Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Diesel News wishes you all a Merry Christmas! We send these greetings with a positive image of trucks and trucking. OK, it is an ad for Coke but at least the sentiment is seasonal and the truck is in Australia.


Taking the truck to rural areas is a great idea, going to areas where the entire community knows it is dependant on the trucks working on their highways.


Merry Christmas!

Christmas is Here!

Christmas is Here!

Christmas is here and with all of the bad news around trucks and Christmas, coming out of Berlin, it is our job to show the positive side of the relationship between truck and the community. This is an annual parade, which takes place in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada,. Local truckies cover their trucks with lights and parade through the town in the lead up to the festive season.


Here’s a longer video of the same parade:


Of course, Cocal Cola probably started the craze with its Christmas truck ads:


Here are a couple of videos of Coca Cola trucks in Christmas crowds, the centre of attention.

In Rumania:


And in Birmingham, in the UK:



Merry Christmas To All!

It’s that time of year again, when we get all sentimental and the TV is full of snow, reindeer and men in red suits. It would seem it also the time for red Coca Cola trucks to appear around the world and bring joy and good cheer to the people of the world (we won’t mention dental problems and obesity).


From the videos it also looks like this is the time of year when communities which would normally protest and complain about more trucks driving on their suburban streets, welcome trucks into their midst with open arms. Perhaps the trucking industry needs to paint all of its trucks red and cover them in fairy lights in order to last mile access!


Merry Christmas to all of our readers, from the team at Diesel News!


Christmas boost for transport jobs

Strong growth in employment in some segments of the transport and logistics sector has been highlighted by Labourforce’s Index of Jobs in Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain. According to the survey Victoria recorded a high growth in jobs, at 6.2 per cent. At the same time, there was a 6 per cent fall in Queensland, admittedly from a high base after performing well in the third quarter.




NSW was the weakest performing state across the transport and logistics sector, while at the other end of the spectrum, Western Australia has recorded up to 20 per cent growth in the last quarter. The overall picture saw a 3.4 per cent increase in demand for permanent employees in October.


As we come into the Christmas period demand for temporary staff rises to cope with the rush and, according to the Labourforce Index, demand for temporary and contract labour in transport and logistics was up 6.9 per cent in October.


While the surge in Christmas hiring is good news for industry workers, the healthy increase in demand for permanent staff is a bellwether for improvements in business confidence and hiring,” said Paul McLeay, spokesperson for the Labourforce Jobs Index.


Transport and logistics jobs growth continues to outperform the overall Australian labour market. The Labourforce Index rose 4.3 per cent to 118.75 in October 2014. Over the same period, the ANZ Job Advertisements Series for October 2014, recorded monthly growth of just 0.2 per cent in October.


Looking over the past six months, a 20.7 per cent increase in the transport and logistics jobs market has been possible, despite what was a slow start to the year.


The data is telling us a story of Victoria setting the pace for the rest of the country, with 22 per cent of the new jobs across all sectors,” said McLeay. “Factors, such as the net impact of a fall in manufacturing demand offset by growth in construction and retail, saw NSW’s share fall to 30.6. Queensland is holding its ground, with a 19.2 per cent share, while Western Australia upped its market share to 18.5 per cent.”


Merry Christmas from the Diesel team

It’s been a long year and it’s nearly Christmas so from the team of Diesel we wish you a merry festive season and a happy new year. This will be the last Diesel post for 2013 but we look forward to bringing you more news next year.

Bring Back the Clutch


On one of the new models from Scania, the Swedish truck maker has decided to bring back the clutch. Man cannot live on prime mover sales alone – even if they do represent a massive chunk of the new truck market up here. As part of it whole range change, Scania have filled in the remaining gaps in its New Generation line-up.


Bring Back the Clutch


One new set of models is the new construction range badged as the ‘XT’, which broke cover last September. The initials apparently stand for ‘extra tough’, and the models undoubtedly look the part, being a mixture of mission-matched drive-train components underneath new cabs, with an exterior and interior makeover that emphasises their off-road role.


At the XT’s launch, Scania declared it wanted to win more construction industry business. It now has the truck to do that with. The most obvious clue to the XT’s off-road heritage is its all-new steel bumper assembly, which sticks out 15cm from the front of the cab, shielding the lights and radiator behind it. Improved approach angles offer further under-run protection, while the reinforced ribbed housing around the rear-view mirrors should minimise the damage caused by those annoying ‘mirror-on-mirror’ encounters with a truck coming the other way on narrow roads.


Meanwhile, for all those drivers who still demand a clutch pedal, even on an auto box, the XT’s Opticruise automated gearbox can be ordered with the optional ‘Clutch on Demand’ function, which allows drivers to manually operate the clutch. Scania says that this if for those conditions where “it is beneficial to ‘feel’ the traction being laid down, for example, when manoeuvring on loose surfaces in demanding off-road situations.”


To use Clutch on Demand, you simply press down on the reinstated third pedal. Once you’ve done using it, Opticruise reverts back to full-auto mode, working as a ‘two-pedal’ box, including when stopping and moving off. Clutch on Demand can be ordered on any New Generation heavy, but XT’s off-road operating environment makes it the obvious candidate for fitment.


Interestingly, rival manufacturers seem perfectly happy fitting (only) two-pedal autos in their construction chassis, albeit with specific off-road programs, including a ‘rocking’ function. But then, unlike ZF’s AS-Tronic, Volvo’s I-Shift or Mercedes-Benz’s Powershift 3, Opticruise isn’t actually a ‘fully dedicated’ auto transmission. Rather, it’s a regular Scania manual synchromesh box that’s been automated. And although its competitors dispensed with a separate clutch pedal on their autos ages ago, Scania clung on to theirs until 2009 before finally creating a two-pedal version.


So bringing back a clutch pedal on Opticruise, particularly as an option on XT construction models, is somewhat intriguing. According to Scania, the decision follows customer requests. I’ll be interested to see how many UK operators specify it.


