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					      feature          HVTT Conference

                     on the road                                                                                                                                  Marcus Coleman.

                                                                                                                                           how far the PBS structure has come and          a case-by-case basis, very similar to the      Staying flexible
                                                                                                                                           where its advantages lie.                       current permit system.                         Through talking to a customer focus
australia’s Performance Based Standards project is a global leader                                                                         “With PBS reform you need to keep               The Australian Trucking Association (ATA)      group the NTC realised that the basic
in transport innovation, although it hasn’t been without its teething                                                                      chipping away at it,” says Marcus. “We          has recently delivered its response to the     standards set for all previous vehicles can
problems. this important topic will be the subject of one of the main                                                                      are here to give operators technical advice     NTC’s discussion paper, agreeing that          be too rigid. Safer and more productive
                                                                                                                                           and to get the technology through as            the current PBS system is not delivering       vehicles have to be rejected if they do
papers at the HVtt Conference scheduled for March 2010 in Melbourne.
                                                                                                                                           best we can. At the moment, PBS is in a         results and must be reformed.                  not meet all of the standards set for PBS
                                                                                                                                           transitional phase and the PBS review is        “The evidence is in plain sight: the           vehicles. Applicants are frustrated by

                                                                                                                                           an important step in helping to get all of      maps provided for PBS to date do               the fact that such trucks, even though
                    ecause of the sheer size      One of the major topics to be discussed     approved the completed package               the regulations in place.”                      not reflect even the current networks          they don’t quite meet the standards, will
                    of our continent and          next March will be the development of       whereby if an operator came up with          The NTC admits the scheme has not               used by equivalent vehicles. The aim           have better stability and handling than
                    our difficult freight task,   a Performance Based Standards (PBS)         a vehicle capable of meeting all of the      yet delivered to its full potential, the        of Performance Based Standards is to           vehicles currently allowed under the
                    Australia is a leader in      structure that allows the introduction of   standards listed by the PBS scheme for       extent of its adoption by the Transport         allow trucking operators to get approval       prescriptive regulations.
                    producing innovative          innovative high productivity vehicles on    a particular road classification, it could   Industry falling well below expectations.       for safer and more productive vehicle          The NTC’s discussion paper introduced
                    vehicles that increase        Australian roads.                           travel on any road for which it had been     When looking at the particular problems         combinations and types to operate              the idea of what it calls ‘generic high
                    productivity while            This has been a long process and the        designed. The innovation of introducing      of developing a high productivity               on any road with the appropriate PBS           productivity vehicles’ sitting somewhere
handling the rigours of distributing              National Transport Commission (NTC)         a set of regulations not stipulating the     vehicle, ascertaining its ability to meet       classification. But the policy is not          between current vehicles built to
freight in a demanding environment.               has seen the scheme inching towards         vehicle’s limits but instead asking the      the standards and then convincing the           working.                                       comply with prescriptive regulations
The rest of the world looks to countries          acceptance by both state and local          operator to be responsible for proving       government authority on whose roads             “PBS is not delivering broad scale             and highly innovative one-off designs
such as ourselves and Canada, first               authorities and transport operators. The    what it could do, marked a philosophical     it will travel, it is obtaining access to the   additional access to more productive,          used to make large productivity gains in
world countries with relatively low               latest NTC discussion paper on the topic    change in the way heavy vehicle              infrastructure that is proving to be the        safer, modular combinations, even though       specialist areas. In the past, blueprints of
populations needing freight hauled over           was released at the end of 2008 and is      technology could be allowed to develop.      biggest hurdle.                                 these vehicles are within the existing         standard PBS vehicles, like B-Triples and
vast distances, to see if our innovative          an opportunity for further public input     Allowing vehicle design to move outside      The NTC discussion paper identifies the         pavement and bridge loading limits,” the       quad-axle semis, have been produced
technologies can be adapted to their own          and feedback, aiming to confirm areas of    the normal prescriptive rules promises       failure to gain any clear certainty of road     ATA says.                                      for the NTC by the ARRB Group but
specific freight tasks.                           concern and identify proposed solutions     major productivity gains for the industry    network access to be one of the issues          The NTC accepts transport operators are        were found to be impractical in terms
The Heavy Vehicle Transport Technology            to these issues. The results of this        – if the system is allowed to function as    dictating the success or failure of the PBS     not likely to invest in expensive custom-      of ease of manufacture and use. The
(HVTT11) event to be held in Melbourne            discussion will inform the NTC’s review     initially envisaged.                         scheme.                                         designed equipment without a lot more          NTC realised the need to develop more
from 11–18 March 2010, leading up                 of the PBS scheme, its effectiveness, and   Attendees at the HVTT Conference             The October 2007 plan called for a              certainty about road network access. In        flexible blueprints, something easier to
to the International Truck, Trailer and           its ability to grow and receive a wider     from around the world will have              clearly defined road classification system,     practice, state government inertia, local      manufacture and fit into a large fleet.
Equipment Show at the Melbourne                   acceptance.                                 the opportunity to quiz many of the          whereby operators could be sure a               government ignorance and transport             “We’re working on a framework, so it
Showgrounds, is a forum in which the                                                          figures heavily involved in PBS. Marcus      particular vehicle would be allowed on          operators’ fear of massive engineering         is possible to develop blueprints for
engineers and decision-makers of the              A false dawn                                Coleman, Manager Engineering and             any route for which it could be proven          consultation fees have seen very few actual    innovative vehicles. I started talking to
world get together to discuss the future          It was back in October 2007 when the        Productivity at the NTC, has been invited    to be suitable. In practice, the local          PBS vehicles take to the roads of Australia,   various people in the industry and in
development of road freight technology.           Australian Transport Council (ATC)          to present a paper demonstrating just        authorities are approving vehicles on           so far.                                        government and they all appear to be

