70 buses washed every night
At four o’clock every morning, at least 45 Flygbussarna coaches must be ready to take the road to carry passengers between Stockholm and Arlanda airport. Thomas Edvall and his colleagues at the Volvo Truck Centre in Sollentuna are the people who make sure that nothing goes wrong with the operation.
“Since Flygbussarna’s coaches have to carry as many passengers as possible during the day, the less time they spend here in the workshop the better,” explains Thomas, who supervises the work and handles communication with the operating personnel.
Thomas Edvall enjoys the unique confidence of the customer, and plans the Flygbussarna operation every week in consultation with the company’s site manager, Zakaria Abna-Aissa, and depot manager Gert Gustafsson. He monitors Flygbussarna’s own fault reporting system on a daily basis to ensure optimum scheduling of repair and service work on every single vehicle.
The fleet totals 50 coaches, 90 percent of which are Volvo 9700s. A further 20 charter coaches are washed and refuelled every day. Thomas is assisted by five hand-picked technicians, all of whom are bus specialists, and by a number of cleaners. He notes that since things can change quickly when dealing with coaches, it is important for the service technicians to work flexibly. The operation is governed by the customer’s needs and everything necessary must be done to get the vehicles on the road. “Whereas other companies talk about price, we talk about availability, and there is total transparency between ourselves and the customer,” explains Thomas Edvall.
One result of this close cooperation is that Flygbussarna benefits from both lower fuel consumption and lower per-kilometre operating costs than its sister bus companies in the group. At the same time, Volvo Buses enjoys access to important technical knowledge since many of the coaches are operated on rape methyl ester (RME), or biodiesel as it is also known. This enables the company to develop even better products, while the workshop itself has become a facility specialising in RME vehicles and has gained more customers. The aim is to have the entire fleet running on RME by 2014.
“We would never have achieved this if Volvo had not been involved from the beginning when we opted for RME in 2008,” comments Zakaria Abna-Aissa. “We have moved from being engaged to being married,” smiles Flygbussarna’s depot manager Gert Gustafsson. “We have got to know each other, stopped arguing and begun to work together. We are now doing what we are good at without trying to take over the service aspect.
The depot has been located at Volvo’s own premises since February 2009, and Gert describes how convenient it is not to have to go elsewhere for service or for the daily washing and refuelling operations. He is looking forward to developing cooperation even further in the future.