Shane Wants You To Tell a Mate 

Pushing Out Payments

Trucking company cash flow is likely to come under increased pressure as big freight customers extend their payment terms. According to the Australian Trucking Association, trucking operators supplying BHP Billiton and other large companies, who plan on pushing out their payment terms must be aware of the effects of these extended terms on their businesses.


Chris Melham, ATA CEO, put out a statement referring to media reports talking about BHP Billiton extending payment terms from 30 days to 60 days, but said the warning applied to any operator faced with a supplier looking to stretch payment terms.




“Trucking operators must assess whether they will have sufficient cash flow to support extended payment terms, not just in the first year but in every year of the contract,” said Melham. “Operators that agree to extended payment terms still need to pay their own creditors on their existing cycles , for example, this could include 21 day payments to fuel suppliers, 30 day payments to small owner-driver subcontractors, and weekly or fortnightly payroll payments.


“Rather than just signing a new contract with extended payment terms, the ATA urges all affected operators to examine their contracts and seek professional advice. At its meeting next week, the ATA Council will consider a plan for the ATA to increase its focus on business-to-business issues in response to growing concerns about the trend towards longer payment times, as well as other problematic terms in trucking industry contracts.”


Concerns over extended payment terms have been raised throughout the year, with the transport companies affected unable to use any leverage with their, often much larger, customers to get relief from the financial pressure.


Some are advocating taking the issue to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and demonstrating how the extension of payment terms puts pressure on safety, as operators get squeezed between non-paying customers and suppliers demanding payment.


The idea of going to the RSRT would be anathema to many in the industry. The Transport Workers Union would regard such a move as a political victory. However, the financial pressures may get even higher for the average operator, forcing them to take desperate measures.

Overcharging may continue

The trucking industry may continue to be over charged for the use of Australia’s road infrastructure. The meeting of the Australian Transport and Infrastructure Ministerial Council takes place today with a number of big ticket items on the agenda. As the nation’s transport ministers gather in Adelaide, they are set to consider the determination of the level of fuel-based road user charge and vehicle registration charges. Read more

Talking Turkey About Trucking

Pulling Together

Sometimes you just don’t the right words at the right time. This was certainly the case for me, earlier this week, as I stood on the stage at the ATA Technical and Maintenance Conference dinner to receive an award for my work in trying to improve the way the trucking industry is perceived by the general public.


The presentation came as a complete surprise to me and I am not one of those people who can reel off a speech at the drop of a hat, or in my case the dropping of a camera. So, I would like to use this weeks column to make up for being lost for words on the podium.


Much of the impetus for writing these columns comes from a love of the trucking industry, and its people. This is an industry with which I have spent most of my life. I began truck driving in 1977 and haven’t been able to get away from it ever since.


Most of us in trucking complain about the way the industry works and how we are constantly frustrated by ridiculous rules or working in unpleasant conditions. However, once it gets into your blood, you can’t walk away from it. There is something about the culture which cannot be found in any other line of work.


Over the years, you develop a kind of loyalty to the industry and all of the other members of your tribe. Yes, we have rivalries and enemies within the industry, but we will defend the industry, as a whole, to outsiders.


Moving from actual truck operating and driving, back in 2002, across to writing about the industry, initially felt like leaving the trucking industry and joining the media. In fact, I soon realised I had become even more involved with the industry I loved.


Working at Owner Driver and ATN kept me very much in touch with the realities of the industry and also gave me an opportunity to take the lessons learned during my career in trucking and apply them in getting information out there which was relevant to operators and drivers still working at the coal face.


It was the two mentors I had at the time, Paul Sullivan, then Editor of ATN and Andrew Stewart, its publisher, who encouraged me to take my experience on the road and apply it to the stories I was producing for Owner Driver and ATN.


Many years later, I got the opportunity to take over the editorship of Diesel magazine from, a well known industry character, Steve Brooks. He also encouraged me and eased me into the role, reassuring me to go with my instincts when putting together a story for the magazine.


This opportunity came along as a result of the confidence shown in me by my current boss, John Murphy, from Prime Creative Media. On handing me the job of Editor, he simply asked that Diesel reflect the trucking industry, its culture and for me to maintain my positive attitude to the trucking industry and identify the issues I thought were important.


I hope I have done a good job and served the industry which has given me such a broad experience, a lot of laughs and some tears. It is all down to those people who have helped me on my way, and the many others who live and breath trucking, like myself.

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Getting the end right

Advice on wheel ends to assist the road transport industry to improve commercial vehicle wheel end security has been published. A new updated version of the Technical Advisory Procedure, ‘Wheel End Security’, has been released by the Australian Trucking Association.