64.    march 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    65.
      feature        HVTT Conference

there should be some useful                                                                 and cannot apply for permission to use
                                                                                            a PBS vehicle, approaching the ATC at

examples out on the road
                                                                                            the end of 2008. The most significant of
                                                                                            these amendments was the wish to make
                                                                                            it possible for the Implementation Panel
for the delegates at the HVtt                                                               to use some discretion in the application
                                                                                            of the performance standards.
conference next March to                                                                    “It allows the panel to use some
                                                                                            common sense when looking at an
examine in the metal.                                                                       application,” says Marcus. “For example,
                                                                                            we looked at the design of a bus
                                                                                            requiring a wheelchair access system.
supportive of our approach. The best          it is necessary to implement actual           With this system installed the overhang
way is for industry to design what it is      verification testing after the vehicles are   was, in fact, too long, but it was decided
they want and then to make sure they          built.                                        to pass the vehicle and allow an
can be built. I have contacted several                                                      exemption.”                                  stones for an increased level of               As Marcus explains, for anyone going       2008 but proved to be inadequate as
of the trailer manufacturers who are          Relationship problems                         If any exemptions are made by the panel      productivity in the future. But there is no    through the PBS process, there have        a stimulus to operators. The difference
looking at various blueprints. They are       The NTC is finding that the system has        the process will be entirely transparent     easy way forward. We are going through         to be productivity gains to make it        between networks available to
key to this process, as well as the truck     very tight tolerances on dimensions and       and the NTC will publish any                 the difficult process of appointing            worthwhile. Those gains can only be        prescriptive vehicles and those to PBS
manufacturers.                                particular components, especially those       exemptions it allows. As a result of this,   assessors, accreditors to help in getting      achieved by an increase in mass or         vehicles was not enough to compensate
“Any blueprint has to meet the                involved with the interface between           other operators with a similar design        the process working. We are looking at         volume carried. The major stumbling        operators for the costly process of
standards, they have to go through the        truck and trailer, which can be critical.     will be allowed a similar exemption          everything: What’s the alternative? Could      block for any development like this        guiding a PBS vehicle through the very
process. Then we can ask the question as      Work is being done to try and develop a       on the same grounds. However, the            it be done better? Others will learn from      is the axle load limits that result from   complex and difficult system.
to whether it does fulfil the requirements    modular approach to solve some of the         Implementation Panel is likely to            what we’ve done.”                              the limitations of the Australian road     PBS has proved to be quite a challenging
of the PBS system. I have found that          relationship problems between truck and       be extremely cautious in allowing            Even though the spotlight has so               infrastructure.                            system for operators to get involved with
there is a lot of interest in B-Triples and   trailer.                                      exemptions, if they are published, as        far been focused on the larger high            “The state governments have legitimate     and some have already thrown the whole
some truck and trailer combinations,”         “It’s all about creating an envelope          this opens the door to a particular          productivity vehicles, the majority of         concerns that heavier actual weights may   idea into the ‘too hard basket’. However,
Marcus says.                                  that covers all the bases. Trucks can         amendment for everyone.                      applications coming into the system            have an impact on bridges. I don’t think   others are persisting and Marcus is
According to Marcus the PBS scheme            have different wheelbases and we need         “We are looking to change things in the      are for trucks to run on roads classified      there’s a way around it. Incremental       expecting several useful examples of
is in fact achieving success in meeting       to develop a new blueprint to suit all        sense of developing blueprints which can     as level one, general access. These are        pricing may be one possible solution,      what can be achieved with PBS to hit
some of the targets set by the Coalition      permutations and combinations. We             apply to new vehicle concepts, creating a    vehicles that give operators a little bit      where the operator will pay extra to       the roads in the next 12 months. If this
of Australian Governments and he is           need to go through the exercise of            blueprint envelope available to anyone.      more flexibility at the smaller end of the     compensate for the damage done to the      is the case, there should be some useful
seeing some truly innovative vehicles,        varying truck and trailer and work out        At least then there would be a process for   transport task.                                pavement or infrastructure.”               examples for the delegates at the HVTT
boasting considerable productivity gains,     the parameters of performance,” says          putting your ideas forward and it could      “If you gain another metre on a level one                                                 Conference next March to examine in
coming into the system. As they do the        Marcus.                                       be worthwhile, especially if you have a      road, that can do quite a lot of good. It is   There’s life in this yet                   the metal, as opposed to the computer
NTC is learning what practical steps can      As a result of the experience so far, the     number of vehicles in your fleet.            possible to add both volume and weight;        The current network of different           simulations they monitor as they
be taken to improve the process. With         NTC proposed amendments to the                “We really are leading the world in this     incremental gains over a large number of       classifications of roads available to      develop the vehicles that will handle the
some of the more innovative vehicles          business rules governing those who can        area. We are now laying the foundation       trucks will add up,” Marcus says.              PBS vehicles was published in October      massive freight task of the future.

66.    march 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                         67.

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