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A Benz for the ‘burbs and beyond
Given the scale and scope of Mercedes-Benz’s bold new range of trucks and the broad coverage already applied to its big bore models, it’s perhaps easy to overlook the potential impact of shorthaul and regional specialists such as the 2643.
Yet just a day behind the wheel leaves little doubt this quiet, comfortable 11-litre livewire will play a major role in the resurrection of the Benz brand in a vast array of single trailer distribution roles.
Punched by the relatively modest displacement of an OM470 10.7-litre in-line six cylinder engine, the tandem-drive 2643 offers peak figures of 315 kW (428 hp) at 1600 rpm and 2100 Nm (1549 lb ft) of torque from 1100 to 1400 rpm.
Its bigger brother is the 2646, with the same engine producing 335 kW (455 hp) and 2200 Nm (1623 lb ft) at the same engine speeds.
The OM470 is, however, an engine also powering three 4x2 prime mover models (1840, 1843 and 1846) as well as a 6x2 derivative called the 2543, making it the most widely used engine in the entire range of new Benz trucks.
Even so, the 10.7-litre displacement is one point of a four-pronged Daimler engine family (7.7, 10.7, 12.8 and 15.6 litres) powering the new line-up. All engines are in-line six cylinder designs employing a combination of SCR, EGR and a diesel particulate filter to achieve the Euro 6 emissions standard deemed so desirable by those major freight customers keen to be green in the eyes of consumers. Giant supermarket chains, for instance, which are an obvious and potentially lucrative target market for the 2643 and its close kin.
Meantime, there’s not much separating the 2643 and the 2646 other than different performance figures and the fact that the ’43 has a gross combination mass (GCM) rating of 45 tonnes whereas the ’46 is rated up to B-double weights of 62.5 tonnes.
Each drives through a 12-speed PowerShift automated transmission into a hypoid drive tandem with diff locks, mounted on an eight-bag air suspension, running a tall 2.846:1 rear axle ratio.
Built on a 3250 mm wheelbase, they come with a typically high level of standard features starting with electronic disc brakes, ABS anti-lock and ASR anti-skid functions, and the incredibly handy hill-hold feature which does so much to ease stress on sharp lift-offs for driver and driveline alike. Gratefully, an effective engine brake is also part of the package.
In standard format, diesel capacity is 290 litres in a single tank mounted on the passenger side, with a second tank of the same size optionally available for the driver’s side. AdBlue capacity is 60 litres on the passenger side.
In both models the 2.3-metre-wide cab has the floor raised 320 mm above the engine tunnel, making it the lowest profile cab in the range.
There’s the choice of a day cab layout or a sleeper version with a 750 mm wide inner-spring mattress and a respectable sleeping area for overnight stops. Importantly, floor height over the engine tunnel is a surprisingly small impediment to sleeper access.
At the launch of the new Mercedes-Benz family several months ago, the 2643 was a real surprise packet during relatively short stints behind the wheel between Cairns and Townsville in Far North Queensland. Asked if the model could be made available for a test run in the more likely environs of country and suburban roads around Melbourne, confident Benz executives were quick to agree.
Consequently, the same sleeper model used at the launch program was provided for this exercise, hooked to a curtain-sided trailer and with a further 12,000 km on the clock following trials with fleet operators.
Gross weight wasn’t great at just 30 tonnes but then, it’s not uncommon for trucks pulling single trailers around the ‘burbs to spend much of the day at weights significantly less than max anyway.
Looking for a mix of roads and traffic conditions, the truck was pointed south-east towards Leongatha from the Whitehorse Trucks dealership in Dandenong, then across secondary roads to Gippsland’s Warragul before heading back through snarling suburbs to Dandenong. All up, 210 km of vastly different conditions starting with sodden freeways and fierce winds, and ending with a still, hot afternoon in congested traffic.
Yet just as it had done in Cairns, there was much to like about this truck from the get-go. For starters, it’s a short, easy climb into a cab that’s extremely practical and entirely comfortable. In fact, if there’s one thing that stands out in all the new Benz cabs, it’s the ease of familiarity. Switchgear and control functions are quickly understood and generally well placed, enhancing an internal cab design which is smart, neat, well-appointed and definitely driver friendly.
