Trailer Magazine

Shaping the future of PBS

  • From the December 2018 issue.
Shaping the future of PBS

Transport engineering consultancy, Tiger Spider, has had a bumper year, engaging in Performance-Based Standards–related discourse both locally and internationally.

The 2018 Global Heavy Vehicle Leaders Summit (GHVLS), held in Melbourne earlier this year, gathered some of the industry’s most innovative minds and shed light on the technology challenges of the future.

Marcus Coleman, Managing Director of Melbourne-based Performance-Based Standards (PBS) engineering firm, Tiger Spider, presented on regulatory reform issues and chaired a session on blockchain in transport at GHVLS. He explained that industry can achieve safe, productive and sustainable outcomes by implementing new technologies.

“Aligning with global standards can be tricky, especially when there is a disconnect concerning heavy vehicle equipment size and mass limits between  Australia and Europe,” he says – referencing the euro 6 requirements of European prime movers and how current access regulations prevent these builds from travelling on Australian roads legally without additional modification. “This is just one example of how Australia is being left behind in the adoption of new heavy vehicle technologies including electric and autonomous vehicles. It is becoming increasingly difficult to adapt these sophisticated technologies to the Australian market. We need to address the basic issues like size and mass limits if we are to get access to new technologies when they become available in larger global markets.”

Marcus presented his reform priorities for PBS, which covered the adoption of safety technologies and a long term strategic goal to boost general access to 70 tonnes while also stressing the importance of ensuring bridge data and assessment protocols are consistent and made public to facilitate speedy assessment and cost-efficiencies when working with transport departments.

Marcus brought his GHVLS presentation to a close by asking the question: Is it time for regulators to review PBS? “When PBS was first envisaged, many aspects of the process were not fully appreciated. For example, tyre data was not readily available for computer simulations and the implications of different tyres on PBS performance outcomes was not well understood. Tiger Spider has put a lot of effort into testing and analysing tyres and now we have a significant pool of tyre data to refer to,” he said – However, for some combinations only about 10 per cent of the tyres we have in our online database are suitable for a Level 1 PBS truck and dogs – the most common PBS combination. This is the fundamental issue causing pain with operators. We now have the data and experience to make more informed policy decisions in relation to PBS components.

Since the GHVLS there has been some developments by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) regarding a review of PBS tyre standards and operations.  NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto, announced in October that almost one-in-five new heavy vehicles built in Australia this year will be approved under the PBS high productivity scheme. He added that the review will look at the effects of tyre characteristics on safety performance, key tyre performance parameters, the performance of truck tyres currently available in Australia and the effects of tyre designs, tread patterns, case types, sizes, materials and operating conditions.

In terms of PBS across the board, Marcus says: “In 2018 to date, we have completed more than 450 PBS assessments” he says – adding that his team has also processed over 60 road access approvals. “The NHVR has been doing a lot of positive things, particularly with our more innovative design concepts. While the state and Federal governments scratch their heads, the NHVR has been, for the most part, very supportive.”

However, in 2018 NHVR processing times for PBS applications, particularly in-principle access approvals have been slower than necessary. “It’s been frustrating for everyone, but the NHVR is aware of the issues and appears close to implementing changes that will reduce processing times,” he says. “For example, allowing PBS Assessors like Tiger Spider to prepare access application documents that will be sent directly to road managers without the need get checked by the NHVR, a process which is currently taking over 30 business days on average. “If the NHVR can deliver on these promises along with more process automation, we expect PBS application processing time to improve dramatically.

Marcus explains that Tiger Spider has seen the importance of investing in staff and technology to ensure better responsiveness for his customers. “Generally, our clients want the job done yesterday,” he says.

“Year to date we’ve processed over 270 PBS variations – which are assessments that require a quick turnaround. By investing in the right people and our customised software which automates and streamlines PBS-related tasks, we continue to bring our service times down whilst supporting an increased volume of applications.”

“Tiger Spider has learnt a lot in this past year, especially with the global push for PBS and electric vehicles. Ultimately, what works in the US and Europe can be very different when compared to Australia’s metro and regional areas, which is why we must continue to work at the forefront of new technology.”

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.

Fast Fact
Marcus Coleman, Managing Director of engineering firm, Tiger Spider, has had a busy year representing his business’ expertise in Performance-Based Standards, with reference to the heavy vehicle industry in Australia. His team presented three papers at the HVTT15 symposium in Rotterdam, Netherlands, he attended the 2018 IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany, as well as number of other events in Australia including the Global Heavy Vehicle Leaders Summit and the Technology and Maintenance Conference 2018.

(Image: Rivet PBS Level 4 60m Super Quad road train.)

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