Volvo’s new Vice President of Sales Tony O’Connell details the company’s latest waste collection iteration – the Volvo FE Low Entry Cab.
With more than 67 per cent of Australians living in a city, one of the biggest challenges going forward for the waste transportation sector will be maintaining and improving safety.
Likewise, minimising one’s environmental impact and increasing efficiencies will be ongoing hurdles, not to mention keeping pace with population growth and its impact on waste generation.
Original equipment manufacturers are cognisant of the task that lies ahead and it’s this determination to innovate that has driven Volvo to continually refine its waste collection range.
To tackle this challenge head-on, Volvo earlier this year launched its FE Low Entry Cab. The company has for years offered the FE and FM as a custom solution for select waste transportation and recycling solutions.
Building on its previous success in the refuse sector, Volvo has made excellent ergonomics, superior all-round visibility and a low vantage point key traits of its latest iteration.
Close to the coalface of its customers is Volvo’s people, with experienced professionals who know the ins and outs of their customer’s needs – fleet managers and councils.
Tony O’Connell, Volvo’s former Aftersales and Services Vice President, is a Volvo industry stalwart. With more than 14 years’ experience with the company, Tony was recently promoted to Vice President of Sales. Tony brings experience across a number of areas, including Soft Products and Retail, National Retail and Project Manager roles.
CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO
In his most recent role, Tony served across Volvo’s dealership network in Australia and New Zealand and focused on improving customer support. This allowed him to develop a grassroots understanding of his customers and challenge Volvo to improve its product offering.
“I really enjoy working with customers and our dealer network to ensure their needs are met and we are best positioned as our customers’ long-term business partner,” Tony explains.
“I like to solve issues before they become problems, and working in a company like Volvo where there is a lot going on, I enjoy negotiating those challenges.”
The FE Low Entry Cab (LEC) design was born out of a need for an efficient and safe refuse vehicle in the busy city of London. The first Volvo FE LEC was released in 2009 but proved popular and quickly became a standard offering.
“We know London is a recognised leader for requirements on direct vision in heavy vehicles, so it is good to be able to draw from the innovative work done in the UK,” Tony says.
“Additionally, London is the epitome of urbanised living, and if the truck suits their strict safety requirements we are confident it will suit Australian cities also.”
Volvo’s newest iteration comes as manufacturers are continually challenged to ensure drivers and refuse workers have maximum visibility and agility in their vehicles and avoid accidents wherever possible. By lowering the driving position and reducing hidden angles, Volvo is able to significantly improve all-round visibility.
“As these vehicles operate in highly urbanised areas in close quarters with road users, it is important for them to have the suitable manoeuvrability and visibility,” he says.
Tony says that the FE Low Entry Cab’s low profile and safety credentials make it an attractive proposition for urban distribution as well as the waste segment.
“Volvo knows that safety is paramount for councils and operators who provide waste management services in busy residential streets and high-traffic urban environments,”
Tony says Volvo aims to disrupt the current state of the segment and target those looking for safer, more versatile options, with the Volvo FE LEC ready for immediate sale.
“We want to place driver comfort, safety and visibility at the forefront, and we believe we can offer our customers the tailored solutions they need for their business,” Tony says.
Tony says that for this reason, all FE and FM models feature world-class safety and technological innovations, including forward collision warning with autonomous emergency brakes in almost all models. He says that Volvo trucks are also engineered to be significantly quieter in order to cause as little noise pollution as possible.
Considerable testing has gone into ensuring driver needs are at the forefront of Volvo’s success. Tony says that this involved relentless testing to support maximum visibility out of the front and side windows as well as the mirrors.
In providing excellent ergonomics and superior all-round visibility, Volvo has ensured the windows on either door (optional) allow the driver to clearly see what or who is right beside them. This simple, yet effective feature is particularly important for use in high-traffic urban areas where the safety of vulnerable road users is paramount.
“The literal step up to the cab and the 90-degree angle at which the door opens have been included with driver ease-of-access in mind, aiming to maximise driver convenience when swiftly entering or exiting the cab,” Tony says.
The Volvo FE LEC can accommodate up to four people with the low instep aiming to save drivers time. A range of telematics and connected services also assist in truck monitoring, tracking, preventive maintenance and servicing.
As far as safety is concerned, Volvo has made numerous advancements in its latest model. Tony says the low vantage point of the FE LEC allows the driver and passenger to have maximum visibility of all pedestrians, cyclists and road users surrounding the vehicle.
“As workers in the segments we are targeting often have to leave the vehicle multiple times a shift, it is important they are able to do so safely by having a clear view of their surroundings,” he says.
In the FE LEC, the step has been brought lower to the ground to allow for ease of access. Tony says that as drivers are doing multiple stop shifts where they are hopping in an out of the truck, the walk-up start with a lower step ensures less strain is placed on the driver. A kneeling function has also been included to allow for the vehicle to get 90 millimetres closer to the ground.
“Safety is so important to us at Volvo Trucks. These improved driver ergonomics reduce the chance of a driver tripping or missing a step.
“Some drivers get in and out of the cab more than 200 times a day, the LEC therefore ensures higher safety and productivity.”
KEEPING IT GREEN
Sustainability and a low emissions profile are also values integral to Volvo and part of the design of any new vehicle. In designing the vehicle, Volvo has made the FE Low Entry Cab Euro 6 compliant with an eight-litre up to a 350-horsepower diesel engine ahead of the standard regulations.
“The engine emits clean, frugal power on the road, as to deliver on our promise to work towards cleaner transport solutions,” Tony says.
“In addition, the cab fulfils both EU and Volvo unique safety demands, including legal requirements ECE-R 29/02 and Volvo’s even stricter internal safety requirements such as the Swedish BOF 10 and barrier testing at 30 kilometres an hour.”
To ensure Volvo can service the market with servicing, part and maintenance across the country, Tony says the company offers the largest dealer network in Australia and New Zealand.
“The total cost over the lifetime of the truck is also something our customers value and we consider our offers, including uptime solutions, to be highly competitive,” he says.
“With specific reference to the Volvo FE LEC, this truck has been brought to market as a result of local demand. It’s another example of listening to our customer base and delivering.”
And as the ever-growing waste market continues its upward trajectory, Volvo aims to leverage its global capabilities to meet niche local demands.
“I look forward to capitalising on our global capabilities more in the future to deliver on our promise to tailor our solutions to our customers’ needs,” Tony says.