Trailer Magazine

Maximum Advantage

  • From the November 2017 issue.
Maximum Advantage

Leading the commercial road transport industry by producing the most Performance-Based Standards-approved trailer designs in the past three years, MaxiTRANS discusses the opportunities and challenges that the high-productivity scheme presents.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) released a report in 2011* commenting on the state of the commercial road transport industry, with reference to the introduction of larger heavy vehicle combinations and strong growth in long-distance road freight.

At the time, the Government found that road freight had grown six-fold in the space of four decades, from around 27 billion tonne kilometres in 1971 to over 180 billion tonne kilometres in 2007. As a result, increases in road freight vehicle size and capacity had allowed more freight to be carried proportionately with fewer heavy vehicle combinations, encouraging innovation, efficiency and the re-allocation of resources to more productive combinations.

Between Australian Government agencies, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), and the wider commercial road transport industry, there has been a focus on developing national freight and supply chain strategies to boost productivity and efficiency while emphasising better safety for road users. With the enforcement of Heavy Vehicle National Law (see breakout box) and persistent innovation with Performance-Based Standards (PBS), trailer manufacturers like MaxiTRANS are committed to making the freight industry more efficient.

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) Chief Engineer, Laszlo ‘Les’ Bruzsa, says that MaxiTRANS is its single biggest producer of PBS-approved combinations. “Almost 3,500 PBS combinations were built between 2015 to October 2017, of which MaxiTRANS was responsible for building 20 per cent.”

Also, the NHVR has estimated that MaxiTRANS owns 20 per cent of all PBS design approvals. Its most popular vehicle types are truck and dogs, followed by A-doubles and semi-trailer combinations.

In October, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the Australian Road Suppliers Association (ARTSA) hosted the Technical Maintenance Conference (TMC2017) in Melbourne. With a focus on heavy vehicle maintenance and technical issues, guest speaker – MaxiTRANS PBS Design Engineer, Gareth Allen – presented at the ‘PBS Design Accreditation Certification and Operation’ session to discuss some of the challenges of building trailers under PBS.

“The main issues we tend to encounter, in terms of PBS, are generally the result of customers jumping into the market with minimal forethought,” Gareth said at the event. “It’s best to talk about the solution from the beginning. We suggest that customers contact us at the beginning of their buying process, to enable us to design an optimised combination to suit their freight task.”

Gareth explained that the consultative approach from MaxiTRANS can sometimes mean providing constructive advice that certain PBS combinations are not in the customers’ best interests for the proposed task or route. “Through word-of-mouth, and seeing PBS-approved gear on the roads, more operators are getting on-board with the high-productivity scheme,” Gareth says – adding that it’s important to note that despite appearances, not every combination will suit every job.
“For example, the NHVR may approve a particular design for 85-tonnes but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the same heavy vehicle combination can be run at 85-tonnes on all roads,” he says. It’s this clear communication about the purpose of a PBS design and its use on specific road networks that MaxiTRANS says arms its customers with the information to make smarter purchasing decisions.

“Future-proofing transport equipment is important, but it can be very difficult for some transport companies to anticipate changes to their cartage requirements over time,” Gareth says. “Conversations between a fleet and OEMs like MaxiTRANS can drive conversations that prompt a solution that may not have been thought of previously.”

Gareth confirms that one of MaxiTRANS’ most frequently asked questions is whether it should build prescribed or PBS trailers. “If a business approaches MaxiTRANS for a custom trailer build, we will review the request thoroughly to learn more about the business and how it intends to use the design,” Gareth says. “It takes a collaborative approach to develop efficient and effective transport equipment, involving conversations between the NHVR, the assessor, the truck and trailer manufacturers and the customer to find common ground and determine the best option.”

The market-leading volume of PBS trailers produced by MaxiTRANS suggests that its method has struck a chord with its customers, and, with a healthy appetite for raising the bar and developing even more productive equipment, Gareth says that he is excited to see what the future holds for the company’s customers in the PBS field.

*Source: Research Report – Truck Productivity: sources, trends and future prospects, Department of Transport and Infrastructure, 2011.

Fast Fact
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) Chief Engineer, Laszlo ‘Les’ Bruzsa, says that MaxiTRANS is its single biggest producer of PBS-approved combinations. “Almost 3,500 PBS combinations were built between 2015 to October 2017, of which MaxiTRANS was responsible for building 20 per cent.”

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