Government invests $12 million in positioning technology
The Federal Government will invest $12 million in a two-year program looking into the future of positioning technology in Australia.
The funding will be used to test "instant, accurate and reliable positioning" by Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS).
The technology could provide future safety, productivity, efficiency and environmental benefits across many industries in Australia, including transport, agriculture, construction and resources.
According to a media statement released by Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, the widespread adoption of improved positioning technology has the potential to generate upwards of $73 billion of value to Australia by 2030.
“SBAS utilises space-based and ground-based infrastructure to improve and augment the accuracy, integrity and availability of basic Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, such as those currently provided by the US Global Positioning System (GPS),” Chester said.
“The future use of SBAS technology was strongly supported by the aviation industry to assist in high accuracy GPS-dependent aircraft navigation.
“Positioning data can also be used in a range of other transport applications including maritime navigation, automated train management systems and in the future, driverless and connected cars.”
The project will test SBAS technology that has the potential to improve positioning accuracy in Australia to less than five centimetres. Currently, positioning in Australia is usually accurate to five to 10m.
The SBAS test-bed is Australia’s first step towards joining countries such as the US, Russia, India, Japan and many across Europe in investing in SBAS technology and capitalising on the link between precise positioning, productivity and innovation.
The Best Young Drivers, Small Fleets and the Very Fast Train
In Diesel News this week, the Best Young Drivers, Small Fleets and the Very Fast Train are joined by the ongoing saga of the NSW contract determination.
The New South Wales Livestock Bulk and Rural Carriers Association has named the nominees for the LBRCA Young Driver of the Year, highlighting young talent dedicated to best-practice in all aspects of driving and safety.
The five finalists vying for the 2017 award include:
The award winner will be announced at the LBRCA annual conference in Dubbo on 31 March.
The Australian Trucking Association’s 2017 elections are underway, with voter registrations now open. In the election, owner drivers with one truck and small fleet operators with 2 to 5 trucks will elect two representatives to the General Council of theATA.
“The ATA Council sets our strategic policy direction. It deals with the critical issues that will determine the industry’s long term future,” said Noelene Watson, ATA Chair. “You can’t have your say if you don’t register to vote, so I urge owner drivers and small fleet operators to register online at the ATA website. It’s easy, fast and there’s no paperwork anymore.”
To register to vote in the election, you must own, be purchasing or leasing 1-5 trucks over 4.5 tonnes. You will also need to provide a valid ABN and an email address that is unique to you. Voter registrations for the 2017 election will close on 22 February. The election will be conducted entirely online, using a secure voting system.
Any proposal to build a Very Fast Train from Sydney to Melbourne should be passed straight to Infrastructure Australia for a thorough cost-benefit analysis, according to the Australian Logistics Council.
A proposal by Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLRA), an Australian-based consortium is in the news and it is said to have secured almost 20,000 ha for new development sites along the rail corridor. CLRA says it will present an unsolicited bid to the Prime Minister within the first half of this year, funded by ‘value capture’.
“There is a real risk that funds which ought to be devoted to worthwhile projects, such as Inland Rail, will be squandered on the VFT project,” said Michael Kilgariff, ALC Managing Director. “ALC firmly believes that major projects need to have an independent detailed cost-benefit analysis.
“To date all VFT proposals have failed any rigorous cost-benefit analysis. If anything the VFT case will become weaker in the light of the approval of Sydney’s second airport. Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List has identified Inland Rail as a Priority Project, noting the long-term benefits to potential users of the project, users of alternative infrastructure, and the broader economy.”
Debate around the Transport Industry General Carriers Contract Determination continues in NSW as the process goes into a period conciliation.
A Revised Proposal has been formulated and was filed in the Industrial Relations Commission on 14 December 2016. A copy of that document is available here.
Parties to the proceedings have until January 27 to file any submissions in relation to the Revised Proposal. The Revised Proposal sets out changes to remuneration and related matters dealt with under the Contract Determination.
