Special report – Winners all around at IPC Drivers' Challenge
First-class driving skills, operational expertise and the readiness to learn from European colleagues were the keys to success for all 11 ‘national champion’ postal teams at the unique IPC Drivers’ Challenge in Portugal last week, which was won by home team CTT Portugal Post.
The 2018 event, the fifth to date, featured a record number of 11 teams from postal operators around Europe who sent their best drivers to tackle challenges in eco-driving, car handling, as well as, for the first time, electric driving and delivery efficiency. CEP-Research attended the competition to observe eco-driving in practice.
After winning national competitions or being selected on merit, the two-person teams from nine European postal operators left their daily delivery rounds behind them, moved up a gear to international speed, and lined up at the beautifully located ex-Formula 1 Grand Prix racetrack at Estoril, near Lisbon, in a friendly but serious competition.
This year’s event featured teams from An Post (Ireland), bpost MSO Distribution and bpost MSO Transport (Belgium), Correos (Spain), CTT Portugal Post (Portugal), La Poste (France), Posti (Finland), Posten Norge (Norway), PostNL TGN and PostNL Parcels (the Netherlands), and PostNord (Sweden-Denmark). Each team consisted of an experienced full-time driver and a postal manager, and drove vehicles provided by co-host CTT.
Challenging tasks throughout the day
After a warm-up practice day, which included a theory test on vehicles, international traffic rules and sustainability issues, the teams were given a complex and demanding set of tasks for the ‘Challenge’ competition day which required them to display a wide range of practical skills.
In the ‘checks & safety’ part, teams had to check their vehicles physically for any deficiencies, change a tyre (within 7 minutes) and fill out a European accident statement form. Afterwards they had to display their driving agility (forwards and backwards) on a special course with obstacles and tight spaces.
The core parts of the Drivers’ Challenge comprised two separate driving tests on the racetrack and nearby public roads. In the 40km ‘eco-driving’ competition, consisting of two tours of the Estoril track and then a route on nearby public roads, teams were measured by their performance in driving effectively to reduce fuel consumption.
Picture: Drivers used the scenic ex-Formula 1 racetrack for parts of the competition
New this year was a 21km ‘electric driving and delivery’ test on the racetrack and public roads using an electric van. Teams had to navigate to four different delivery points and make deliveries using correct procedures.
IPC decided to add electric vehicles to the eco-driving competition given the postal industry’s increasing use of alternative vehicles, which required a very different kind of driving behaviour. Over 15% of the vehicles in the postal fleet were alternative vehicles in 2016.
CTT drives home well ahead of bpost and Posti
The clear winner of this year’s IPC Drivers’ Challenge competition was the home team, CTT ((pictured below). Drivers Ricardo Monteiro (left) and Pedro Madeira scored 98 points out of a possible 100 after an excellent performance in all parts of the competition.
Second place was taken by Jean-Jacques Capron (left) and Pascal Lechat from bpost MSO Transport (with 92 points).
Third place went to Marjo Rehn (left) and Seppo Uusikorpi from Posti (90 points). The Finnish postal operator had won the previous two competitions.
Two new awards were also presented this year. The electric efficiency award, rewarding the team who performed best in electric driving and which managed to drive the electric delivery tour in the most energy-efficient way, was won by Dorthe Krogsager (left) and Bo Gunnar Berg from PostNord.
The sportsmanship award for the team that showed the overall best attitude, fair play and motivation, went to Marc Saurel (left) and Mario Morales from La Poste.
Eco-driving saves fuel and money, says IPC
Organiser IPC was very happy with how the event went this year and also emphasised that eco-driving can really pay off for postal operators.
CEO Holger Winklbauer said: “The growth of the IPC Drivers’ Challenge clearly demonstrates that postal operators are taking staff engagement in the sustainability debate very seriously.” He described the international event as “just the tip of the iceberg” of related activities by postal operators.
Winklbauer continued: “It has also been determined that having a staff base which is engaged in eco-driving and sustainability can lead to substantial financial savings for participating posts.
“Based on 2017 EMMS data, posts participating in the Drivers Challenge emit fewer emissions per km driven and emit fewer emissions per item delivered, both for parcels and letter-mail. If all posts participating in the IPC Sustainability programme EMMS would apply the same practices as the posts that are participating in the IPC Drivers’ Challenge, the whole EMMS group could potentially save up to about €100 million every year.”
Postal drivers on a mutual ‘learning curve’
The Drivers’ Challenge event was also notable for its excellent overall atmosphere. Managers and drivers from the different European countries mixed well throughout the two days, discussing topics ranging from sustainability and eco-driving through to delivery issues and mutual experiences with electric vehicles and other technology. Several participants told CEP-Research how much they had benefited from the rare opportunity to meet and talk with colleagues from other European postal operators.
This aspect was also highlighted by Luis Paulo, CTT’s Director Sustainability and Environment, using the example of electric vehicles which were introduced for the first time this year. “As electric vehicles are gaining more and more ground in the postal sector, we deemed it necessary to integrate it in the competition. For some drivers it presented a new experience to execute an entire delivery route in an electric vehicle, while others had already some experience and could advise their colleagues on how to perform better. This learning element is another key advantage of the IPC Drivers’ Challenge. Teams get the chance to discover new aspects of their jobs, and take this experience home to put into real-life practice.”
The Drivers’ Challenge is part of IPC’s sustainability programme, which brings together 20 posts from Europe, America, Africa and Asia Pacific.
Here are pictures of the other teams (in alphabetical order):
Antony Wall and Paul McMahon from An Post
Gregory Dizant and Guillaume Merchie from bpost MSO Distribution
Marina Gomis and Eduardo de la Vara from Correos
Terje Strand and Roar Stutlien from Posten Norge
Arnoldus Gras and Henk Berendsen from PostNL Parcels
Rudy Veldkamp and Jan Treur from PostNL TGN