While there’s been a fair amount of scepticism shown by many truck operators in regards to the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) since its introduction several years ago, there are some who have embraced the concept for specific tasks, seeing it as a way of boosting productivity and profits while maintaining optimum levels of safety.
One such operator is Noske Logistics, a company specialising in short and long haul bulk, over-dimensional loads and forestry logistics solutions for a diverse customer base.
Established by Kalari founder Tony Noske in 2005 with headquarters in Melbourne and operational offices in Geelong and Portland, the company runs a modern fleet and is committed to minimising its environmental footprint and maintaining a safe working environment for its employees.
Consequently, Noske Logistics was an active participant in the development and introduction of a new type of B-double combination known as the Higher Productivity Freight Vehicle (HPFV) for use within the Green Triangle region which covers some six million hectares in south-eastern South Australia and south-western Victoria.
The company has gained approval for the operation of one HPFV in the Green Triangle on a trial basis. The trial is ongoing and is subject to regular assessment based on community feedback, a safety performance review and a review of productivity benefits.
According to Tony Noske, the HPFV offers innovative design including increased payload and enhanced safety features. The combination operates at a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 77.5 tonnes and is 27.5 metres in length compared to the standard Higher Mass Limits (HML) B-double which is 26 metres long and operates at a GVM of 68.5 tonnes.
“Aside from the requirement to operate under the IAP, our HPFV is required to have roll stability technology,” Noske explained. “We worked closely with the trailer builder Barker Trailers to ensure all safety and monitoring features were included to a standard which satisfied VicRoads and the local councils.”
The HPFV used by Noske Logistics was permitted to operate after gaining approvals through the national Performance Based Standards (PBS) process, meaning the vehicle needed to comply with approved safety and infrastructure protection performance measures. The IAP is a condition of access for HPFVs in the Green Triangle region.
Within its forestry operations, Noske Logistics has developed a customised transport solution involving the transfer of plantation hardwood woodchips from the Green Triangle region to the Port of Portland.
“We currently have one HPFV in operation which runs between Myamyn and the Port of Portland, a distance of approximately 45 km along the Henty Highway and into the port precinct,” Noske explained. “We’re planning to have three more units operating on the same route by the middle of this year.
“Initially, the local community was worried about plans to trial the HPFV,” he continued. “We focussed heavily on providing community information sessions to inform the local residents and address any issues and questions they raised. The fact that the overall design of the HPFV results in a significant reduction in vehicle movements went a long way to alleviating the concerns of the community.
“Furthermore, we have made it clear that we’re prepared to listen and respond to the community’s views about the operation moving forward.”
According to Tony Noske, “The HPFVs enable the company to achieve a 44 percent increase in productivity per vehicle when compared to the standard HML B-double combinations used for woodchip transport. This arises from a 12 percent increase in payload and faster turnaround times during pick-up and delivery.
“Since we were embarking on something completely new, the greatest challenges with this freight task lay in the design phase. It was important from the outset to work with VicRoads, local councils, the community, Barker Trailers and our customer to understand the task as well as identify safety and infrastructure concerns, particularly on local roads with low traffic volumes, and to develop innovative, workable solutions.
“As agreed solutions were innovative, it was accepted that a lengthy trial was justified to identify and resolve potential safety, engineering and other issues.
“By way of contrast, the actual pick-up and delivery of woodchips is reasonably straightforward. Woodchip is a low value/low density commodity so it makes absolute sense to maximise payload and productivity. This transport task has a fixed point of origin and destination and offers a dedicated service at each end of the journey for loading and unloading.
“This means in an operational sense it is simply a matter of picking up woodchips at one end, ensuring compliance with axle group loading and vehicle mass limits prior to departure, delivering the woodchips to the destination, returning empty for another load and going through the same routine. This also maximises the benefits that can be gained because we know every load is 44 percent more productive than it would be if our trucks were operating at HML.”
He added that another significant factor in optimising productivity is knowing exactly where the vehicles are at any given time.
“We’ve been using GPS for seven years now to track our fleet and to streamline our scheduling and communication processes with the drivers,” Noske remarked. “With chain of responsibility legislation playing an increasingly important role in road transport, it is critical to our operation that we utilise the most comprehensive and technologically advanced methods as part of our compliance system. As fatigue management has been at the forefront of our focus for some time, incorporating GPS related technologies assists the operations managers in efficiently managing our drivers in this respect.”
Furthermore, the company’s long experience with GPS meant the transition to the IAP was something of a natural progression rather than a giant leap into the unknown.
“Noske Logistics has seen the advantages of using GPS tracking elsewhere in our fleet which meant taking the next step to the IAP wasn’t an issue for us,” he declared. “At the end of the day, VicRoads was adamant that the IAP was required to operate HPFVs and we understood why they required it as a compliance assurance tool.
“The fact is there are many local roads and many alternative routes we could choose to move woodchips from the point of pick-up to the point of delivery. We understand some roads are simply not suited to HPFVs due to their alignment, bridge condition or pavement condition.
“Given that enrolling in IAP was critical to securing approval from VicRoads to operate the HPFVs, we were well positioned to offer an attractive proposal to our woodchip customer.”
Accordingly, Tony Noske asserts his company has been able to generate a range of benefits for its business and its customers by enrolling in the IAP.
“We have been able to increase our payload by about 12 percent across our woodchip operations in the Green Triangle,” he said. “The installation of the IAP has led to a 12 percent reduction in truck trips as well as a significant reduction in emissions per tonne-kilometre and significantly higher productivity levels per vehicle and per employee. The IAP gives our company and our customer greater levels of compliance assurance and has simplified vehicle scheduling.
“The bottom line is that the IAP has helped Noske Logistics to become a more efficient and safer road transport operator and better service provider,” he concluded.