‘Monster Trucks’ in Sweden
Unlike a lot of Europe, Sweden has quite a progressive attitude towards the development of higher productivity freight vehicles on its roads. The ‘monster trucks’ in Sweden are permitted by rules which allow for long combinations up to 25.25 metres long to run at a GCM of 60 tonnes on many roads in the country.
This combination can be made up in one of two ways. Firstly, the truck is a rigid with three axles and a freight carrying capacity using a dolly to pull a full sized semi trailer, essentially a truck and five axle dog. The second consists of a full sized semi trailer pulling a pig trailer behind it.
Plans are afoot for the government to allow longer combinations again in the near future. The idea is to go to an A-double set-up, similar to the combination developing in Australia. The maximum GCM allowable will rise to 75 tonnes and the two triaxle trailers are the standard 13.5 metre type already in use. A tandem axle dolly connects the two trailers.
Swedish operators tend to specify 6×2 prime movers to do this work. The tag axles can then be lifted when unladen. These single drives are used on roads which are often dirt in country areas and will be covered in snow in winter. Even so, only a minority of operators choose 6×4 as a drive option.
There are two examples of this kind of A-double combination currently running on Swedish roads on a trial basis. One is a timber truck hauling out of the forests of Northern Sweden, the other is an A-double set used by Scania Transport Labs, running truck components from its base in Södertälje to the Malmo ferry in Southern Sweden. This combination is then broken up and runs as two singles into Zwolle in The Netherlands.
The road testing involved in the launch of the New Generation Scania models in Sweden also gave Diesel News an opportunity to try out these combinations in a real world situation on the local roads south of Stockholm.
As with any longer combination the various units tend to follow the prime mover surprisingly well. On the evidence of traffic on the highways of the country, Swedish operators seem to prefer the rigid and long dog combination. The original idea in giving a choice was to aid utilisation, a pair including one of each type of long combination can be broken up into two semis and rigid and pig set-up with the addition of an extra prime mover. However, the industry has chosen the long combination which handles better.
Taking these long trucks out onto Swedish roads proved to be pretty painless. The rear overhang on the lead truck brings the dolly out wide on corners and the triaxle trailer follows well. Manoeuvring around relatively tight roundabouts in the middle of a small town proves to be easy and the paved run off in the centre of each roundabout was not needed.
The experience in Sweden echoes the results found here in Australia, where PBS designs involving rigid trucks with long dog trailers has been the majority of new higher productivity trucks on the road, so far.
Satellite positioning tech gains $12m boost
Potential seen for SBAS to aid freight transport in all its modes
The federal government has launched a $12 million, two-year program looking into the future of positioning technology in Australia.
The focus will be on Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) technology.
The funding will be used to test instant, accurate and reliable positioning technology that could provide future safety, productivity, efficiency and environmental benefits across many industries in Australia, including transport, agriculture, construction, and resources, it says.
"Research has shown that the wide-spread adoption of improved positioning technology has the potential to generate upwards of $73 billion of value to Australia by 2030," the government adds.
According to transport minister Darren Chester, the program could test the potential of SBAS technology in the four transport sectors— road, rail maritime and aviation.
"SBAS utilises space-based and ground-based infrastructure to improve and augment the accuracy, integrity and availability of basic Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, such as those currently provided by the USA Global Positioning System (GPS)," Chester says.
"The future use of SBAS technology was strongly supported by the aviation industry to assist in high accuracy GPS-dependent aircraft navigation.
"Positioning data can also be used in a range of other transport applications including maritime navigation, automated train management systems and in the future, driverless and connected cars."
The two-year project will test SBAS technology that has the potential to improve positioning accuracy in Australia to less than five centimetres.
Currently, positioning in Australia is usually accurate to five to 10 metres.
"The SBAS test-bed is Australia's first step towards joining countries such as the US, Russia, India, Japan and many across Europe in investing in SBAS technology and capitalising on the link between precise positioning, productivity and innovation," the government says.
Early this year, Geoscience Australia with the Collaborative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI,) will call for organisations from a number of industries including road, rail, spatial,
Op Carter 2: NSW police inspect 21 heavy vehicles
Nine defect notices issued during Mount Ousley truck blitz
Five infringement and nine defect notices were issued for various offences during a five-hour heavy vehicle inspection at Mount Ousley, New South Wales last week.
