EvoBus GmbH, Europe’s largest bus and coach manufacturer, plans to improve the quality of service for its two Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands on a sustained basis. Accordingly Omniplus, the after-sales brand within EvoBus, has held an in-house competition aimed at improving quality standards throughout the entire service organisation with its 646 service outlets and more than 4000 personnel in 37 European countries.

The starting rounds in this competition, which is the first of its kind anywhere in Europe, were held in 2009 with 622 service technicians from 17 European countries taking part. After two preliminary rounds in the participating countries, the 17 national winners competed in the final round to be held at the Training Center in Ulm on 22 and 23 February. At every stage of this specialist competition, they contenders needed to demonstrate their knowledge of the entire EvoBus product range (city, inter-urban buses and coaches from Mercedes-Benz and Setra, as well as Mercedes-Benz minibuses), including the wide variation of engines and transmissions for all these vehicles.

During the first preliminary round, the 622 contenders were given an online test covering drive systems (engines/transmissions), suspension/brakes, electrics, comfort and body structure, IT systems in after-sales and general knowledge of service-related matters. 404 candidates were eliminated during this round, and the remaining 218 candidates advanced to the second preliminary round. The national winners were then decided by a further online test. The questions in this round were all the more demanding. Topics included the EvoBus production network, the new Mercedes PowerShift GO 240-8 bus transmission, the engine brake in the Sprinter Minibus and venting of the heating system in the Setra TopClass 400.

There were also individual questions concerning onboard and offboard diagnosis, or servicing a swing-out door. The national winners will now compete in the final round in Ulm.

The questions were even more testing in Ulm. At a total of 10 stations, the national winners were e.g. tested on the level control system of the Sprinter Minibus, installation faults in the braking system and testing of the audio system and front door. The candidates were also required to carry out an accident repair with installation of replacement parts, test heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems, complete practical tasks relating to the engine and compressed air braking system and answer theoretical questions about repairs or technical literature. All in all, the contenders in the final round were called upon to demonstrate their knowledge and know-how in multiple respects. The tenth station in the test was an extended tour of the production plant, with various areas of emphasis for which the candidates were required to provide facts and figures.

The competition was organised and run by Helmut Schnapp, Head of After-Sales in Neu-Ulm, and Siegfried Wittlinger, who is responsible for all service training activities. The highlight was the prize ceremony on 24 February, during which EvoBus CEO Wolfgang Hänle presented the awards and prizes. The first three prizes in gold, silver and bronze are reproductions of the world-famous Oscar, though in this case a technician in overalls standing on a base resembling a machine nut. Helmut Schnapp comments on this highly visible form of employee motivation: “The BusTech Challenge helps us to bring the quality and training standards of our service technicians to the same, high level throughout Europe. We will draw conclusions from these results, see the need to make improvements in some countries and perhaps even make some fundamental changes.” Holger Suffel, Head of Sales and therefore also responsible for the After-Sales sector, underlines the aims of the BusTech Challenge: “This new, in-house competition deserves support in every respect, as it helps to keep the quality standard of our entire service organisation permanently above that of our competitors. I regard the 622 candidates as important internal communicators to show the importance of the decidedly customer-oriented Omniplus approach to service.” The competition will be held every two years in future.

Source: Daimler AG