Raiffeisen bio-fuels: do not just drive goods from A to B
What soft skills does a pellet driver need? What do they require technically? Is it enough to drive the goods from A to B, or should they themselves be a pelletspecialist? Raiffeisen Bio-Brennstoffe GmbH employs seven drivers who deliver the goods to customers in a total of six trucks. Oliver Korting, Managing Director of Raiffeisen Bio-Brennstoffe GmbH, explained the tasks of a pellet driver in an interview.
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- Andreas Wrana is one of the seven pellet drivers for Raiffeisen Bio-Brennstoffe GmbH.
What must the driver do in order to be able to drive and operate a pellet lorry?
Korting: Before we employ a new driver, they first receive the basics from us about what they will be driving: wood pellets. This task is generally carried out by our quality manager, Martin Kuhmann. A newly employed driver is trained by an experienced pellet driver, this means that they drive with them to the pellet plants, the various warehouses and to our customers for two to three weeks. We call it "learning by doing". But even the "oldies" never stop learning. We drive modern vehicles, automotive and outlet engineering is always improving. If a new vehicle comes into use, the driving staff is professionally introduced to the automotive engineering and operation. Trained personnel is part of our company philosophy.
What expertise does a pellet driver need?
Korting: Prior to loading, the deposit must be examined by the driver each and every time. There are various types of storage facilities: earth bunkers, sack silos and storage rooms on the premises. Depending on the type of storage and removal, the driver must assess with what pressure and air flow they are to blow in the pellets. Fundamentally the pellets must be blown in as carefully as possible. Important details such as the type of bunker, residual amount, feeding system, hose length, pressure, blow in time and much more are determined by the driver in one supply protocol. There is a brochure by DEPV and DEPI, "Recommendations for storing wood pellets", the driver is to know this inside and out. It is a great help. If the driver determines errors in the supply line or in the warehouse conditions, they are able to advise with their expertise.
What is the noble art of careful blowing in?
Korting: With their experience and regular training, the drivers know exactly how they can best blow the wood pellets into the storage facility.
What provisions are there to become a pellet driver? Are there example provisions or minimum qualifications?
Korting: Basically they require those required of all truck drivers: driver's licence, driver card and in accordance with the Occupation Driver's Qualification Act the corresponding driver module, which is constantly refreshed through external training. However, we require more of our drivers: they must be friendly to the customer, knowledgeable and provide advice. The driver is a representative of our company.
What is their daily work routine?
Korting: Our trucks are kept at our warehouse locations, it is here that our drivers begin work. The driver takes all of the required paperwork/transport orders from the printer in the warehouse. The vehicles are already partially pre-loaded. After the driver has completed an all-round check of the vehicle, they can drive off. The truck's navigation device is already programmed by the disposition with all of the customers' details. It is at this point that the driver also obtains any additional information for respective customers, such as "approach only possible without trailer" or similar. With our seven warehouse locations, we are really close to the customer and are therefore able to ensure quick delivery.
What is the job market situation? Are there enough suitable drivers?
Korting: It is not easy to find suitable drivers. The pellet driver is the flagship of the company, he is the person who has direct contact with the customer. It is not only driving personnel that we are looking for to drive the goods from A to B, they also need to have the correct demeanour with the customer and be someone who understands the trade. Due to the constant expansion of the wood pellet market, ever more drivers are required in this field.
How do you train your own drivers?
Korting: Internally by our own quality manager at least twice a year and additionally externally by the DEPI. With our cooperation partners, we get a good number of drivers together for the external training. At the most recent training, there were approx. 20 people. Here we also place a lot of value on the exchange of experience between the drivers.
What are the most frequent customer questions placed to the drivers?
Korting: Our drivers are most frequently asked: Where do the pellets originate from? With what pressure do you blow them in? Where do you keep the vacuumed dust? What standard do you deliver? Can you explain the difference between the individual pellet varieties, for example between hardwood and softwood pellets? They need to know it all.