Brakes, Cables, Steel, Telematics and Autonomous Trucks

Brakes, Cables, Steel, Telematics and Autonomous Trucks

In the news this week for those interested in the technical side of trucking, from Diesel News, there are brakes, cables, telematics and autonomous trucks.


Brake chambers of the right standard are a critical part of an effective brake system, as set out in the Australian Trucking Association’s updated Technical Advisory Procedure on compliant brake chambers. The advisory procedure was developed by the ATA’s Industry Technical Council.


“The use of substandard brake chambers could create an unstable vehicle combination by mixing different brake chamber sizes and brands, negatively affecting the brake balance,” said Chris Loose, ATA Senior Engineering Adviser. “This technical advisory procedure was originally produced to counter a run of very premature brake chamber failures, and it is a timely reminder that use of the lowest cost item or a substandard part does not save costs if it then suffers a failure.”


The updated technical advisory procedure includes information on acceptable air brake chamber build standards, a brake chamber compliance table, and warnings against disassembling spring brake chambers.


Brakes, Cables, Steel, Telematics and Autonomous Trucks


Volvo Trucks is running a research project about replacing the cables in trucks with wireless sensors. The company reckons the result will be a dramatic reduction in the amount of copper and plastic used. Volvo estimates it should be able to dispense with around 5000 km of cabling, which is the equivalent of 18 tonnes of copper and 33 tonnes of plastic.


“We believe that wireless sensors have a great deal of future potential,” said Dhasarathy Parthasarathy, a development engineer at the Volvo Group. “One important consideration is that we may no longer need to use large amounts of copper and plastic, which is good for the environment.”


Depending on the size of the truck, a reduction in cable length of between 40 and 70 metres, has initially been identified. Given an annual production of 100,000 trucks, this amounts to around 5000 kilometres of cabling. As well as eliminating the need for large amounts of copper and plastic, the wireless sensors could bring significant benefits for the production department and the service workshops, particularly in terms of the time they can save.


“The savings could amount to a large number of hours, sometimes even days. In the factory, the cables are awkward to handle and time-consuming to fit in the right place,” said Jonas Hagerskans, a development engineer at the Volvo Group. “The wireless sensors are much simpler to install. The cables are also sensitive to dirt and rust and prone to faults. By replacing the cables with wireless sensors, it is possible to prevent all the potential cabling faults. When trucks come into the workshop for repairs, identifying faults in long cables that are difficult to access is very time-consuming.”


BlueScope Steel have partnered with Toll, K&S Transport and Buzinga App Development to develop a safety-focused app, ‘SteelDrive’. Launched in June, 2016 and now available to Android users, allows truck drivers to document the restraining and transportation of steel, through photo-taking, GPS-tracking, and cloud-based storage.


This method of documentation provides critical transparency in the unlikely case of an incident investigation, providing a point of reference for all stakeholders; including the manufacturer, transporter and importantly the driver themselves.


“Safety is everyone’s responsibility”, said Ben Scollary, IT Innovation Business Analyst at BlueScope. “We have an obligation to our employees, our partners and our communities to work safely each and every day. SteelDrive represents the first steps in enabling a collaborative, mobile approach to safety for our logistics operations, and BlueScope are proud to be leaders in this change.”


The National Transport Commission has released a discussion paper with national guidelines for automated vehicle trials, calling for input into the key elements needed to support automated vehicle trials.


Acting Chief Executive of the NTC Geoff Allan said on-road trials were an important step in ensuring that any automated system operates safely and efficiently in Australia.


“Developing a single and nationally-agreed set of guidelines would help promote Australia as a test bed for automated vehicles by providing consistent conditions for trials, while at the same time encouraging innovation,” said Geoff Allan, Acting CEO of the NTC. “The guidelines will also help support cross-border trials. By harmonising trial conditions and expectations across jurisdictions, governments can work with industry to further explore the potential economic, environmental and safety benefits of this technology.”


More information and an opportunity to provide feedback is on the NTC website.


Transport Certification Australia has reported the number of Telematics In-Vehicle Units (IVUs) already installed in heavy vehicles throughout Australia which satisfy TCA performance based requirements.has reached 30,480.


