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Police step up speed blitz with new camera trailers
The five new speed camera trailers will be managed remotely and used in high-risk areas where it is not currently safe or practical to deploy a police officer.
SPEED camera trailers will be rolled out on Queensland roads from tomorrow as police ramp up their traffic blitz as part of this year's Christmas Road Safety Campaign.
The five new speed camera trailers will be managed remotely and used in high-risk areas where it is not currently safe or practical to deploy a police officer.
Commissioner Ian Stewart said the cameras will begin enforcement from tomorrow as the Christmas Road Safety Campaign moves into the Festive Break phase.
"Queensland has had a devastating start to the Christmas holidays on our roads, recording 15 fatalities since our road safety campaign commenced on December 9," he said. "Excessive speed continues to be a significant issue in Queensland with about one in four road fatalities involving a speeding motorist.
He said the speed camera trailers were designed to assist in areas where it is unsafe to use traditional speed camera devices.
"The new trailers will enable police to target high-end speeding motorists in high-risk zones which are unsafe for officer deployment such as specific areas on motorways, at roadwork sites or in school zones," he said. "As this is a new type of technology, tolerance levels will be phased in, starting with considerable speed margins which will allow the public to become familiar with the new equipment.
"The trailers will not replace our current speed detection methods of high visibility patrols, mobile speed camera deployments or fixed camera systems."
Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Mike Keating said police would undertake a state-wide speed enforcement operation tomorrow on day 1 of the Festive Break.
"Traditionally, many people set-off on their Christmas break on December 23, leading to a high volume of traffic on our road networks and an increased risk of traffic collisions," Assistant Commissioner Keating said.
"Motorists can expect a saturation of speed enforcement activity right across the state with police targeting drivers putting themselves and all other road users at risk just before Christmas."
Phase 2 (Festive Break) of the Christmas Road Safety Campaign commences at midnight tonight and involves twelve days of high policing presence on Queensland roads over the Christmas and New Year period.
Mitch Regan comes to the Castlemaine Truck Show every year, and 2016 was no different
Mitch Regan was still polishing Steve Cassar’s 2002 K104 that he drives when Owner//Driver spoke to him at the 2016 Castlemaine Truck Show.
Mitch had only been driving the Kenworth for two weeks and although Mitch comes up to Castlemaine every year, this is the first time he has brought a truck.
"It’s an ex-Whettenhalls and has a rebuilt 600 Signature but has only done 110,000kms," he says.
"I run around Melbourne doing general. There are six trucks in the fleet.
"I’m looking forward to a good weekend with lovely weather," he grinned.
No test of operator business skills says NHVR
Truck operator licensing in Australia will focus on safety, with the national regulator telling ATN it is ruling out a test on business ability
As we’re beginning to hear, two camps are forming on the controversial issue of operator licensing for the trucking industry.
On one side is the Australian Logistics Council, which is all for the idea, and points to the British system for inspiration.
On the other side is the Australian Trucking Association, which is dead against the concept, and points to the British experience as a reason not to do it.
To operate heavy vehicles in Britain an applicant has to prove they are of good repute; have enough money to run the business; have good arrangements for maintaining the vehicles; and can ensure that they and their staff can obey all the rules.
Australia’s National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has flagged what it prefers to call operator "accreditation", and says it is consulting with the industry.
The only official NHVR statement that we’ve seen so far is the organisation’s five-year blueprint released in August.
Setting the Agenda - Strategies for a Safer, Productive and more Compliant Heavy Vehicle Industry 2016-2020 says under the heading "Safety Standards" that the NHVR will: "Develop appropriate standards for entry and continued operation in the heavy vehicle industry."
Regulator will leave business alone
ATN interviewed NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto on operator licensing and it’s clear it’s still early days in the regulator’s thinking on the issue.
Petroccitto says he’s not even sure if the future entry standards can be called "operator licensing".
"You will note from our strategies [document] we don’t even use the terminology anymore, and that was deliberate because we didn’t want to pre-empt an outcome," he says.
