Based in Inverell, New South Wales, Grant Albinus, of KGB Transport, has leant from experience about the subject of choosing a trailer to get the best access outcomes. He spends most of his working life hauling grain from his local area into Brisbane, Queensland, and returning to northern NSW with fertiliser.
With an operation like this, productivity is king; every last kilogram needs to be accounted for. However, Grant has decided to use triaxle dollies on his A-double despite the weight penalty when travelling through Queensland.
“On my previous truck and dog, Tefco phoned me and suggested that we change the dimensions in order to meet the incoming PBS requirements,” says Grant. “From when I ordered it to when they delivered it, the rules had changed in each state. I ran that for about a year, but I couldn’t get the extra weight I needed in a lot of places.
“Then I went to a five axle dog which enabled me to go to higher weights on B-double routes. On some jobs I could run the truck and two dog trailers as a road train in NSW, but not in Queensland. Then Graincorp banned me, because I had an extra axle on the middle trailer, the reason was, there was not a picture on the poster on the weigh bridge wall of the combination which I was using.
“Roads and Maritime Services told me that the combination I was using was legal and it went back and forth for six months. In the end, I was legal, but Graincorp wouldn’t give me the correct weight. Then I went down the PBS avenue, got the two trailers included in the PBS permit and this meant that I could get my weight in NSW and access into Queensland. It was a three year process.”
Grant was frustrated by the way the system seems to work. He found that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has no power whatsoever over the state authorities. They couldn’t even force the states to give him an answer. He felt powerless against a wall of bureaucracy with no information coming back to help him.
There are other frustrating aspects to the way the rules currently work. Grant uses a triaxle dolly on the A-double, because that is what he needs in order to be able to run to the east of the Newell Highway in NSW. However, using that triaxle dolly gives him no extra mass allowance in Queensland. He actually loses out on mass coming across the border.
The dolly can only be loaded to 17 tonnes in Queensland just the same as if it was a bogey dolly. In terms of safety, Grant contends that it would be better to have the 22.5 tonne allowance on the dolly and the 17 tonnes on the rear tri grouping on the rear trailer.
“It’s the same for the guys hauling two 40 foot container’s from the Darling Downs into Brisbane,” says Grant. “There is a length issue, so the drawbars are made shorter, which means the combinations don’t handle as well. Allowing them to run at 32m would make them easier and safer in terms of handling.”
Grant’s A-double set up runs at exactly 30m long. The GCM available between Brisbane and Toowoomba or Warwick is 85 tonnes. Anywhere west of Toowoomba or Warwick, Grant is able to access Higher Mass Limit (HML) weights at 91 tonnes, because he has tracking and digital scales scales fitted on the truck. Running at 85 tonnes gives Grant a payload of 56 tonnes on the A-double.
“In terms of costs, I would be better off, if I was running in an out of Brisbane to run with a bogey dolly, but I would lose out everywhere else, ” says Grant. “You’ve got to work out what is your best option. I have made my combinations as versatile as I can.”
In response to this article GrainCorp have contacted Diesel and stated:
“GrainCorp uses truck codes to determine truck mass limits during the unloading process. All truck code data is verified with road regulators to ensure accuracy.
“With respect to the truck and dog road train configuration, as outlined in the Diesel News article, Mr Grant Albinus attempted to deliver to a GrainCorp site under this configuration without prior notification. As a result, GrainCorp’s truck charts and systems prevented GrainCorp from unloading the truck. GrainCorp sought guidance from road regulators about mass limit and access, and they determined that the combination required both a PBS vehicle approval and PBS access permit, which Mr Albinus was unable to provide at the time. Once the permits were obtained, GrainCorp was able to set up the required truck code which in turn enabled unloading .
“GrainCorp’s process exists to improve road safety with trucks. In this case, GrainCorp’s process prevented a truck operating off route without the appropriate permits.”