25 years ago, there was very little industry representation on regulatory bodies that determined how road laws, and technical and operating standards were drafted and legislated, says Bob Woodward, Chief Engineer, Australian Trucking Association, when talking about the Industry Technical Council.
It was this lack of representation, neglect of technical issues and the crucial need for operators’ voices to be heard that saw industry come together to form the ATA’s ITC, a forum in which operators, manufacturers and suppliers could come together to discuss issues and develop solutions.
In an industry that is constantly changing and technology that is ever evolving, we have a responsibility to maintain best practice policy and procedures, whether it be to improve safety, productivity, or your bottom line.
The ITC took on this responsibility, and since its inception has made great strides in the technical space, delivering many wins for industry. Because we came from an operator background, we were not reluctant to come forward and say exactly what we thought. We were passionate about the stupid things causing us grief.
The ITC early days saw the establishment of the Technical and Maintenance Conference (now the TMC), one of Australia’s longest running technical conferences.
Led by industry for industry, for more than 20 years TMC has brought together maintenance technicians, apprentices, fleet managers and technical fleet professionals to learn industry best practice through an interactive program of technical sessions, compliance and information forums, job-specific presentations, and practical workshops.
On a practical level, the ITC and its members have led industry innovation and played an important role in the creation of easy to understand Technical Advisory Procedures (TAPs) that meet the needs of industry and fill the gaps in the vehicle standards, covering a range of topics including stability control, side underrun protection and truck visibility.
The ITC has also worked to educate local council and government bodies of the capabilities and limitations of high productivity freight vehicles, through HPFV demo days in 2009, 2010 and 2018 – live demonstrations on a real network that provides evidence that the acceptance of these vehicles can be extended.
More recently, the ITC developed a rigid drawbar converter dolly proof of concept project, after issues were raised about the dynamic issues with hinged drawbar air suspension converter dollies, especially with brake reactivity and tyre wear. The dolly received a great deal of interest from industry and is being trialled by members across the country.
To ensure that transport industry legislation provides the maximum benefits to the road transport industry, the ATA shares its technical knowledge from the ITC with government legislators through policy submissions and lobbying efforts.
We have had big wins in this space, including changes to PBS access permits that improved productivity and reduced red tape, as well as the introduction of roller brake testing. Working collaboratively, the ITC and ATA also developed strong policy positions on advanced braking technologies, calling on governments to mandate autonomous emergency braking and electronic stability control.
While there has been collaboration with regulators over the years, a lack of broader engagement with the ITC and its projects is a missed opportunity. The ITC has a desire to work more closely with regulators and share our knowledge. We would welcome any opportunity to be heard.
Today, the ITC is the trucking industry’s brains trust that solves issues and saves lives. It has nearly 100 members, several who have been active for more than 20 years. The group plays a crucial role in raising technology and maintenance standards and improving operational safety.
ITC member and Lead Applications Engineer at Knorr-Bremse, Rachel Michaud, says she enjoys the way the council brings together industry members from all backgrounds and interests.
“The discussions I have with members at events are invaluable and I always learn something I didn’t know,” she said.
Meanwhile ITC member and Maintenance Manager at CHS Broadbent, Jason Button, says he has been able to implement learnings gained from ITC into his workshop.
“You’re on the leading edge. You know what’s going on, what issues people are having, you get engineering and repair advice, and are up to speed with the truck laws,” Jason said.
To find out more about the Industry Technical Council, head to www.truck.net.au