Bring Back the Clutch


At the same time as it launched the XT, Scania also rolled out the P-Series, its urban distribution range. Sporting the smallest cab in Scania’s ‘modular’ system, the P-Series is intended for high-street delivery work – in the UK, that means with those operators running two-axle 18-tonners or 26-tonne 6x2s. Likewise, a day-cabbed P-Series prime mover with a 300+hp engine under the hood is your archetypal 4×2 ‘supermarket trolley’. P-Series shares the same exterior and interior styling cues as its bigger siblings, only in a smaller package. An eight-seater crew cab completes the P-Series line-up.


Finally, just before Christmas, Scania finished the job, unveiling a low-entry chassis cab called the ‘L-Series’, which will compete head on with the Mercedes Benz Econic, Dennis Eagle and Volvo LEC. Although Scania previously offered a low-entry cab model (based on the old P-cab) it never made a song and dance about it. Clearly that’s all changed.


Bring Back the Clutch


The L-Series is the logical response to calls from within Europe, and especially the UK, for safer urban trucks that can provide their drivers with a better view of what’s going on around them, in order to avoid collisions with cyclists and pedestrians. Furthermore, the low-entry chassis gives Scania the perfect answer to Transport for London’s forthcoming Direct Vision Standard for heavy trucks working in the city, due to come into effect around 2020. (And it’s also being considered for those tendering for major infrastructure projects in Australia – Ed.)


As well as being an obvious platform for refuse-collection operations, the L-Series will also be offered to distribution, construction and waste-handling buyers. Its cab comes with a choice of three roof heights and, thanks to its standard front air suspension, the ability to kneel by 10cm at the kerbside, thereby reducing the cab floor height to just 80cm and the first step to only 44cm off the ground. The kneeling function operates when the park brake is applied.






Santa, Siemens, Streamlining and Peter Langworthy

Santa, Siemens, Streamlining and Peter Langworthy

There’s plenty of new technology in this week’s news plus more, including Santa, Siemens, Streamlining and Peter Langworthy.


Santa, Siemens, Streamlining and Peter Langworthy
Peter Langworthy.

Heavy Vehicle Industry Association (HVIA) President, Peter Langworthy, has chosen to step down from the HVIA Board. He has been President since October 2016 and a Director since 2015. Vice President Nathan Usher will fulfil all duties of the President until an Extraordinary General Meeting of members is scheduled by the Board.


HVIA Chief Executive Brett Wright said Langworthy’s contribution had been particularly valuable through the transition to a national association.


“Peter has been a generous contributor to our organisation and a wise counsel for many years,” said Wright. “We will greatly miss his passion, his strategic vision and his insightful perspective. More than any of that, he is a man of great character and integrity whom I’ve been honoured to work with. We all wish Peter the very best.”

 Santa, Siemens, Streamlining and Peter Langworthy

Santa in a Truck


After regular appearances elsewhere in the world the Coca-Cola Christmas truck is coming to Australia. The bright red, and highly illuminated, truck is to spend its time in the lead-up to the festive season traveling with the Salvation Army to a number of regional communities.


The cavalcade is to bring more than 580 people from Coke and The Salvos, celebrity guests and volunteers to three areas. The Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour has set off this week ready to deliver some festive cheer to regional Australian communities that need some extra love.


We’ve long been associated with the festive season and the joy it brings in the Northern Hemisphere, so we’re delighted to introduce it here with a uniquely Australian Christmas flavour,” said Lisa Winn, Coca-Cola Marketing Manager.

 Santa, Siemens, Streamlining and Peter Langworthy

Electric Roads in California


In the US, Siemens and the South Coast Air Quality Management District are conducting a one-mile, zero-emission eHighway demonstration in Carson, California, near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.


Three trucks hauling freight are running along the stretch of highway that uses Siemens technology to electrify select highway lanes via an overhead catenary system. This catenary system supplies the trucks with electric power, similar to how modern-day trolleys or streetcars are powered on many city streets, and the system also allows for truck operation outside of the electrified sections of infrastructure.

 Santa, Siemens, Streamlining and Peter Langworthy

Going with the Flow


XStream Trucking has launched, in the US, its aerodynamic device ‘TruckWings’ to address the gap between a prime mover and trailer when at highway speeds. The TruckWings’ design was developed through wind tunnel, track and road testing is automatically deploying large panels to cover the sides and top of the tractor-trailer gap.


The panels, made of high-impact, glass-reinforced composites, create a continuous connection between the truck and trailer so the air flows smoothly over the entire length of the truck. When the truck slows down, the panels retract without driver intervention, providing the necessary clearance for turns at any angle.


VW Group Investment


The Volkswagen truck group is reported to be set to spend $3.7 billion upgrading plants in Europe, Asia and Africa. 50 per cent of the spend will be on the main MAN plant in Munich, Germany. The pan is to build a major new cab paint shop plus improved research and development facilities. 

Scania P-Series, Zero-Emission Nikola, Automated Transmission Renault, WA Logistics Launch and New Iveco Dealer

Scania P-Series, Zero-Emission Nikola, Automated Transmission Renault, WA Logistics Launch and New Iveco Dealer

This week in Diesel News, we have Scania P-Series, Zero-Emission Nikola, Automated Transmission Renault, WA Logistics Launch and New Iveco Dealer.


Scania P-Series, Zero-Emission Nikola, Automated Transmission Renault, WA Logistics Launch and New Iveco Dealer

Scania Reveals P-series Cab and Updated Five-Cylinder Engines


Swedish original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Scania has revealed its new P-series rigid truck for European markets, coinciding with the launch of the XT Construction Truck range.

Scania has said that it will showcase six different P-cab variants including the “CP14L with a low roof – particularly suitable as a starting point to make room for highly productive and advanced bodywork that goes over the cab roof – to the CP20H for those wanting comfortable interior spaces, a lower weight and lower boarding steps, with a cab that is mounted lower in relation to the vehicle’s chassis.”

Scania Trucks Product Director – Construction,  Anders Lampinen, said: “While there isn’t evenly weighted demand for all the versions, for us at Scania it’s a matter of credibility to be able to offer the right variant for applications and requirements that are not so common, as well.

“The entire Scania philosophy of always being able to offer the best total operating economy, thanks to customised solutions for all applications, is based on the diversity and customer benefit provided by the Scania modular system.”

According to Scania, the P-series in Europe is mainly intended for customers who rarely stay overnight in their vehicles but who often climb in and out of them.