However Petroccitto knocked on the head one of the most controversial aspects of operator licensing in Britain, in answer to our question about whether operators will have to prove they can run a set of business books.
"No, the business practices of an organisation… is really up to that individual," replies Petroccitto.
"I can’t tell an operator whether he should run a profitable business, but what we should be making the operator aware of are the obligations in relation to law around the minimum standards be it around fatigue, be it around safety, be it around the benefits that come from having those procedures and processes in play and the productivity outcomes that come from that.
"You running a profitable business isn’t necessarily one of those (legal requirements) but we know that if you’re making money well you’re probably going to be in business a bit longer."
Lots of questions remaining
Petroccitto says improving safety outcomes is the focus for the upcoming standards for entry and continued operation in the heavy vehicle industry.
"Operator licensing, if we’re going to use that terminology, could be one of those outcomes; we’re not saying it definitely will be," he says.
"What we’re saying is we need to explore it and do more analysis as to what the appropriate safety outcomes (are) that we want.
"What I have heard from the industry is that they believe some form of I suppose standard or criteria around the way someone enters the industry would be worth investigating."
On the UK operator licensing scheme, Petroccitto says it has pros and cons and certain benefits but asks: "Is that the sort of scheme that we would want to pursue or not? That needs further policy investigation and understanding."
ATN asked Petroccitto if any sort of operator licensing system would apply only to the "hire and reward" sector of trucking, or to the "ancillary" sector as well, i.e where trucks are a sideline to the main business.
"It’s premature to really say," he replies.
CEVA appoints new Managing Director
Supply chain provider, CEVA Logistics, has announced Carlos Velez Rodriguez as its new Managing Director for its Australia and New Zealand.
Accoridng to CEVA, Velez Rodriguez will be based in Melbourne and will report to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Xavier Urbain.
“I am delighted to have someone of Carlos’s caliber to lead our operations in Australia & New Zealand,” Urbain said. “His extensive industry knowledge, experience in leading large organizations and his collaborative style make him an excellent successor for this critical role in this important cluster.”
Velez Rodriguez joins CEVA from FM Logistic where he was Group Managing Director Central Europe for the past decade and led a team of 5,000 individuals. He has also held a number of commercial roles at companies in Europe, the USA and Latin America.
Automated vehicles trial announced for Victoria
A trial of how automated vehicles can interact with Australian road infrastructure will kick off on Melbourne's CityLink from next year in a new partnership between the Victorian Government and Transurban.
The trial will test vehicles currently on the market, to understand how autonomous vehicle technology interacts with road infrastructure including overhead lane signals, electronic speed signs and line marking.
The Transurban trial will begin with testing automated vehicles that comply with existing road rules and road safety regulations. A human driver will monitor the vehicle’s operation, ready to take back control at any time.
To establish nationally consistent guidelines across Australia for automated vehicle trials, VicRoads will consult with industry for feedback on the Labor Government’s Future Directions Paper.
The consultation will focus on how to ensure road safety during testing on public roads, what constitutes a driver ‘being in control’, and understanding how the changing technology will interact with our transport system.
Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, commented, “We want to work with the automotive and technology industries so Victoria can be at the forefront of automated vehicle technology and create jobs here in Victoria.”
“Keeping people safe on our roads is our number one priority and that’s why we’re running these innovative trials in the safest possible way for all road users.”
“By removing human error from the equation, autonomous vehicles will play a critical role in reducing deaths and serious injuries on Victorian roads.”
Transurban CEO, Scott Charlton, said advances in vehicle technology will rapidly change the way Victorians use the road network.
“Industry experts say we will have fully driverless cars on the market in the next five to 10 years and we need to make sure our infrastructure is ready to meet this demand," Charlton said.
“Highly automated vehicles have the potential to significantly boost road safety, relieve congestion and improve social mobility. We are pleased to partner with the Victorian Government to look at how these vehicles could one day deliver benefits for local road users.”
The consultation runs from 15 December to 3 February. Feedback is sought on the Future Directions Paper, which can be found online.
