Looking into the Future

Scania are looking into the future with a newly appointed Managing Director. Roger McCarthy has handed the tiller to Mikael Jansson as the local MD of the Swedish truck brand.

“I think Scania is in a very good position,” says Mikael. “Globally, the company is running at an all-time high in terms of revenue. The current range we have here in Australia is performing well and the volumes are increasing. The new-generation trucks launched in Europe are being well received by their customers.

“Now, we are ramping up production of these trucks and trying to prepare for launches outside Europe, including Australia. Before we are ready to launch it here we have to be sure we have the right specification. We will test the vehicles here to make sure they will perform at the right level. It’s not just a new truck, it’s a total concept to support the total operating economy for our customers, with service concepts included.”

Mikael’s broad management experience in different markets should bring new ideas and philosophies about how to run the business. He is well versed in the Scania way of doing things – its culture. After-sales experience is going to come in useful as Scania extends its offering beyond simply selling the truck into various packages, in terms of finance and after-market support.

Scania does have a wide portfolio around the world of different ways of buying and servicing trucks, more of which may start to see the light of day here in Australia. Mikael was directly involved in the development of the Flexible Plans, which Scania introduced earlier this year.

“We have really gone from an average maintenance plan to one which is specific to each and every vehicle,” says Mikael. “By that I mean, improving uptime and reducing cost is an important step. There are more products like this, which are on their way and we will bring them forward.

“I have been a member of Scania’s top management for ten years and I can bring our long-term strategy with me. As an Australian organisation, we need to adapt it to the local market conditions. To me, we should be aiming to have some kind of contract being sold with every vehicle we sell.”

Scania in Australia currently has around 3,000 contracts running as part of its sales of trucks – full maintenance contracts, flexible plans, service contracts, bespoke vehicle maintenance, plus some trailer contracts covering nearly 500 trailers.

As vehicles become more sophisticated, the truck owner is able to handle less and less with traditional maintenance regimes. Globally, there is a trend of trucking operators relying more on the truck manufacturer for maintenance of the equipment, managing the risk. Flexible plans enable the company to optimise the work done on a truck to its particular application.

“Now, the vehicle is giving us the information with which to change the maintenance plan,” says Mikael. “At Scania, we want to explore more predictive and preventative maintenance, moving from repairs to maintenance, moving from unplanned stops to planned stops. This is much more efficient for our customers. This is one area I see us really developing.”

Currently, Scania has 270,000 trucks around the world permanently connected to its monitoring systems. The level of data being gathered is enabling Scania to analyse applications and conditions more precisely and further hone servicing parameters. What Scania call ‘total vehicle economy’ is possible when the data can be used to optimise utilisation to improve profitability for the customer. Profitability is always a driving force in a very competitive trucking market and Scania believes it can offer operators an edge with its new systems.

Scania, and the other European cabover manufacturers, are also seeing a drift in the market towards the cabover product and away from conventionals. The smaller cabs the Europeans offer seem to be less of an impediment as operators move towards more shuttle-type operations, with drivers spending less time sleeping in their cabs. In fact, Scania has also seen an increase in demand for day-cab prime movers with V8 engines, especially for applications where performance-based standards (PBS) combinations look to maximise dimensional advantages.

Scania also has a truck-rental business, an ancillary part of the organisation that runs about 85 trucks. It is planning to introduce a number of 8×2 rigid trucks into this fleet alongside the heavy prime movers that predominate in the rental fleet.

There are sure to be interesting times ahead, there always are in the Australian truck market. The Europeans have pushed forward in recent years, with Scania being one of the brands to benefit from the sector’s growth. As trucks become more sophisticated and the technologies converge, it will be the packages offered alongside the actual hard metal of the truck that are likely to be the factor to tip the balance toward one brand or another.