Twenty-one trucks and trailers were inspected by the NSW joint traffic taskforce, which includes NSW Traffic & Highway Patrol Command and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) inspectors, during Operation Carter 2 on Thursday.
The officers also found two out of the seven inspected electronic speed limiter downloads to be non-compliant.
The blitz targeted truck and dog heavy vehicles travelling on the Princes Highway between 9am and 2pm.
The vehicles were taken to the Unanderra heavy vehicle inspection station for further examination.
Assistant commissioner Michael Corboy says the inspection was in the wake of truck crashes in Mt Ousley over the past two months.
He says the police will "continue these types of operations to ensure trucks are safe and compliant.
"Especially on a wet day, when trucks become most dangerous, the results of the operation highlight the importance in getting dangerous and defective trucks off the road.
"In one day we found nine trucks with defects, including two with non-compliant speed limiters allowing speeds over 100kph, and others with faulty brakes and engine leaks.
"There are far too many defective trucks on the road, and it is not good enough.
"We make no apologies for defecting or grounding trucks that put other people’s lives at risk on our roads."
Thursday’s inspection follows NSW joint traffic taskforce’s November edition, Operation Carter, that also ran in response to a string of accidents at Mt Ousley.
Outback runner takes win
HEY GOOD LOOKIN': The December Rig of the Month winning DD Porter Transport Western Star, driven by Steve White.STEVE White entered the DD Porter Transport Western Star Constellation 4900 series he drove until recently, in the Spitwater Big Rig of the Month competition.
Needless to say, his photo took out the December monthly win, and he's now in the draw to win the Spitwater Pack!
Steve told Big Rigs the truck is used to cart metal all over North Queensland, as far out as Mt Isa and even up into the Northern Territory.
"The truck was excellent and set up really well with a leather interior, big bunk, and everything else you'd need,” he said.
"Even though the truck was based at Pittsworth, I'd drive it to my home at the Gold Coast after dropping the trailers off and I'd spend the weekend polishing it.
"If it ever rained I'd polish it up and the previous driver had neglected it a bit, so I worked hard to get it back up to scratch.”
While Steve no longer works for the company, he has nothing but good stuff to say about the way they operate.
"My boss was a great bloke, but I live too far away to work for DD Porter at the moment, so I run Darwin permanently now,” he said.
"When I was working for DD Porter, Derek was the kind of boss who would make sure we spent plenty of time at home and it was never rushed, you got days off so you could go to the beach and have a couple of beers.
"The variety was good too. One week you'd be in Cairns, next you'd be in Ingham and we always had nice clean loads.”
Steve took the photo near Roma, heading to Cairns, in a little parking bay about 30 kilometres out of Roma.
The fondest memories Steve can recall in the Western Star?
"There were a lot of bad trips and a lot of great trips, but the ones that stood out were a couple of runs I did to Darwin with rural roads and a clean load of metal.
Trucky pays penalty for too much driving, too little rest
FAILING to abide by work and rest hours and properly fill out hours in his log book have proved expensive for a Toowoomba transport driver.
Justin James Faranda was pulled over by transport inspectors on the Warrego Highway as he drove through Jondaryan, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard.
Further investigations and a check of his log book ascertained the 30-year-old had been driving to Toowoomba and that he had stopped in Dalby for a rest stop about 11pm the night before, police prosecutor Natalie Bugden told the court.
After it was discovered he had resumed driving at 4.30am, inside the minimum seven-hour break, Faranda admitted he had put a false time in the log book and that he had been driving 15 minutes over the maximum 12 hour period, Senior Constable Bugden said.
Faranda told investigators he had not been forced by his employer to drive the extra time or reduce his rest period, the court heard.
He pleaded guilty to operating under standard hours with less than minimum rest time, operating over the maximum driver hours and entering false or misleading information into his log book.
Snr Const. Bugden told the court the maximum penalties for the offences were $4200, $15,750 and $10,490 respectively.
The court heard Faranda regretted his actions but that he had been transparent with investigators after being pulled over.
