On Indian trucks, providing air-conditioners was unheard of until Volvo entered India. All Volvo trucks come with a factory fitted AC for the drivers. Since then Asia Motor Works, Ashok Leyland and Tata’s too have begun offering Driver-Cabin ACs as an option in their trucks.
The reason for providing AC in the driver’s cabin is not altruistic. It has sound business and economic reasons.
A truck in India does anything between 300kms and 400kms a day. Compare this to 600kms-1000kms abroad.The reason for this low mileage were many – poor road conditions, overloading, long waits at multiple checkpoints and driver fatigue.
As road conditions have improved one bottleneck has been removed. Also governments have begun improving the efficiency of checkpoints- Gujarat abolishing Octroi and, Kerala improving their checkpoints are two examples.
Laws are being made, in some states to punish overloading even more severely. As bottlenecks are removed, driver fatigue would become the proverbial weak link in the chain.
Air conditioned cabs and ergonomically designed cabs become important to reduce driver fatigue . As driver tiredness and stress is reduced, the necessity for stops is reduced enabling longer distances to be covered.More importantly, it improves safety. Thus with AC cabins, trucks can cover ~600kms per
day. And they are safer.
Capital assets like locomotives, wagons, aircrafts and ships have to keep moving and earning. Airlines constantly endeavour to turnaround aircrafts at gates in as short a time as possible.
Southwest airlines turns around aircrafts in 20 minutes versus 45-60 minutes of other airlines .Airlines use aircraft flying hours per day to measure how effectively they use their aircrafts.
The Railways are measured on NTKM/day[ Nett Tonne kilometres per day] and GTKM/day[ Gross Tonne kilometres per day] which measures the revenue the assets of the Railways has earned per day.
Similarly the railways measures wagon productivity as wagon turnaround time. These measures are influenced by the hours the asset,locomotives and wagons are on the move.
Similarly for ships; they are measured by the revenue they earn everyday; Revenue per vessel per day or Revenue per DWT per day. That is why shipping lines charge a congestion
charges whenever the waiting time in Ports increases. This is to compensate for the loss in revenue.
So AC cabins and ergonomic design of the driving console not only keep the drivers happy, stress-free and fatigue-free and reduces attrition but also makes great business sense!