If the trucking industry is looking for a way to illustrate just how much inefficiency and waste is involved in the continuing separation of powers and regulation between the states, we need to look no further than the mapping systems in place to ‘help’ the industry understand where we can and cannot go, under various heavy vehicle schemes.
As the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator tries, manfully, to make its place in the world secure, it is stopped by interstate rivalry and mandarins in each state capital hanging onto their power for grim death. Meanwhile, the transport industry is crying out for a rational single national system which works for trucking and a single portal for information.
This process has been going on for some time, but progress is exceedingly slow. At the same time, each state has been, individually and separately, developing a web-based mapping system to show trucking operators where they can take different trucks and combinations within the various schemes, HML, PBS etc.
A quick tour of these mapping sites shows the massive degree of variability in the way the information is presented and how simple or hard it is to use. Each state has clearly invested a lot of time and money in developing web tools, at the very same time as the NHVR has been trying to get these kinds of functions to become part of its central role.
Each state has developed a different interface, each is clearly loading different data in the back end of the site. The data and the routes are classified slightly differently, state bureaucrats love to reiterate the different nature of the rules in their state.
The initial vision for the NHVR was for the functions of the individual state regulators to come under one umbrella organisation. A single system was needed, where trucking interfaced with regulators. Once this was stated openly, it seems the state regulators set to work to make the integration task as tough as possible.
By developing widely different systems, they have simply made it harder to build one system, incidentally, spending vast tax payers’ funds on the way. A co-ordinated approach could have seen one system in place, state by state. This could then be integrated into a national whole.
Another inefficiency introduced is the difficulty in working out an interstate route for a particular type of truck or load. Each state looks at the problem in a different way and the way a route must be planned is different. Operations staff in a business planning freight routes need to be up to speed on a bewildering series of very different systems.
We look at these sites and witness the waste of state funds in developing separate systems when one unitary national system is needed, and mandated. Don’t even try to calculate the cost in integrating these disparate data bases into a single NHVR-run website.
At the same time the industry has to deal with as many completely different data sets as the number of states they operate in. Time is wasted drilling down through the differently designed interface in each state to get the answer to a simple operational question about getting a truck from A to B.
The icing on the cake is presented to us by the usual suspects, New South Wales. Simply go onto their map system and look at the HML routes, to see how strategic gaps have been left in the network, rendering it so much less effective in improving productivity than it could be. These small things are sent to try us!