Magistrate Graham Lee said the offences were serious but acknowledged Faranda had made full admissions to investigators and had entered early pleas of guilty to the charges.
He was convicted and fined $2000.
New trailer cameras nab 600 road users in three weeks
The new QPS trailer speed cameras have detected 647 speeding road users across South East Queensland since being rolled out three weeks ago.
The five camera trailers launched as part of the Christmas Road Safety Campaign have been deployed to Queensland’s busiest road networks since December 23.
One driver was detected travelling at 161km/h zone in a 110km/h zone on the Bruce Highway at Mons on the Sunshine Coast while another driver was captured travelling at 148km/h in a 100km/h zone on the Gympie Arterial Road at Bald Hills.
The camera trailers, which are managed remotely and used in high-risk areas not safe or practical to deploy a police officer, have monitored more than 2.8 million vehicles at the various locations.
Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Mike Keating said tolerance levels would be reduced when the introductory period ended on Sunday.
"When we launched the camera trailers last month, we gave an undertaking they would be introduced with a considerably high speed margin while road users became familiar with the new equipment over the Christmas break," he said.
"With students across Queensland heading back to school next week, we are now advising motorists that the introductory phase will end and standard speed camera tolerance levels will apply from Monday.
"During the first few weeks of operation, the camera trailers have proven to be effective, especially targeting speeding motorists in locations where police enforcement has been limited in the past.
"Importantly, road users will continue to see a mix of speed detection strategies including high visibility police patrols, overt and covert mobile speed camera deployments and fixed camera systems."
Assistant Commissioner Keating said excessive speeds continued to be a major contributing factor to road trauma.
"We know speeding is a leading cause for approximately one in four road fatalities in Queensland and that is why we will continue to explore new road safety initiatives to prevent the carnage on our roads."
Linfox expert says industry must drive innovation from within
Global mega-trends such as globalisation, urbanisation and digitisation are forcing Australian transport businesses to commit to a new, much more comprehensive mindset, according to Chris Hemstrom, head of Linfox’ Development, Strategy and Innovation business unit.
In an exclusive Prime Mover interview coming out in early February, Hemstrom pointed out that innovation in the transport space has to come from within the transport industry.
“[As a company] we’re saying ‘we want to understand how we can work at the leading edge of technology and bring new efficiencies into our business’ instead of just taking what we’re offered,” he told Prime Mover – adding that openness to new ideas will help business develop that much talked-about competitive edge.
“If you lead and keep leading while everyone else is trying to get to where you were two years ago, you always have an edge. At the same time you help bring up the standards of the industry at large.
Tackling the Big Issues
Here we are at the beginning of a New Year and we need to think about tackling the big issues, once again. It’s time to take stock and prepare to fight the good fight to keep the right agenda on the table for the trucking industry, at the same time as working to improve the image and standing of trucking in the general community.
Of course, we have perennial issues which will be with us forever. The whole area of safety and keeping people safe at work is a never ending challenge. It is one of those issues which needs constant attention and has the potential to go wrong at any point.
There is always resistance and a tendency among those involved at the ground level to believe the whole safety agenda has gone too far and hinders good work practices. People get frustrated and there is always a lot of talk about the company covering their backsides. This is true, they are, covering the company against the risk of litigation if anything goes wrong. This also has the useful side-effect of reducing injuries, not a bad result.
An ongoing issue which has made life hell for us in the industry is supposed to be diminishing in the future, but we will have to wait and see. The ridiculous inconsistencies in rules and enforcement between the states is slated to disappear when the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator get their collective feet under the table around the nation and genuinely call the shots, when it comes to running the roadside enforcement crews.
We should never underestimate the ability of individual state government, parliament, bureaucrats and others to throw the unexpected spanner in the works, just when the situation is improving. The NHVR seems to be in control of a process to get all of its ducks lined up over the next eighteen months, but the industry’s skepticism is born out of many frustrating years of promised reform getting derailed at the last moment.