The TAP has been developed by the ATA’s Industry Technical Council (ITC) to provide operators with key information about commercial vehicle wheel end security to reduce the incidence of commercial vehicle wheel offs.


A wheel off can be defined as the separation of a tyre and rim assembly from a vehicle due to the failure of component performance. This failure can be due to component fatigue, installation techniques, maintenance procedures and/or lack of follow up procedures. Wheel offs cause downtime and equipment damage, and, of far more importance, they may cause personal injury or a fatality.


The TAP sets out industry best practice techniques about wheel installation and maintenance procedures to ensure optimum component performance. The ATA stresses, the TAP does not override manufacturer’s specifications and directions. It discusses the types of wheels commonly dealt with in the road transport industry, vehicle jacking and wheel removal techniques.


Installation procedures for common types of wheels and their components are divided into individual sections for the service provider, including maintenance providers, contractors, and the driver, plus roadside requirements.


“Safety must always be our first priority. A poorly secured wheel can cause component damage and may even result in wheel loss, which is a danger to everyone on the road,” said Chris Melham, ATA CEO. “This advisory procedure provides best-practice advice and extensive technical information on every aspect of wheel security, covering the types of wheels used, removal and installation procedures, checking the wheel assembly and manufacturer torque recommendations.


“Drivers should also be made aware of how they can check wheel integrity during a journey. The advisory procedure includes advice on how to perform these inspections, as well as a guide to help drivers estimate tightening torque when changing wheels out on the road. This guidance means that drivers can have confidence in the safety of a changed wheel until they can get back to the workshop.”


This is the latest in the ATA’s series of technical advisory procedures, which provide best practice guidance for trucking operators, maintenance operations and suppliers, about key technical issues.


The procedures are available for free from the ATA’s online resource library. 



Raising Awareness of Mental Health

The trucking industry has more than its fair share of issues around mental health and getting help to those who need it. Statistics say 45 per cent of Australians will be affected by mental illness in their working lifetime, and 4 out of 20 people will experience mental health issues this year.


Team Transport and Logistics from Brisbane is doing its part to highlight mental health in the transport industry by raising awareness and funds for the Beyondblue organisation.I The company held a launch function to celebrate two new DAFs all wrapped in messages to encourage men to talk about their mental health issues.




Spearheading the campaign is long-term Team Transport and Logistics staffer, group co-ordinator Kylie Wilkinson, who has witnessed the effects of depression in the male dominated workforce.


I think being with a transport company for 27 years, and it’s very male dominated, I have seen the struggles with a lot of the boys particularly the ones that are in the trucks for long amounts of time and also the ones that if something happens in their life, it is really hard for them to deal with, I have seen what they go through,” said Wilkinson.


Our aim with the wraps is to open up the dialogue a little bit, start a conversation and get some of these tough boys talking about issue they may have, they might be rough and tough looking but they are not. It was just to start the conversation really and raise money and put the word out that we need more resources and we need more education on depression from a young age.


I noticed in the last couple of years that the boys I do talk to that are having problems, I have to drag the information out of them, plus stats don’t lie. More men commit suicide than women in Australia.”


The event gained a lot of support from key suppliers and through a raffle run by the staff. The goal was to raise $1500 for Beyondblue but the event exceeded that almost four fold raising more that $7000.


A fact sheet has been developed in partnership with SANE Australia, by the Australian Trucking Association released to the industry.


“It’s not uncommon to hear people complain about being stressed,” said Chris Melham, ATA CEO. “But if job stress is following you on holiday, or you sometimes feel inexplicably distressed or disconnected, it’s a reminder to put your own mental wellbeing as your first priority.


“Many of us like to think we can manage on our own, but it’s important to ask for help if you need it. It’s especially important to have someone you can talk to and who understands how you are feeling.


“One of the strongest defences against mental illness is staying connected to your family and friends. If you’re out on the road or can’t reach these people, there are also a range of support services listed in the fact sheet that are there to help 24/7.”


Download the fact sheet here. 

Information Required

Two separate studies are looking for your help in getting a better understanding about what’s going on in the trucking industry. One is a extension of a study being carried out by the University of NSW and the other is a survey into the real facts about trucks on Australia’s roads and what tasks they are tackling.



Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research at University of New South Wales are looking for interested trucking companies to take part in a study to determine the effectiveness of specific safety management practices for improving safety in trucking companies. As part of the study, free assistance will be provided to companies seeking to improve their safety performance.



