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After thorough preparations aimed at preventing transport damages, new vehicles leave the brand’s plants (Mladá Boleslav and Kvasiny in the Czech Republic plus Slovakia, Russia, India, Ukraine and Kazakhstan) on trucks and railway carriages.

More than 3,000 new cars a day leave the gates of the Mladá Boleslav and Kvasiny plants, of which about 55 % on railway carriages and 45 % on trucks. Overseas deliveries are a combination of transport to European sea ports (predominantly railway) and sea transport. “One of our strategic goals in the area of logistics is to gradually increase the share of railway - this mode of transport is environmentally friendlier while reducing the volume of truck traffic on production plant sites and reducing the load placed on the transport infrastructure,” says Miroslav Mazal, Finished Vehicle Transport Coordinator at ŠKOTRANS, the department in charge of vehicle transport.

Most of us have already seen a truck loaded with new vehicles whose key parts are covered with white foil, but not everybody knows what exactly this protection is about. “Before leaving the production hall, vehicles are fitted with transport foil plus bumper, door edge and driver compartment protectors in order to minimise the risk of damaging the vehicles during their transport and storage,” says Petr Hrbáček of Brand Quality Management, Analytics Centre.

Vehicle transport and storage processes come with a variety of ambient impacts, including dust, industrial pollution, pollen, etc., and the vehicles therefore need to be protected accordingly. In the past each vehicle would be treated with about half a kilo of preservation wax. The dealer then had to remove this wax, which was a fairly complicated process. Moreover, the waste generated by this process posed an environmental impact. About ten years ago, this form of protection was replaced with transport foils that are put on the bonnet, roof and tail.

Like all the other VW Group brands, ŠKODA uses synthetic rubber-based adhesive polyolefin foil - 5-7 m² per vehicle. This foil is recyclable as plastic waste, but can also be disposed of as mixed waste. The foil manufacturer guarantees that the product will protect the vehicle for as long as 12 months. In exceptional cases (highly complicated transports, exhibition vehicles, luxury models, etc.) the company uses what is known as “Full Body Cover“, a non-woven textile sheet to cover the whole vehicle – this product is developed and tailored for each individual car.

Other risks are posed by handling, loading and unloading operations, which is why vehicles are fitted with bumper and driver door edge protectors to protect them from scratches and paint damages in general. Moreover, the whole driver compartment (including the carpet) is covered with foil to prevent soiling and the driver’s seat is protected using a fleece cover. While the body foil is put over the vehicle at the very end of the production process, the seat protection covers are fitted to the seats by the seat supplier.

 

 

On average, the company ships over 155 truckloads and about 8 trainloads from Mladá Boleslav and 6 from Kvasiny (192 carriages in total) every day. Moreover, the Mladá Boleslav plant sends one container train with parts to Nizhny Novgorod and Kaluga (Russia) every day and one train with knocked-down vehicles to Solomonovo (Ukraine) every week. The plants in Slovakia, Russia, India, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and China use the same car protection and transport policies.

Road transport services are provided by third parties whose drivers are responsible for loading the cars. Depending on the type of freight vehicle, one load ranges between two and ten vehicles. On average, an ordinary big truck can be loaded with 7-8 passenger cars. The railway capacities are similarly diverse – one carriage can be loaded with 10 new passenger cars on average, but there are no two completely identical trainloads. The type of carriage and the final destination are some of the factors to influence the loading process duration.

SIMPLY CLEVER TRANSPORT

ŠKODA vehicles offer a multitude of ‘Simply Clever’ solutions, and many clever ideas stand also behind their transport, including, for example:

Kvasiny transfer site

A small electric engine facilitates railway siding operations in Kvasiny. The transfer site is the terminal point for three siding tracks used by third-party transport companies to bring empty railway carriages. “Using this small electric engine, we take one of the carriages to the transfer site, load it with new vehicles (doing both decks simultaneously), shunt the loaded carriage to the neighbouring track and push it out of the building,“ says Jan Jurásek, Vehicle Shipment Coordinator at ŠKOTRANS Kvasiny. “With this system in place, we load about 50 carriages a day. Besides moving and shunting railway carriages, the electric engine is used as an approach platform for both carriage decks as well as to monitor the safety of loading operations by means of a multitude of safety sensors.“

Automatic counting of vehicles

While up until recently each car that rolled off the production line was checked off by a staff member standing at the end of the assembly line, these days this routine operation is done by a camera connected to a computer. As the vehicle is leaving the line, it is automatically entered to this system, and the responsibility for it i  transferred from Production to ŠKOTRANS. Each car is double checked – one camera reads the production number in the protocol that accompanies the car throughout the production process, another one checks the same number on the label located in the bottom left corner under the windscreen.

Truck height measurement

The maximum truck height varies country to country. While in the Czech Republic it is 4.2 m, in Germany, for example, it is only 4 metres. The exit point of the loading site is fitted with a special sensor that shows the driver automatically whether the height of the loaded truck is less than 4.0 m, between 4.0 m and 4.2 m, or over 4.2 m.

My work is different every day

One of the Mladá Boleslav employees responsible for the shipment of new vehicles is Sidetrack Foreman Milan Hrdý.

How long have you been doing this job?
I have been working at ŠKODA for 25 years. I joined the company as a driver, but two years later I became a technician and now I am a foreman responsible for loading cars on railway carriages. To ensure that each driver knows what to load and where, we draft loading instructions for them.

What do you believe is the most difficult part of your work?
The most difficult thing is to put together the right carriages and countries of destination. We use a variety of carriages, but some of them cannot be used in all countries.

What, on the other hand, do you like most?
My work is different every day. No two consecutive days are the same.

What has changed in your work over those 25 years?
I started with a pen and paper, but these days everything is done on PC. And the diversity of cars that we ship to markets worldwide has grown incredibly. We started with the FAVORIT, and it was either LX or GLX and just a few colours. These days each car is unique in terms of type, colour, trim level, accessory configuration, etc.

 

Milan Hrdý
Sidetrack Foreman

We started with the FAVORIT, and it was either LX or GLX and just a few colours. These days each car is unique in terms of type, colour, trim level, accessory configuration, etc.