The whole issue of remuneration is a sticky one. There are two polar opposites on this issue, but most of the trucking industry sits somewhere in between the two, often pulled in conflicting directions. At one side we have the Transport Workers Union and an ongoing safe rates campaign, coupling road safety with rates and driving.
On the other hand we have a transport industry dominated by a few massive operators, but populated by many thousands of smaller operators who have to be price-takers from the big boys. This leads to a situation where one side is holding down rates for a commercial reason, while the other side is driving up rates to get more of the task handled by the bigger, unionised fleets.
This issue will drag on and on, the TWU has the resources to fight every step of the way, while the big boys keep a low profile. The poor small operator bears the brunt of the issue and has little say in any outcome, little change expected there.
One issue which did get more attention last year, and hopefully will get even more in 2017, is driver perception. This is a very broad topic. On the one hand we are talking about the way truck drivers are perceived out on the road by other road users. It is also about the way drivers are treated within the industry, about getting some respect for their skills and commitment.
As the driver shortage continues and the average age of drivers increases, the smart operators are going to have to come up with more and better ways of making their drivers, working at the coal face, feel a bit more loved and have pride in their profession and abilities. This is going to be a long process, but we need to start making progress on the issue now.
Engine Brake Innovation on the Volvo
The engine brake innovation on the Volvo FH allows the driver to have even more control of the truck in descent situations. Diesel News drove one of the new models to Adelaide to check this out.
The control of the engine brake is done by using a stalk on the right hand side of the steering column. All functions for this are now automated, in the fully forward position. In this case, if the driver touches the brake pedal, the system will blend all braking systems depending on the kind of braking required. Exhaust brake will be joined by engine brake and, finally, service brakes, as and when required.
Pulling the control backwards turns the engine brake off and then a series of steps increase the amount of braking engaged in three steps. Maximum efficiency for the engine brake is available from 2000 to 2100 rpm.
This test run gave Diesel News a chance to test this functionality in an ideal situation, descending down through the Adelaide Hills into the city. First off, the driver needs to get into a suitable gear for the entire descent before the grade steepens. This is achieved by getting into the gear and then hitting the ‘hold’ button.
It was reckoned seventh would be appropriate with a fully loaded B-double set in tow. After setting the gear, the engine brake is engaged fully. There is a button on the end of the engine brake control, which, if pressed, will set in train a deceleration procedure, engaging the engine brake, down changing to get the revs up and so on until its down into sixth. This can be deactivated by a touch to the accelerator.
Interestingly, on another section of this test run it was possible to drive a Mack Superliner and see how some of these technologies are starting to appear in the North American brand. Over time the amount of technological help for the driver is set to increase as these systems are adapted to the Mack trucks and the way in which they are driven. Hill start aid and traction control (without sensitivity control) have already appeared. Next cabs off the rank include adaptive cruise control and lane keeping support.
As it happens, the grade down into Adelaide would probably have been manageable in eighth gear, travelling down in seventh felt extremely secure and the FH was overtaking a considerable number of trucks making the descent.
Often climbing into a truck to drive a shift, it’s is all about getting there and enjoying the view. On this occasion it was less about what was going on in the landscape and more about just pushing the buttons and seeing what they do.
VW calls for legislative catch-up on platooning
DB Schenker backs the concept as MAN and Scania make autonomous vehicle headway in Germany and Singapore
As it highlights two trial projects, VW Truck & Bus has called for legislative progress to match the technological and efficiency promise of autonomous truck platooning.
The bugbear for truck manufacturers and others is the failure of legal structures to keep up with technological and efficiency developments.
"The pilot projects are key components of more efficient transportation of goods on the road," VW board member and Volkswagen Truck & Bus Andreas Renschler stresses.
"Platooning is beneficial for the environment, improves the flow of traffic and increases road safety.
"What we now need is the legislative framework allowing us to introduce platooning on public roads."
MAN chairman Joachim Drees echoed the sentiments, emphasising the safety aspect.
"Platooning offers clear advantages in terms of fuel consumption and a reduced risk of accidents," Drees says.
"The tests performed to date have shown this.
"Now we want to work with DB Schenker to demonstrate what platooning is capable of in real-life conditions."