Toll puts hand up as record fatality fine is imposed
Kruger extends personal and group condolences to the bereaved
Toll Group MD Brian Kruger has made a statement of contrition as his company accepts culpability in the death of a worker on one of its ships in May 2014.
The stevedore’s death resulted in a record $1 million fine in the Melbourne County Court on one charge under section 21 of the 2004 OHS Act for failing to maintain a safe system of work, following a WorkSafe Victoria investigation.
"Toll deeply regrets the incident that led to the death of our co-worker and colleague Anthony Attard," Kruger says.
"Toll pleaded guilty to the charge brought by Worksafe Victoria.
"We acknowledge the pain and loss this has caused to his family, friends and co-workers.
"Personally, and on behalf of the company, we again extend our sincerest condolences to Anthony’s family.
"Since this tragic incident further safety improvements have been made in our shipping operations to ensure we reduce the risk of anything like this ever happening again."
The fatality was the subject of an Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) accident report that year, which the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) held up as an example of the sort of approach that could usefully be employed in examining serious truck-related incidents.
The stevedore was crushed to death when run over by a MAFi trailer while helping load the Tasmanian Achiever.
He had been placing rubber mats for the MAFIs to rest on during transit.
He was wearing a hi-vis vest and using earplugs but was unsighted by the driver.
According to WorkSafe, the court heard that Toll had a number of procedures in place to ensure the safety of employees during the moving of MAFIs on to the ships.
WorkSafe’s investigation found that these were inadequate.
"Critically, a key component of the safety procedures – that a fellow stevedore be positioned on the deck to assist with moving mats, directing the prime movers and watching for pedestrians – did not occur," it says.
"There was no stevedore in position at the time of the incident."
Worksafe says the $1 million fine is the largest ever handed down by a court in Victoria for a single offence under occupational health and safety laws.
WorkSafe executive director of health and safety Marnie Williams says the fine reflects the "horrifying failure of the company to look after the safety of its employees".
"Toll had a system in place to manage the serious risks associated with loading and unloading its ships but some of its procedures were inadequate and the most critical part of all – having a second pair of eyes on the deck – was not enforced," Williams says.
"Toll knew the risks its employees faced working in and around MAFIs but failed to manage them appropriately."
"It was a catastrophic failure that led to a worker dying in the most horrible of circumstances, and traumatising all the people who tried so hard to save him.
"The court’s decision reflects this, and is a stark reminder to all employers that the safety of their employees must be paramount at all times."
GCCD, Fatigue, Fuel Tax and Fixing Country Roads
In the news this week we have seen GCCD, fatigue, fuel tax and fixing country roads, plus PBS and infrastructure strategy, on the agenda.
Proposed amendments to the General Carriers Contract Determination (GCCD) look like they will have answered many of the trucking industry’s concerns. The proposal to cover all freight in NSW has been reduced to coverage of mandatory rates to Sydney and two transport corridors to Wollongong and Newcastle.
It looks like the rules will apply only to particular sectors including general, furniture and refrigerated. Exempt categories are expected to include livestock transport primary produce to or from land used for primary production, use of a specialist vehicle such as a tippers or those described as common carrier, as opposed to a contract carrier, who transports materials for only one customer.
Federal Transport Minister, Darren Chester, has announced an $828,000 investment in a Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue Project. The project will be a collaborative effort between the National Transport Commission, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, universities and industry.
The aim of the research will be to assess the current fatigue framework and better inform future fatigue policy. The funding has been committed for the next two years to ensure that the research is finalised and available to Ministers in 2018.
Geoff Crouch, Managing Director of Ron Crouch Transport and Vice Chair of the Australian Trucking Association has called for legislative change to the Fuel Tax Act to encourage regular maintenance of trucks, saying it is key to ensuring vehicles continue to meet emissions standards, regardless of their age.
This was the message delivered by Geoff Crouch, Managing Director of Ron Crouch Transport and Vice Chair of the Australian Trucking Association during his presentation this week.
