This is what Husni Suwandhi answers when asked why he is still active in environmental protection in his retirement. In fact, this topic has always been close to his heart. During his more than 30-year career at Daimler, he has been part of the environment working group. And even today, the German-Indonesian is full of ideas.
Mr. Suwandhi, for many years you worked in the Trucks division of Daimler (international projects). Furthermore, you were also involved in the Environment Working Group on a voluntary basis. Which project do you remember most?
It is difficult to put a single project in the center. What made our working group so special was precisely the variety of projects. The photovoltaic system on the roof of the newly built powertrain factory in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt, for instance. Installed in 1996, it was the largest building-integrated photovoltaic system in Europe at the time. It was awarded the EuroSolar prize. Or the battery charging station for electric bicycles, which we installed at the plant gate in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. And our relief actions for children in Chernobyl and SOS-Kinderdorf e.V., of course.
You come from Indonesia. How do Germany and Indonesia differ in terms of environmental protection?
In many ways. Germans already have a much greater awareness of waste separation, for example with the yellow bag. There is still a lot to do in Indonesia.
On a website of yours you discuss possibilities how to make road traffic more environmentally friendly without high costs or great effort. What’s your goal?
Many say that environmental protection is expensive. I believe we can protect the environment almost without cost – by improving traffic management or applying simple technical solutions. My aim is to collect and publish ideas, and to put the best, feasible ideas into practice. Having no access to the idea management of Daimler AG anymore as I am retired, I have created my own website.
Do you have a few examples of such ideas?
I still remember: In the Mercedesstrasse in front of the Untertürkheim Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart, there was always a huge traffic chaos before the first shift in the morning. Why? The parking spaces on both sides of the road are arranged at right angles to the road. Now if some parking spaces are occupied, it becomes quite confusing: you cannot see the free gaps immediately. Therefore, everyone drives slowly. Moreover, when parking, many people shunt two or three times back and forth until they are standing correctly in their parking space. Additionally, they all want to park backwards, so that they jet right off when they come back from work. If the parking spaces were arranged at a smaller angle to the road in the direction of travel, this idea would not even come to mind. You would automatically park forward - and have a much better overview. The result: Fewer cars waiting, less start-stop, fewer emissions.
That seems reasonable. Can you tell us another idea?
Another example are taxi stops. These are still mainly built at existing infrastructures such as train stations or existing roads. The problem is that approximately every five minutes all the taxis in the row have to start the engine to move five meters forward to catch up to the taxi in front of them. This causes a considerable amount of fuel consumption. The solution to the problem is quite simple: Taxi stops could be aligned according to the gradient of the road, for example at a slightly sloping spot. Alternatively, slight declines could be planned during construction. In such as case, the vehicles would only have to roll down.
These are all just small ideas. But if we implement many of these, we can significantly reduce CO2 emissions and thus also make a contribution to the environment.
Why is the topic of environmental protection so important to you?
I have always been interested in environmental issues of all kinds, but due to my job I am particularly interested in such in the context of the automotive industry and transport. I think it is important, however, not only to think of my own generation: as a father, I want my grandchildren to be able to grow up in a healthy environment, because the environment belongs to us all.
The biggest environmental problem for me right now...
"… is that there is no concrete solution in sight for many of the problems we face."
I do volunteer work because...
"… I also think of poor people on the other side of the world and I am convinced of the "Sustainable Development Goals."
If I had one wish, then...
"… I would expand my website and offer it worldwide in different languages, so that as many people as possible could take part in collecting, evaluating and implementing ideas."