Loading breaches 'rife' in grain haulage

Grain haulage sector “rife” with loading breaches, according to advisory firm, as lack of weighbridges threatens to bring operators unstuck

January 29, 2010

The grain haulage sector of the trucking industry is "rife" with loading breaches, according to an advisory firm, as a lack of weighbridges at farms threatens to bring operators unstuck.

The business development manager of Bulknet, Nik Malijkovic, says it is common that drivers receiving loads at farms are forced to rely on the vehicle’s air pressure gauge to calculate a load’s mass.

As well as the devices lacking accuracy, Malijkovic says drivers are sometimes not fast enough to signal the farmer to stop loading the vehicle before the mass exceeds the weight limit.

"You would be shocked to learn how many companies we work with are regularly overloading by 25 percent and just don’t realise it," Malijkovic says.

"Grain haulage overloads are particularly rife and it is often not until you get into the grain receiving station that you are aware of your breach."

A truck exceeding its regulated mass by 20 percent is counted as a severe breach under chain of responsibility laws for mass management, which put the onus on all parties in the supply chain to correctly load vehicles.

As well as risking road safety, Malijkovic says overloaded trucks also cut into bottom lines and productivity because receivers are turning away trucks that do not meet weight requirements.

If a zero tolerance policy is enforced, Malijkovic says drivers are forced to leave the site and tip off the excess grain and then return to the queue to enter the site.

"This is a waste of time and the driver has now transported this extra freight, which he is not going to be paid for," Malijkovic says.

And as the high-profile chain of responsibility battle between the Roads and Traffic Authority and GrainCorp continues, Malijkovic says many in the trucking industry are still struggling to understand their obligations.

"In my opinion, far too many operators remain ignorant about CoR [chain of responsibility]. They decide to take the risk and simply rely on the hope that they don’t get caught," he says.

"Many are unsure about some parts of the legislation concerning exemptions and how they can protect themselves from the chain."

Malijkovic says businesses must spend time understanding the laws, which he argues can help establish a level playing field.

"Transport companies operating illegally can artificially position themselves to be cheaper in the market…This ultimately sets an unrealistic benchmark for transportation pricing structures being lower than what is commercially deemed possible," he says.

Malijkovic says it is in the best interests of industry groups and individual sectors in the supply chain to work together to end rogue practices.

"If you operate within the law the rogue traders will eventually be forced out of receiving stations. No one will want to touch them," he says.

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