This represents a 22 per cent increase since the end of 2014. This increase is significant, given the percentage of truck fleets adopting telematics is trending at 5 to 6 per cent growth year on year according to ACA Research. TCA reckon the industry is clearly seeking assurance when making IVU purchasing decisions.


“There are a number of key features which distinguish these Telematics IVUs from others available in the marketplace, including the ability to meet functional and technical requirements relating t robustness, accuracy, reliability, tamper evidence, data storage and security,” said Chris Koniditsiotis, TCA CEO. “These same requirements are being demanded by industry stakeholders, who have become increasingly knowledgeable and focussed on making the right purchasing decisions, to cater for their business needs.”


Highway Hero Honoured

Highway Hero Honoured

As part of the Australian Trucking Association’s Technical and Maintenance Conference the Highway Hero Honoured at the event was involved in this crash, as reported on local TV. The accident on the Calder Freeway, to the north of Melbourne, saw a tanker rollover in an accident involving a number of cars and another truck.


Highway Hero Honoured


The driver of the second truck, Renzo Bruschi, was awarded the Bandag Highway Guardian Award at the Award Ceremony in Melbourne’s Docklands, last night.


The morning of May 24 started out just like any other for Renzo, who has been a truck driver for more than 30 years. That all changed when a petrol tanker carrying 60,000 litres of fuel rolled over on the Calder Freeway.


Renzo’s truck was one of around 10 vehicles involved in the crash. Renzo jumped out of his truck and into action without hesitation, running over to assist the driver of the tanker who was calling for help.


The 52-year-old said, “There was fuel and smoke everywhere; I just thought it was not a question of if this was going to blow but more a question of when, so I just sprang into action to help get him out as soon as possible before something happened.”


“The tanker was on its side and I initially tried to break the windscreen; and it shattered – but didn’t break, so I had to climb up and pull him out through the door which was facing skyward.”


After assisting the tanker driver, Renzo turned his attention to an overturned car which had ended up in the gutter and had fuel running through it.


He crawled through the back passenger door and helped the extremely traumatised driver from her vehicle and led her away from the scene. “I just did not stop to think at that point, I just did all I could to help,” he said.


I went to the other vehicle which was crushed to see if I could help but unfortunately that person was already deceased.


“I hope something like this never happens again, but if I did, I know I’d do the same all over again,” Renzo said.


Highway Hero Honoured


The Awards night also saw the Craig Roseneder Award presented to Cade Robinson, who works for Borg Manufacturing, Somersby, NSW. Cade had been joined earlier in the evening by the other two nominees for the Award, Scott Gardiner from Star Track in Minchinbury and Dale Hedley, from Vellex, Wetherill Park.


The Craig Roseneder Award recognises technical and maintenance excellence in the workshop by an individual, and celebrates the professionalism of the men and women who work behind the scenes in the trucking industry’s workshops.


Also honoured on the night was David Coonan, a long time member of the team at the ATA and a specialist in the field of trucking regulation and development. He retired, due to ill health, from his role as policy officer at the ATA, back in 2014. He received the 2016 ATA Technical Achievement Award.


David started his career as a diesel mechanic. He then managed the Department of Housing and Construction’s ACT vehicle fleet, before joining the ACT Government as its Deputy Registrar of Motor Vehicles. He later worked as a senior transport policy officer for the ACT and Australian governments.

Awards, Seatbelts and Regional Funding

Awards, Seatbelts and Regional Funding

In the news this week we have a selection of awards, seatbelts and regional funding, alongside intermodal development in Sydney.

The Australian Trucking Association announced the three finalists for the 2016 Craig Roseneder Award. They are, Cade Robinson, Borg Manufacturing, Somersby, NSW, Scott Gardiner, Star Track, Minchinbury, NSW and Dale Hedley, Vellex, Wetherill Park, NSW.

Awards, Seatbelts and Regional Funding

The Craig Roseneder Award recognises technical and maintenance excellence in the workshop by an individual, and celebrates the professionalism of the men and women who work behind the scenes in the trucking industry’s workshops.

