Volvo Buses


Siang Yun Transport chose Volvo Buses for cross-border operations

Having a glimpse into his operations, Mr. Tan Kim Siang, Director of Siang Yun Transport Sdn Bhd, offers insights into a business that is both challenging to run and to a great extent subject to external influences.
Volvo Buses

Located in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, Siang Yun offers various ranges of services. As a partner with WTS Travel & Tours, one of the top travel agencies in Singapore, Siang Yun’s coaches are plying the roads of Malaysia, offering cross border transport services for tourists from Singapore, going to Legoland for example. The company also plays an important role for businesses in Singapore, by sending workers across the straits daily. What originally started as a school bus service provider has since expanded into the transport services for several sectors.

Providing shuttle services for factory workers and overland tours, the company depends heavily on buses that perform reliably when timings are erratic, and durably when idling is inevitable for most of the time due to traffic congestion at the causeway. Many of Siang Yun’s customers are prestigious brands, operating factories in two or three shifts. “On average, we transport about 2000 workers every day, crossing the border, depending on the shift schedule of the factories we serve,” Mr. Tan shared. Since some factories operate seven days a week, his fleet of 110 buses hardly ever stands still in normal circumstances. 

Having opted for Volvo buses in 2014, Mr. Tan recalls that initial trial revealed that the vehicle performance makes a difference for the business. “We have about 130 drivers and we take their feedbacks seriously.” There are two aspects to investigate as the waiting time at the border can easily be up to two hours. Firstly, the buses have proven to consume less fuel when idling and, secondly, the automated gearbox eases fatigue of drivers. Mr. Tan was first intrigued by the Volvo B7R, when he saw this model at a local bodybuilder facility, ready to be exported to Australia. As it turned out, the specification perfectly fits the requirements of Siang Yun and the price is also reasonable, making the purchasing decision a lot easier.

After the Volvo B8R was introduced, Mr. Tan immediately opted for the new model. The all new Volvo B8R chassis comes with the industry known fuel-efficient D8A engine with up to 330hp. Equipped with the renowned fleet management system - Volvo Telematics – and the real time driver feedback system - Volvo I-Coaching, the feedback is presented by clear, yet discrete symbols changing from green to red when pre-set parameters, such as speed, are exceeded. The vehicle therefore could help improve driving behaviour and provide immediate activity reports and vehicle locations at any time to Mr. Tan for easy management of his fleet. The enhanced safety systems, such as the Volvo electronic braking system with disc brakes and Electronic Stability Program (ESP), give Mr. Tan more confidence that his drivers and customer are both ensured a smooth and pleasant ride at the highest safety level. Besides the Volvo B8R, Siang Yun has also acquired 2 Volvo B11R coaches, which come with 12-speed I-shift transmission, most suitable for long distance and inter-city transportation. 

Covid-19 has undoubtably impacted his business heavily. Mr. Tan is however hopeful as he is seeing an end to the Pandemic. He said “The Volvo Action Service ((VAS) team has been very supportive and proactively provided assist in checking the buses during the lock down also every time before we re-start them. After such a long time of inactivity, the buses definitely need to be thoroughly checked.” Siang Yun’s own workshop handles simple daily check-ups while the Volvo workshop manages the maintenance and repairs of his fleet. “Currently, the idling is the key concern as we do not drive a lot during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period. Since the mileage is not high, the   service schedule then follows operating months instead of mileage to ensure an overall good condition of the vehicle.”  To diversify his business, Mr. Tan has ventured into goods transport by adding trucks into his fleet and, naturally, Volvo Trucks were added.

When positioning the business, safety is a key aspect and Mr. Tan shares that he usually presents his business by “advertising” the fact that his fleet is Volvo, the leader in safety. Besides safety, comfort is also placed top on his agenda when making purchase decisions, as the workers would be seated for long times crossings borders. “The short trip of two kilometres can take up to two to three hours so comfort is essential. That is why we use automated gearboxes, which relieve my drivers from frequent gear shifting and fatigue.”

Another consideration that Mr. Tan always keeps in his mind is the effect to the environment. Mr. Tan is yet to be convinced that autonomous vehicles can address his business needs, as they are highly dependent on the maturity of infrastructure and connecting network, for instance, the Wi-Fi coverage.  However, he is among the early adopters of green technology buses. A few buses he purchased come with Euro V re-conditioned engines. Mr. Tan mentioned that the AdBlue supply is no issue as he has a supply from Singapore, where Volvo’s regional parts warehouse is located. While the emission standard in Malaysia remains at EURO III, the fuel he used is always the best available. Mr. Tan looks forward to switching to EURO V or VI engines when available. “I am waiting!” he emphasised.

Thanks to Asian Buses for the collaboration in developing this article