MAN and logistics specialist DB Schenker are forging what VW describes as the first platooning alliance between an automotive manufacturer and a logistics company.
"Its purpose is to test platooning under realistic conditions over an extended period of time to gain meaningful data."
A platoon is to travel on the A9 motorway between Munich and Nuremberg from 2018, and later be used at DB Schenker's facility in Nuremberg.
MAN and DB Schenker signed a memorandum of understanding in late November.
"Our target is to become the driver of digital business models in the transport and logistics industry and to be the provider of choice for customers seeking both digital and non-digital services," DB Schenker chairman Jochen Thewes says.
"We therefore welcome this opportunity to cooperate with MAN and test platooning at an early stage in day-to-day operations between land transport terminals.
"DB Schenker and MAN expect this partnership to generate new findings for optimising logistics processes."
He was supported by DB Schenker board member for land transport Ewald Kaiser, who noted a range of advantages.
"The project focuses on customer demand for completely transparent as well as faster and more eco-friendly processes," Kaiser says.
"On the whole, we expect this to deliver a significant increase in efficiency by linking up new solutions with the logistics processes of our customers.
"We believe that networked and automated driving has enormous potential."
In the project’s first phase is to clarify the fundamental issues for trial operations, identify suitable scenarios for testing platooning operations and define the technical and logistical requirements for the compilation of platoons.
Another project area will deal with the collection and provision of the necessary information and the use of that information by the truck manufacturer and logistics specialist.
The partners will also look at the scope for combining platooning with other digital services as well as questions of costs and savings potential.
The project will additionally investigate the requirements that platooning drivers have to satisfy as well as the general impact of this new technology on the truck as a workplace, now and in future.
"Many of these things are still a long way off into the future, but we wish to test and help to shape this future, and to provide inspiration and incentive," Thewes said.
"We want to integrate networked, self-driving trucks into our logistics processes and find out what benefits – apart from the savings in fuel consumption – can be achieved for our customers and operational processes."
Meanwhile, half a world away, in what VW Truck & Bus says is the world's largest pilot project of this kind, Scania is to develop and test a "comprehensive platooning solution" for the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA).
Truck platoons each composed of four trucks are to cover a distance of 10 km on public roads to transport containers between various port terminals.
The driver of the first truck will set the speed and direction, with the following three vehicles driving autonomously.
The project has been commissioned by the Singapore port authority and the ministry of transport (MOT) and Scania is in competition with Toyota Group trading arm Toyota Tsusho.
"Given the high population density and lack of drivers, the Singapore government is interested in new technology-based transportation solutions," the manufacturer says.
"During the first phase of the project, Scania will be trialling the technology at its own test facility in Södertälje, Sweden, where it will be customizing it to meet local conditions.
"After this has been completed, the second phase will involve testing in Singapore."
For the island nation, issues other than efficiency are at play.
"Trucking as we know it today is a highly labour-intensive industry," permanent secretary for transport and chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport in Singapore (CARTS) Pang Kin Keong says.
"We face a shortage of truck drivers. In this regard, truck platooning technology presents us with an opportunity to boost productivity in both the port sector and the trucking industry.
"It will also open up opportunities for truck drivers to take on higher-skilled roles as fleet operators and managers."
For PSA, the need is compounded by planned new terminals at Tuas.
"Scania and Toyota were shortlisted based on the quality of their proposals and strong track records in both truck manufacturing and the development of self-driving technology," PSA says.
"Both companies will be working to develop technologies to enable heavy vehicles to move in leader-follower formation, as well as to fully automate the processes for precise docking and undocking of cargo."
Trials will take place in two phases over a three-year period from this month to December 2019.
The 10-km test route along West Coast Highway has been designated for the phase 2 trials.
The trials will initially involve inter-terminal haulage between Brani Terminal and Pasir Panjang Terminals, and may eventually be scaled up for haulage within the port area, as well as between Pasir Panjang Terminals and Tuas Port.
The first phase, lasting about a year, will focus on designing, testing and refining the truck platooning technology to adapt to local conditions.
The trials will be conducted by Scania and Toyota in their respective research centres in Sweden and Japan, to leverage their existing development work.
