Volvo president visits Hedland
Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls’ Heather Jones got some very good news a month ago when a call from outgoing Volvo Group Australia president Peter Voorhoeve made her day.
Volvo has collaborated with PHHG for the past couple of years.
It’s a two-way street: Ms Jones’ group is mainly focused on driver training and recruitment but she is also required to drop everything, travel anywhere and work as a Volvo Trucks ambassador doing media, presentations to authorities, school visits and Volvo events where the company wants to emphasise the huge recruitment job the industry faces.
With transport expanding and changing rapidly, the support of operators and governments to keep the wheels rolling is essential.
The Performance Based Standards scheme got started in 2007 and, after negotiating some initial stormy waters, has grown into a world-recognised system of optimising road transport.
Data collected by the National Transport Commission confirms PBS vehicles experience fewer crashes, carry larger payloads in fewer trips and generate lower emissions and less road maintenance. But that’s just the hardware. No matter how efficient it is, it all has to be driven and, until full autonomy is on Australian roads, drivers will be required either to drive the truck or monitor its progress from the front seat.
The steady economic recovery since the global financial crisis, plus the revival of mining expansion and activity, has sparked a new shortage in qualified drivers, especially for the multimilliondollar multi-trailer rigs that are the norm in the North West.
Large fleets are insisting on two to five years experience in handling these rigs, mainly because no one can certify adequate training.
It’s the reason one big contractor has recently had up to 10 quad road trains sitting idle because of a lack of qualified drivers.
That’s why Volvo considers training groups such as PHHG a top priority for the industry — so much so that recently, Volvo Group’s global chief executive Martin Lundstedt diverted to Port Hedland after opening the group’s new head office in Queensland, and met with the PHHG team at Truck Centre’s facility. The extension of the PHHG collaboration is tied to Volvo’s passionate drive to get new people on the road as professional drivers. The company leads the industry in pushing for higher standards of training.
With Volvo’s support, PHHG has so far put 60 drivers through its training program, with a 95 per cent success rate in placing them in full-time driving work.
Martin Lundstedt, global chief executive of the Volvo Group, centre, listens to Heather Jones.