This week’s Global Heavy Vehicle Leaders summit threw up a great illustration of the PBS access schmozzle and its implications for both trucking operators and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
In a conference situation a trucking operator, Paul Cootes, who is frustrated with the road blocks to getting a final sign off from local road managers to allow access for PBS tippers, took the opportunity to get stuck into Sal Petroccitto, NHVR CEO, about the slowness of the access decision-making. Read more
This week Diesel News is talking about Linfox, Single Axle A-doubles and Scania Releases.
Linfox has said it is investing in the future of its customers and the Northern Territory with the construction of the Linfox Darwin Intermodal Facility. Situated next to the Darwin railhead, the 3,000m2 purpose-built facility will create up to 15 ongoing local jobs. Read more
There seems to be a shortage of those willing to take on the status quo within the system and take it forward, reckons long-time campaigner, David Coonan. His time at the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) saw him battling the legislators and bureaucrats, toe to toe, on a daily basis.
He rails against bureaucrats knowing what is right, but not willing to put their head above the parapet. He points to Bob Pearson, the first winner of the ATA Technical Achievement Award, as an example of someone willing to take on the task of explaining why a new bigger combination should be used.
Bob came from a public service background to drive the development of the B-double, because he knew it to be the right thing to do, reckons Dave.
“There’s an easy way forward, there’s a difficult way forward and there’s the right way forward,” says Dave. “It can be really hard to take the right way forward.
“In the safety arena, there should be better combinations coming out, there should be better drivers coming in and the regulators should be saying this is good for everybody. It shouldn’t be just about the industry having to do more for less.”
According to Dave, performance-based standards (PBS) failed when the road system wasn’t classified as it was supposed to be. As far as he is concerned, the road agencies should not be talking about what the vehicle looks like. They should be telling us what the road is capable of and laying out the parameters. Then the vehicle designers can build a vehicle to fit those parameters.
“Road agencies shouldn’t care whether it’s a B-double, or something else,” says Dave. “If it meets the B-double performance criteria it should be OK. If it looks like something different, as long as those specifications are adequate to guard safety and infrastructure, it should be allowed to run. It might mean it’s got more axles or is a different configuration.”
Dave’s frustration with the development of PBS, after the initial prospects at the time of its conception, were so high is palpable. “PBS got off track and we couldn’t work out how to get it back on track,” he says.
Doing the Right Thing
According to Dave the vast majority of the trucking industry operates within the law, despite the law.
“The trucking industry is a hard industry to be in, but there a lot of people who do the right thing and do it very well,” says Dave. “There’s a lot of good inspectors and there’s a lot of good truck drivers. A few of the bad ones cause the issues. The vast majority of truck drivers want to come home at night, to behave themselves and operators want to run good businesses.
“Look at the work diary, do you think the average person could sit down and fill out something like it for their life, and not get a $600 fine? The last set of reforms of driving hours were bad for drivers because they took away flexibility. The nana nap is very difficult to have now, but it saves a lot of lives.
“The seven-hour break routine is fine for six hours’ sleep, if you can sleep where you feed. Instead, we make them drive out of town. I think some of the rules are cruel. I wonder how many of those working on the work diary in the regulator space have ever sat down and had to fill one out around doing their job.”
The early retirement of David Coonan has left a vacancy in the trucking industry for someone willing to show their passion in no uncertain terms, wear their heart on their sleeve and remain determined to stand their ground. Good luck for the future Dave!
Operators are always looking to improve productivity due to tighter margins, but the SA Government holding back PBS is causing a number of issues. One of the strong contenders to improve productivity is the Performance Based Standards scheme. Innovative combinations have been designed to up the payload potential of a Mount Gambier timber haulage fleet, like Tabeel Trading’s, significantly.
B-doubles using two quad axle trailers are already working in the area, some of them for subcontractors hired by Tabeel to handle the heavy workload. Another option is the A-double, the equipment choice Tabeel would like to pursue, capable of upping the payload to 65 tonnes per vehicle.
Unfortunately, there are roadblocks stopping the operation from committing to the bigger combinations. As usual, it is just one part of the process which is causing the issue, but unlike many other areas of the country it is not the local councils who have created the problem.
The local council are willing to work with the timber transporters and get last mile access in and out of the various cutting operations to maximise opportunity for locally based businesses. They are supporting the local community.
At the top of the process, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has been helpful in processing the designs of a number of generic combinations which timber carters can get built for the operations. The technical knowhow and will to improve productivity are in place.
In South Australia, it is the state government’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, which is stifling productivity gains. Objections and delays accompany every application for a PBS permit in the area.
From Tabeel’s point of view the situation has become so difficult the operation is leaving any building of PBS combinations on hold until the future picture becomes clearer. The company is wary of commissioning an expensive prime mover and set of trailers, if the chances of using them on a large proportion of the jobs in which they are involved are slim to non-existent.
The frustration is palpable when fleet managers talk about the issues they have been dealing with while they watch operators in other parts of the country get real productivity gains and the opportunity to further grow their businesses.
The roadblocks are seen by many of the trucking operators in the area to be nitpicking and pedantic and the delays seem to be deliberately prolonged to cause disruption. Meanwhile, as the timber hauliers of SA wait for common sense to prevail, payload remains at a maximum of 49 tonnes, when it could be extended to 65 tonnes on the right A-double combination.
Bundaberg recently got to see top performance trucks on demo, courtesy of a group of local councils in Queensland. The event saw the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator bring together a selection of the latest innovative truck and trailer designs to enhance productivity and safety using Performance Based standards.
A difficult winding demonstration course showed off the capabilities of the PBS trucks with a tight roundabout being the centre of attention. The representatives of a number of local authorities responsible for roads in Queensland saw the trucks manoeuvre around the course with ease, little off tracking and no road damage.
On show were a selection of the types of truck which have developed using the PBS principles. There were truck and dog combinations using the extra length available for stability and extra axles to increase GCM. B-double used dimensions and axle positioning to improve overall performance and productivity. The A-doubles on show gave the road authorities insight into their capabilities.
Also on display was the latest MAN truck being used by the Australian Army. The twin steer axle weights are causing some access issues and the army saw the display as a chance to mitigate any concerns on the part of the road authorities.
Star of the show was a small A-double milk tanker in the colours of Blu Logistics. This 6×4 prime mover pulls a single axle trailer, which, in turn, pulls a tandem axle dolly with spread axles and steering. This connects to a second single axle trailer. The axle set up with steering saw the combination circling an especially tight roundabout with ease and the spreading of the axles brings with it the added benefit of higher single axle masses.
For more on this impressive demonstration see the next issue of Diesel Magazine and get the full story. http://www.dieselnews.com.au/subscribe-to-diesel-magazine/