“Trucks need regular maintenance in order to meet emission standards and amending the eligibility for fuel tax credits would provide a powerful incentive for regular maintenance,” said Crouch, at a Mercedes Benz Dealer Conference. “Contained within the Fuel Tax Act are a set of environmental conditions that for trucking operators must meet to qualify for fuel tax credits. A truck has to be manufactured on or after 1 January 1996, or meet one of three maintenance or testing criteria.”
When the Fuel Tax Act was first introduced, 61 per cent of the truck fleet was manufactured before 1996 and had to meet a maintenance or testing criteria in order to claim fuel tax credits. In 2016 this has fallen to just 33 per cent of the fleet.
The Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association has ramped up its focus on identifying recipients of public funding under round one and two of the NSW Fixing Country Roads program which are yet to deliver what they promised, specifically improved heavy vehicle access, despite successful completion of road improvements.
Abington Creek Bridge on Thunderbolt’s Way is an example of funding being received and upgrades being completed to allow heavy vehicles operating at higher mass limits (HML) and under the livestock loading scheme (LLS) access to the upgraded infrastructure. Abington Creek Bridge is now a 450metre long, dual-lane concrete bridge yet the local council refuses to allow this access.
“Accountability is paramount when it comes to the expenditure of public funding”, said Lynley Miners, LBRCA President. “The changing of the goal posts is unacceptable and is an obvious constraint to achieving productivity and access benefits across NSW”.
The NHVR has said it will consider mechanisms proposed by Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) to ensure a safer, higher productivity fleet and to protect the ongoing viability of the Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme.
Geoff Casey, the NHVR’s Executive Director, Productivity and Safety, pointed to the current Austroads PBS Standard, Directional Stability Under Braking project, due to report back in mid-2017. The review is expected to make a series of recommendations about high productivity PBS approved vehicles.
“The NHVR is of the opinion that it would be beneficial to consider the outcomes of the Austroads research before any potential changes in the PBS Vehicle Assessment Rules are considered,” said Casey.
The Australian Logistics Council has welcomed the tabling of Infrastructure Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy in the Victoria Parliament, as an important milestone to bolster national supply chain investment and reform.
“The Strategy will feed into the issues that are put under the infrastructure microscope as the Government undertakes an independent inquiry to inform the development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy,” said Michael Kilgariff, ALC Managing Director. “I look forward to the Strategy’s recommendations filling some of the gaps in the broader national freight supply chain puzzle, which must be addressed to create a truly national freight supply chain network.”
Looking for a Positive Future
If you are looking for positive future for the trucking industry in Australia, it has to come from the young people involved at the ground level.
It was great to meet a young man with a very smart truck who retains some of the values which have made the trucking industry what it is today, alongside an enthusiasm for the industry and desire to do the right thing. Add to that a damn fine truck with a stunning paint finish, albeit on a rainy day in Adelaide.
The white truck standing in the yard is clearly different. At first glance, it’s a white truck with some blue stripes pulling a pair of tipper trailers with some nifty graphics down the side. These are proclaiming the product the Patersons Bulk Transport spends most of its time carrying, Cooke Plains Gypsum.
However, the eye does get drawn back to the Mack Superliner, there is something about the look of the truck, it seems to glow or shimmer. Approaching it, the quality of the paint finish becomes clear, the depth of the colour and shine. Around sunset the white is said to take on a blue hue by its proud operator, Sam Paterson.
When Diesel spoke to him, Sam had been driving the truck for two months and just settling into it. “Me and Dad really love our trucks,” said Sam. “The old man’s got a Southern Cross, so we fight for front spot in the shed, I like mine and he likes his.”
The conversation always returns to Sam’s gleaming white Mack Superliner. “I only drive the truck five or six months of the year, so it’s not like I am going to clock up massive kms, no-one else will drive it.”
Apart from the paint job, the truck has a number of innovative features. One is the inside mounting for the adblue tanks. They sit around the drive shaft to enable a bigger fuel capacity for some of the longer runs. This is a feature seen in the Volvo product and adapted across into Mack models where fuel capacity can be critical. Sam’s truck has a fuel capacity over 1800 litres as a result.
