Trailer Magazine

Looking forward

  • From the January 2018 issue.
Looking forward

Early adopters of Performance-Based Standards, Haulmark Trailers is exploring future possibilities of the high-productivity scheme with the guidance of PBS Assessor, Advantia.

Queensland-based trailer manufacturer, Haulmark Trailers, is always looking toward the future of Australian commercial road transport. With a firm forward focus, the company only looks back to reflect on just how far the industry has evolved – particularly in terms of the high productivity Performance-Based Standards (PBS) scheme.

A pioneer from the introduction of the scheme, Haulmark Trailers Director Sales and Marketing, Mark Johnston, had a heavy hand in developing the company’s first A-doubles under PBS.

“We were involved in the early days of PBS because I was looking for the next thing to set us apart,” Mark says.

“We did a lot of work to introduce the A-double concept, which remains a staple of our PBS offering to this day.”

Mark has worked closely with PBS Assessor, Rob Di Cristoforo, Managing Director of Melbourne-based consultancy firm Advantia, to manage the applications and approvals process for PBS combinations, which Mark says can be “quite onerous”. “Rob has a lot of common sense and he’s a realist,” Mark says. “He understands the commercial aspect of getting approvals and inspections done quickly and professionally, and ensures the final combination design will be commercially applicable.

“You can have as much technical correctness as you like from an approval point of view, but the real proof of the design is what actually happens after it’s on the road, which is what our customers really care about.”

Mark adds that Rob’s realistic and extensive technical advice ensures a speedy approval process, which means that final Haulmark PBS-approved trailers can be in customer hands making money in the shortest possible time. “Rob’s reliable, trustworthy and time-sensitive advice ensures our customers don’t suffer from lost opportunity cost when waiting for design approvals, for example,” Mark says.

The application and approval process has improved immensely since the scheme’s introduction, Mark says, echoing much of the feedback from industry that the single biggest road block for further development in PBS is road access with jurisdictions. “Working with jurisdictions can accelerate the approval process,” Mark says. “Rob is well versed and well connected with all the jurisdictions, so some of those pitfalls are removed from the equation because he understands the process and the commercial pressures. There’s real value in working with a PBS Assessor that has his feet on the ground with fleet operational issues.”

Mark adds that the road access dilemma is getting better as jurisdictions work to develop their processes. Along with these improvements, Mark says the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), which oversees the approvals process, has also been incrementally refining its systems to make it easier to work in. “Just recently the NHVR has jettisoned a lot of the paperwork for basic truck and dog combinations, which certainly helps,” he says.

“Ultimately, if you want PBS to flourish you have to make it workable, sensible, realistic and commercially viable. A big part of achieving that is with input from Assessors, who do have some say in how the rules are made and interpreted. You need a good assessor with passion and a bit of fight to advocate on your behalf.”

Having that support from Advantia will be particularly important in moulding how PBS will work in the future, Mark says, already looking to what form the ‘next generation PBS scheme’ will take.

“Once you have a number of the same combination approved, on the roads and providing benefits, there should be an evolution out of PBS into a blueprint or pre-approval,” Mark suggests.

“Rob has his eyes open to the future of PBS, and certainly I’ve used him to advocate with various jurisdictions and the NHVR on some fairly direct, technical questions around the future of PBS. If you’re out there and you’re a progressive manufacturer or operator and always looking for the next thing, you need someone like Rob in your corner.”

Fast Fact
According to Haulmark Trailers Director Sales and Marketing, Mark Johnston, one of the issues with the Performance-Based Standards (PBS) scheme is the ‘tyre debacle’, which he says is a perfect example of how technical requirements for the application process can be far removed from the on-road reality. “I would argue that the specifics around tyre correctness is nonsense.”

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