“The award is named in honour of the late Craig Roseneder, who was devoted to the development of a safer road transport industry,” said Noelene Watson, ATA Chair. “These three finalists are outstanding in their field and demonstrate a high level of safety, expertise and professionalism.”

The Federal Government has announced the list of projects that will receive funding under Round Three of the National Stronger Regions Fund. 67 projects will receive a total of $126 million in new funding.

Federal funding has been provided for upgrades to two regional livestock exchanges. The Central West Livestock Exchange in Forbes has received $1.5 million towards a $3.4 million project to lift capacity from 1,800 cattle a day to 2,600. Swan Hill Regional Livestock Exchange has received and additional $900,000 towards a $1.7 million project to promote faster and larger turnover that includes reference to minimising fatigue for transporters.

An additional $250,000 has now been allocated for the construction of a new truck wash in Powranna, Tasmania in addition to the $247,000 already committed by the Tasmanian Government.

The ATA released a new safety alert to highlight the availability of truck suspension seats with integrated belts. ATA Senior Adviser, Engineering, Chris Loose said an integrated seatbelt with the driver’s suspension seat would comfortably secure the driver and in an event of a crash, reduce the consequences.

When asked, the common response for not wearing a seatbelt when driving a heavy vehicle was that drivers considered them uncomfortable. This is historically due to the use of suspension seats with cab mounted belts locking during driving over rough roads.

It was awards time for the Queensland Trucking Association, with Followmont Transport winning two awards. Their driver Russell McCulloch won the Professional Driver of the Year award, and Followmont also received the Industry Excellence Award.

Other awards included, Daryl Dickenson Transport who received the Industry Safety Award, while Taylor’s Removals and Storage were presented with the People Leadership Awards. As featured in the September/October edition of Diesel Magazine, Zoe Bull, from Cummins South Pacific was named the Young Achiever of the Year. After a lifetime’s dedication to the trucking industry, Merry Manton, from NTI Roadteam got the gong for Trucking Woman of the Year.

The Australian Logistics Council welcomed the announcement Infrastructure Australia has included Sydney’s Moorebank Intermodal Terminal in the Infrastructure Priority List.

“The announcement that Moorebank has been added to the Infrastructure Priority List is an important step towards improving freight efficiency in Sydney,” said Michael Kilgariff, ALC Managing Director. “Inclusion on the Priority List reinforces Moorebank’s status as a nationally significant infrastructure project and will help to ensure it is prioritised by governments in their investment and policy decisions.

“Moorebank is critical to Sydney’s freight future as it will support the more efficient movement of freight to and from Port Botany. Once fully operational, it will also connect to the national road/rail network, and in so doing, provide a much needed boost to national freight efficiency.”

No Room For Internal Bickering

In the light of the news Chris Melham is moving on from his post at the Australian Trucking Association, the trucking community must keep forging ahead. There is no room for internal bickering or territory battles, the industry is still facing major issues and needs to remain united and continue to fight the good fight. Read more

Melham Leaves, Industry Connects, and North Australia and Melbourne Get Connected

In the news this week, from Diesel News, Chris Melham leaves, industry connects, and North Australia and Melbourne get connected with new road plans.

The Australian Trucking Association announced its Chief Executive Officer, Chris Melham will be leaving the ATA on October 14 to take up a new role in another leading industry association.

“On behalf of the ATA, I would like to thank Chris for his five years of service to the Australian trucking industry and the ATA,” said Noelene Watson, ATA Chair. “During his tenure with the ATA, Chris made significant gains in a number of areas including, reconnecting the Tasmanian Transport Association with the ATA, which secured a truly national voice for the Australian trucking industry with membership from every jurisdiction. Read more

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Setting Brakes Up Right

The need for workshops to get setting brakes up right for the trucking industry has been addressed in the latest Technical Advisory Procedure from the Australian Trucking Association. Effective brake adjustment setup and maintenance is vital for truck safety, reckons Chris Loose, the ATA’s Senior Engineering Adviser.


Setting Brakes Up Right


Loose was releasing the ATA’s new Technical Advisory Procedure on slack adjuster setup and compliance to the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual (NHVIM). The advisory procedure was developed by the ATA’s Industry Technical Council.


