The parking lot is almost empty at Tide's depot in central Tromsø. The morning rush hour is underway and most of Tide's 173 buses are out in service. For John Alfredsen, today's shift has just begun. As technical leader, he oversees the whole fleet and is responsible for ensuring that buses are ready for service in time.
“My job is very reactive, and things happen all the time. You must be flexible and prepared to change focus quickly. That's also the best thing about this job, you never know how the day will turn out until it's over,” he says.
Tromsø has approximately 75,000 inhabitants and is located on the north coast of Norway, approximately 500 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Winters are long and temperatures can change quickly. The landscape is hilly and many of the roads in the region are both narrow and winding.
“The conditions are quite tough and it is important that we keep an eye on the buses and ensure that the necessary checks and maintenance are carried out in good time,” says John Alfredsen.
To help him, he has Volvo Connect, a fleet management system that gives Tide access to all the connected services offered by Volvo Buses. On a large screen, John Alfredsen follows all the buses in real time and sees mileage, fuel consumption, fuel levels and vehicle statuses. As soon as an error code appears, he assesses what measures are required.
“When necessary, we call the driver to inform and advise. And if there are any doubts, I contact the Volvo workshop. Because they see the same picture as we do in Volvo Connect, together we can discuss what should be prioritised and which vehicles should be booked into the workshop. It is a very effective tool for dealing with emergency incidents and avoiding stoppages on the lines,” he says.
Volvo Connect also provides Tide with reports on fuel consumption, driving behaviour, idling, speed and mileage, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. These reports are an important basis for Tide to achieve its goal – to offer the residents of Tromsø smooth, comfortable and environmentally friendly transport.
Volvo Connect means that we have full control over all our vehicles in a fast and efficient way.
“Volvo Connect means that we have full control over all our vehicles in a fast and efficient way. The data made available through the detailed reports helps us analyse and improve our operations,” says John Alfredsen.
Tide Buss has a strong focus on environmental issues and reducing its fuel consumption is a crucial part of this. One factor that has had a big impact is their efforts to limit unnecessary idling. In Volvo Connect, Tide can quickly and easily identify which vehicles are deviating from the norm.
“If we see that a bus is idling, we contact the driver and ask why. This has produced very good results on fuel consumption. Every percent in reduction makes a difference for the environment. Given the high fuel prices we have now, it also makes a big difference to our costs. It is also important for our reputation as a company, we shouldn’t have buses idling unnecessarily,” says John.
In Volvo Connect, Tide can monitor how drivers perform and whether they need driver training.
“We use reports that show us how the vehicles are driven. When we see that a vehicle has unusually strong accelerations and decelerations, we contact the supervisor and ensure that the driver receives coaching,” says John.
Tide Buss is Norway's second largest operator and has operated public transport in the Tromsø region since 2019. Its fleet consists of 167 Volvo 8900s that serve all bus lines, both in central Tromsø and around the region. Morten Ellingsen, Technical Manager at Tide Buss in Norway, worked on the procurement.
“For us, it was important to have a product that can live up to our high demands when it comes to quality, the environment, comfort and safety. Volvo Connect and the possibilities it provides to monitor our bus fleet and introduce Safety Zones also contributed to us choosing Volvo Buses,” he says.
Tide Buss was the first in Norway to implement Volvo's unique safety system, Safety Zones, for its buses, and today it has a total of 28 such zones around the region. Using geofencing technology, the speed of the bus is automatically limited when it drives into a Safety Zone. Most of the zones are located at schools and preschools, as well as in the city centre where there is a lot of people and in some residential areas.
“As soon as we receive an indication from residents or passengers that buses are driving too fast in a certain area, we add a new zone. In addition to increasing safety, the Safety Zones makes it easier for drivers. Instead of keeping an eye on the speedometer, they can focus on what's happening around them. Safety Zones have also contributed to a more positive image of us as a company,” says Morten Ellingsen.
Tide Buss has even set up a zone at its depot, with a speed limit of 14 km/h. At certain times of the day, the parking lot can be crowded and by limiting the speed, the number of accidents and costs for sheet metal damage have been significantly reduced.
Volvo Connect and the possibilities it offers contributed to us choosing Volvo Buses.
“Since we introduced a Safety Zone here at the depot, we have not had any major collisions between vehicles. It is also important from a safety perspective for everyone who works at the depot and moves between the buses,” says John Alfredsen.
Volvo Connect is constantly being developed and new services and functions are continuously being added. Tide Buss has a close dialogue with Volvo Buses about its requirements and how the large amounts of data generated by the connected services can best be used.
“Today we use pretty much all the services that are available and at many different levels. When we have requests for new functions, Volvo looks at the possibilities of adding them. Had we not had Volvo Connect, we would have needed more resources to get the same overview,” says John Alfredsen.
Background: Tide Buss has operated bus services in Tromsø and the surrounding area on behalf of Troms Fylkestrafikk since 2019.
Bus fleet: Its bus fleet includes 167 Volvo 8900s, which provide both city and regional services. The company also has six Volvo 9700s that are used for commercial bus traffic. In Tromsø, Tide has approximately 11 million passengers per year and drives a total of 7.5 million kilometres.
About: Tide Buss is Norway's second largest bus operator and one of the largest in Denmark. It offers sustainable mobility solutions and is a key player when new and more environmentally friendly technologies are implemented in the industry. The company has more than 4,900 employees and 2,100 buses, of which an increasing number are electric. Every day, a total of 17,000 bus trips are made with Tide Bus.
Volvo Connect is a fleet management system and portal for all Volvo Buses services. Here you can find everything from connected services to documentation and workshop services. The operator can also receive accurate follow-ups on vehicle performance, maintenance planning and actions that help increase productivity.