scania Australia has used its extensive global experience to its advantage as it continues introducing new zero-emissions technology down under. When it comes to the safety side of these new-age buses and coaches, Scania Australia is going over its systems with a fine tooth comb to continually improve its innovative technology and protect Australia’s bus drivers and passengers.
This means it isn’t just focusing on its innovative zero-emissions bus technology. Scania Australia is also stepping off the vehicle and looking at ways to train the people involved with operating Scania bus and coach systems to make services safer than ever before.
“Our safety focus goes further than just the systems on the bus, but extends into the workshop too,” Gurney says.
“We have instituted an award-winning training scheme to ensure the safety of our workshop operations teams who deal with battery electric vehicles across the country as well as putting the entire Scania workforce through a battery electric vehicle (BEV) training programme to ensure everybody who may come into contact with a BEV at Scania understands just how important it is not to accidentally touch any component of the bus or coach that may be live.”
For the Scania team, uniforms are important. Yet the branding isn’t solely for aesthetic purposes – Scania Australia’s service teams that work on BEVs are receiving their own special clothing to protect themselves from BEV dangers.
Unlike other workshop garments, these uniforms have special Flash and Arc Rated features and personal safety equipment included. These well-clad workers are also mandated to work together on BEVs in pairs using specifically designed tools and insulated gantries, among other provisions, to reduce the potential for injury as much as possible.
These fine safety details are only the tip of the iceberg, highlighting why Scania was the well-deserved winner of the Safety Innovation award last year. Under the manufacturer’s Safety Management System (SMS), each level of employees have responsibilities when dealing with BEVs.
This includes activating safe operating procedures (SOPs) and training employees in-house with authorised Scania BEV technicians. A key feature is the mobile gantries that Scania have procured to permit safe access to bus batteries and electrical isolation points on the roof of Scania buses.
“We are installing BEV-specific workshop gantries complete with gates and warning signs and insulated wheels, and have established PPE, tools, tool boards, barrier systems and trollies specifically for use with BEV systems,” Scania Australia product support and service introductions manager Jason Grech told ABC.
“Scania’s vehicle onboard safety systems are highly detailed and engineered in-house from the start and are designed to avoid voltage leakage.
“This equipment has been adapted to suit Australian standards and will be provided as full kits to our workshops when they are certified to work on BEV trucks and buses.”
Outside of this employee safety focus, Scania’s zero-emissions vehicle technology is also dedicated to protecting operators and passengers. Its electric drive system has various built-in safety devices, including warning plates on components posing a fire hazard, monitoring and power disconnection when threats are detected for the vehicle.
Gurney says Scania’s technology has evolved to include additional systems that seek to suppress fires in electric buses.
“Our technology aims to avoid the potential for leakage or thermal overloads, especially surrounding the battery packs,” Gurney says.
“We have cut-out switches on our vehicles that isolate the batteries, which must be activated before any work can be done on the vehicles.
“As with combustion-engine buses, we have taken a view that a fire suppression system is highly desirable and have worked with local suppliers to ensure that our vehicles will support third party systems that may be specified by our customers.”
Scania Australia’s depth of knowledge means it isn’t shying away from the thermal risk that electric bus batteries pose. Yet it’s not hard to see how the bus and coach giant beat a competitive field to take home last year’s HVIA Safety Innovation Award with its thorough approach to protecting buses that takes no chances across the entire company’s workforce.
“The HVIA award recognises the foresight we’ve put in to preparing all levels of our business to safely handle BEV systems and components,” Streit says.
“There is no place for complacency with high-voltage electricity. The industry should expect these safety elements to be a part of all of our future product line-ups.”