Trailer Magazine


The complete PBS package

  • From the December 2018 issue.
The complete PBS package

Paving the way for vehicles that are achieving higher productivity and enhanced safety outcomes, the Performance-Based Standards scheme has been widely embraced by the industry. Along with truck and trailer manufacturers, quiet achievers such as Australia’s prominent PBS end-to-end solution provider, Smedley’s Engineers, have been instrumental in getting many of these innovative vehicles onto our roads.

Paving the way for vehicles that are achieving higher productivity and enhanced safety outcomes, the Performance-Based Standards scheme has been widely embraced by the industry. Along with truck and trailer manufacturers, quiet achievers such as Australia’s prominent PBS end-to-end solution provider, Smedley’s Engineers, have been instrumental in getting many of these innovative vehicles onto our roads.

PBS has certainly come a long way since it was first introduced by the National Transport Commission (NTC) just over 10 years ago, in 2007. With more and more fleets recognising the benefits of clever, optimised engineering and how this can impact on their bottom line, thanks to higher payloads and fewer truck movements, the number of registered PBS approved vehicles continues to grow at a steady rate year on year.

A joint report into PBS, released in May 2018 by the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NVHR), revealed that nearly one in six of the vehicles manufactured in 2017 was PBS approved. Since the scheme’s inception, over 8000 PBS combinations have been approved for use on Australian roads.

According to Robert Smedley, Director and Senior Engineer at Smedley’s Engineers, the number of PBS assessments performed by the company has mirrored the growth in PBS uptake seen by the industry. “Last year we completed a total of 397 PBS jobs. This year, 500 PBS jobs had already been completed by November. Smedley’s Engineers provides a complete PBS service including assessments, certification and access approvals – and we are currently the only business to be offering that,” he says.

Smedley’s Engineers originally began its operations in Tasmania in 1931. An eighth generation engineer, Robert revived his family’s business in November 2013, together with his father Alan Smedley, after it had ceased operations for several years. He first opened an office in New South Wales. This was soon followed by branches in Victoria and Queensland, providing scope for the business to service the heavy vehicle industry across the entire eastern seaboard.

With a passion for engineering running through his veins, Robert – a self-proclaimed rev head – began his career in the industry with braking system powerhouse, Knorr-Bremse. Working as the senior engineer, his experience in vehicle dynamics began as he was responsible for the development of the first Australian built trucks to be fitted with ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and Adaptive Cruise Control with Braking; an achievement he continues to be recognised for. He went on to serve as Principal Engineer (Heavy Vehicle Freight Network) for the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads where he cut his teeth on the PBS Review Panel, before reigniting his family’s engineering heritage by re-establishing Smedley’s Engineers.

Continued advancements in heavy vehicle design, taking in new technologies and new innovations, has resulted in more demand from trailer OEMs to outsource their engineering needs. “More and more trailer manufacturers are now outsourcing their design process. Our services extend beyond PBS and include a full suite of design capabilities such as Finite Element Analysis and Topological Optimisation. By using nothing but the best packages on the market, combined with our highly experienced team, we can provide a full range of engineering design and expertise for vehicle builders and component manufacturers; including tow bars and drawbars, suspension and coupling design and testing, right through to full body and chassis design,” explains Robert.

“But as engineers, we aren’t only confined to our desks. Using an extensive range of equipment, we regularly conduct field testing to verify vehicle compliance and durability.”

Smedley’s Engineers’ knowledge and experience when it comes to PBS assessment and certification has resulted in phenomenal growth in just a few short years. Starting out with just two engineers – Robert and Alan – the business now has a team of eight engineers across the three states. “The business is growing at a steady rate to keep up with demand. We’ve been able to achieve consistent growth. In terms of volume, we are the largest PBS certifier, and as a result, we have more PBS certifiers on hand to get the job done when and where our clients need it,” adds Robert.

“When compared to having in-house engineering capabilities, Smedley’s Engineers is also highly cost effective. And we are doing this line of work day in and day out, so we are specialised in what we do. This is our specialty so we’re efficient at it. Instead of having to outsource component design to one company, trailer design to another and PBS somewhere else, we provide one company for our clients to deal with, by offering the complete engineering package. They don’t need to deal with multiple people or multiple businesses. It simplifies things for manufacturers so they can focus on what they do best, building trailers and servicing the needs of their customers.”

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