Coupling evaluation project progresses

The industry’s collaborative coupling evaluation project is gathering pace now that significant challenges have been overcome, thanks to contributions from several HVIA members.

HVIA is collaborating with the ARTSA Institute, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the Truck Industry Council (TIC) for the safety of couplings project looking at heavy high productivity freight vehicles and PBS combinations.

The project has been funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative to investigate dynamic loads on couplings, both filling a gap in knowledge and providing evidence to update relevant Standards and Rules.

The original on road test plan called for the fitting of load cells and data logging equipment to a tri axle dolly. In turn, to conduct the road test this dolly would then be swapped with the existing dolly used in a ABB quad road train, which will be supplied by Direct Haul in Darwin.

However, due to a combination of supply chain issues and high demand for vehicles across the transport sector, the project team has faced significant challenges in sourcing a suitable tri-axle dolly to prepare for the road test.

HVIA Chief Technical Officer Paul Caus explained that desperation had begun to set in when Howard Porter’s Roy Lombardi put his hand up at last month’s HVIA State Committee meeting in Perth.

“After the Industry Project team assessed the Howard Porter dolly, we noted that it was suitable with one issue – that the draw bar was longer than the ideal configuration,” Paul said.

“Again I reached out to members for assistance, and again I was humbled by their willingness to assist, despite the challenging commercial environment.

“CIMC offered to build a new draw bar for the team to match the draw bar length of the existing draw bar used by Direct Haul.”

The dolly has already been transported from Howard Porter in Perth to CIMC in Melbourne, and while it is in town Smedley’s Engineers will install the load cells and data logging equipment on the dolly.

The next step will be transporting the dolly to Darwin, in preparation of the road test – planned for late August or early September.

“It is really heartening to see members collaborating and giving of their time in this important project,” Paul added.

“The next challenge we will face is the weather.

“The project team understand that the wet season in the top end lasted longer than usual this year; obviously road conditions will be affected and may compromise the timing on the road test.”

Coupling forces on multi-combinations were thoroughly studied in the early 1980’s and formed the technical foundation of current standards around couplings.

Since that time, however, larger combinations – both in number of trailers and mass – are permitted on the road.

The project aims to validate the work done in the 1980’s, to ensure continued safety and efficiency when selecting couplings for use in large combinations.

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