Fuel efficiency, safety and productivity take centre stage once again in this year’s Fuelwatch Challenge.

Who will claim the title of being India’s best all-round truck driver? This was the question asked at the India finals of the Fuelwatch - A Driver Challenge 2019 that took place at Siddipet & Korba on 4 July & 16-17 July respectively. The competition this year involved more challenges than before, attracting professional drivers from across India.

Fuel efficiency, safety and productivity take centre stage once again in this year’s Fuelwatch Challenge.

The Volvo Trucks Fuelwatch Challenge is the compilation of all the different challenges that truck drivers face every day. Their skills are often the decisive factor in the productivity and profitability of our customers. Drivers also contribute to road safety. The finals was an opportunity to see incredibly skilful drivers doing an impressive job of handling their trucks. This was the 10th edition of the India Fuelwatch competition and this year it focused on three areas: fuel efficiency, productivity and safety. The India Fuelwatch Challenge focused on 3 key businesses – Construction & Infra, Coal Transportation and Mining. This strategic decision was taken in line with improving the drivers’ skills in the operations that they operate every day. The drivers competing for the title achieved excellent performances in each area. They showed that it is possible to have a highly fuel-efficient driving style, deliver a fragile load quickly in good condition and, at the same time, follow the road safety regulations to the letter.

Fuelwatch Challenge aims to draw attention to the important work done by truck drivers. It is also a way of attracting young people to the job, which offers good career opportunities. The transport industry is constantly growing and there is now a shortage of trained drivers all over the world.

“To help our customers to recruit and retain skilled drivers, we have been focusing for many years on the design of the driver’s environment and the drivability of our trucks. Driver support systems make it easier for drivers to manoeuvre trucks safely, and driver training that covers everything from handling trucks to fuel-efficient driving style are examples of how we help drivers to do a first-class job and to grow and develop,” says Mr. Dinakar B, SVP Sales, Marketing & Aftermarket at Volvo Trucks India.

On speaking to the Winners of the Competition, the unanimous feedback was that by following the Best Driving Practices, it is possible to achieve high fuel efficiency. This is what the participants of the coal segment have to say: Mr. Sathrugan Mondal winner of the Coal Segment from AMPL-RMCL was inspired by his trainers and he had heard of the Fuelwatch previous editions. After winning the Fuelwatch Competition Mr. Sathrugan Mondal has been appointed as an internal trainer for Volvo trucks.

“The instructions from the trainers are so clear that if you follow instructions, you will be well versed with driving the Volvo. If you learn to handle it right you will be successful”. he says. Mr. Ashokkumar who works with Sainik Mining was adjudged the I Runner up. He has been driving for the 18 years and participated for the first time in the Fuelwatch Competition and this is what he has to say “Pay attention to the driver trainer and follow instructions. Fuel efficiency will happen. I learnt how to drive the I-Shift vehicle and followed instructions given by the Driver Trainer.” Mr. Narendra N who won the II Runner up in the coal segment was inspired by his colleagues Azhar and Suresh G V who were Fuelwatch Winners in the previous editions. He saw that the lifestyles of both his colleagues change drastically after winning the Fuelwatch competition. He took the help of the regional trainer Mr. Srisailam and began to implement the best driving practices on a day to day basis.

“Driving is in my DNA, it’s my passion. Come out of the fear and apply your knowledge and victory is certain”, he says. The Construction & Infra segment was a new addition in this Fuelwatch Challenge. The challenges were different as it was held in a construction site in Korba. A new segment of drivers were introduced to the Fuelwatch Challenge and it was interesting to note the universal truth. Talking to the winners it is heart-warming to note that many drivers aspire to win the competition and each one has a different methodology to achieve the same goal. Mr. Dil Mohammed Ansari who hails from Jharkhand and has been driving for the last 10 years, is the first person to win the competition in the C&I segment. After winning the competition he has taken on himself to train the drivers.

“Winning this competition has given me an opportunity to get ahead in life. To win this competition I followed all the suggestions and teachings of the Volvo trainers.” Mr. Azgar Ali MD from Midwest aspired to participate in Fuelwatch since the last 2 years but never made it. He used to practice every day and check his own parameters along with the help of the Driver Trainer Srisailam and made it to the Finals.

“ The urge to be the best should come from within. Set benchmarks within your own performance and you will succeed.” Mr. Samma Reddy has been following the previous editions of the Fuelwatch, but was always reluctant to do so. Mr. Anwar the Project Head, he says is his inspiration. This time he was encouraged into participating by Mr. Anwar and Mr. KNR and he won the second Runner up in the C & I segment.

“Ensure the rpm is within the band and learn optimal gear shifting to achieve performance. Check tyre pressure and fasteners every day.” The overburden segment is another new segment introduced in the Fuelwatch challenge. It was held in the same site where the mining competition was held. This is what the drivers who made it to the podium have to say: Two time Fuel watch Winner, Mr. P Ravi has been driving Volvo Tippers for the last 6 years. Mr. Vinod Reddy and Mr. Vikram Reddy of SVEC are sticklers for fuel efficiency and the key motivation for Mr. Ravi. He is obsessed when it comes to taking care of the vehicle and ensuring that the rpm does not go beyond the band.

“After winning my identity has changed, I have been promoted to an internal driver trainer for SVEC, elevating my status in the organization.” Mr. Pinku Kumar from Dhanbad brings with him years of experience of driving the Volvo in the mines. His trainer Mr. Thapa was the reason why he participated in the Fuelwatch this year. His performance was monitored and he was one of the best drivers of the lot and he was trained by Mr. Thapa and Mr. Meghnath for Fuelwatch.

“One should not drive very fast. Drive with a cool head and follow instructions, you will also qualify for the next Fuelwatch”. Mr. Rajnish Jaiswal was selected from a group of 15-20 drivers from DBL at the Regional level competition and he was the only one to make it to the finals. He has been driving a Volvo since 2007. “After winning the Runner up 2 in the OB section, many drivers at site come to me with questions”.