In order to participate, a company must operate a fleet of between 10 and 50 trucks for hire and reward. This research is being supported by funding from the Australian Research Council, the Motor Accidents Authority of NSW, Transport for NSW, Zurich Australia, National Transport Commission and Transport Certification Australia.



TARS emphasises any company’s participation will contribute to the advancement of safety management practices for all.



If you are interested in finding out more about this study, please contact Lori Mooren, Senior Research Fellow on 0412 888 290 or via email at





Also on the agenda is a survey being conducted by the Australian Trucking Association to update its truck impact chart, which provides general information about truck productivity, fuel use, road impact etc for a range of widely-used heavy vehicle combinations.



According to the ATA, this chart is an essential part of its heavy vehicle research, and is used extensively in the ATA’s lobbying efforts. It is a critical component of the ATA’s efforts to improve first and last mile access for higher productivity vehicles.



Survey results will be used to calculate the average figures in this chart, and will be stripped of any identifying information before use.



The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Click here to enter data. 



If you’d like to provide further feedback to the ATA on this issue, please contact Chris Loose at

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Trailer Lighting Issues

A new advisory notice has been released outlining issues around a perennial problem, lighting systems on trailers. Installing LED trailer brake lights could mean the difference between a safe stop and a rear end accident reckons ATA CEO Chris Melham.



Melham was releasing the ATA’s new Technical Advisory Procedure on heavy vehicle electrical wiring, which includes guidance on trailer lighting system requirements.


New B-Double Final-46



“At 100 km/h, a LED brake light will come on 4.4 metres earlier than a comparable incandescent light. But in order to achieve this safety gain, heavy vehicle wiring needs to be able to support these products,” said Melham.



The advisory procedure includes extensive technical advice covering heavy vehicle wiring, lighting, voltage levels, connectors, alternators, batteries and the towing vehicle power source.



It also provides specific advice on preventing electrical failures that could spark a heavy vehicle fire.



“As truck electrical systems continue to increase in complexity, there have been a worrying number of incidents where worn or incorrect electrical components have caused truck fires,” said Melham. “Trucks and trailers often experience harsh conditions as they travel across Australia. We’ve listed the key areas that workshops and operators should check to make sure the truck electrical system stays safe and reliable throughout the vehicle’s lifetime.”



This is the latest in the ATA’s series of technical advisory procedures, which are developed by the ATA’s Industry Technical Council. The procedures are available for free from the ATA’s online resource library. 

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Award Finalists Announced

The Australian Trucking Association has announced the finalists for its 2015 Craig Roseneder Award. The award recognises technical and maintenance excellence in the workshop by an individual. It is named in honour of the late Craig Roseneder, a strong campaigner for the development of a safer road transport industry.


Past winner, John Schultz, receiving his Craig Roseneder Award in 2012



The 2015 Craig Roseneder finalists are:


Christopher Knijff works for the Easter Group in Wacol, QLD as the Workshop Manager. A strong advocate of preventative maintenance, Chris worked with OEMs to redevelop Easter Group’s servicing schedules to improve efficiency and safety, as well as introducing a new brake testing and shaker regime to ensure Easter Group is in line with industry best practice.



He also implemented new projects to create a safer work environment for all Easter’s staff, including a gate hanger policy to reduce the risk of falls and redesigning the workshop to improve work flow and reduce potential hazards. Chris is a passionate advocate of the GenR8 youth training program, and as a result Easter Group has this year offered two full-time apprenticeships to GenR8 students. Not content with just training others, Chris is also continuing to develop his own skills by studying for his Cert IV in Frontline Management.



Damien Allison from De Bruyn’s Transport in Burnie, TAS is the second finalist. He started as an apprentice with De Bruyn’s Transport more than 20 years ago and has risen through the ranks to be promoted to Maintenance Manager in 2005. He is responsible for all maintenance to the diverse De Bruyn’s fleet, which includes 113 powered vehicles, 130 trailers, forklifts, light vehicles and a 500 tonne capacity fish feed supply vessel.



Damien has worked diligently to introduce standardisation and improved procedures within the fleet, and has implemented a number of safe work measures within the workshop to reduce incident and injury rates. He is a strong supporter of the apprenticeship program, and many of his apprentices choose to stay with De Bruyn’s after finishing their training. Under his stewardship, 12 warehousing trainees and 14 workshop apprentices have completed their qualifications, with many also excelling in the National World Skills competition. Damien is an active member of his local community, gaining life membership to Apex Australia in 2012.



The third finalist is John McKnight, who works for Blenners Transport in South Mission Beach, QLD. Starting out as a heavy vehicle mechanic with the Royal Australian Air Force, John has made his home in North Queensland and is now the Fleet Maintenance Manager for Blenners Transport.



