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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. Read more

Brake Testing, B-Triples, Fatigue, Bridges and the Return of the Self-Clearing Defect

The last week in trucking has seen Brake Testing, B-Triples, Fatigue, Bridges and the Return of the Self Clearing Defect make an appearance.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has reintroduced the self-clearing defect notice for heavy-vehicle defects that do not pose a safety risk.

“This category will allow minor non-safety-related defects to be rectified by the operator, including where a vehicle’s number plate is obscured or illegible,” said Sal Petroccitto, NHVR CEO. “A self-clearing defect notice means the operator does not have to present the vehicle to an approved person to clear the notice. Read more

Remain Vigilant

Slowly Slowly Catchee Monkey

It is a phrase dating from the bad old days of British colonialism, but ‘Slowly Slowly Catchee Monkey’ is also how trucking rules reform seems to be travelling. The latest changes announced by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) bear this out with the final return of the self-clearing defect at roadside inspections.

There are two conflicting explanations as to the origin of the phrase we are discussing. One is all about British soldiers catching monkeys as pets by setting traps with a basket of fruit. The monkey could fit its hand through, but not remove it with a piece of fruit in its grasp. The second is from Boy Scouts founder, Robert Baden-Powell, who adapted an old Ashanti (Ghanaian proverb) to describe his softly, softly approach to deploying military patrols in hostile territory.

If there is one thing we can agree on, it is the development of a single regulatory regime for trucks is an exceedingly slow process. There is progress, but sometimes it seems to be at a snail’s pace. The most important thing is there is progress and we are moving towards some form of national (or east-coast) integration.

Before the NHVR came into existence, there was plenty of well-founded cynicism about what it could achieve, but the feeling was any kind of improvement, even at a low level, would be better than the mess we had to deal with before. It was bad, annoying, and unjustifiable, so any small movement towards a more rational regulation of trucking had to be welcomed.

This latest announcement, was one of a few released by the NHVR this month. The new self-clearing defect notice for heavy-vehicle defects that do not pose a safety risk sounds very like the official warnings we were used to getting in some states in the past. This indicates a return to some sort of rationality, even if we had to get rid of them all together before NHVR set about convincing some of the more recalcitrant states to join the club and introduce some tolerance into the rules.

It’s simple and straightforward – the issuing of a self-clearing defect notice will be for things like a cracked light lens, an obscured number plate or a failed brake light, where all others are working. We now have 28 days to rectify the defects listed in a self-clearing defect notice before being liable for a fine up to $3,000.

Now all we have to work out is who represents the monkey in our story and who is the British soldier? Who is trying to catch out whom? We should leave any idle speculation to others.

Perhaps, the patrols in hostile territory are the teams of NHVR inspectors checking trucks on a roadside in New South Wales? It can get pretty heated out there at night.

Ravaglioli Commercial Vehicle Wireless Mobile Column Lifts

Modifying a Truck

What you can and cannot do when modifying a truck is often in question. As a Code of Practice, VSB6 has set out clear guidelines on how to modify trucks. Now, times have changed and the code is being renewed, Diesel News has been examining the changes. Read more

The True State of Trucks?

The True State of Trucks?

The survey has been done and the results are in, is this the true state of trucks? The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has released the first of what is expected to be a series of snapshots on the condition of the truck fleet on our roads from the National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey. The first report is an overview of the fleet and its basic condition, plus some other basic data on the trucks on the highways.

 

This new mountain of data – over six million data points – on our trucks was compiled during the heavy vehicle health check, which took place late last year. Over seven thousand vehicles were stopped and examined by 364 specifically and centrally trained inspectors on the roadside and in depot visits at 168 different inspection sites. Using the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual as a guide, non-conformities were identified and recorded. They were ranked as being either minor, major or major (grounded).

 

The top ranked non-conformity was in the brake department, followed by steering and suspension and then engine driveline and exhausts. Trailers’ brakes came in at 11 per cent of non-conformities plus lower figures for suspension and couplings.

 

The True State of Trucks?
Daniel Elkins, Manager – Safety, NHVR.

 

“Our conclusion is the fleet is, generally, safe,” said Daniel Elkins, NHVR Manager – Safety. “Of those inspected, 88 per cent did not have a major non-conformity and 98.7 per cent were able to continue their journey. We then went and looked at some international, studies and found two comparative studies in Europe and America. The major non-conformity rate is slightly better than that of Europe (22.7 per cent in Australia and 27.4 per cent in Europe).”

 

Looking at the rate of major non-conformities, the best performing vehicles were buses (two per cent) and special purpose vehicles (three per cent). Among trucks on the road, B-double prime movers came out at eight per cent and road trains at 10. Not quite so well performing were semis at 14 per cent and rigids at 13.

 

The worst performing vehicles were trailers being pulled by a rigid at 21 per cent, single trailers were at 14 per cent, road train trailers at 11 and the best performers were B-double sets at nine per cent major non-conformities.