The filler cap for the adblue tank emerges behind the fuel tank and it has been hidden by a hinged part of the walkway over the tanks leaving the cap hidden under one of the steps. It is so well concealed, Sam has managed to convince truck stop busy bodies his truck doesn’t use adblue.
Here’s a young man with his head screwed on and with a good looking truck to boot. He is looking to the future, seeing how the business can keep up with the competition and develop further.
McAleese given $10M lifeline to save jobs
Failed transport company McAleese has put truck loads of assets up for auction.
SECURE creditors of the McAleese Group have thrown the ailing transport company $10 million to save jobs.
On December 19, the second meeting of creditors, there was a vote to accept the Deed of Company Arrangement that would see the company continue to operate with a $10 million lifeline.
Accord to a statement from receivers McGrathNicol the objectives of the cash injection was to help creditors get better returns, keep the group of companies operating, retain jobs and ensure funds were distributed effectively.
"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 statement said.
The new deal does not help Mackay's former McAleese workers or the depot, however, which has already been closed.
"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," the statement said.
There is no expectation that McAleese would resume trading on the Australian stock exchange.
One of the world’s top experts on road safety reckons Australia has to get more technology into and onto its trucks
Truck under-run protection systems and in-cab black boxes are necessary if Australia wants to improve its heavy vehicle safety, says a global road safety leader.
Dr Soames Job is head of the Global Road Safety Facility at the World Bank, and was one of the many eminent safety experts at the most recent Australasian Road Safety Conference in Canberra.
"Trucks are dramatically over involved in deaths on Australian roads on a per vehicle basis," points out Dr Job, an Australian road safety professor and former president of the Australasian College of Road Safety.
"That’s not to say that the truck drivers are at fault but trucks are an extremely unforgiving object to hit when another driver or another road user makes a mistake. I think we need to be doing more to address that. We need more of the technology aimed at protecting not just the truck drivers where we can also make improvement, but the road users around (them) who cop a very unforgiving outcome if they make a mistake near a truck.
"I mean better protection within cars but also better protection on the trucks for road users around them for when there is a collision."
Dr Job rates as the number one measure for having more forgiving trucks as being front, side and rear under-run protection.
"Good technology in underrun protection is going to save a lot of lives in Australia," he says.
Indeed, an average of 12 people a year are killed in Australia in accidents where they run into the back of trucks alone. That sobering statistic was contained in a paper by Professor Raphael Grzebieta from the University of NSW and engineer George Rechnitzer, delivered at the conference.
It’s not hard to guess the horrific injuries which occur when the bonnet of a car goes underneath the back of a truck, and the back of the truck hits the windscreen and occupants’ heads before car occupant protection devices activate. These devices include car crumple zones, frontal air bags and pre-tensioning seat belts.
Lack of rear under-run protection is more dangerous on rigid trucks, because of their longer overhang between the rear wheels and back of the chassis.
Black box fan
ATN asked Dr Job how Australia stacks up internationally when it comes to heavy vehicle safety.
"If we compare Australia with the average of the world, Australia is doing very well," he replies. "But if we compare Australia with the average of high income countries, then not so well.
"There are many countries and we see for example in Europe very effective regulation of driving hours; of truck access; and very effective regulation by GPS of what trucks are doing, how fast they are going and who is driving them.
"I think we can use more of that technology in Australia to manage these kinds of risks which are very significant risks for Australia."
ATN commented to Dr Job that it must be horrendous being a truck driver in the sort of developing countries which account for a lot of his work.
"I think if we look at our low income countries around the world then trucks and buses add very significantly to the risk because they are built in an unforgiving way; the vehicles colliding with them are unforgiving; and they’re very often heavily overloaded as well as poorly maintained," he says.
"So if we look at low income countries then it’s a deep, deep challenge."
Toll giraffe delivery proves a tall order
Transport and logistics provider, Toll, has accomplished one of its most unique deliveries to date, transporting a five metre tall giraffe from Sydney to Perth.
Toll’s most recent assignment involved shipping a six-year-old giraffe named Kitoto, from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo across Australia to her new home at Perth Zoo in Western Australia to meet her new mate, Armani.
