Are quins the new quads?

Much ink has been spilt in speculation regarding what Performance-Based Standards 2.0 might look like. Marcus Coleman delves into the fray.

“Thanks so much for getting this sorted. Really appreciated here! We’re back on the road. Look forward to doing business with you again. Dan Jones.”

Not only was Dan back on the road, but with an additional 4.0 tonnes payload. The quin dog now carrying 41 tonnes CML compared to his previous quad dog which carried 37 tonnes.

If Dan signs up for HML he will get an additional 5.5 tonnes (42.5 tonnes payload) with the quin. The current PBS Scheme is already capable of delivering great outcomes.

Hopefully, this will not be upset with good intentioned changes by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator with PBS 2.0. Late last month the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) released a notice which removes certain 20-metre truck and quad dogs from the PBS Scheme.

There are no tyre, suspension, driveline or certification requirements. Provided operators meet the Vehicle Specification Envelope (VSE) and Vehicle Safety Conditions (VSC) set out in the notice they can access PBS networks.

The notice was released in advance of the promised removal of tyres from the PBS scheme and more streamlined processing of approvals through the NHVR Portal.

Operators should be aware of limitations of the notice since many local road managers are excluded, including the Cities of Melbourne, Maribyrnong and roads managed by the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning in Victoria. NSW and Queensland also have some non-participating councils, but over time this may change.

The dog trailer must have an Electronic Braking System (EBS) with rollover control. Queensland requires Intelligent Access Program (IAP), but the other participating states and territories, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT, only require road friendly suspensions or mass management accreditation for 50.5 tonnes on the PBS Level 1, and 57.5 tonnes on PBS Level 2 Networks.

Targeted at tippers, the Vehicle Specification Envelope includes a bin height of up to 3.0m or 3.3m, truck wheelbase between 4.5m and 5.8m and drawbar length between 3.3m and 5.6m along with limitations on trailer wheelbase, floor heights and tow coupling overhang.

It is not clear if body types like flat decks or tankers apply if payload or tank heights do not exceed the maximum floor heights and “bin” heights specified.

Presumably, the NHVR will clarify details in the operators guide which accompanies the notice. Currently, the guide only confirms that vehicles carrying dangerous goods are not permitted.

The old PBS quad dog.

The NHVR has been billing this notice, alongside some other procedural and process improvements as PBS 2.0.

In addition to moving more popular vehicle types outside of PBS, the NHVR is proposing changes to how approvals are processed and a framework for developing new performance standards which could broaden the scope of exemptions that can be facilitated through the PBS Scheme.

Changes to the processing times for PBS would be welcome, but details of how this will be achieved are not clear. Much appears to rely on software automation through the NHVR portal.

This sounds great in theory, but online portals developed by government do not cure excessive bureaucracy and the pedantic application of process.

We developed Hevi Spec to streamline the PBS process and it has allowed us to deliver much quicker turnaround times for PBS assessments and provide our customers with a tool to develop and test their own PBS ideas. We have also developed a catalogue of over 70 pre-approved PBS Blueprint designs which can assist operators get on the road in a hurry.

For example, about three weeks ago, I was contacted by Dan Jones from Jones Bulk Haulage who had just lost a quad dog trailer in an unfortunate accident.

The truck was fine, but a second-hand trailer was needed to get back on the road as fast as possible. A PBS approved 5-axle quin dog was available for sale in Victoria, but Dan needed to know if it was going to work, what weights he would get and how long it would take to get the approvals.

We confirmed on the phone that Tiger Spider had a pre-approved Blueprint for a 6×4 truck and 5-axle dog.

When Dan sent through the existing PBS documentation a day later, using Hevi Spec, we input his vehicle details and confirmed he would get 63 tonnes HML on PBS Level 2 routes with the quin.

Dan put down a deposit on the trailer and took possession the Monday of the following weekend which was a public holiday in NSW. On Tuesday Dan emailed our PBS Certifier Brendan Coleman and asked him to hurry up with the Certification, by Thursday I received an email that read,

“Thanks so much for getting this sorted. Really appreciated here! We’re back on the road. Look forward to doing business with you again. Dan Jones.”

It’s always a pleasure seeing our clients get great outcomes and being able to focus on what they do best, keeping Australian moving through efficient freight delivery.

Marcus Coleman.
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