Requiem for a Heavy weight

Multi-drop loads, with their constantly changing weight distribution can easily catch drivers out leaving them at risk of an axle overload. Transport & Waste Solutions and Axtec provide real-time information to the drivers of thousands of vehicles from 3.5t van-based derivatives through to 26t and 32t rigids.

Since commencing operation in 2009, Sydney company Transport & Waste Solutions has built a strong reputation for providing and installing NMI approved weighing systems — systems that have been tested and passed to meet predetermined standards to ensure upmost accuracy, to the waste sector and other industries.

In 2018, continuing with its load-management focus, TWS formed a strategic partnership with UK axle weighing specialist, Axtec.

Forming a partnership with Axtec, according to TWS Founder and Managing Director, Chris Coleman, just made sense.

“It allowed us to continue to help our customers maximise their payloads whilst operating within the law,” he says.

“By achieving this, our customers improve their efficiencies, resulting in greater profits, whilst reducing their environmental impact.”

Put simply, Axtec OnBoard axle load indicators allow drivers and fleet managers to ensure appropriate placement of loads and avoid overloading vehicles.

They can be applied to rigid vehicles from 3.5 tonne vans up to multi-axle 32 tonners with accuracy of up to 2.5 per cent margin of error.

OnBoard connects to GPS and telematics devices and up to six cameras to help make the vehicle safer for the driver, other road users and pedestrians.

It constantly displays the individual axle and gross vehicle weights to the driver via a clear colour coded graphical display and warns of overload via audible and visual prompts.

Since becoming a strategic partner, Transport & Waste Solutions has gone on to install around 1000 units for Axtec nationwide. Axtec products are currently being utilised by several state utility companies which helps them meet Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations by providing accurate and reliable vehicle load information in real-time as vehicles perform their daily operations.

The introduction of CoR legislation, as part of Australia’s National Road Transport Reform (Compliance and Enforcement) Act 2003, followed by the introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law, in which “anyone who has influence over the transport activity is responsible for safety on the road” has changed, among many other transport sectors, the waste and refuse industry.

Under the legislation, those responsible for consigning, packing, loading or receiving goods in a business, regardless of whom is driving the truck, may be held legally responsible for breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

Moreover, corporate entities, directors, partners and managers are not immune to the legislation.

The law now requires all parties, who have a duty of care on the supply chain, to exercise due diligence to ensure safety across all transport activities.

No less important for this very reason, axle load indicators help to ensure waste and recycle transfer businesses are complying with the legislation while out on the road. Weighbridges will confirm the gross mass of a vehicle, and whether load limits specified in the Heavy Vehicle National Regulation are exceeded, but they miss one vital statistic.

To satisfy the regulations, loads must be placed in a way that ensures the vehicle remains stable and safe.

A DAF prime mover approches an Axtec dynamic axle weighbridge.

In other words, loads need to be distributed so as not to overload axles; a common problem that until now has been often overlooked, and largely because of the difficulty in monitoring load distribution.

Axtec offers what it calls dynamic, static, portable and on-board weighing systems.

This includes the Axtec OnBoard Axle Load Indicator. The Axtec OnBoard Axle Load Indicator provides drivers with real-time information on axle and gross vehicle loads via a simple, easy to read, colour coded bar graph display.

“Due to the simplicity of the screen, the driver doesn’t have to interact or scroll through menus,” says Chris. “Everything he needs to see is clearly presented for him. Further, from each display we can transmit RS232 protocol and what the driver sees on the display in the cab is what will be seen on the screen depending on the provider of the telematics.”

He adds, “What we do is give the customer the RS232 protocol and then the telematics converts that into the language the customer wants to see it in.”

The RS232 is user-friendly meaning a programmer can extract whatever information from it they want to see.

Transport & Waste Solutions currently has two customers trialling a couple of units, using their own back-to-base system according to Chris.

“Even if a customer doesn’t have the RS232 capability, if they can spare a five-volt input into their tracking system, we can give them an in-load limit output,” he says. “But we don’t supply back to base information. There’s lots of people out there who can do that.”