“Moving animals is a challenge in itself, but a transport crate the size of Kitoto’s loaded on a trailer – that’s a whole new ball game,” said Toll operator, Mick Harvey.
“Everything from local traffic conditions in Sydney – and Perth, at the other end – to making sure the loaded truck would pass easily beneath any overpasses or bridges, low lying trees and having power lines lifted needs to be taken into consideration.
“It was, like all our over dimensional moves, one that required careful planning – but compared to other projects, this one was fairly special.”
According to Toll, the 4,200 km trip took more than 50 hours to complete that included a myriad of obstacles, including Kitoto’s 4.5m height that prevented her from passing beneath low clearance bridges and overpasses.
New Dangerous Goods code released
The National Transport Commission (NTC) has released an update to the Dangerous Goods Code, which will come into effect as of 1 March 2017.
The NTC called for feedback to its proposed improvements to the code in July 2016, with member groups including NatRoad supplying submissions made in consultation with industry.
According to the NTC, the Australian Dangerous Goods Code is part of an ongoing strategy to align domestic land transport requirements with international requirements for the safe transport of dangerous goods.
The NTC reviews the code every two years to help meet international best practice and evolving user needs in Australia.
CCFSA continues road funding call
The body says ‘death corridor’ needs urgent attention in order to facilitate freight growth
The Civil Contractors Federation of SA (CCFSA) has called for an urgent upgrade of "one of South Australia’s most critical road freight routes" because of its recent accident record.
Directing its attention at the federal and South Australian governments, the industry body says a $1.2 billion upgrade is needed to reduce the toll on the National Highway A1.
According to CCFSA CEO Phil Sutherland, the section of the highway between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta has seen over 31 traffic accidents, 61 serious casualties and 14 fatalities in the past three years.
"The road between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta is an absolute death corridor – it’s a disgrace for a national highway, and well below the standard you expect in a first world economy," Sutherland says.
"It beggars belief that this section of National Highway A1 - also called the Augusta Highway – remains in such a dilapidated state given its crucial link to the national road system.
"Inexplicably, upgrading and duplicating this sub-standard section of highway – which forms part of a nationally significant freight corridor, and is integral to the National Freight and Supply Chain - does not even appear on Infrastructure Australia’s Priority list.
"The SA Government’s 30 year Integrated Transport and Land Use Plan sees the duplication of the highway as a ‘longer term’ measure – tragically, that means more people will lose their lives on that section of the highway."
The 200km stretch of road from Port Wakefield north to Port Augusta, which forms part of the 14,500km National Highway A1, is a two lane road that accommodates cars and heavy vehicle traffic, including B-Doubles, B-Triples and road trains.
The industry body says this situation is hampered by "narrow bridges and a railway level crossing" and a road surface condition that "features degraded road shoulders and verges, roughness and rutting of the road surface, and is generally a patchwork of bitumen showing regular repair and maintenance works."
As an incentive to fix the road, Sutherland says the state government would see growth in local productivity.
"Upgrading this section of highway will tick many boxes including public safety, relieving road transport congestion, connecting regional communities, creating new jobs and business opportunities and increasing productivity," Sutherland says.
"Freight corridors in the eastern states are far superior to those in South Australia.
"It’s time the Federal Government joined with the SA Government and sorted out the Port Wakefield to Port Augusta highway mess."
The latest call for action follows a similar move earlier this month by the CCFSA, when it teamed up with the Port Augusta City Council to call on both governments to commit to funding an upgrade of Yorkey Crossing Road near Port Augusta.
NSW roads ministry explains HML bridge anomaly
Abington Creek bridge off-network; access is a future option
Building the Abington Creek bridge to higher mass limit (HML) standard was done with the future in mind, rather than to make Thunderbolts Way an HML route, the New South Wales government tells ATN.
The Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association (LBRCA) is campaigning to keep councils to the promise of road access where government money is spent on upgrading infrastructure for the purpose.
But NSW roads minister Duncan Gay’s office indicates one is not immediately contingent on the other.
