Trailer Magazine

SAF-Holland optimises PBS offering

  • From the May 2017 issue.
SAF-Holland optimises PBS offering

Having established itself as a leading force in the axle and suspension market, SAF-Holland’s latest project could now expand the brand’s reach significantly – and change the dynamic of Australia’s PBS market along the way.

Australia’s Performance-Based Standards (PBS) scheme has catapulted the continent to the very top of the global High Productivity Freight Vehicle (HPFV) movement. The only HPFV arrangement in the world to be fully integrated into national law and backed by a central authority, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), it has played a crucial role in facilitating the nation’s current truck and multi-axle dog boom and is increasingly applied to more intricate line-haul applications, too.

According to SAF-Holland, however, the scheme’s true potential is yet to be unleashed, which is why the component specialist has taken it upon itself to ‘democratise’ the design and specification process and provide the market with a new, powerful knowledge resource. Trailer met SAF-Holland’s new PBS expert, Adam Ritzinger (pictured below), to find out just how the company is planning to bring HPFV design into the mainstream.

Q: Where do you see room for improvement in the PBS scheme?
A: PBS has traditionally been a niche market, with a very limited group of people dominating the design and assessment process. While I agree we need to control every safety-relevant element as strictly as possible – the data behind it has to be 100 per cent accurate – you have to admit that the scheme is not fully transparent yet.
In the tyre space, for example, we’ve known for a while that verifying the accuracy of the data provided to assessors during the design stage is an on-going challenge for the NHVR, with the Regulator having to trust industry to provide honest information. The same argument applies to suspensions, fifth wheels, axles and couplings. So at SAF-Holland, we simply wondered how we could help the market tap into the full know-how suppliers like us can bring to the table. I think it’s time to widen the circle of stakeholders and make the whole process more transparent and robust.

Q: Have we gone wrong somewhere along the way?
A: We haven’t. PBS’ global success goes to show just how much progress we’ve made as an industry, and as a nation. But it’s still a work in process, and as such always changing and evolving.
The NHVR in particular has been incredibly busy setting up the right framework and ensuring buy-in on a council level, and I genuinely believe it’s doing a great job. But that doesn’t mean we can’t already think about the next step: To truly bring PBS into the mainstream, we need to transition the design and specification processes to make it commercially even more attractive and easier to handle from a customer perspective. Can we leave that challenge to a handful of assessors, or can we find a way that would make it a little more collaborative, if you will?

Q: So what’s the solution?
A: To quote NHVR Chief Engineer, Les Bruzsa: “The PBS scheme is all about pushing technical boundaries and testing what’s possible in modern heavy vehicle design, so there will always be a healthy debate on what’s possible and what isn’t.” Our goal is to make basics such as component selection as transparent as possible so as an industry, we can focus on the innovation part of the equation.

Q: What exactly does that mean for SAF-Holland, though?
A: At SAF-Holland, we’ve decided to bring PBS expertise directly in-house so we can provide assessors, manufacturers and transport businesses with more accurate advice on what’s possible when they use SAF-Holland’s PBS-optimised suspensions. We need to ensure the market is aware of our capabilities – both regarding existing gear as well as our engineering and manufacturing abilities. If it doesn’t exist, we can probably create it.

Q: What do you bring to the table?
A: Prior to joining SAF-Holland, I cut my teeth at ARRB Group and Advantia, specialising in heavy vehicle safety, productivity and infrastructure performance – so I’d like to think my knowledge of the transport industry is very solid and ties in nicely with the axle and suspension segment. I’m especially passionate about PBS, which I’ve been involved with since its inception in the mid-2000s. At both ARRB and Advantia, I’ve worked at the interface between industry, regulators and road managers, so I know the whole PBS process inside out. That being said, I pride myself on being very hands-on, so I think I could provide a healthy counterbalance to the traditional PBS authorities in the market.

Q: How does that translate into your new role? What can we expect from SAF-Holland going forward?
A: I’ve been brought on to provide technical leadership in the PBS field from a product perspective. We want SAF-Holland to be seen as a highly proactive driver of change in the way supplier data, PBS design and specification are managed, and I will be the face of it. I believe SAF-Holland’s commitment to investing in the right people – not just myself – and expanding its capabilities is proof that it is on the right track to become a powerful source of knowledge in the PBS space.

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