“A new P-series with a low roof has the same roof height as a P-series from the PGR generation, which of course provides compact outer dimensions, so it is good in environments where headroom is limited,” said Scania. “The new CP17N or CP20N provides a cab that has 10 centimetres more interior headroom than previous versions. This is consistent with all of Scania’s new generation cabs where interior space has increased.”

Scania P-Series, Zero-Emission Nikola, Automated Transmission Renault, WA Logistics Launch and New Iveco Dealer

Nikola Partners with Bosch on Zero Emission Prime Mover


US-based company Nikola Motor Company is aggressively targeting the electric vehicle market with a new partnership with Bosch to make its ‘zero local emission’ prime mover a reality.

Nikola revealed its truck lineup in December last year, and since revealed that the vehicles, dubbed ‘Nikola One’ and ‘Nikola Two’, will be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Now, the new partnership with Bosch will see it develop a new electric powertrain based on Bosch’s eAxle expertise.

Nikola One and Two aim to deliver more than 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 lb ft of torque – nearly double the horsepower of any semi-truck on the road, according to Nikola.

“We have been aggressively pursuing our goal of bringing the most advanced semi-truck ever built to market,” said Nikola Founder and CEO Trevor Milton.

“The powertrain requires an innovative and flexible partner able to adapt quickly to the speed of our team. Bosch has empowered us to come to market quickly with automotive-grade hardware and software so our vision can become a reality.”

The Bosch eAxle is a scalable, modular platform with the motor, power electronics and transmission in one compact unit that will be paired with the custom-designed hydrogen fuel cell and use commercial vehicle electric machine technology and SMG (separate motor generator) motors from Bosch.

Scania P-Series, Zero-Emission Nikola, Automated Transmission Renault, WA Logistics Launch and New Iveco Dealer

Renault Kangoo Diesel to Feature Auto Transmission


Renault Australia’s Light Commercial Vehicle division will introduce an automated transmission for the Kangoo diesel before the end of 2017.

The two-pedal turbo-diesel Kangoo will use a similar six-speed Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) automatic transmission as fitted to the 1.2-litre petrol-engine Kangoo, which was launched in Australia in February.

“We’ve been looking to add an auto diesel powertrain to the Kangoo range for a while now, and I’m pleased to say that the specification we want has now gone into production, and we should receive the first vehicles prior to Christmas,” said Lyndon Renault Australia LCV Senior Model Line Manager, Lyndon Healey.

The OEM has said that the six-speed EDC is an automatic dual dry clutch transmission and is the ideal gear for any driving condition, which is selected automatically by an Electronic Control Unit (ECU).

The Renault Kangoo diesel EDC will reportedly provide very smooth gear-shifting characteristics, with a shift time 290 milliseconds. The transmission’s ‘creep’ control has been designed to pull away gradually when the brake pedal is released. Also, the EDC transmission will offer Hill Start Assist as standard, ensuring safe starts on an incline when partnered with the creep control system.

The Kangoo EDC’s 81kW/240Nm of torque from the 1.5-litre diesel engine will feature an ECO Mode, cutting fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent, according to Renault Australia. When activated via a switch beside the handbrake, ECO Mode will adjust the management of the gearbox ECU, enabling gearshifts at lower revolutions per minute.

Scania P-Series, Zero-Emission Nikola, Automated Transmission Renault, WA Logistics Launch and New Iveco Dealer

GAC Australia Launches Logistics Service


GAC Australia has opened a new consolidation warehouse in Perth, marking its first foray into the logistics business, in parallel to its shipping services available at all Australian ports since 2007.

The opening of the new warehouse comes in response to growing demand for storage space and distribution services from a major client with operations in Western Australia. The facility is located in the new Swan Brewery Estate at Canning Vale, about 20km away from Perth International Airport and Fremantle Port, with easy access to transportation links through the major road network.

The 800m² facility features a 5m x 5m warehouse door and an 8.5m truss height, allowing trailing equipment to reverse into the facility for loading and unloading. Arriving goods are consolidated and packed into pallets before being distributed to domestic and international locations.

“Australia has significant quantities of discovered gas resources,” said Scott Henderson, GAC Australia’s Managing Director. “In Western Australia alone, resource projects and infrastructure in the pipeline amount to billions of dollars. It is home to many local and international companies servicing the oil and gas, as well as mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sectors, presenting plenty of opportunities for project logistics and warehousing services providers.

“Having established a strong foothold in the country’s shipping sector, we are now ready to expand our portfolio to provide logistics services, and Western Australia is an ideal launch pad for our logistics operations.”


Suttons Group Joins Forces with Iveco


Truck manufacturer Iveco has announced that Australian auto dealership company Suttons Group has assumed ownership of its largest New South Wales-based dealership, and is already well-progressed in consolidating its operations.

Iveco General Manager Daniel Glynn has said Suttons Motors identified some huge opportunities for the Iveco brand.

“Suttons Motors saw enormous potential in the Iveco product range,” Glynn said.

“With a model range spanning everything from passenger car licence vans and light trucks through to road train prime movers, we can offer a transport solution to anybody who walks through the dealership doors.

“We see a very bright future for this dealership and for Iveco as a whole, and we’re looking forward to working closely with Iveco Australia and more broadly with CNH Industrial, to take Iveco Sydney to the next level,” he said.

Iveco Sydney is located on the corner of Penelope Crescent and McCormack Street, Arndell Park.



Looking at the Rental Option

Looking at the Rental Option

In 2017, the attitude in the trucking industry with regard to truck leasing is improving; many operators are now looking at the rental option.

 Looking at the Rental Option

When Penske Truck Rental came into the Australian market a few years back the image of this part of the industry did not have the best reputation. However, according to Penske Truck Rental boss Adrian Beach, the market has improved and the offering to operators has improved accordingly.


In the past, rental trucks were a last-ditch option when all else had failed. Now, an improved image and improved rental fleet around the country means operators are looking seriously at truck rental as an option.


“A couple of companies who have, like ourselves, entered the market have brought in a little more professional attitude and culture around it,” says Adrian. “The daily hire trucks you see going down the road with the blue stripes on, that’s not really a good long-term solution. Initially, most of our customers rented for a day or two when their truck was in the workshop.