“Understanding the correct adjustment for slack adjusters is important to improving brake performance and having safer trucks on our roads,” said Loose. “We’ve seen longer stroke brake chambers become standard on a range of truck models over recent years, and it’s important that truck operators understand what version is fitted on their truck and how it should be set up and maintained.


“Getting the setup right will improve brake performance and improve safety.”


The new technical advisory procedure includes advice on chamber stroke and readjustment lengths, identification of stroke on the brake chamber end cap, brake chamber stroke length, and correct mounting of chambers with slack adjusters.


The procedure provides information on a stroke checking tool and examples of templates and guides for correct adjustment. The document also provides some supplier links for service, maintenance and correct setup.


“There is a range of suppliers of both manual and automatic slack adjusters, all with unique designs and methods of function,” said Loose. “It is important to buy the right quality of equipment built to the appropriate SAE standards, and to ensure they are regularly serviced and maintained.”


This is the latest in the ATA’s series of technical advisory procedures, which provide best practice guidance for trucking operators, maintainers and suppliers about key technical issues. The slack adjuster setup procedure is available on the ATA website. 

Remain Vigilant

Contract? What Contract?

This week the Australian Trucking Association put out a contract checklist and unfair contracts information, and many in the industry will cry, ‘Contract? What Contract?’. There is plenty of good information in here about what to look out for in transport contracts, which could help the smaller operator, but how many have an opportunity to negotiate any contract?


This has been how the system has worked, historically, the owner of the freight or the primary transport contractor tells the small trucking operator what they want done and how much they are going to pay. Then there is a shake of the hand and the deal is done. The big firm has got a cheap service and the trucking operator is left with an insecure business contract and massive overheads to provide the service.


This is the reality many of us have worked in over the years. Trucking people have to be risk takers, by their very nature, because if anything goes wrong they are going to go bust, end of story. Which other sector would live with the same kind of set of business ethics? Well, the building industry for starters, but conditions and contracts have become tighter over the years to protect the consumer, the house buyer.


There has not been the same pressure on road transport supply chains. The big company doling out the work is also the entity with the most market power. If it wants to be unreasonable, it can be and there is not a lot anyone can do about it, apart from walk away from the work and put the smaller business in jeopardy.


There are pressures on these big players to do the right thing, the chain of responsibility. The introduction of this, over ten years ago, was greeted by a flurry of activity among the big boys. The lawyers were coming up with contracts, where there had been handshakes in the past. The idea was to insulate the corporates from the implications of COR, if someone down the chain messed up.


This first flush of COR was followed by the realisation the authorities were not capable of creating the nightmare scenario, for the big players, of a road death being followed all the way up the chain to a decision in a capital city boardroom. Again we reverted to type and small operators continue to get bullied in order to keep on working.


There is some hope the revised COR rules and the changes to contract law which come into effect in November will help.  The protections will apply to businesses with fewer than 20 employees which agree to standard form contracts where the upfront price does not exceed either $300,000, or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.


Let’s hope this is the case. However, this is still not going to be the magic bullet, because the sheer dynamics of these kinds of contracts mean they are almost always bound to be unfair.


Many companies look at their freight task and work out the parts of it where they can make good money. These they service themselves. Then they pick out the components of the task on which it would be possible to make some kind of profit. These are offered to favoured and reliable suppliers who will often get a decent enough contract.


Then we come to the rest of the task, the work which needs to get done to fulfil the requirements of the entire contract. This is where minimal profits can be made and small operators pick up the odds and ends and try to make it work, often without a real contract.


Is this kind of situation likely to change? Not much in the short term and many would doubt it will ever change without a firm crackdown on the decision makers at the top.

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Nominate an Apprentice

The Australian Trucking Association is asking workshops to appreciate their young workers and nominate an apprentice to receive a scholarship. Cummins South Pacific is now looking for young service technicians from Australian workshops to receive one of three scholarships to attend the 2016 Paccar & Dealer TMC in Melbourne on October 24-26.
Read more

Remain Vigilant

Truckweek is a Great Idea

There is no doubt Truckweek is a great idea and worth supporting as best you can. Anything which improves the profile of the trucking industry and paints it in a positive light has to be good for all of us involved in the transport.


