RMS transport scheme offers 'world first' road access

Telematics specialists call NSW SPECTS initiative a 'very attractive' incentive for transport operators

RMS transport scheme offers 'world first' road access
NSW roads minister Duncan Gay's upcoming scheme offers plenty for the community, environment and the industry.


Telematics provider Teletrac Navman and its subsidiary, Transtech, have applauded the New South Wales government’s upcoming Safety, Productivity & Environment Construction Transport Scheme (SPECTS) as a "win-win" for the industry, community and the environment.

Under the scheme unveiled earlier this month by NSW roads minister Duncan Gay and to come into effect on July 1, heavy vehicles working in the construction sector will have greater access to the state’s road network at top weight as long as they meet safety, emissions, and monitoring requirements.

With the state planning more construction next year than Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Queensland combined, the scheme aims to improve the  movement of construction materials to and from work sites.

The scheme works as a trade-off, with the transport industry required to use PBS-approved and Euro 5 engine-equipped trucks and trailers fitted with weigh scales and one of two government-approved telematics solutions, and in return they are allowed to take more efficient routes.

Speaking with Owner//Driver, Teletrac Navman solutions specialist Chris L’Ecluse says the "smart thinking" scheme provides access to efficiencies that have previously been denied to the transport industry.

"The actual loads are not increasing," he says, "the mass remains the same but what it’s doing is allowing access to previous routes that weren’t available in the past."

These off-limits routes included a number of bridges; a restriction that will be lowered to just two from July 1 – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Gasworks Bridge in Parramatta.

"We all too often hear about how government intervention restricts efficient operation…, not least in the transport industry," he says, but "this must be seen as a very forward thinking proactive government in allowing the access to the organisations that meet the requirements."

"It is a high-water mark for a government to not only take away conditions but really give them more opportunities."

According to modelling from the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), the trucks will be able to carry up to 20 per cent more product through time savings, while also saving the roads up to 1,000 trips across the state each week.

Transtech regulatory program and partner manager Anthony Laras says the modelling makes "it very, very attractive" for transport operators.

"The modelling that NSW RMS did, based upon all of these cost factors, indicated that transport operators could realise a productivity benefit of around $80,000 per vehicle in the first year alone," he says.

"Once you have a look at the map and the network and have a look at how flexible you can now be in being able to get to your customers… I think what we are now talking about is world first transport heavy vehicle access through regulatory telematics."

SPECTS restrictions

In terms of vehicle and trailers, the scheme allows for truck and dog combinations, and semi-trailers to participate in the scheme.

Truck and dog (six-axle) combinations will be able to carry 49.5-tonne, truck and dog (seven-axle) combinations will max out at 57.5-tonne, and semi-trailers are able to haul up to 50.5-tonne.

The RMS says at this stage no concrete agitators are currently approved under PBS, but should that change they will qualify.

To meet the SPECTS restrictions, operators also need to choose telematics technology from one of two companies with Transport Certification Australia IAP-approval, of which Transtech and its parent Teletrac Navman are one.

And it has been an earnt approval, Laras says.

"About six years ago, Transport and Main Roads in Brisbane wanted to be able to maximise the efficiency of pocket road trains accessing the Port of Brisbane from Toowoomba – a very significant export route," he says.

"So, we began working with the on-board mass suppliers to get the weight data directly off each axle group, through the telematics device, and through to the road manager at 15-second intervals.

"We were able to use the technology to give assurances to the transport operator that he is not overloaded and he’s adhering to his permit conditions.

"Then by giving that assurance in the quality of the data, we were able to give the road managers and the bridge engineers, who are very importance players here, assurances that combinations weren’t travelling over these bridges at weights that would be in contravention of the permit levels."

This technology has opened the door to the scheme and made for more informed operators and managers.

Changes for drivers

While the time in the cab may change slightly for drivers, L’Ecluse says the newer vehicles will make for better working environments.

"To take part in this, they have got to have Euro 5, but more importantly PBS-type vehicles," he says, "what that means is they have the alibility to both accelerate quicker but also stop sooner."

"And that is where we know that these types of technology and these types of vehicles are safer for the community.

"Once they have vehicles that are easier to operate in a safe manner, then of course that provides a set of circumstances where the driver may modify their own behaviour because they have a vehicle that is far more capable of meeting the needs of the load."

While the truck itself may have an effect on driver behaviour, the addition of telematics data could also, as the solution offers transport operators with driver performance information on which they can act.

L’Ecluse says it "means the drivers can be continually improving from a driving perspective."

In terms of drivers straying beyond their allowed boundaries, the telematics solutions will not provide alerts at this stage, L’Ecluse says, as it may further distract drivers from the road but it is a consideration.

At the moment, keeping drivers on route is down to education, he says, requiring comprehensive pre-trip plans to be in place.

"If they do go on the wrong route and a flag is tripped, there is going to be consequences for that," he says.

"For organisations and transport operators who undertake this scheme… it’s in their best interests to ensure their personnel know what the restrictions are."

It is an unlikely scenario, Laras says, who’s company provides IAP monitoring on behalf of road managers, such as RMS.

"Given that the unprecedented access that RMS has provided transport operators considering this scheme, we think this is a big win in terms of people worrying about, perhaps a vehicle going off route, because there are so few routes now that aren’t accessible," he says.

National reach

L’Ecluse sees this as a trial case for a national scheme, with other states and territories taking a close look at how it performs.

"We should see a flow-on effect to other states in the future," he says.

"I am very confident that we will see very little, if any, adverse effects from participants of the scheme."

"It is very highly regulated, which is why they have the autonomy to take the access which they want.

"I believe once the other states and territories see the success of this program, I can only see that they will try to do the same thing in their jurisdictions."


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