The power of passion

In common with many who migrate to this country, Nemanja Miletic, Product Manager Asia-Pacific (APAC) at SAF-Holland, has covered a lot of ground with his Aussie career path in a relatively short time.

After moving with his family to Australia in 2002, Nemanja’s first taste of the Australian transport industry was with Hendrickson where he was employed as Design Engineer.

“I started on a “work experience” contract and stayed for four years,” he laughs. “Hendrickson was a good place to learn as there is a test lab where we could check our designs on a test rig.”

With a yearning to learn more about trucks in Australia, he moved to IVECO as Special Applications Engineer, where “… I learnt a lot about everything and anything that is not from the catalogue.”

In 2008, Nemanja seized an opportunity to join SAF-Holland in the role of Chief Engineer. Then five years ago he relocated to the parent company in Germany, returning last year to become Product Manager for the APAC region and Engineering Manager for Australia.

As for other achievements, he’s particularly proud of his efforts that led to a change in venue of the TMC (Technical & Maintenance Conference) to ACE (Automotive Centre of Excellence – Kangan Institute) at Melbourne’s Docklands.

“SAF-Holland was sponsoring the Institute and we provided two full trailers with all options of couplings, brakes, EBS systems – something that would never hit the road, but was a precious tool in educating young mechanics to experience the ‘real stuff’ in real environment,” he says.

“When I saw the facilities and understood the potential, the penny dropped and I organised a meeting between Rob Perkins, David Coonan, Steve Power, Bob Woodward and ACE representatives who all agreed to give it a go. That was in 2012 and last year we had the best-ever TMC at ACE, with over 500 delegates attending.”

Asked about his most memorable moments, Nemanja says spending time and sharing ideas while ‘working’ in the pit at McArthur River (NT) with Brownie, legendary mechanic at Road Trains of Australia, is right up there.

“We were replacing some pivot bushes on SAF Intradisc axles and we had some issues with the new bushes spinning in the receptor during the installation. Brownie said ‘you’re an engineer, why are they spinning?’

“I didn’t have any good answer at the time, so I tried to make a joke and said, ‘They’re spinning because you are using the Hendrickson tool’ (that was the common one used in the industry).

“He didn’t laugh and I still remember the expression on his face. However, we changed the tool to the SAF one that I secretly modified. I put a thrust bearing behind the nut and the bushes were starting and pulling in smoothly and in the right position.

“After dinner and a few beers, I told him what I’d done and we were laughing and, again, I still remember the expression on his face.”

Industry Icon
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers. Industry Icon is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of the commercial road transport industry.

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