Following an intense final round of the global 2022 Gemba Challenge, the Australian UD Trucks team, Night Riders, has finished up in second place.
The Gemba Challenge is an annual UD Trucks global technician competition to test and challenge UD staff and to recognise and celebrate their talent – and last month, the Gemba Challenge final took place in the home of UD Trucks, Ageo, Japan.
Gemba loosely translates to “where value is created.”
Australia’s two finalist teams, the Night Riders (VCV Brisbane North) and the CLASSICS (VCV Sydney Prestons), battled through six demanding workshop and theory-based challenges for a top spot in the competition.
UD Trucks Australia says it was an impressive effort from both teams and an outstanding result for the Night Riders that placed second overall, less than a point behind Team Japan who took out first place.
This result comes after two rigorous rounds of competition on Australian turf, that originally brought together 46 teams across the country, comprising of 164 frontline UD dealership and workshop staff.
The Night Riders and the CLASSICS were among the 12 teams that qualified for the final out of 587 global contending teams at the start of the competition.
The Night Riders team featured The Night Riders participants Deo Ajeet Pracheel as the team leader, Simon Nendick, Jeremy Corfield and Nitesh Chand.
Making up the CLASSICS team were Adam Rich as team leader, Sridhar Babu Kantamneni, Mitchell Pluimers-Black and Govanni Defrancesco.
UD Trucks Australia says Night Riders, who were a wildcard qualifier for the final round, displayed impressive teamwork, skill and passion throughout the competition. Coining their team name from working the night shift at VCV Brisbane North, the Night Riders have provided strong levels of support to VCV, servicing customers night in and night out and have been recognised for their consistent performance all year round.
When reflecting on the Night Riders’ Gemba Challenge experience, VCV Brisbane North dealer manager, Craig Costello, said that the initial rounds of the competition were challenging as expected and that the opportunity to compete in the final in Japan initially came as a shock to the team but was extremely well received. The team also had several discussions and group activities during the Gemba Challenge to build team strength and cohesion.
“In these sessions we further got to recognise the team’s individual skills and got to know each other personally, which I feel was essential to the results in the final round of the competition,” said Costello.
“The team regards the Gemba Challenge as a professional display of their talent and skills they use in their roles on a daily basis and given the opportunity to show examples of this was rewarding and memorable. Particularly in being recognised by UD Japan, Gemba officials, global market leaders and fellow Gemba Challenge contenders.”
The Night Riders had a particularly unique team makeup, from a third-year apprentice to a tradesman with 30 years-experience. It was also the team’s first time participating in the Gemba Challenge, making their second-place result even more impressive.
The CLASSICS were also strong contenders throughout the competition and managed to maintain a solid performance throughout.
According to UD Trucks Australia, the Gemba Challenge results were a testament to the heavy investment UD Trucks has put into hands-on training and support for UD technicians over the years.
“The teamwork, dedication and skill we’ve seen from our Australian teams in the Gemba Challenge final is a testament to their Gemba Spirit and the passion that drives them to go the extra mile for our customers,” said Richard Singer, vice president services and retail development, Volvo Group Australia.
“Getting as far as the finals is an achievement in itself, but to have of our teams there and our Night Riders place second on the global stage behind team Japan is an incredible result. We are exceptionally proud of both our finalist teams, as well as all our Australian teams that have competed in the Gemba Challenge this year. Having our dealerships backed by such capable and professional staff is key to our customer success.
“I congratulate all the teams that have participated in this year’s competition and look forward to seeing our teams back in action in 2024 for the next Gemba Challenge.”