Teva Pharmaceuticals boosts efficiency with JOST

JOST’s ground-breaking automatic coupling system has now ventured into the world of refrigerated transport. The technology that takes the hard work out of hitching and unhitching trailers is helping Teva Pharmaceuticals reduce time, costs and accidents, all while keeping its drivers very happy.

Technology moves extremely quickly, which creates an interesting opportunity for German Fleet Manager, Robert Renz. Intrigued by the JOST KKS remote controlled, trailer coupling solution he saw demonstrated at an industry event, he was told it wasn’t yet available for reefers.

He didn’t have long to wait.

JOST quickly came up with technology, allowing the system to be retrofit to existing trailers – the KKS-U.

With the KKS-U, existing fleets can be retrofitted with a KKS system with little effort. It is simply and quickly mounted to the underside of the semi-trailer. The system controls all the mechanical, electrical and pneumatic connections between the truck and trailer, eliminating the need for vulnerable air, electrics and ABS/EBS spiral lines.

The latest variant of the KKS-U is the KKS-Cool for refrigerated trailers, which have yet another special body for temperature-controlled transport.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest generic pharmaceutical company in the world, became one of the first to try the system on its refrigerated trailers.

“I thought I might as well hang in there and see what they could do, and they did it,” Renz said in an interview, adding that Teva has now been using the system for just over three months, on four of its existing trailers.

Teva fleet manager, Robert Renz.

Renz is the team leader for Teva’s fleet management team in Germany. The company has a large vehicle fleet, including 85 trucks and trailers, many of which include refrigerated units.

As Renz explained, the medication that Teva transports needs to be at a constant temperature – generally between 15 to 25°C – something only temperature controlled refrigerated vehicles can provide.

As with any trailer, the coupling and uncoupling process is physically demanding, time consuming and fraught with safety issues because the driver is required to leave the driver’s seat and attend to the connections every time a swap is needed.

Renz pointed out that going between the truck and trailer and onto the catwalk can be dangerous, especially in regions where winter ice and snow increases the chances of slipping. Simply reducing the amount of time the driver needs to leave the vehicle, can make a big safety impact.

“With a manual system, you have a massive number of working steps you need to take, and if you make a mistake, it’s a pretty big risk,” he said. “Trailers can roll or fall and that is dangerous.”

Refrigerated trailers are notoriously even more difficult to couple and uncouple as the space where the coupling takes place is much smaller than most. The KKS system takes driver safety for refrigerated vehicles to a new level.

JOST CEO, Joachim Dürr, said, as development partners, JOST is committed to creating solutions that meet its customers’ evolving needs.

“This innovation not only improves efficiency but also addresses significant industry challenges, such as reducing the physical strain on drivers and mitigating the impact of driver shortages,” he said. “By listening to our customers and developing tailored solutions, we are shaping a more sustainable and prosperous future for commercial transportation.”

Renz first introduced JOST’s KKS system to a Teva team member who had to swap his trailers, hitching them sometimes 15 times a day.

Renz explained that the system would automate the entire coupling and uncoupling process including air, electrics and brakes, and drivers didn’t need to connect supply lines or open the fifth wheel coupling.

While the driver was sceptical at first, it didn’t take long before he was sold on concept.

“He changes over a lot of trailers and once it became clear to him that he didn’t have get out of the vehicle at all to disconnect wires, he was impressed,” Renz said. “It was all so much easier with just a few buttons to press, and he is really loving it.”

Drivers don’t have to crank the landing legs, thanks to JOST’s E-Drive module, an electric auxiliary drive that deploys the legs all via a remote control.

The time-saving benefits are different for every company, but JOST estimates that the system can in some cases cut time by 50 per cent, effectively halving costs per journey, depending on the route and driving times.

Renz said this is a huge financial benefit but, by making a driver’s job easier and safer, there is also an advantage when it comes to staffing issues.
Germany is not immune to the global shortage of truck drivers and every little bit helps to secure a big enough workforce.

“It’s not easy to find drivers, so to be able to say the work is safer and easier than normal can really help,” he said.

The KKS connectors are easy and quick to install with two methods to choose from. With the KKS-U, all the cable and hose handling takes place under the trailer during cornering, while the KKS-I allows for cable and hose handling to take place in the trailer floor.

Renz can see the various benefits and suspects it will have a huge impact on the transport sector.

“You can simply move more products at a quicker rate,” he said. “It’s about a higher efficiency and lower costs.”

Image: JOST World.
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