For 40 years, MAN ProfiDrive has been training professional drivers how to drive safely, sustainably and in a way that saves energy. Around 7,000 customers take part in training courses using MAN’s latest trucks, buses/coaches and vans every year. Over the decades, the technologies used in vehicles have become increasingly complex, as has a driver’s working day, and the coaching from MAN’s experts has continuously developed in line with this. E-mobility is an important new topic in the curriculum, and automated driving is also increasing in significance.
“The romanticised image of the long-distance truck driver from the 1980s no longer applies. These days, truck and bus/coach drivers work under very high pressure to deliver just in time, or arrive on schedule. On their trips, they face heavy traffic and constant time pressure. The vehicles that they have to control have been made significantly more demanding by the addition of digital and electronic functions. Our trainers help the drivers to reach their destinations in a way that is safe, economically efficient and environmentally responsible, even in difficult conditions,” says Tobias Müller, Head of MAN ProfiDrive.
MAN ProfiDrive started in 1981 with two trainers. Back then, it was called “MAN-Fahr- und Spar-Training” (MAN Drive and Save Training). From the beginning, the training courses were designed to help learners to drive safely as well as economically. Now, some 140 certified trainers work for MAN ProfiDrive all over the world. Their coaching is aimed at drivers, fleet managers and business owners in the transportation and passenger transport sector. “Over the service life of trucks and buses, drivers’ wages and fuel make up the majority of the overall costs. Therefore, it is worthwhile for businesses to invest in continuous professional development for their staff, and in ensuring a driving style that saves energy and protects the vehicle. The drivers need to be thoroughly trained in how to get the most out of the technological benefits that state-of-the-art commercial vehicles have to offer,” explains Tobias Müller of MAN ProfiDrive. The training courses help the participants to achieve average fuel savings of around ten percent.
The driver’s role is becoming similar to that of a pilot
“In the past, training courses mostly focussed on changing gears and driving in the right engine speed range,” says Andreas Griem, who has been an MAN ProfiDrive coach for 30 years, and instructs drivers and trainers in all commercial vehicle applications all over the world. “In the new MAN Truck Generation and in state-of-the-art city buses and coaches, the driver’s role is becoming more and more similar to that of a pilot in an aeroplane. They keep an eye on the state-of-the-art assistance systems such as MAN CruiseAssist, MAN EfficientCruise and MAN EfficientRoll. They have to understand these systems, and be able and ready to intervene manually at any time.”
Andreas Griem cites several factors as keys to MAN ProfiDrive’s many years of success: the training is very practice-oriented. Nobody knows MAN’s vehicles as well as the MAN ProfiDrive coaches. They discuss each driver’s strengths and weaknesses with them personally, either in the cab, or via Connected CoDriver, using the vehicle’s telematics system. “We have a lot of respect for what the drivers do – they cover a lot more miles in their job than we do as trainers. We talk to them as equals, in a personable, relaxed way,” says Griem.
The training content now also includes environmental safety and social legislation
In Germany, the Berufskraftfahrer-Qualifikations-Gesetz (German law governing the qualification of professional drivers – BKrFQG) requires professional bus and truck drivers to complete a 35-hour continuous professional development course every five years, and for this to be entered into their driving licence. MAN ProfiDrive meets the law’s criteria. The training programme also includes corporate responsibility, environmental safety, social legislation, crime in transportation due to smuggling, training on load securing, training for emergencies, as well as training of emergency and rescue personnel. For special applications on and off the road, MAN ProfiDrive offers special training courses, e.g. for the timber and construction industries and for heavy haulage.
E-mobility is changing how we drive
“We train the Future” is MAN ProfiDrive’s brand promise. More and more customers are asking for training courses on electric vehicles. This is because e-mobility doesn’t just require knowledge of how to deal with high-voltage technology safely, but also changes the driver’s role significantly. With diesel engines, a smooth and predictive driving style can be used to avoid braking wherever possible, to save fuel. However, in the case of electric vehicles, a different rule applies. In this case, using the brake pedal to decelerate is an absolute must in order to regain energy using recuperation.
This is one of several examples that show that the role of the driver in commercial vehicle applications is changing – and MAN ProfiDrive has been successfully adapting to this change for 40 years now.