Industry Investigates Coupling Strength

A new project investigating dynamic loads on couplings has been funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative to fill a gap in knowledge and provide evidence to update relevant Standards and Rules.

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) are 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.

HVIA Chief Executive Todd Hacking said that coupling failure on high productivity vehicles has the potential to lead to death and injuries, major traffic disruption and reduced public confidence in heavy vehicle safety.

“It is important for regulators and industry to be confident in the relevance and integrity of the Standards that guide the safe selection of components,” Mr Hacking said.

The project will conduct investigations of coupling dynamic forces using on road testing and follow-up laboratory testing to confirm the strength of the couplings.

Couplings to be validated in the project include 5th wheel and automatic pin couplings used in heavy combination road trains including the various innovative Quad road train combination types.

Chair of ARTSA Institute, Martin Toomey said the current Australian Design Rules cover heavy coupling requirements but they do not provide any guidance beyond a road train GCM of just 125 tonnes.

“As increasingly higher productivity vehicle combinations enter the Australian heavy vehicle fleet, evidence-based guidance is required to support engineers, regulators and fleet managers, so that couplings can be safely specified, inspected and maintained,” Mr Toomey said.

TIC CEO, Dr Tony McMullan said Australia has always pushed truck equipment to its limits.

“Couplings are a prime example with quad trailer Road Trains exceeding 150 tonne GCMs,” he said.

“This project will help define coupling safety factors and requirements for multi trailer configurations around the world.”

The joint investigation will help accelerate the introduction of new safety technologies to support safe and securely loaded heavy vehicles according to NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto.

“The NHVR is proud to support this project that will help mitigate the safety risks posed by non-compliant couplings and enhance the safety of vehicles operating under higher productivity schemes,” Mr Petroccitto said.

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