“Then it turned into situations like when the operator takes on a new driver and wants to see if they are any good before committing to a new truck. Our customers just seemed to find more and more reasons to use the hire fleet. We have some customers who deal with a large company like Woolworths, where they don’t have a long-term commitment on their contract; it could end at any day. They will run a rental truck until their customer gives a long-term commitment.


“When I look at our rental fleet now, I would say 50 per cent is on rental contracts of four months or longer and the rest of the rental fleet gets in-and-out action. One day here, two days there, it comes in, gets cleaned, undergoes a safety check and then goes back out there on the rental line.”


Some of the longer rentals are coming at peak seasons in areas where products like grain or sugar cane are being hauled for set periods. Christmas and Easter also create increased hire demand. Three- or six-month contracts are becoming popular for short-term tasks.


“We talk to a lot of customers who, when refreshing their fleet, would order new equipment and purchase it before their busy season, run with the full fleet, and then when that died out, sell off the oldest ones,” says Adrian. “At their busiest season, when their customers are most reliant upon their service, they have the oldest trucks in their fleet breaking down. Now, they don’t have to do that, The truck is sold when it needs to be and they pick up rentals trucks for their peak season needs.”


“With the daily rental, you are paying for that as a bit of a luxury,” says Adrian. “It includes registration, tyres, servicing, all of that. However, we do a lot of long-term fully maintained operating leases. If someone has a lot of trucks and wants to introduce this to their fleet, we will look at the application and put together a specific truck. We can customise it, it can be plain white or in full livery. Then we look at how many kilometres a year it will do, its maintenance, structure, its whole financing. We put together a lease term so by the time we are terminating the lease, it’s still a good truck and we can sell it for a good price. It looks better than other trucks on the market.


“In those situations, we can make it more cost effective than owning, because I am going to be able to buy that truck for less than a six- or seven-truck fleet owner is going to pay. I will have a plan to get out of that truck at just the right time and I have got in-house expertise to help me get the most out that truck.


“The deal puts our needs and operators needs in line. In normal ownership, when you go to the dealership, the dealer is happy when the truck rolls into his workshop, because he knows he’s going to make some money. We are the opposite, maintenance costs are built into a monthly payment, so it behooves me do as good a job as I can on preventative maintenance. The truck is best for me when it’s out on the road working.”


All of the trucks in the fleet are fitted with telematics and when the truck is out working, the maintenance schedule is fine tuned to cater for the actual work the truck is doing. Intervals can be extended or reduced to ensure consistent performance and minimise downtime. The more data you have the better the preventative maintenance will be. 

Ravaglioli Commercial Vehicle Wireless Mobile Column Lifts

Technicians Needed

Just like in any other workshop, high-quality technicians are needed to run a small commercial vehicle workshop designed to cater for vans. It brings a different set of issues to the workshop manager and Diesel News talked to a busy facility in central Melbourne handling Renault vans.


Technicians Needed

Essendon Renault is one of the biggest Renault dealers in Australia and the top seller of commercial vehicles for the French brand. As a result of the growth in van sales for the operation over the past ten years, the decision was made to set up a workshop dedicated to handling work for the commercial vehicles customers the company now had on its books.

The facility is the only stand-alone Renault commercial vehicle service centre in Australia. Many of the Renault dealers around Australia sell the commercial range but by being specialists, Essendon Renault is finding vans sold by other dealers are ending up in its workshop due to the level of specialisation possible with a specifically designed workshop.

In a typical month, the workshop will see over 400 vans coming through the workshop facility in one way or another. There are about 13 vans a day getting serviced, on top of the normal flow of pre-delivery work, which has been boosted by a large hire fleet order working its way through the system.

This work is handled by five technicians, with another two in the pipeline to cope with growing demand for the company’s workshop services. Renault runs an apprentice programme, with one of the technicians currently going though the process. They get one week a month in the classroom.

The other techs run through new product training, technical updates, plus Renault technical meetings quarterly for the highest grade of technician. Service advisors get a series of training workshops during the year.

A further two top technicians are sponsored through a Renault initiative, they come from Saudi Arabia, and bring over thirty years’ experience in the product. This is valuable for working on a range that has only been available here for limited period of time.

The six hoists and one diagnostic bays are able to cope with the workflow, but Nick Calvert, Essendon Renault After Sales Manager, does admit to needing ‘half a hoist more’ sometimes. With such a large building there will always be plenty of room for growth and more bays will be added, as and when required. The wash bay is designed to be portable and can be moved to free up more space for extra bays.

In the Essendon Renault business, vans represent over 45 per cent of sales, and over 50 per cent of all servicing work. The van work is turning out to be quite seasonal, with minimal servicing work in the lead-up to Christmas, during the delivery rush. The team doubles to cope with the rush of work in January. The operation has realised the commercial vehicle side of the equation is growing and has reset the business to concentrate on vans as sales continue to be strong.

“We have found a lot of vans are being used to replace small Japanese trucks,” says Nick. “We are doing a lot of fridge conversions on them for people doing country runs in the morning. One of our customers does about 15,000km per month. He’s doing Bacchus Marsh to Lorne and back, twice a day. We see him every two months for a service and he’s already up to 240,000km.”

Essendon Renault became a Pro+ dealer in 2015, in order to reach this grade the operation has to demonstrate a commitment to customer service and quality assurance. The servicing side of the process requires a dedicated team to proactively keep standards high. There is an auditing regime from Renault to ensure dealers continue to meet the strict criteria.

Remain Vigilant

Trying to Stay Positive

Next Year, we here at Diesel News will be trying to stay positive, despite evidence to the contrary. The only way to go into a New Year is to remain optimistic and work to make it a better year than the last.

This is a tough time of year in the trucking industry. Christmas can’t come soon enough as the pre-Christmas rush pushes so many operations to their limits. The hungry beast, which is consumer demand for goods at this time of year, is insatiable and wants new stock delivered right up to and through the holiday period.

With everyone in the operation pushed to the limit, trucking is trying to get everything delivered before the day and also trying to ensure as many people as possible get a decent Christmas break. I remember, myself, arriving home at 5.15 am on Christmas day, simply because the department which pressed the button to release an order early on Christmas Eve, decided to go out for festive drinks and forgot about my load.

