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Top truck drivers put their skills to the test

| Awards and achievements

UD Trucks SA recently held its inaugural Extra Mile Challenge to commemorate the most efficient fleet truck drivers. The event, which took place at the Gerotek vehicle testing facility outside of Pretoria, saw some of the best truck drivers compete for the laurels.

The competition comprised 15 teams (driver and co-driver) who had to conduct a few delivery exercises that judged the teams on efficiency and productivity. The winners will travel to Japan to compete on a more global scale.

Ten of SA’s largest UD Trucks fleet customers entered the competition, including ABI, Afgri, Vital Distribution, Unitrans, Shoprite Checkers, Imperial Retail Logistics and Clover SA. Some of them entered more than one team.

In the end, it was team Afgri’s driver James Mavuso and co-driver Hennie Schutte who took the trophy and were named the most efficient and productive team after a day of evaluations and challenges. In the process, Mavuso and Schutte also qualified to represent SA in the global Extra Mile Challenge competition in Japan in November. This event, which will see teams from all across the globe compete, forms part of UD Trucks’ celebration of the 80th anniversary of brand’s inception in Japan in 1935.

"With our brand promise of Going the Extra Mile, we put the challenge to our fleet customers to see whose driver would become the best of the best," said Rory Schulz, managing director of UD Trucks southern Africa. "Truck drivers play a vital role in the success of any fleet company, and we are glad we were able to recognise their enormous contribution in this way."

The competition consisted of three sections with various activities simulating a collection and delivery route. Initially teams had to complete a pre-drive inspection on the vehicles, then a drive test that included two collection and delivery points, as well as a parking evaluation which was done by an alley docking simulation, with the objective of getting as close as possible to the loading dock without any assistance.

The pre-drive inspections to ensure the roadworthiness and safety of the vehicle were carried out on a Quon CW26 490. All the participating teams completed the driving tests in two Quon GW26 410 with trailers, which were loaded to 35 tonnes gross combination mass to ensure fairness.

"What made this competition so unique was the crucial role played by the co-drivers, who had to assist the drivers through all the aspects of the evaluation," said Schulz. "The event also placed a lot of emphasis on overall efficiency and productivity, some of UD Trucks’ key objectives."

Teams were rated according to the time taken to make the deliveries, accuracy of goods delivered, following the rules of the road, fuel efficiency and driving style. UD Trucks’ experts continuously evaluated each team out on the road and, once the course was completed, technicians downloaded and scored the drivers’ fuel efficiency and driving styles according to information retrieved from the truck’s telematics system.

"We are happy with the outcome of the inaugural Extra Mile Challenge driver challenge and hope to make this an annual event," said Schulz. "We wish Team Afgri all the best in the global competition in November."

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