The Eco-cien course includes a theoretical session which stresses aspects such as driving in the green band for maximum engine efficiency and fuel economy. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Eco-cien course includes a theoretical session which stresses aspects such as driving in the green band for maximum engine efficiency and fuel economy. Picture: SUPPLIED

Well-trained truck drivers can reduce fuel consumption by an average of 20%.

This is according to Hino Motors, which says its computer-based Eco-cien training programme has achieved meaningful benefits in teaching drivers to save fuel and to drive more safely.

“The objective of this initiative is to educate drivers and operators on fuel-saving and safe driving techniques as well as lessening the impact of Hino vehicles on the environment, using both lectures and practical courses,” explained Leslie Long, Hino SA’s senior manager of product planning and marketing.

“There are also additional benefits after drivers have undergone this programme. One of these is lessening potential damage to the trucks. Importantly, there is complementary  training for customers, which we see as a tool the dealers can use to cement relationships with their customers as part of the international Hino Total Support strategy.”

The Eco-cien fuel-saving programme was developed at Hino's Customer Technical Centre, located alongside the Hamura manufacturing plant in Japan.

“We have adapted the programme to suit our local conditions. Training takes place at the fleet owners’ premises and drivers use the trucks they usually drive for the training,” adds Long.

“Our trainers, Joseph Peme and Zenzele Mafokate, have had a busy year, training 523 drivers from 70 companies between January and October. Each driver can evaluate and assist up to six drivers a day to improve their driving technique.”

The major focus of this programme is fuel saving, but it also includes all aspects of driver behaviour and appearance as they are very important ambassadors of their companies while driving branded trucks and interacting with their companies’ customers.

The course starts with a theoretical session, which stresses aspects such as driving in the green band for maximum engine efficiency and fuel economy and includes presentations on defensive driving, the role the driver plays in managing fleet-related costs and general company image, as well as the importance of a driver always being aware of his or her surroundings so as to be proactive and not reactive.

The second part of the course involves practical driving over a familiar route of about 20km. The first trip is driven with the trainer as a passenger, evaluating the driver and all data of the trip is recorded on a computer attached to the truck’s ECU. A second trip is then undertaken with the trainer coaching the driver in terms of the Hino Eco-cien programme.

The data from both trips is then downloaded and a comparison made in terms of fuel consumption, harsh braking, over-revving and the like. The biggest improvement in fuel consumption logged by the Hino trainers to date has been 50%, with the smallest improvement being 11%.

Long says that one company has already seen big improvements in terms of lessening incidents involving its trucks. In this case there was a dramatic drop from 1.8 incidents each month to zero, measured over six-month periods.

The Hino executive says some fleet operators are even using these statistics to negotiate lower insurance rates.