Inside View

“I Grew Up With Machines”

Alfons Riel, Commercial Vehicle Expert from Neumarkt, in Upper Palatinate, Germany

Photos Constantin Mirbach

“I’ve been inspecting vehicles for TÜV SÜD such as tractors, excavators, cranes, cars and trucks for more than three decades. I’ve never been bored at my job. This is mainly due to the fact that every vehicle is different and new models are always being added to the mix. For almost half of my working life, I’ve been managing the vehicle fleet of Max Bögl, a construction company. This means that I inspect more than 2,000 cars, 650 utility vehicles and a variety of transporters, backhoes and wheel loaders. At times I deal with giant trucks, heavy-duty components and machines.

The trucks that I inspect sometimes transport structural elements weighing up to 200 tons, for a total weight of up to 250 tons including the trailer. This means a lot of hard work for the brakes, wheel bearings and shock absorbers. That’s why I take an especially close look at these components. Nothing can be out of alignment or worn out, because with up to seventy meters of total length per truck/trailer combination, it would be unthinkable what could happen if the brakes failed or something started to slip.

Even with weights like these, we never go over twelve tons of axle load. If the total weight exceeds more than one hundred tons, before starting the transport we also check that it complies with the relevant special permit and make sure that the cargo is secure. The Max Bögl premises has its own on-site inspection hall, where I have a small office of my own. There’s a special test stand, where it’s no problem at all to inspect heavy-load modules with up to eight tires per axle or mobile cranes.

This job is ideal for me. I grew up on a farm, have my own wheel loader and use it to manage a small section of forest. Even as a little boy, I was around tractors and construction machinery all the time. I grew up with machines, more or less. But my job isn’t a good match for sensitive souls. The construction vehicles aren’t always clean but instead are covered sometimes in slush, grime, grease and oil. When the weather’s bad, it all drips down onto me when I’m underneath the vehicle inspecting it. My overalls are almost never clean after work.”




The trucks at Max Bögl are serviced and repaired in the company’s on-site garage before they head out to construction sites throughout Germany and Europe.