Visual and audible warnings can prompt the driver when overloads are present, while load data can be simultaneously written to the built-in logger and transmitted to a tracker system.

A colour touch screen automatically displays images from rearview or side-mounted cameras.

It can also be set to dim when the vehicle is in motion. Imagine a traffic light with its red, amber and green lights. Green in this instance represents go, amber represents 80 per cent axle load capacity and red signifies the vehicle is overloaded.

A warning light outside the cab can prompt the driver to check which axle is overloaded and adjust the load accordingly while they are still loading.

“That’s what many of our clients are using it for,” says Chris. “You can be legal on the front axle, and you can be legal on the rear, but the combined two masses can put the truck over the general mass limits.”

Operators in the waste sector are driven, Chris points out, to ensure that they get a premium load on the truck without breaching any overload requirements.

“The waste industry is using the equipment to get maximum productivity without risking overloads, but they’ve got no way of measuring their weight while they are picking up bins because everyone has different volumes in their bins,” he says.

“But if you’re on long haul or short haul and you’re up in Kempsey or down in the boondocks and you have loaded it up with a forklift and the public weighbridge is not working, you have a load indicator there to ensure that you are distributing your mass correctly.”

Trucks found overloaded on the weighbridge are penalised according to how much weight they exceed on the limit. It’s not uncommon for a truck to be impounded depending on the severity of the breach.

“That’s true of any weighbridge in NSW that is wired into the State Government,” says Chris. “If you go over that weighbridge overloaded it automatically sends a message to the RMS alerting them to the breach. Straight away that vehicle cops a fine. It doesn’t take much to go overloaded.”

A commercial vehicle can over-tip in excess by as much as half a tonne over the front axle limit. An onboard system in this instance ensures that they get a maximum load over the rear axle especially when one or two additional bins will put them over the threshold.

Because weights are variable during a trip it puts even more onus on operators to have real-time insights into their axle loads.

Aside from assisting waste companies meet compliance and reducing possible fines and downtime from having the truck penalised, the Axtec system improves productivity.

Transport & Waste Solutions uses a Swedish NMI approved weighing system. When used in conjunction with the onboard axle indicator, it enables the customer to charge their client a premium price for moving the waste, especially when working in a regional area.

“They can monitor their axle loads to ensure the truck is economical to be run on the road for a long duration without going overloaded,” Chris explains. “They can use the NMI on their light bins. They can do multiple pickups at the same time ensuring that their axle limits are not exceeding the load limits.”

Transport & Waste Solutions also installs the Axtec Load Indicator on prime movers, low loaders and drop deck trailers.

“A customer of ours recently found that they have been going overloaded on their prime movers and they had no control over the weight on the drop deck,” Chris says. “We have done four drop decks now using the Axtec load indicator, and it’s working out fine. While you’re loading the vehicle you can either move the load towards the front or towards the rear to ensure you don’t exceed the load limit. The display can be used to pack the load on your trailer or tray of your truck. If you’re using a forklift, for instance, you can add a tonne here and a tonne there and pop up into the cab to observe how the weight distribution is going over the axles.”

Transport & Waste Solutions also installs axle load indicators in the vacuum truck sector.

Because they have got a 10,000-litre tank, many operators are under the impression that they can carry 10,000 litres of water.

“They forget that they’ve got two blokes whose combined weight is 150 kilos plus their lunch box, half a tonne of shovels, picks and equipment, all of their PPE gear and at the end of the day they realise they can only carry 7,000 litres of water,” he explains.

Infringements to loading and mass compliance are most common in the industry and so easily missed by loaders, load managers, drivers and operators. In this way the Axtec Onboard Load Indicator provides reassurance to drivers that they are complying with Mass Load limits while being able to distribute their loads safely and, it must be noted, legally at all times.

“Everyone is pretty happy so far with the accuracy,” says Chris. “Not only because the accuracy is consistent but it’s repeatable. That’s the selling point.”

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