Clear Modification Guidelines

As a Code of Practice, VSB6 has set out clear modification guidelines on how to modify trucks. Now, times have changed and the code is being renewed, and Diesel News has been looking at the changes.

For many involved in the trucking industry, the concept of VSB6 is just something quoted when changes to a truck may compromise safety down the track. As a guide to how to modify a truck without weakening the structure, deceasing safety or breaking the law, VSB6 has been the reference point for workshops.

In legal terms, VSB6 is prescribed by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) as the primary standard used by Approved Vehicle Examiners (AVEs) to approve modifications to heavy vehicles. This takes precedence unless the vehicle manufacturer provides adequate instructions, in which case the manufacturer’s instructions are paramount.

“We have a National Code of Practice and the National Heavy Vehicle Law (NHVL) gives the NHVR power to recognise those practices,” says Peter Hart, Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) Chairman. “This isn’t the only one we are going to have. This is a mechanism by which industry can influence outcomes, by developing sensible codes of practice, which are picked up.”

The current review is the first wholesale review of the VSB6 code since its inception in the early 1990s. When the NHVR took over the handling of the code, it decided to bring the whole thing up to the standard it sets for all of its publications, dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. The final document is expected to be with us in September, later this year.

“We wanted to ensure the code actually matched the content,” says Peter Austin, Manager Vehicle Safety at the NHVR. “The first part of the process is to professionalise the standards used, and the second phase will be all about professionalising the modifiers who do the work.”

A number of codes have been rolled up together to simplify the system. There are also some mods which are not deemed to be in need of certification. An example of this concerns a range of air-operated accessories which are fitted – now the code will only specify and certify the air pressure protection valve itself.

Visibly, the entire code has been changed and is looking a lot more user friendly. New diagrams of equipment and fitments are in place on some of the early drafts, but all will be renewed before publication. There is now a step-by-step guide to the modification process. It also now uses a rational layout – sections explain issues around the particular topic highlighted.

The details of the new code are currently being reconsidered following the kind of feedback received by the NHVR. The results of the review and the consequent feedback are expected to see the light of day in September. You can keep up with the latest from the NHVR at its website.

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Author: Tim Giles

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