"In order to maximise the Abington Creek bridge’s longevity and keep future options for Thunderbolts Way open the upgrade was completed to HML grade," a spokesperson says.
Under Fixing Country Roads, the council submitted an application to replace Abington Creek bridge to HML standard.
"While it is understandable that there was a level of expectation from industry that Thunderbolts Way will open up for HML access after the completion of Abington Creek bridge this was never in the application submitted by Council, nor was the project assessed on this basis," the spokesperson says.
"We’re committed to providing better access and more efficient routes for heavy vehicles through our Fixing Country Roads Program.
"More than 100 projects are either underway or complete but we know we have plenty more work to do.
"HML access on Thunderbolts Way was never included in the scope of work to replace Abington Creek bridge however this option will continue to be considered as part of future work.
"We will continue to have an open dialogue with the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association and other industry stakeholders to deliver more improvements for the freight industry."
Thunderbolts Way runs north-west from Gloucester, near the coast, to near Gilgai in northern NSW and the bridge is near Bundarra.
A response from the LBRCA has been sought.
Running Mercedes Benz Trucks in Australia
The man tasked with the job of running Mercedes Benz trucks in Australia is Michael May, long time servant of the company and part of the relatively young team now steering the Daimler Trucks ship in this country. Diesel News talked to him about his past and the future for the truck brand.
“I started with the company as an engineer on Mercedes Benz trucks,” said May. “I had done a stint in mining before that, in New South Wales, working with equipment, roof bolting etc. I came into Daimler, as an engineer, doing a bit of testing, some sales engineering, speccing vehicles and that sort of stuff.
“I moved progressively through the company in different roles. I did some certification for the whole group for a while, when it was DaimlerChrysler, overseeing cars as well as Fuso, Freightliner and Benz.
May also did a stint in after sales for a while, running the technical side of after sales, service and training department. For someone from an engineering base, it was probably a good way to get closer to the customer and the dealer network. May reckons he found it different to being in the retail environment.
“I think I am lucky to have been through so many different roles,” said May. “I like being around people and everything I focus upon is around teams. If you’ve got a good team and you can get them all going the same way, you can make a real difference. At ground level, that relates to a guy who owns one truck or one who owns 20 or 100.
“From my perspective it’s nice to bring my retail experience back into the head office. We need to be better customer focused. We need to be able to look from their point of view. I like to think when we go through a trial like the one we are doing with next generation Actros. We place ourselves with the customer and look at it that way, not looking down as a manufacturer. It’s my philosophy to bring it from a simplified, customer’s view and build on it.
“At times our companies can be pretty complicated for Australia, which is a smaller market compared to some of the other markets Daimler is involved in. We’ve got to keep it simple and we’ve got to come from a customer’s perspective. On a sales front, that has been good for me, but my engineering background has always put me in good stead. All of our customers and drivers know a lot about our product, sometimes, more than us. You get some credibility when you stand there and tell them you tested trucks for five years.”
For the last couple of years the Mercedes Benz team have been concentrating on the next generation Actros. The model has undergone unprecedented pre-release testing in large number across a number of sectors of the Australian trucking industry. All leading to the big launch at the end of 2016.
“This trial has been good for us,” said May. “It’s not just about finding what we need to do to our truck, it’s also about taking the time to seed it into the network, as we tool them up and train them up. We are saying to them, are you guys ready? They are getting their exposure during the trial phase.
The introduction of the new Actros is a major step for the Mercedes Benz brand. The underperformance of the brand over a number of years sees sales figures well below competing European brands. The truck trial period is ensuring the metal will be up to the job (As we heard in the July issue of Diesel). It needs to the whole organisation to be ready to capitalise of the situation.
“We are not satisfied with where we are,” said May. “Plus or minus, we haven’t really moved forward. Part of the way we are planning to bring out this vehicle is about the way we support the product. It’s about the way we implement the products we introduce.
“Our offering goes more into maintenance and repair, this is what we are concentrating on. We are getting close to 40 per cent of our customers choosing the repair and maintenance contract. Our customers know what they’re up for each month. It’s going to be one of the pillars of our future.”