After finally getting loaded in the evening and hitting the road for home, after three weeks away, I got into bed, closed my eyes and immediately got woken up by a seven year old and a five year old wanting to start opening presents. So many people working in trucking will have similar stories to tell, and worse.

As a result, this time of year is stressful and rushed, we are all fatigued. In this state, it’s difficult to get excited and optimistic about anything, apart from rest and recreation. However, we do have to look ahead and it is always better to go into the New Year with a bright outlook.

The situation is much better than last year. Although the penny hadn’t dropped for most people, the RSRT Determination and all of its consequences was already on the books, this week last year, and preparing to hit the owner drivers and small fleets hard in March. Those problems have gone away to a large extent, but the TWU is still chipping away at the issue, especially in NSW.

As a whole, 2016 has seen progress on many fronts, all of which should be of benefit to the trucking community. There is more access agreements in place, more PBS trucks on the road, the prospect of more consistency in roadside checks in view and some form of roadworthiness regime, we can all live with, on the cards.

On the wider scale, the lean times seem to be easing off a bit for many operators. The prolonged plateauing of economic activity is showing signs of an uptick in a number of areas. Heavy duty truck sales have increased in the last couple of months, a sure sign something is in the wind. We can also take heart from how the trucking industry pulled together to fight the RSRT and get a result.

So let’s hope all of our dreams come true, or, rather more pragmatically, progress is made for trucking in the coming twelve months. This just leaves me to say a Merry Christmas to you readers and, All the Best in the New Year!

Getting the Wheel End Right

Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads

Topics covered this week in Diesel News include Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads, as the year comes to a close.

Proposals to increase the enforcement and investigative powers for State and Territory law enforcement must come with ongoing training for law enforcement officers, according to NatRoad in its submission to the National Transport Commission.

Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads

“The road transport industry throughout Australia already struggles with inconsistencies in how law enforcement officers interpret the prescriptive and complex  National Heavy Vehicle Law,” said Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO. “The intent of the proposed new powers is an important step to improving safety, particularly where evidence gathering could reveal early trends in a driver’s record or a business operations that could be leading towards a serious incident.

“Yet the proposed new power to investigate drivers and businesses raise a number of privacy issues  for businesses and individuals which need further consideration. In particular law enforcement officers should issue warnings to drivers and operators about their rights before exercising coercive powers.”

The sentiment was echoed in the Submission from the Australian Trucking Association, calling for investigative powers in the national truck law to be simplified and streamlined. ATA Chair, Noelene Watson released the ATA’s submission to the NTC review of the investigative and enforcement powers in the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads

“In the ATA’s view, the inconsistent investigative powers in the law will inevitably lead to confusion and challenges to the admissibility of evidence,” said Watson. “The problems created by these inconsistencies will only come to light fully when an injustice is done to someone in the industry or a prosecution fails because of technical legal issues. Neither outcome is acceptable to the ATA, so it needs to be fixed now.

“Our submission recommends that the information gathering powers in the HVNL should be simplified and streamlined. In addition, we recommend that all of the investigative powers in the law should be subject to a codified warning provision.”

Trucking operators can vote for their representatives on the General Council of the ATA in 2017. Owner drivers and the operators of small trucking fleets will go to the polls in early 2017 to elect two representatives on the General Council, one for owner/drivers and the other for small fleets.

Voter registrations will open January 18 2017 and candidate nominations will open on 25 January 2017. Nominations and voter registrations will both close on 22 February 2017.

“The ATA Council debates and sets our strategic policy direction, dealing with issues that impact our industry’s safety, professionalism and viability,” said Noelene Watson. “This election gives owner drivers and small fleet operators the opportunity to have a direct say in who will represent them and their issues on the ATA Council.”

To register to vote in the election, you must own, be purchasing or leasing 1-5 trucks over 4.5 tonnes. You will also need to provide a valid ABN and an email address that is unique to you. To nominate for one the positions, you must be registered to vote in the ATA election and be a member of an ATA member organisation.

To nominate for the owner driver position, you must own, be purchasing or leasing one truck over 4.5 tonnes and drive it. To nominate for the small fleet position, you must own, be purchasing or leasing 2 to 5 trucks over 4.5 tonnes.

Enforcement, Elections and the State of Our Roads

The state of the roads in Australia has come under scrutiny  in the Australian Roads Assessment Program (AusRAP) report. This has identified the Western Motorway from Concord to the M7 in NSW as the worst stretch of road in Australia’s National Highway Network.

AusRAP is an analysis of almost 21,000 kilometres of the National Highway Network using ‘Risk Mapping’, which measures the crash history of a stretch of road over its traffic volumes. The analysis was conducted for crash statistics between 2010 and 2014. A total of 15,627 casualty crashes and 927 deaths occurred on the National Highway Network over that period.

The best performing stretch of road in NSW was the Sturt Highway from Wagga to Narrandera.

Alarmingly, two major Sydney roads featured in the top 10 with the Hume Highway from the South Western Motorway to Narellan Rd ranked third worst road in Australia.

Notably, upgrades to the motorway conducted by the Australian and NSW Governments since 2014 are expected to see its performance improve.

“In a year that has seen a horrific increase in the road toll it is perhaps fitting that this report was released in time for Christmas by the NRMA and our sister clubs across Australia,” said Peter Khoury, an NRMA Spokesperson. “Motorists in NSW can take heart from the results of this report, because of the top 10 worst highways in NSW most, such as the Pacific Highway, Western Motorway and Great Western Highway, have upgrades underway, which will improve the safety of these roads and save lives.”

More United and More Proactive

More United and More Proactive

Getting the industry more united and more proactive is the aim of Warren Clark in pushing forward the trucking agenda. Moving ahead with NatRoad is now the task for Clark, who took over as CEO at the Canberra HQ of the National Road Transport Association, better known as NatRoad last year.


More United and More Proactive


He could have expected a relatively smooth transition into the role. The period up to Christmas rarely holds many surprises in the halls of power of the nation’s capital. This was before the introduction of the RSRT, happily, now abolished.


Clark’s job now is to ensure the issue does not drop off the radar. Labor has indicated they will bring the RSRT back in, in some form. NatRoad will be working to build belief in a credible alternative.


