Access is a term that you’ll hear all the time in the transport industry, but it’s not always clear what it actually means or how it can benefit your business. ‘Gaining access’ refers to the process a transport company undertakes to operate on specific routes using larger or unique vehicle combinations. This all helps to increase payload, unlock productivity and improve efficiency.
Access also lets heavy vehicles carry greater mass on the Australian road network. This system means operators need to be accredited under the Mass Management Module of the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS), the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) or Interim On-Board Mass (OBM) Program.
One unique vehicle combination enabled through access is the use of A-Doubles out of the port, which allows a single vehicle to carry two 40-foot containers. South East Queensland Hauliers (SEQH) did just this, as pioneers of the Interim OBM program who travel into the Port of Brisbane using A-Double vehicle combinations carrying 2x 40 foot or 4x 20ft containers.
When operating at higher mass with access permissions, vehicles can travel on an additional subset of the road network previously inaccessible. But what does this really mean for your business?
The Types of Access for your Business
There are several types of access that can be attained by your business, depending on your needs.
- Concessional (CML) or Higher Mass Limits (HML) allows for extra payload for the vehicle combination being used, available through the NHVAS or IAP programs respectively
- Road access to the last leg of your journey to allow you to get from the depot to the nearest state highway and vice versa
- Port access for vehicle combinations, such as A-Doubles available through the Interim OBM Program, may be required for companies that transport goods from depots to the port for export along very specific roads. For example, the HPFV (high productivity freight vehicles) network in Victoria
- Permission to cross infrastructure to optimise your route, such as bridges, to allow a specific vehicle combination at a specific weight. For example, this was a challenge faced by Bulktrans, who operate out of Port Kembla in New South Wales. To maximise their payload, they installed on-board scales that enabled them to prove, in real time, that they complied with recommended mass limits
In most cases, to be granted access it’s required that you enrol in a program (NHVAS, IAP) and have telematics or further technology installed, such as an on-board weighing system that produces real-time axle-mass. These systems integrate live digital mass weighing within the vehicle to an in-cab device and the back-office to ensure compliance with the requirements of access. These are unique to the business, the vehicle and the roads among other criteria. Using an electronic solution like this removes guesswork and provides a level of surety to road managers of your compliance to access conditions.
Access to New Vehicle Combinations
The Performance-Base Standards, or PBS scheme for short, offers the industry the ability to unlock higher productivity through innovatively optimised vehicle designs. The idea is to match the right vehicle to the right task, so PBS vehicles are designed to perform their tasks as productively and safely as possible whilst using the road network. They’re tested against 16 stringent safety standards and four infrastructure standards for a level of assurance that they’re safe for use.
Over 16,000 separate PBS registered trucks, trailers and buses in Australia make up over 7000 unique combinations, representing 17% of the heavy vehicles in the market. The benefits are highly visible and measurable. According to the National Transport Commission (NTC), PBS vehicles are involved in 46 per cent fewer crashes than conventional vehicles. They’re engineered to be safer and more productive, helping you ensure your drivers get home at night.
While access to the road network is well supported and can be accessed through a variety of programs, considering which option best suits your business requirements is important. A variety of tools including in-vehicle telematics and on-board mass solutions are available to enable process automation and increase efficiency. Through these tools, you can unlock the potential of your fleet, and access new vehicle combinations that can substantially increase your mass limits.
Real-time mass measurements can create a variety of cost-saving benefits for your businesses. Ensuring your vehicles are at maximum payload capacity leads to high productivity gains, and noticeably reduced trips. In the case of Bulktrans, this process saved approximately 12,500 trips per year, as monitoring load allowed vehicles to travel on infrastructure previously not permitted as compliance with mass requirements was ensured. This ‘outside the box’ thinking is essential, especially when considering PBS.
Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
The benefits of gaining access are measurable, sustainable and substantial. Access can lead to a significant reduction in fuel consumption, increased productivity, higher driver safety and cost saving for your business. It also means that you’re able to provide better and more affordable services for your customers, ultimately leading to new contracts.