When he arrived at Blenners, John noted that multiple, incompatible systems were being used to record maintenance items, reducing maintenance effectiveness and fidelity. John implemented a new business-wide maintenance management system to improve maintenance reporting and consistency, and also developed a predictive process to move the Blenners’ workshop from a reactive to a proactive approach to maintenance.



He is dedicated to improving safety in the workplace and on the road, and has developed new safety checks and procedures to ensure Blenners’ quality of maintenance and staff safety are put first at all times. John also promotes environmentally friendly initiatives in the workshop, including substituting wash bay chemicals for environmentally friendly alternatives and fitting oil capture units fleet-wide.



“The judging panel said the overall standard of this year’s nominations was the highest they could remember seeing, which is very high praise indeed,” said Noelene Watson, ATA Chair. “As an industry, we are very fortunate to have such dedicated, skilled professionals going the extra mile to put safety and preventative maintenance first. I’d like to congratulate all our finalists on their achievement, and I look forward to meeting them in person in October.”



The winner will be announced at the Castrol Vecton Awards Dinner on October 27 as part of the 2015 PACCAR and Dealer TMC. Courtesy of award sponsor Castrol Vecton, the winner will receive a trip to the American Trucking Associations’ 2016 Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee and $1,500 AUD in spending money.

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Inspection Manual Release

With the release of the 2015 National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual imminent, workshops around Australia can begin to understand the national guidelines for preparing vehicles for the road. The Australian Trucking Association has announced a full program stream dedicated to the manual at the 2015 Paccar & Dealer TMC.





According to ATA CEO Chris Melham, understanding the requirements of the 2015 National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual could be the difference between having trucks parked up in the workshop or out on a scheduled run.



“With the implementation of the 2015 National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual expected to start rolling out by the end of the year, understanding these requirements will be essential for every trucking operator and workshop that deals with jurisdictions covered by the national law,” said Melham.



“For TMC 2015, we’ve developed a technical stream focusing on the major chapters of the draft 2015 manual, as well as a work health and safety stream and a general stream focusing on some of the most frequent issues encountered by trucking workshops.”



The technical sessions include in the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual stream will include talking about training staff to do daily checks, improving steering and suspension diagnostics, making sure couplings comply, safety and compliance for tyres and wheels. The stream will also include a discussion and suggested solutions about truck and trailer brake compatibility, as well as basic brake maintenance.


The TMC will also feature a work health and safety stream, taking safety lessons from recent truck accidents, what works and what doesn’t in terms of workplace health and safety messages, plus improved efficiency in the workshop.



The technical stream will include seminars on diagnosing electrical problems, new ATA technical advisory procedures and gettingh a handle on using engine management and telematics data.



TMC 2015 will take place at the Automotive centre of Excellence in Melbourne Docklands from October 26 to 28 Melbourne from Monday 26 to Wednesday 28 October.

Voluntary EWDs

The bill introducing electronic work diaries has passed through the Queensland Parliament, on its way to becoming part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law. During the proceedings, Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport, Jackie Trad, confirmed EWD use will be on a voluntary basis only. She made the statement in her second reading comments on the Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill 2015.



“I must stress that the adoption of electronic work diaries is voluntary,” said Trad. “It provides operators in the industry with a choice to either adopt this emerging technology or continue, as they currently do, with the paper based system.



“This is about providing flexibility for the industry to choose the approach that fits best and recognises that there can be significant differences from one road transport operator to another.”





The Australian Trucking Association welcomed Trad’s comments, after it had called for the use of EWD technology to remain on a voluntary basis.



“Although electronic work diaries offer great advantages for some businesses, installing them would be an unnecessary cost for small operators and businesses that only operate heavy vehicles occasionally,” said Christopher Melham ATA CEO.



Melham said the risk of facing a stricter EWD regulatory regime could also deter some operators from swapping over their paper work diaries, despite the potential reduction in red tape.



“The Heavy Vehicle National Law requires drivers of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles to fill out work diaries to record their work and rest hours,” said Melham. “The time periods in the existing paper work diaries are recorded in 15 minute blocks, and are hand-written by the driver.



“The electronic diaries approved under this Bill automatically round to the nearest one minute interval, with a tolerance for small work time breaches of eight minutes in a 24 hour period. There is no tolerance for errors in rest times.



“I welcome the NTC’s commitment to review the treatment of small work time breaches after two years. This review is essential in order to make sure that EWD users are not subject to a stricter regulatory regime than those who use the paper diaries.”