Trailer Magazine

Boral boosts safety

  • Posted on Monday 28th, November 2011
Boral boosts safety

The giant Boral group of companies works tirelessly to achieve safety gains across all sectors of operations and boasts sophisticated systems and equipment to deliver results.

Bulk transport and logistics solutions are the core business of Boral Logistics, which operates one of the largest truck fleets in Australia serving a diverse range of needs for the construction industry. Most people would be familiar with Boral Transport, but a new direction sees the name change to Boral Logistics, a slight change in colour scheme with the familiar green painted chassis on trucks now grey and a totally new visual presentation aimed at promoting the company through new artwork and signage on vehicles. But some things stay the same – and for good reason.

Boral has long been a champion in the development and adoption of the highest safety gains possible extending across all business activities. The company is renowned for its achievements in addressing safety, and when it comes to transport and logistics operations there are few companies in the country that have reached such a high degree when it comes to achieving standards. Something the company points out will not change.

In trucking terms Boral is a huge heavy vehicle operator, in fact it has more than 700 company agitators alone in service with its concrete operations across the country. All new trucks are equipped with the latest safety devices and systems, many developed in-house, and many older vehicles are retrofitted to ensure the best possible safety outcomes whether it be for OH&S or on and off road operation.

A case in point is the latest tipper and dog combinations delivered into the Boral Logistics operation. The trucks are highly sophisticated pieces of equipment featuring hi-tech devices actively promoting safety of vehicles and drivers during each and every work cycle.
Western Star recently delivered its 100th truck to Boral, a 4800 tipper coupled to a three axle dog trailer. The contract with Western Star to supply trucks began two years ago and various models have gone into a diversified range of services around the country.

Truck number 100 is powered by a Detroit Diesel coupled to Allison automatic transmission and while the vehicle itself is state-of-the-art, it is also equipped with all systems to drive the best possible service and safety outcomes.

Boral Fleet Engineering Manager, Merv Rowlands, winner of the ATA/ARTSA Craig Roseneder Award for Mechanical Excellence at the Technical and Maintenance Conference in 2010, is proud to point out the features on the new Western Star. Merv started with Boral as a cadet engineer back in the days when the company was BMG and he has been involved in a long list of major research and developments projects to deliver best safety practices along with more efficient and productive truck operation.

“Whatever we do is focussed on safety,” Merv says. “Everything is considered to make our organisation the safest in the business, even the small things like safety cones to be used at breakdowns. If a truck is stopped at the side of the road the cones are illuminated and have flashing warning lights on top, not a big thing but one that certainly enhances safety.

“If you look at all of our trucks there are three grab handles positioned for safe entry and exit from the cabin and another feature introduced, and on the new Western Star, are steps that glow in the dark.

“Working on top of tankers has seen Boral install safety rails in the early days, one of the first to do so, and while today we use the Tram system our bitumen units are still equipped with the pop-up hand rails. We operate a large number of tankers carting cement, fly ash and the like and driver safety at every work site is vital.”

Drawbars and couplings on dog trailers certainly come under the microscope and Boral has installed a number of features here to not only make life easy for the driver, and in turn increase productivity, but address safety concerns while addressing maintenance issues.
For example the trucks now feature air operated couplings and new VBG power plugs with up to 22 pins to reduce lighting and power failures. The plugs are contaminant resistant, eliminating problems often encountered with tipping, and bring all connectors into one plug and socket. Boral is installing reflective tape along all drawbars to improve night visibility for other road users and bodies too feature the tape.

“Since 2003 every truck we buy has disc brakes from one end to the other and every Western Star has ABS and we are looking now at EBS on trailers across the fleet for better braking and improved maintenance. Our 19 metre B-doubles have EBS for operation over the Blue Mountains.

“That is a relatively cheap investment for what you gain in return in the safety stakes. Ongoing research into every facet of our transport operations in terms of safety advances are put into practice,” Merv says. “If you look back it isn’t that long ago you would be sitting in an underpowered truck with a six-speed transmission, no air-conditioning, a rough ride doing tasks we do today in entirely different machinery.

“Today there is a lot more horsepower, high levels of comfort and even electric windows giving drivers a far better working environment addressing fatigue and providing tools essential to making their work day far improved and contributing to safety,” Merv points out.
Climbing into the cab you find a touch screen mounted atop the dash, the nucleus of a unique information and warning system designed to oversee all truck and driver activities.

As the driver gets into the vehicle a code is entered and the system loads while the vehicle check is carried out. On return to the cab the driver indicates the pre-vehicle check is carried, information audited daily, and the last valid break is entered into the system. Fatigue regulations are strictly adhered to and information on each load and working shift is entered into the system which automatically indicates to the driver when he has to take a break to ensure compliance. In the top right corner of the screen the time until the mandatory break is indicated, counting down until an alarm is sounded.

Satellite navigation is included in the package, complete with speed limits on routes travelled and of course this is complemented by tracking. There is electronic document storage integrated into the system including safety notices and permits. Boral is currently investigating the inclusion of access to every site serviced, complete with the ability to include images giving drivers concise information on delivery points.

Each vehicle is equipped with cameras, including one covering the left hand blind spot. Images relayed by the cameras are displayed on the screen and vision displayed includes automatic transmission of sight at the rear of the vehicle as soon as reverse is selected.

PTO engagement is indicated as is axle weights and if a door is ajar or a driver leaves the truck without engaging the park brake, an alarm is activated. Engagement of PTO, diff and cross locks are also indicated and the system runs a pressure scan as soon as hoists are raised. Basically the system identifies proper operation and impending danger to the driver, vehicle or any other person.

Every situation is addressed and the driver alerted not only to normal operation of equipment, but also anomalies that may arise. A dolly lock alarm signals engagement and resultant safety compromises when the vehicle moves off, alerting the driver. A Bluetooth stereo system is also included.

Boral is now going down the path of logging all faults to be available on our computer system in real time. It will signal a supervisor and that person can identify the job. If it is the first time we have been to the site we can pinpoint dangers such as powerlines.

Currently there are 60 units fitted with the system and more will be fitted as desired. It represents a high investment cost. Boral says a driver should come to work and return home safely – if you don’t look after your people you will have none. 

The company continues to work to reduce its accident statistics and has made huge gains in recent times, working collaboratively with drivers, contractors, yard people and management. Training is an integral part of addressing safety and this too is ongoing

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