From its beginnings in the early nineties, it was all about the genuine enthusiasts getting out on the street and showing their community what a great industry trucking is and how the vast majority involved are good responsible citizens. It was a chance to show off an industry which seems to be invisible to the general public.


Despite thousands of trucks on every road in the country at all times of the day and night, no-one seems to notice. That is, until something goes wrong. The only time anything truck related seems to make it into the consciousness of Joe Public is when a truck tips over on their local roundabout or they feel intimidated by a B-double overtaking them on a freeway.


This cloak of invisibility we all seem to work under is going to be difficult to shift. It may have been useful for Harry Potter at Hogwarts, but not being seen most of the time is a distinct disadvantage for the trucking industry.


Road transport needs to be seen as it delivers all of the goods at the back door of Coles and Woolworths in your local shopping centre. The lowly banana has made a massive voyage from the paddock to the packing shed, out of the tropics in a truck, into specialist warehousing and then out again on the trip to the local supermarket.


We need to be visible making the wheels of industry turn, ensuring the coke arrives at the steelworks and the resulting steel arrives at the site where the general public’s home is getting built. The timber used in the same build has been dragged out of forests on trucks, down to the sawmill. The finished timber has made its way to the other end of the country on the back of another truck, before getting unloaded on site.


The Australian economy depends on goods entering and leaving the country. Road transport is a vital link in getting minerals and what manufactured goods we do make onto ships or planes and out of the country. We also pulls containers full of fridges and mountain bikes out of the ports and into the retail system.


It should be our task to show the people of Australia how vitally every aspect of their lives are intertwined deeply with trucks and trucking. If we don’t they will continue to be of the opinion their children should not go into the transport industry because it is a low status dirty job done by slobs in blue singlets and thongs.


The whole idea of Truckweek was borne out of a crisis. At the time, the industry was on the brink of being hit with unfair draconian legislation and being the government’s whipping boy when it came to road safety. Horrendous accidents and a slipshod attitude to safety were an issue and truckies had to return to public favour or be legislated out of existence.


Now, we are in another crisis. The population working in road transport is ageing fast, very few young people would ever consider working in trucking. At the same time suburban communities in the big cities want trucks off their streets.


Couple this with a freight task which keeps on rising at a multiple of economic growth. Yes, higher productivity may solve some issues,but it cannot solve them all. We need the person on the street to love us and appreciate we make their lifestyle possible, by making sure what they want is where they want, when they want it. All we have to do is tell them about it!

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Increased Visibility for Trucks

A meeting in Canberra has seen increased visibility for trucks on the agenda. Experts in the field came together to discuss a range of technical areas for review with a focus on improving safety through increased visibility for trucks.


The Australian Trucking Association’s Industry Technical Council meeting saw a focus on the Heavy Vehicle Visibility Technical Advisory Procedure (TAP). The document aims to inform the trucking industry about the significant safety benefits of applying high visibility marking to the side and rear of trucks.


Increased Visibility for Trucks


This TAP is being updated by the ATA together with industry representatives and will provide voluntary guidance to increase visibility on roads, along with the performance, ideal placement and recommended material specifications for the markings.


One study by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the effectiveness of retroreflective tape on heavy trailers has shown improved truck visibility in low light scenarios can reduce rear end collisions by 41 per cent and side collisions by 37 per cent. 


“These road safety benefits illustrate how important these markings are, and we strongly advise that all truck owners consider adhering to a higher level of lighting and reflector requirements,” said Chris Loose, ATA Senior Engineering Adviser.


ITC also discussed the next issue of the ATA’s Truck Impact Chart, which is now progressing to the final stage of approval by the ITC. The chart highlights how Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFV) not only have a lower impact on roads per tonne of freight moved, but also have significant safety and environmental benefits.


Increased Visibility for Trucks


“The case for investing in modern higher productivity vehicles speaks for itself,” said Loose. “Not only is there evidence showing that the emissions are further reduced, but road crash data from Austroads shows significant safety benefits for all road users from fewer larger trucks on the roads and the highly advanced safety technology found in these vehicles.”