Chris Coleman, Transport & Waste Solutions Australia Managing Director, explains the critical role of onboard load indicators for heavy vehicles.
While legal load regulations and Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws demanding responsible movement across Australia’s streets and highways have made companies more aware of the need to not overload vehicles, many still are not familiar with the legal requirements for accurate load distribution.
To satisfy regulations, loads must be placed in the way that ensures the vehicle remains stable and safe.
Loads need to be distributed so as not to overload axles; a common problem that until now has been often overlooked, largely because of the difficulty in monitoring load distribution.
While drivers need to take responsibility for compliance, the responsibility doesn’t stop there.
“If you are responsible for packing, loading or receiving waste or goods in your business, even if you are not driving a truck, you may be held legally responsible for breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law,” Chris Coleman, Transport & Waste Solutions Australia (TWS) Managing Director explains.
Corporate entities, directors, partners and managers are not immune to this legislation and must exercise due diligence to ensure the safety of their businesses’ transport activities.
“They have a duty of care to the transport chain and will be held accountable for the actions of people under your control,” Coleman says.
This no doubt makes sense from a safety perspective, but there can be significant financial benefits as well.
Apart from the benefit of avoiding fines for breaches of the regulations, and the costs associated with an accident if insurance is invalidated, there are other cost benefits to the business.
“Overloading one or more axles can also cause damage to the vehicle itself,” Coleman says.
“While heavy vehicles are designed for extreme durability and have high stress tolerances on components, they still have maximum thresholds which must be adhered to.”
Uneven weight distribution places unnecessary stress, higher wear and increases maintenance requirements on axles, drive shafts, tyres and many other parts.
Furthermore, balanced load distribution protects drivers.
“Unbalanced loads can cause irregularities in cornering and braking making vehicles more susceptible to accidents,” Coleman adds.
“And finally, effective axle load indicators allow the optimisation of cargo loads that can in turn increase the profitability of fleets.”
Coleman explains that it was the confluence of these two factors – economics and safety – that motivated his partnership with UK-based axle weighing and load monitoring solutions leader Axtec.
“Axtec has been operating in the weighing space since 1991 and that experience allows it to consistently develop quality products that ensure maximum return on every truck journey without risking overloads,” Coleman says.
“Together, we’re helping Australian waste management companies and state utilities meet their Chain of Responsibility obligations, by providing accurate and reliable vehicle load information in real-time as vehicles perform their day-to-day operations.”
TWS and Axtec formed a strategic partnership in 2018, with TWS distributing and installing Axtec OnBoard axle load indicators across the Australian market.
“Multi-drop loads, with their constantly changing weight distribution can easily catch drivers out leaving them at risk of an axle overload,” Coleman says.
“Axtec OnBoard axle load indicators work to solve this problem, constantly displaying axle and gross weights throughout the day, enabling drivers to distribute their loads safely and legally at all times.”
From light vans to 32-tonners, the indicator’s simple colour-coded display has no manual controls, which means no driver training. Optional outputs are also available to vehicle tracking systems and data storage.
“Visual and audible warnings can prompt the driver when overloads are present, while load data can be simultaneously written to the built-in logger and transmitted to a tracker system,” Coleman says.
Coleman explains that TWS clients have noticed reduced driver distraction and fatigue, as the display can automatically dim when safe to do so.
“Axtec OnBoard powers up with the vehicle and requires no driver input, reducing the risk of tampering or accidental damage, and eliminating the need for additional driver training.
TWS will soon be offering clients dynamic weighbridges that will automatically weigh road-going vehicles, including abnormal loads, as they drive over it, determining both individual axle and gross vehicle loads.
“As with our Axle Load Indicators, this isn’t just about safety. The productivity gains are significant, for example, a six-axle articulated lorry can be weighed in under 40 seconds,” Coleman says.
“Effectively and dynamically managing your loads is good for drivers, the community, the environment and your business. And it might just keep you out of jail.”
To find out how TWS can help you meet your CoR requirements and improve productivity, visit www.twsaust.com.au or call (02) 9623 1800.