 

One of the interesting pieces of data to arise from the findings is the actual age of trucks on the road. Rego data tells us the average age of trucks on the road is 14 years. However, in this statistically significant survey the average ages of the vehicles stopped ranged from 9.9 years in rigids to 5.2 years in B-double prime movers. Thus suggests many of the older vehicles registered rarely venture out onto the highway.

 

When considering age, it was also a good indicator of the non-conformity rate with new trucks under two years old only showing major non-conformity at one per cent, while the comparative figure for trucks over 13 years old was approaching 12 per cent.

 

The survey found one in eight trucks were participating in a maintenance scheme. Those in the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme or Trucksafe only had a non-conformity rate of nine per cent, but those outside the scheme were at 13 per cent.

 

HVIA Questions Roller-Brake Testing

 

According to the Heavy Vehicle Industry Association (HVIA), the NHVR baseline report may overstate non-conforming brake systems, particularly for lightly laden trailers fitted with advanced braking technologies that incorporate a load-sensing function.

 

Brett Wright, HVIA CEO, responded to the release of the survey with some reservations.

 

“HVIA welcomes the publication of the data,” said Wright. “The results of the survey confirm the rising level of non-conformity as vehicles age, the importance of braking performance as a key safety issue, and the importance of good maintenance practices on maintaining the safety of the fleet. Accruing and utilising accurate data is crucial to determining the effectiveness of enforcement strategies and their impact on the safety status of the heavy-vehicle fleet.

 

The True State of Trucks?
Brett Wright, CEO, HVIA.

 

“HVIA and other industry groups are concerned that the current methodology for roller-brake testing has overstated the non-conformances. Particularly for lightly laden trailers fitted with advanced braking technologies that incorporate a load sensing function. We urge the Regulator to continue discussing the roller brake testing methodology with industry to resolve these issues.”

 

WA Not Included

 

“It was disappointing that Western Australia did not participate in the survey,” said NatRoad CEO, Warren Clark, while welcoming the report. “This country’s regulation must proceed on a nationally consistent basis founded on nationally gathered evidence. Having the Northern Territory and Western Australia outside of the nationally consistent Heavy Vehicle National Law, as well as differences between states and territories in the implementation of that law is not a model for the 21st century.

 

“Any changes to the heavy-vehicle roadworthiness system must lead to uniform Australia-wide roadworthiness rules and enforcement that are underpinned by a risk-based approach. The NHVR is currently moving towards that outcome. At present, some states require every truck to be inspected each year, regardless of their risk profile; other states do not. Changing this diverse regulatory approach is being properly and diligently addressed by the NHVR with the survey as essential foundational research.”

 

 

Automated Manual Transmissions Are The Gearbox For Me

Automated Manual Transmissions Are The Gearbox For Me

Diesel News’ regular contributor, Paul Matthei, says ‘automated manual transmissions are the gearbox for me’, as he tries to get some perspective on the way we look at  the AMT.

As a professional driver of semi-trailers and B-doubles for more than two decades, I have witnessed the steady development and acceptance of the automated manual transmission (AMT) from late last century. In fact, my first taste of a two-pedal AMT was in 2002 when I was assigned a new Volvo FM12 I-Shift equipped prime mover to do local refrigerated pickup and delivery work around Western Sydney.

Automated Manual Transmissions Are The Gearbox For Me

I vividly recall the immediate reduction in fatigue I felt after a 10 hour stint compared to driving a manual truck. It just made the job so much easier and left me feeling no compulsion to return to driving a manual on a day-to-day basis. In short, I was sold on two-pedal automated transmissions after the first shift (pun intended).

These days, doing similar work driving two-pedal European trucks around South East Queensland, I remain convinced of the benefits of the AMT in reducing not only driver fatigue and vehicle wear and tear but also fuel consumption. The reason for this is that when driven in economy mode the engine rpm is kept as low as possible and by anticipating stops and getting off the throttle early, a worthwhile improvement in fuel economy can be achieved without sacrificing performance.

While the benefits are more pronounced in heavy-duty applications, AMT equipped light-duty vehicles such as the Isuzu N Series can be also expected to achieve superior results to manual counterparts, particularly in the hands of less experienced drivers.

And so it was, on a brisk morning the trucking media assembled at Isuzu headquarters in Port Melbourne to find out all about the new N Series. First up was an introduction to and from recently appointed Managing Director and CEO of Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL), Hiroshi Nishizaka, who said Isuzu expects continued strong demand for its products in developed countries such as Australia, Japan and the US.

Automated Manual Transmissions Are The Gearbox For Me
Managing Director and CEO of Isuzu Australia, Hiroshi Nishizaka

“This will see Australia playing a more buoyant role as a developed economy in the Isuzu global picture,” he said, adding that 2016 was a very important year for Isuzu Australia on the product front. “It also marked a significant milestone for Isuzu Motors Japan, the 100th anniversary. The first Isuzu Japanese car was produced in 1922 and the first truck in 1924. Then in 1959 the very first Elf light truck was introduced, a forerunner of today’s N Series. Obviously the 2016 N Series is a far cry from the first generation Elf, representing over half a century of development and innovation.”