“What NatRoad is going to do is reassess, proactively, what the genuine trucking operator needs and how it effects them,” said Clark. “We’re putting plans in place to give value to our members before it’s at a crisis point. More united and more proactive, with a better link to our grassroots and a greater link back to the politicians, to make sure, when legislation is being implemented, it has real input from industry.


“When these Senators stand up on the Senate floor, we want them fully informed. We are very conscious of how segregated the industry is and we are trying to unite it so these people don’t have to worry about things they have no control over. As an individual you have no control, but as a body we can control it for them.


“We are looking at improved safety through technology, facilities, training, education and communication. They are never going to go off the radar, but while the original fight was about safety, the underlying result is, are these guys still in business? We are going to branch off and look at things like unfair contracts, payment terms, waiting times, those sorts of things.”


In the period between the abolition of the RSRT and the Federal Election, NatRoad and other associations had the opportunity to look at where they stand, and who’s who in the zoo.


“I think we have learned who our friends are, we’ve worked out, groups who work for large organisations, who are pushing that barrel,” said Clark. “Well, we’re pushing the barrel of the owner/driver and the fleet operator for the betterment of the industry, not just a couple of big clients.


We are rebranding NatRoad, we’re making operators aware of how the system works. It’s a system which can work really well for them. They’re not just a number, they can be a voice and we have the best interests of industry at heart and we are going to push to get things done. If we can’t do it, we will push it up the tree to the Australian Trucking Association and they will be able to help.


“It is important to understand, industry can’t knock down everything which gets put up. At some stage, industry has to work with a few new things. This is where the NHVR is going. If we don’t accept genuine improvements then you will get new RSRTs all of the time. We need to get that across.”

Remain Vigilant

Knowledge is Power

The theme of this week’s NatRoad Conference is ‘Knowledge is Power’, one of those catchall types of phrase which can be interpreted many ways. In this particular case, the implication is clear. If the trucking industry learns one thing from 2016, it should be about keeping everyone in the industry informed.


One of the reasons the whole RSRT managed to slip under the radar and hit many in the industry by surprise at the last minute, in some cases, was because we are not very good at information in trucking. Rumour and misinformation abound in an industry used to working in isolation in thousands of separate silos.


We are not very good at talking to each other and even worse at passing on information when we get it. Such a diverse industry with thousands of operations from the massive nationals to the huge numbers of small mum-and-dad firms seem to be oblivious of each other.


Trucking people are used to working in small groups, where co-operation is mutually beneficial, but have a problem communicating their problems to a wider audience. This behaviour pattern has grown up over many years and will continue, unless we do something about it.


If everyone who was going to be affected by the last order put out by the RSRT had known what was happening in the week or so before Christmas, a lot of grief could have been avoided. Those in the know needed to get the message out to everyone and the possible channels of communication were limited.


Sitting in a meeting called by the Small Business Ombudsman and hearing how many operators only realised what was going on when they picked up something on Facebook in the lead up to the introduction of the order on April 4, was a bit of a wake up call.


We did demonstrate our power as a group, in the end. By the time the abolition became a definitive possibility the industry had mobilised, and anyone not aware of what was going on must have been living under a rock.


Happening in the early stages of an election campaign certainly helped. The politicians were particularly keen to get their faces out there on the TV saying something to get them back into Parliament. All of a sudden the truckie had lots of friends, who had never acknowledged them before.


As one of those channels of communication, we here at Diesel have to take our share of the blame. Could we have got the story out any better? Probably. Did we learn lessons about what it takes to talk to the trucking industry? We certainly did.


Knowledge is power, and we need to remember that when we communicate with each other. Passing on knowledge also imparts power to the receiver. If we can get talking to each other right, just think what the trucking industry could achieve together.

Talking Turkey About Trucking

Setting The Standard

We have a arrived at a fortunate moment in the development of a truly responsible trucking industry. There is an opportunity to make a real difference and change the paradigm in the way road transport is run and policed. Get it wrong and we will return to the dark ages, get it right and there can be some real gains.


The situation at the moment sees the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator with enough credibility with the Transport Ministers in the States and Canberra to be able to try and drive some real effective change. It has the momentum, for now, to get some of the recalcitrant states and their delaying tactics, put back in their box.


This window of opportunity is relatively small, anything could happen to delay the process and an anti-trucking government after the election could end any initiatives very quickly. However, window it is, there is an agreed-to consensus between the ministers and a process to which they have committed.


If the stars get aligned correctly, we could end up with a smorgasbord of delights. A national vehicle registration scheme, a national driving license, consistent testing standards across most of the country, a credible roadworthiness regime and , the holy grail, consistent roadside enforcement.


Now the chances of all of our christmases coming at once are pretty low, but if the ground is prepared carefully enough, and some reform momentum gets going, we could get some real results.


One of those opportunities to prepare the ground properly is the integration of accreditation schemes into a national context. The Australian Trucking Association is set to announce new accreditation standards for TruckSafe at its conference next month.


These have been developed to meet the criteria laid out by the NHVR as to what a credible road worthiness guarantee should look like. If the changes achieve their aim, then TruckSafe will finally achieve the standing in regulation it thought it had achieved nearly twenty years ago before being rebuffed and countered by the less comprehensive National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme.


Credibility is now in short supply for the NHVAS these days, since the Mona Vale crash, so now is the time to get into the picture with a credible parallel scheme to run alongside whatever the NHVAS morphs into during the current reform process.


This is the opportunity for TruckSafe to become what its original founders dreamed it would become, a gold standard for how to run a fleet of truck safely and responsibly. If the politicians can be shown a scheme which has the credibility to make the statistics go the right way and improve the public image of trucking, they will be willing to publicly defend such a scheme.


Credibility comes from the scheme being seen to work properly and comprehensively. We do not need an old shitter sitting in the queue to load at Botany with a TruckSafe sticker on the door, of a truck clearly not compliant.


Once we get to the situation where the politicians can be a relatively secure most of the trucking industry is working to make the roads safe, then they may give in to pressure to agree to the rest of the industry’s wishlist.


Increased Interest in K&S

The Australian Stock Exchange have received another notification of a substantial change in interest from Linfox. The latest notice shows the percentage of shares in the K&S Corporation owned by Linfox is now closing in on ten per cent.




