Technology! Technology! Technology!

Insights into the OMNIplus ExpertHandling Training course.

The next generation of the Setra ComfortClass 500 sets standards in technology, comfort and safety. However, it takes expertise to know how to use the fascinating systems on board. Ideally with the OMNIplus ExpertHandling Training course.

09:00 sharp in Neu-Ulm, at the OMNIplus TrainingCenter, the service brand of Daimler Buses. A dozen drivers from Karlsruhe-based Hirsch Reisen have gathered for the occasion.

The touring coach company from Karlsruhe is known for its high-end cultural trips and for its state-of-the-art touring coach fleet: in spring, the company completely replaced its fleet of four Setra ComfortClass S 515 HD vehicles with next-generation models. “This means that every driver is capable of getting behind the wheel of every touring coach in the fleet,” says Andreas Hirsch, managing partner, explaining the advantages of having a fleet made up of a single model of vehicle.

A dozen of inquisitive Hirsch Reisen drivers came over from Karlsruhe – here with OMNIplus Training Manager Nils Ungericht (on the left).

The new fleet is equipped with high-end features that are comfortable and safe above all. Andreas Hirsch has booked ExpertHandling Training at OMNIplus for his team so that his full-time drivers and their colleagues can make use of the maximum capabilities of the new generation of Setra touring coaches.

The training programme focuses on the assistance systems. It is mandatory in order to align with the German Professional Driver Qualification Act (BKrFQG). Even handier is the fact that the twelve drivers complete the driver training with a recently acquired touring coach.

Hirsch Reisen staff brought the training vehicle along to the driver training course: a brand new Setra S 515 HD.

Bringing the transfer of knowledge to life.
Training begins with the theory part. Nils Ungericht, DriverTraining Coordinator at OMNIplus, showcases the new features relating to the operation of the next-generation ComfortClass 500.

The agenda includes the Active Brake Assist 5 emergency braking assistant, the electronic parking brake, details about the functionality and how to configure Predictive Powertrain Control as well as Active Drive Assist 2. The trainer also explains the emergency system, involving the touring coach automatically braking within the lane and coming to a standstill in the event that the driver is unable to manoeuvre.

Valuable hands-on tips.
Nils Ungericht has all the tips and knows all the tricks. How to start the Setra if the key battery is flat. Or that it's better to stop any particulate filter regeneration should the high-decker be approaching a tunnel secured by a thermal imaging camera. This is because the camera reacts sensitively to the exhaust gas aftertreatment box, which reaches around 500 degrees Celsius, thus forcing the vehicle to stop with the help of road signs.

Even experienced drivers learn something new. The drivers can tell that Ungericht speaks their language and knows what they go through every day. Participants follow the presentation attentively and ask inquisitive questions. No-one drifts off or checks their smart phones.

Unusual insights and perspectives.
Touring coach drivers need to know how to resolve issues on the road themselves. At the special request of touring coach operator Andreas Hirsch, Nils Ungericht demonstrates where the supports for the jacks are on a raised touring coach. Anyone making a mistake at this stage, even if it's the breakdown assistance service staff, can cause considerable damage.

Then it’s time for small groups of participants to take turns and get behind the wheel of the company's own high-decker. Experienced drivers will be familiar with many of the controls from the previous version of the S 515 HD.

In this session, head coach Nils Ungericht once again shares some practical recommendations. How to switch off the transmission's crawler mode when stuck in long traffic jams involving plenty of stop and go to protect the clutch of the fully automated transmission. And that the SOS light switch for activating all interior lighting is not only helpful in the event of a potential passenger compartment evacuation, but also when driver's inspect the vehicle interior in the evenings, after a day's hard graft.

Nils Ungericht shows participants the cockpit display menus and takes them for a tour around the outside of the Setra. He demonstrates at the front that in a Setra you can use the spare wheel to open the central locking system for the boot lids in an emergency. And he shows the fuel pump button at the rear, in case the line needs bleeding.

Out on the road they go!
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty: after the theory session and a thorough tour of the new high-decker, it’s time to head out onto the road. The programme includes trying out new and revolutionary assistance systems, such as Predictive Powertrain Control and Active Drive Assist 2.

One of the drivers takes a seat at the wheel. The others make themselves feel at home on the passenger seats, while Nils Ungericht uses his experience to do the coaching. A driver walks along the centre aisle towards the front: “Well, I can't really believe what all the fuss is about yet”, he says. Minutes later, he returns with a sparkle in his eyes and turns to a colleague: "You have to come to the front, that’s technology! Technology! Technology!"

What he is referring to is the range of assistance systems that no support him in doing his job. Moving smoothly around roundabouts with support from Predictive Powertrain Control. Stress-free over wide arterial roads with the assistance of Active Drive Assist 2.

Back to base along the motorway: at dusk, Hirsch Reisen's Setra heads back to Karlsruhe after a long day packed with training content. Thunder and lightning over Stuttgart beckons to the group as they drive past, just like the thoughts flashing through their minds.

Drivers have arranged to swap duties along the route so that as many of them as possible can try out the new systems with the active support of their colleagues on the basis of what they have all just learnt. It's plain to see: after the ExpertHandling Training we have gained a few more experts at the wheel of the new Setra ComfortClass 500.

This is what Hirsch Reisen’s professional drivers had to say about OMNIplus ExpertHandling Training.

"Nothing beats a Setra, these are the most reliable touring coaches. Training is important because I want to familiarise myself with the new technology." - Wolfgang Behrends, coach driver at Hirsch Reisen
"I really love driving a Setra. As a result of the new assistance systems, this training course is very important." - Klaus Schalk, coach driver at Hirsch Reisen
"You have to be able to handle the new assistance systems. Suddenly there are systems that lead the way. This results an even more forward-looking driving style." - Frank Baumgärtner, coach driver at Hirsch Reisen
"The Setra ComfortClass boasts some really great technology. Driver and vehicle must form one unit. The OMNIplus training course is very helpful in this respect, I am very pleased about it." - Rocco Pflugbeil, coach driver at Hirsch Reisen
"The new technology takes some getting used to at first, you have to know how it works. Training helps to get on top of things. The result is an even more cautious driving style." - Harald Ludwig, coach driver at Hirsch Reisen
Daimler Buses GmbH OMNIplus