Trailer Magazine

Adding value beyond PBS

  • From the December 2019 issue.
Adding value beyond PBS

Tiger Spider is pushing the boundaries of vehicle design and freight infrastructure through quality engineering, consulting and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Manufacturers and suppliers are taking stock of Performance-Based Standards (PBS), following ‘less heat in commercial road transport demand’ for new equipment. Tiger Spider Managing Director, Marcus Coleman, says that as PBS matures over time, the proportion of a PBS equipment in fleets is increasing and the second-hand PBS equipment market is becoming more relevant.

“When PBS began, we saw vehicle designs for very specific freight applications,” Marcus says. “These vehicles generally represented a small part of a company’s total fleet. However, due to the ever-increasing uptake of PBS across the country, today there are examples of operators running predominantly PBS-approved fleets. This makes the management of PBS assets – equipment, approvals and interoperability more complex.”

In its capacity as a specialist transport engineering consultancy, Tiger Spider assists operators to work through this complexity and understand which equipment and designs best compliment their fleet. This includes potential upgrades of existing equipment to PBS specifications providing the necessary approvals, certifications and guidance including which braking systems, tyres and other components are required.

Tiger Spider’s Software as a Service (SaaS), Tiger Spider Web, helps operators, manufacturers and suppliers manage complexity and get the most out of PBS. In addition to vehicle design and performance assessment tools, it has as-built drawing tools, coupling rating and bridge assessment tools as well as PBS approval and asset management modules. This allows operators to overcome the challenges associated with recombining and redeploying equipment into new PBS combinations and the task of matching new prime movers with existing trailers.

“Digitising PBS design approvals, simplifying route assessments and intelligent asset management is the future,” Marcus says. “Our SaaS helps solve these problems to make it easier for everyone involved in the PBS ecosystem.”
Tiger Spider demonstrated its latest 3D route assessment software at the National Roads & Traffic Expo which was held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in September. The response from industry, according to Marcus, was overwhelmingly positive.

“The new software allows us to import a photo-realistic VR scene using reality capture and simulate a heavy vehicle navigating a particular intersection,” Marcus says.

“The technology was designed and built to train autonomous vehicles; it comes with a range of sensors that we can use to detect the proximity of a vehicle to any 3D object within the scene as well as GPS and cameras. That enables us to leverage this technology for a 3D route assessment.

“We can animate tyre road interaction forces, the trajectories of different sensors mounted on the vehicle as well as examine load transfer ratio, vehicle speed, acceleration and other physical variables to determine the ‘safe’ speed of intersection. This software enables us to build a compelling case for road managers and transport companies to see if their vehicle will fit the network.”

Tiger Spider is using this technology on several large road infrastructure projects, scanning intersections and completing 3D route assessments to help optimise vehicle and road design.  However, Marcus stresses that there is still an important role for more traditional swept path analysis and route assessment tools and Tiger Spider is focused on improving their SaaS to speed up this these processes.

Marcus and the Tiger Spider team actively engage with Main Roads WA, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and State Road Agencies to streamline the PBS application process.

“We’re trialling a new In Principle Support Application process with the regulator that allows us to cut processing times for new PBS applications significantly,” Marcus says. “It’s a fantastic example of how a cooperative approach with the NHVR achieves better outcomes.”

“We like to focus on technical challenges, how we can best design vehicles, assess roads and manage data,” he says – adding there is still much room for improvement. “Productivity improvement is not just about designing bigger vehicles with larger payloads. It’s an important piece of the puzzle, and as an industry we’ve proven we can do that safely, we now need to work towards speeding up time to market. It’s not just about the government approvals process, there are opportunities to improve engineering design and manufacturing processes as well.”

Supporting the sustainability agenda, Tiger Spider has been actively involved in the introduction of Heavy Electric Vehicles (HEVs) into Australia. They now have an experienced EV team which includes modelling, electrical engineering and control system expertise and have supported companies like Isuzu and SEA Electric with their electric vehicle programs.

Tiger Spider’s consulting team are currently engaged as Technical Advisors, to the Brisbane Metro Project, assisting with regulatory approvals, vehicle performance specification, tender evaluation, depot, workshop and infrastructure requirements, including for the potential implementation of Hybrid and/or Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Ultimately, Tiger Spider is invested in helping suppliers, manufacturers and businesses become more competitive in a global marketplace. “Turning a high-level proposal drawing or PBS approval into a real product takes time.

Through process re-engineering and software automation we believe we can improve the production flow from sales concept to vehicle delivery and on road operation.” he says. “We see many opportunities to improve efficiency with design automation in our industry and Tiger Spider will maintain its focus on pushing the limits and testing the boundaries of vehicle and infrastructure design to ensure we have the safest and most efficient transport system possible.”

Fast Fact
Tiger Spider was incorporated July 2011 by Marcus Coleman. He set out to build a company focused on improving road freight transport safety, productivity and sustainability through the introduction of innovative technologies. Before starting Tiger Spider, Marcus was Manager of Freight Policy at the Australian National Transport Commission (NTC) and Technical Advisor to the Performance-Based Standards (PBS) Review Panel. Currently, he is a member of the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) Executive Committee and the SAE Truck and Bus Tire Committee and actively engages with other government and industry bodies including the Federal Government Strategic Vehicle Safety and Environment Group (SVSEG).

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