This follows a previous announcement, published just before Christmas last year, in which Linfox revealed it had bought enough shares in the company to have over eight per cent of the voting power.


K&S have taken a hit due to the downturn in some parts of the economy. It told the ASX last week about the fact, one of its largest customers, Arrium has been placed in voluntary administration. K&S explained it had a number of transport and logistics contracts in place with Arrium in relation to the distribution of finished steel products in the eastern states.


However, the statement did point out, K&S does not have any transport or logistics contracts aligned to the Whyalla steel making operations nor to Arrium’s iron ore mining operations. The company said it is currently in discussions with the administrator of Arrium regarding the ongoing provision of transport and logistics services to the Arrium Distribution Business.


K&S has a number of operations, especially in Western Australia, linked to the resources industry and these have seen lower activity levels as mining activity slows. Falling commodity prices sees miners pulling their collective heads in. This has effected both new projects and current mining operations, both of which are served by K&S.


The single entity, which is K&S, now comprises the various parts of the Scott’s group of enterprises and recently released its half year results. The after tax loss of $88.4 million for K&S, in the six month period up to December 31, is 56 per cent worse than the same result last year, but better than the predicted 75 per cent, as announced in guidance to the stock market in November last year.

Talking Turkey About Trucking

Stability? Who Needs It?

The trucking industry needs some kind of stability if it is to continue to improve and grow, as the Australian economy needs it to do. Any growth in the Australian economy stimulates an even bigger increase in the freight task, most of which the trucking industry has to pick up. Conversely, constriction on growth in the trucking industry can also lead to a throttling back of economic growth, if supply chain bottlenecks begins to appear.


Any growth needs a stable regulatory climate in which to work. The recent years have seen a steady advance towards a clear regulatory system of some sort, with the arrival of a pragmatic and effective National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. Progress was being made and we could see a clear future path ahead of us.


Now the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has put a spanner in the works destabilising the whole thing to a point where we are worse off than ten years ago. In fact, it is the way the Tribunal itself is acting which is causing the most problems.


No-one has any idea whether they are coming or going.The most recent order from the RSRT has left everyone’s operation hanging on a set of rules which are unclear and simply destabilising.


Talk to suppliers to the industry, the trailer industry has seen orders dry up in recent months. No-one is willing to commit to a new piece of capital equipment, if the subbie system collapses. It may not happen, but it might. That’s enough.


Others are reporting similar apprehension. A massive proportion of the trucking industry has been targeted by the order, owner operators and small operators. Even if your transport business doesn’t deal with anyone covered by the Order, somewhere in the supply chain there will be someone who is.


In fact, most people in the trucking industry do not know whether they are or are not included in the umbrella definitions of those covered by the Order. What we can all be sure of is, the full implementation of the Order right now will be incredibly disruptive.


Trucking will be thrown into disarray, the supply chain will be disrupted and the general public may well see the supply of some goods dry up quite quickly, always a recipe for disaster.


When this kind of stuff hits the airwaves, on our news bulletins etc, its will probably be seen as the truckies’ fault, it always is. An industry which craves stability and certainty will be branded as the cause of instability and the reason for a blip in Australia’s economic growth.


It’s almost as if the RSRT’s Contract Driver Order was designed to cause instability. Surely that couldn’t be the case?


The details of the Order were first released on the Friday before Christmas. Industry reaction got caught up in the industry’s busiest time of the year, followed by the holiday period. For the politicians in Canberra, the holiday period lasts past the end of January.


There was no traction to be made in the first six weeks after the Order’s announcement, but it was due to come into effect on April 4. This hasn’t left much time for any negotiations or submissions to be made.


Now the last month or so has seen the scenarios change again, where the RSRT has dangled the carrot of a delay in implementation until next January, but its has been by no means certain. Destabilising? Yes indeed. Good for the economy? Absolutely not.


Talking Turkey About Trucking

Keep up the Pressure

It looks like the infamous ‘Order’ put out by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal just before Christmas last year may be put onto the back burner, but the trucking industry needs to keep the pressure on to guarantee a delay. NatRoad did its bit this week with an appearance in front of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee, emphasising the unfair nature of the rates regime which would follow any implementation of the Contract Drivers Order.


NatRoad’s Policy Director, Grant Johnson, kept the debate concentrated on the essential issues at the heart of this matter, during the hearing. This is the level of concentration the trucking industry needs to maintain for the next few years, in order to keep reform on track and prevent more road blocks to productivity being formed.


The immediate issue is the one around the RSRT and, yes, we need to keep up the intensity and ensure the proposed delay in implementation actually takes place. However, it doesn’t stop there, there are plenty of other areas where the trucking industry, as a whole has to keep up its targeted efforts.


The general consensus is the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is a good thing and making real progress. It is also up against it when trying to break down the walls set up by the bureaucracy to frustrate its more progressive ideas. This is where we can help, we are the subject matter experts here and can talk to anyone who will listen about the need for change and the effectiveness of the changes the NHVR is proposing.


This process also needs trucking to do more than just keep its nose clean for the next few months. There must be no box ticking, she’ll be right mate thinking allowed. The only way reform is going to come to fruition is when government are comfortable about the way trucking regulates itself.


Many of the reforms being led by the NHVR depend on the existence of a responsible industry, not a bunch of operators doing the paperwork to get their accreditation and then operating in a way which would compromise the genuine integrity of the scheme they have joined.


Having the sticker on the door is not enough, any more. If stories of operators flaunting the rules for economic gain filter down through the system, the forces lined up to frustrate progress, especially in state authorities, will be able to persuade ministers not to sign off on the next stage of national integration.


We cannot afford to let this happen. We are too far down the track and are starting to see a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, is the time for concentrated effort to ensure our wayward brethren are pulled back into line and genuinely embrace a new culture of compliance and responsible operation.

Surprise Move on Contract Drivers

The week before Christmas was chosen as the time to announce a major shift in the way driver rates are set. At 4.20 pm on Friday December 18, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal announced its latest order, this time minimum payments for contract drivers.


The new order, named Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016, will take effect as of April 4 2016. The order itself is available online here and the decision is online here.


“The Order is the most significant matter affecting the industry that has occurred in many years and will have substantial operational and financial impacts on the transport industry as a whole,” said a statement put out by NatRoad at the time of the order’s release.