"Depending on the outcomes of the phase 1 trials, MOT and PSA Corporation will then select one of the companies for phase 2, which will consist of local trials and some development of the technology in Singapore," it says.
Opinion: Heavy vehicle law changes a safety win
Watson says ATA backs HVNL and COR reform
Last year, the ATA published authoritative figures showing that the rate of fatal articulated truck crashes fell 80 per cent between 1982 and 2015. This is a dramatic improvement in safety, but even one accident is unacceptable.
The ATA was established following the Grafton truck and bus crash in 1989 to improve the industry’s safety, professionalism and viability. We are continuing to push for practical measures to improve road safety.
Central to our focus on practical safety measures has been our campaign to reform the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), the co-operative national law for the trucking industry in every state and territory apart from Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Changes to this law require the agreement and co-operation of multiple governments, and take some time to bring about.
The HVNL was assembled from a series of model laws which has left it suffering from a number of flaws. The law is complex, it is not consistent with best practice in safety regulation and it imposes a reverse onus of proof on company directors and executives. They have to prove their defence.
Critically, the law does implement a concept called chain of responsibility, where participants in the road transport chain can be held to account for safety issues on the road. But the provisions do not include truck maintenance and repair, even though we know that poor maintenance is a safety issue.
Back in 2012, the ATA began to campaign to reform the law. In 2013, we called on governments to extend chain of responsibility to cover vehicle maintenance and repairs.
Late in 2016, parliament delivered these safety improvements by passing changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law. These will take effect in early 2018.
Most importantly, the new legislation will establish a primary safety duty on all parties in the defined chain of responsibility, whether they are trucking businesses, consignors or consignees.
This duty will apply to their transport activities, which will be defined to include vehicle maintenance and repair.
To improve consistency, the duty of care will be amended to match the work health and safety standard of ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. Experience has shown that the current duty of care, ‘all reasonable steps’, has important practical difficulties.
To reduce complexity, an entire chapter of the legislation will be deleted because the safety issues addressed in the chapter will now be covered by the primary duty. A range of other fiddly, prescriptive requirements will also be deleted.
The legislation will impose a due diligence obligation on company directors and executives, and this duty will apply to directors and executives of all parties in the defined chain of responsibility, not just trucking operators.
In prosecutions for breaches of this duty, the authorities will have to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
This approach is in line with the fundamental principles of our criminal law. Individuals should not have to prove they are innocent.
The change in the burden of proof will be accompanied by a substantial increase in maximum penalties to match the work, health and safety law and increased investigative powers.
Now that the legislation has passed parliament, industry has the remainder of 2017 to prepare.
The ATA’s member associations will provide support and information for their members in the run up to the laws coming into force.
If you’re not a member, I urge you to start 2017 by joining one of our associations today. Their details are available at www.truck.net.au.
McAleese set for return to private hands
Talks to see secured creditors gain control of entities and company removed from stock exchange
The Australian Securities Exchange looks set to lose one of its few listed trucking and logistics companies, McAleese, administrators at McGrathNicol indicate.
A little more than three years after its ill-fated foray into the public domain, creditors agreed to a series of related Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) proposals as an alternative to liquidation.
"There is no expectation that McAleese Limited will resume trading on the ASX," McGrathNicol says.
It adds that the objectives of the DOCAs, which the company has agreed to, are to:
"The related DOCAs will facilitate a fund contribution of $10 million from the secured creditors, which is expected to be received this week.
The estimated financial outcome of the related DOCAs is that all employees are expected to either be offered continued employment on equal terms or alternatively, for those employees not being offered continued employment, their employee entitlements will be paid in full.
"Ordinary unsecured trade creditors are estimated to receive a small return."
The administrators say the subsidiaries are expected to continue trading "on an uninterrupted basis under the control of management.
"Importantly, the related DOCAs provide an opportunity for the McAleese Group of Companies to continue to service their customers and for suppliers to have the opportunity to continue trading with the McAleese Group of Companies."
McAleese entered voluntary administration in August and has since seen its management and board leave.
Sunshine Refuellers failed to become part of the DOCAs as administrators were not appointed to it.