SA Government holding back PBS

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.