Brisbane Road_20060622_0452


The NatRoad statement explains the basics of the order:


The Order provides for minimum payments to independent Contractors as per a schedule of rates that are attached as 2 schedules to the Order.  The minimum rates apply to all freight movements irrespective of whether or not the freight movement is a high productivity lane or a backload lane on a major route or a freight movement to or from a regional or remote area:

  • Schedule A rates that apply to Contactors engaged in distribution of goods not involving a long distance operation; and
  • Schedule B rates that apply to Contractors engaged in long distance operations.

Rates are determined by driver classification, type of vehicle and type and configuration of trailers as per the descriptions in the Order schedules and are paid on the basis of an hourly rate plus a kilometre rate.


A Hirer of a Contractor who makes payment by any other method including pallet, per tonne, trip or other means is required to keep records for each 28 day period that set out the amount a Contractor would be paid under the Order provided hourly and kilometre rates, and where there is a shortfall the Hirer must generate a valid tax invoice and pay the Contractor driver any shortfall within 30 days.


The Facilitative Provisions of the Order require that Contractors are paid for each hour or part thereof as follows:

(a) each hour, or part thereof, during which the Contractor driver is required by the Hirer to be at the disposal and/or direction of the hirer; and


(b) each period of rest time of 30 or less continuous minutes that the Contractor driver is required by law to rest, unless another road transport driver is driving the vehicle used in the provision of the road transport service while the Contractor driver is taking such rest time; and


(c) each hour, or part thereof, that the Contractor driver is, or is assisting or supervising another person who is:

(i) driving a vehicle used in the provision of the road transport service; and/or

(ii) queuing and/or waiting, whilst in control of the vehicle used in the provision of the road transport service; and/or

(iii) loading things onto or unloading things from the vehicle and/or a trailer used in the provision of the road transport service, including tarping, installing or removing gates and the operation of on-board cranes, or waiting for someone else to do so; and/or

(iv) cleaning, inspecting, servicing or repairing a vehicle supplied by the hirer and/or a trailer supplied by the hirer that is used in the provision of the road transport service, provided the cleaning, inspecting, servicing or repairing is reasonably required in order to provide the road transport service; and/or

(v) inspecting or attending to a load on the vehicle and/or a trailer used in the provision of the road transport service; and/or

(vi) refuelling the vehicle used in the provision of the road transport service, where the provision of the road transport service requires more fuel than the fuel tank of the vehicle can hold; and/or

(vii) recording information or completing a document as required by the hirer in relation to the vehicle and/or a trailer used in the provision of the road transport service; and/or
(viii) waiting in a location because of a natural disaster (eg flood or bushfire) or other emergency, provided that only up to a maximum of eight hours of such waiting in any period of 24 hours shall be counted and provided the Contractor driver advised the hirer as soon as possible of the waiting and took all reasonable measures to minimise the waiting.


For the purposes of Clauses 9 and 10 of the Order, each hour, or part thereof, that the Contractor driver necessarily spends in providing the road transport service does not include any hour, or part thereof, which is lost because of a breakdown in a vehicle and/or trailer supplied by the Contractor driver or an accident involving the Contractor driver.


For the purposes of Clauses 9 and 10 of the Order, each kilometre that the Contractor driver necessarily travels in providing the road transport service is counted:


(a) from the work site or depot where the Contractor driver is principally engaged by the Hirer; or


(b) where the Contractor driver is not principally engaged at a work site or depot, from a location specified by the Hirer which is reasonable taking into account the road transport service provided by the Contractor driver; and


(c) to the location at which the road transport service provided by the Contractor driver concludes.


The New Year is going to see operators examining this order in detail. They will need to tease out the ramifications for each part of their operation and be ready to be compliant by April.


Talking Turkey About Trucking

It Begins Again

Happy New Year to all our readers from Let’s hope it’s a good one and a number of promising developments from 2015 come to fruition. Over the last five years, a lot of promises were made, which didn’t come off. Now, the promises are a bit more believable, and seem to come with realistic deadlines.


If there is one week of the year when we can allow ourselves to be hopeful and positive, it is the first week of a fresh year. It is also a week in which it is very unlikely any major setback for the trucking industry will rear its ugly head. This is mainly because all of the politicians and bureaucrats are going to be at the beach until Australia Day.


Last year ended with some genuine positives. The proposed changes to chain of responsibility legislation look like they will benefit trucking. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator seems to be cementing its position as the go-to place for regulation of the industry.


Of course, there were a couple of items to darken this rosy outlook. One was the last minute publication, just before Christmas, of the latest Road Safety Remuneration Order. (Of which there is more here.)


The other is just a small snippet of news, which provides us with a wonderful illustration of just what we are up against. Apparently, a number of rural operators in New South Wales have fallen foul of a tricky interpretation of the ‘90 day rule’ by our old friends the Roads and Maritime Services.


If a trailer is registered outside of NSW, by a NSW operator, it has to spend at least 48 hours outside of the state in any 90 day period. ‘Too easy’, you say, if you run an interstate operation, the trailer is bound to spend those hours outside the state.


‘Not so fast’, says the pernickety RMS officer. They have found trailers which work on shuttle runs, constantly running in and out of NSW. However, because of the nature of the work the trailers were found to not spend a ‘continuous’ period of 48 hours interstate.


So far, it is unclear whether this interpretation of the rules will be followed through, but at the moment the operators are being told they are in breach of the rules. Visions of a trailer park, in Wodonga or Goondiwindi perhaps, given over to giving trailers a two day break every three months to keep the RMS at bay.


This is just a small example, effecting just a few operators, but we could be told a similar tale in just about every industry segment. Unthinking imposition of ridiculous rules seems to be a speciality of those dealing with the trucking industry. However, it’s not just enforcement who are at fault. The big customers, the supermarket chains for example, are also guilty on this count.


The debacle around the relocation of Melbourne Markets, over access and accreditation is another example of the small unthinking rule making we have to deal with day-to-day.


That’s enough negativity, it is a new year after all. Let’s all work to make sure this year, 2016, sees a decrease in the petty issues sent to try the trucking industry, and an increase in rationality and good old fashioned common sense.