Inside VGSA’s R6 million active safety calibration facility

The Volvo Group Southern Africa (VGSA) invited various transport media to its new, R6 million active safety calibration facility, based alongside its CKD truck assembly plant in Durban, earlier this week.

The calibration facility investment has allowed the company to equip its trucks with advanced, active safety systems in South Africa, which it started doing in April this year.

These systems form part of the Volvo Active Safety package, which costs Volvo Trucks customers an additional R43 000 once specified. Volvo’s Alcolock V3 system, a breath alcohol analyser designed to reduce alcohol-related accidents, is also available, albeit as an optional extra.

The active safety calibration facility comprises a work pit and several high-tech radars, cameras and monitors, all operated by specially trained technicians.

Prior to the investment, safety features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Changing Support and Collision Avoidance with Emergency Brake Assist, were only equipped to Volvo trucks specially ordered from Europe, complete with a 12% import duty.

VGSA Emergency Brake Assist
A graphic showing the four stages of Emergency Brake Assist. Both auditory and visual warnings are given.

Adaptive Cruise Control automatically adapts the vehicle’s speed to the actual flow of traffic and lets the driver know when the distance to the vehicle in front presents a risk. The system has a radar fitted to the front of the truck, which interacts with I-Shift and the vehicle’s brakes. If the distance becomes unsafe, the wheel brakes are activated.

Lane Changing Support is equipped with a radar system that checks the blind spot area when you activate the turn signal. If the blind spot areas are not clear, drivers are notified by a loud hooter sound and a flashing icon by the mirror.

Driver Alert Support is available day or night, at speeds above 60km/h. The system continuously monitors driving behaviour and the position of the truck in relation to the lane and road edges. It is aimed at preventing accidents and it detects driving characteristics of drowsy or inattentive drivers and encourages the driver to take a break.

In 20 stages, the Durban CKD facility assembles nine Volvo trucks a day in the course of a 40-hour work week. The plant, inaugurated in 2006, can produce some 36 different models, including trucks with 6×4, 8×4 and 8×2 drivelines, as well as several different cab options.

active safety calibration facility
A Volvo FH440 with active safety features prepares to be calibrated in Durban, South Africa.

Each truck, from start to finish, takes about 10 hours to complete. These trucks are then sold in South Africa or exported to several neighbouring states.

Speaking on the day, Volvo Group Southern Africa President, Torbjörn Christensson, said society had become desensitised to road crashes and fatalities. He said the Group needed to make the investment to satisfy current and future customer interest in the systems. “The transport industry needs to think about its reputation. Trucks should be safe,” he said.

He added that 1.2 million people die every year on the world’s roads. “Our vision is to have zero accidents; there is a lot to be done in the area of transport safety.”

VGSA also announced that it is now offering a full two-year warranty on fitted parts when they’re installed by an authorised Volvo workshop, while a new Dynafleet portal will arrive next year.

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