Next to the podium was Phil Taylor, Director and COO of Isuzu, who described 2016 as a watershed year for the company.

“It marked the first time two-pedal trucks outsold three-pedal variants in the light and medium-duty markets,” Taylor said. “We’re seeing a lot of businesses, especially those operating in urban PUD (pick-up and delivery) applications, making the switch to two-pedal trucks because of the much broader employment pool it offers. That’s because automatics and AMTs require less training than a manual, which immediately creates more options in staffing and a reduction in training costs.

“We’ve responded to the need for a more ‘car-like’ feel and ease of operation through our product ranges like the Isuzu ready-to-work line-up,” he added.

“The introduction of the Isuzu automated manual transmission with torque converter (TC-AMT) to our F Series range has generated a fantastic response, with our customers praising its efficiency, smoothness and ease of operation. We’re confident the updated 2016 N Series with Isuzu 3rd generation TC-AMT will be just as popular.”

NHVR Tasked With Getting Access Permits Sorted Out

NHVR Tasked With Getting Access Permits Sorted Out

The NHVR, tasked with getting access permits sorted out, is making progress. It has had, what can be best described as a chequered history, especially when it comes to access permits. A lot of promises in the early days were followed by a meltdown when the permit system first went online in early 2014.

Since then it has been a slow hard climb for the team, known now as Access Connect, tasked with the job of bringing the Australian permit system into a single entity able to grant access to trucking operators on particular roads at particular times, with a short turnaround time from application to permission being granted.

Needless to say the permit system is incredibly complicated, and completely different in each state involved. The NHVR have been processing the permits required by those crossing state borders, but intrastate permits had to be returned to the hands of the states themselves, after the initial debacle.

It has been a long slow grind for the department working to develop a truly national system within the NHVR. This has been helped by the process of creating a set of notices to replace many of the permits which are automatically granted on a periodic basis. This means certain routes are identified and classified allowing particular vehicles to use them within guidelines and restrictions laid out in the notice. These notices have gone a long way in reducing the permit granting process, but further work still needs to be done.

NHVR Tasked With Getting Access Permits Sorted Out

“The national notices have been making progress,” says David Carlisle, NHVR Program Director for Access Connect. “We’ve got about 180 notices around the country and it’s been a challenge for us to try and harmonise. Trying to get jurisdictions to work with us on a common model has been a journey, but we are excited to see three keys ones pop out the other end.

“Industry needs that level of certainty about trying to get their vehicles on the road. These national notices are critical to that and it eliminates the need for permits. Our organisation is very keen to see where we can reduce permits requirements by using notices. It can only be done in partnership with jurisdictions, and that’s the partnership challenge we have had.”

So far we have a truck and dog, a crane notice and, now, the over size over mass notice. Each one of these took 15 months in a series of negotiations between the NHVR and the states, getting gradually closer to an agreement to harmonise across state boundaries.

“It’s been a challenge to work out what those issues were on day one in 2014,” says Carlisle. “It wasn’t just a systems issue, policies which should have been there, weren’t there. Processes needed to be optimised and at the time our job was to stabilise our business.

“It’s been a partnership between us and state jurisdictions to make the permit system operate well. We are trying to position ourselves in the next six months to get delegations brought back to us. The functions which are delegated out to our jurisdictional partners will start to return to us. It’s scheduled to be back on a case by case basis over the coming months. We have a stable access permitting business now.

“It’s all about us getting the permits out of the door.”

Access Pre-Approvals to Help With Permit Processing

Access Pre-Approvals to Help With Permit Processing

A method of access pre-approvals to help with permit processing has been developed by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. The NHVR have been developing a pre-approval process with the managers of many roads. This means the road authority has said to the NHVR, if someone applies to run this class of truck on this route, you don’t need to get our permission again. In fact, the NHVR has a team who’s sole task is to get pre-approvals from road manager, to lock them in to avoid asking the same question over and over, for each permit application.

Access Pre-Approvals to Help With Permit Processing

This process does allow road managers to retain some control over their network. In the past, there was no step between making every vehicle using the road make a permit application and going through the gazetting process for the route, for a particular combination. Now, they can pre-approve, avoiding a permit backlog, but can end that approval if there is any problem with it in the future.

Investigation showed over 200 different conditions were being imposed on operators under their permits. With some negotiation, the NHVR has distilled them down to just 25 across the jurisdictions, to simplify matters and gain better consistency. However, first and last mile issues are still problematic.

“We are working to get as much information as we can out to road managers,” says Roger Garcia, who is leading the Access Connect Project. “We are trying to get everything happening smoother and faster. Industry waiting fifteen days for a permit, that’s not good enough. They need to move and they need to move now. So, for us to hold it up for any amount of time is not good. We are trying to get industry moving in a safe productive way.”