Here’s an idea: Take 14 tractor-trailers and 90 drivers out to a deserted airfield and create a giant 750,000 sq. ft. “clock.”
And operate said clock for 24 straight hours, keeping accurate time down to the exact second.
[Somebody start brewing coffee – LOTS of it!]
If that stunt sounds a little crazy to you … well, you’re not alone. But Swedish truck maker Scania pulled it off recently as a way not only to showcase its newest big rig but also to highlight the importance of uptime in the freight-hauling business.
[By the way, click here to see this unique clock in action.]
“When you operate in long haulage transport, being at the right place at the right time can make or break your business,” noted Staffan Arvas, head of marketing communications for Scania (part of Volkswagen Truck & Bus GmbH) in a statement.
“Trucks are huge, powerful machines, but they’re also intricately designed, refined instruments,” he explained. “Just like watches. Each truck had to be optimized for its specific task in the clock, and real-time monitoring and analysis through our connected services made the whole operation possible.”
[Scania also deployed five different cameras to provide viewers the ability to “switch” between different angles.]
The trucks that made up Scania’s “clock” faced a variety of difficulties, Scania noted, depending on which clock hand they were forming.
The trucks that made up the second hand had to drive on a round track in a perfect circle every 60 seconds for 24 hours – with the inside truck maintaining a constant speed of 13 kilometers per hour (roughly 8.1 miles per hour) while the outside truck had to hold a constant speed of 53 km/h (some 32.1 mph).
For the trucks making up the minute and hour hands, the challenge was to ensure a perfectly synchronized sequence of starts and stops, Scania said.
Yet in order to maintain a correct, even speed while minimizing fuel consumption, each truck had to be carefully managed depending on their position in the clock.
That’s why Scania set up a group of fleet managers in the airfield’s control tower; they kept track of all the trucks and constantly monitored the status of each vehicle, avoiding unexpected stops, keeping wear and tear to a minimum, all while ,making sure the “clock” stayed as accurate as possible.
Scania emphasized that drivers played a key role in ensuring that the whole operation worked smoothly. Indeed, Elin Engström, one of Scania’s test drivers, took the “lead role” in the group of trucks forming the “second hand” of this most unusual clock.
And if she goofed up even slightly, the second hand would quickly get out of synch with real time, Engström stressed.
“The most demanding challenge in long haulage is precision and punctuality,” she noted.
“The clock was the ultimate test of staying in your line, maintaining your speed and keeping track of every second for 24 hours straight," Engström added. "All the drivers had to be in perfect sync and precision was the key to achieving this.”
Not a stunt for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.