Archive for March, 2011

Shake-up under national Fatigue Management Regulations

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Pic: Fatigue management under scrutiny

By Brad Gardner
Governments are being urged to overhaul fatigue management laws as part of a push to establish national trucking regulations.

An expert panel responsible for developing options to achieve uniform truck regulations wants the problematic advanced fatigue management (AFM) scheme revised to make it simpler for industry.

Introduced alongside the basic fatigue management (BFM) and standard hours modules in 2008, AFM was designed to allow operators to develop their own fatigue management plans. It permitted drivers to work up to 16 hours in Queensland and South Australia and 15 hours in NSW and Victoria in extenuating circumstances.

However, the panel claims the current system is too expensive and sets the entry bar too high for trucking operators. It proposes a scheme built around countermeasures that offset fatigue if a driver works more than 12 hours a day.

The panel says scientific evidence shows fatigue-related risks escalate after 12 hours of work, so companies that want drivers to work longer should develop measures to show how the risks will be minimised. “For example, an operator might propose a longer shift time but offset the risk through operating only in daylight hours,” a regulatory impact statement on national heavy vehicle laws released last month says. “The operator might further reduce the risk through mandating a longer rest period before an after this longer shift.”

Unlike the current system, templates will be freely available to operators to develop their own plans, reducing costs and streamlining the application process.

“Industry would have access to approved implementation plans drawn from actual applications or templates rather than starting from scratch and duplicating work across industry,” the impact statement says. The expert panel, which is independent of government and the transport industry, claims AFM applications currently cost between$10,000 and $20,000. Advice from fatigue management experts – a requirement under the application process – is estimated to cost businesses between $10,000 and $12,000.

If accepted, the panel’s proposal will do away with the need to seek advice from fatigue experts. The fatigue authorities panel, which is responsible for approving AFM applications, will be replaced with a “fatigue expert group”.

The expert panel says only 21 operators have been approved since AFM’s inception, well below a 2006 assumption that 11,300 drivers in 5500 fleets would become accredited.ATN reported back in February 2009 on the problems engulfing the AFM scheme.

Despite passing all the necessary compliance and audit requirements, trucking operators’ AFM proposals were still being knocked back by the authorities panel. There were delays in the announcement of fatigue management experts, limiting operators’ ability to organise workplace audits as part of the AFM process.

Provisions originally excluded from AFM were also slotted into the scheme, causing more angst and confusion in the industry.

Source: ATN (

NSW refuses to let go of ‘three strikes’ policy

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Pic: Roadside warning

By Brad Gardner

NSW is fighting a push to scrap its heavy vehicle ‘three strikes’ policy under national truck regulations despite claims there is no proof it works.

An expert panel established to resolve cross-border regulator inconsistencies has recommended against keeping the NSW scheme when national laws are introduced in 2013.

Unlike other states, NSW suspends a truck’s registration for 28 days if it is caught exceeding the speed limit by 15km/h three times in a three-year period.

“The panel has concluded that there is insufficient empirical data to justify the policy’s inclusion in national law,” the National Transport Commission says in its Heavy Vehicle National Law Draft Regulatory Impact Statement released late last month. The panel rejected NSW claims that less than 15 percent of vehicles that received a first strike went on to receive a second. According to NSW, less than 3.5 percent of vehicles receive a third strike.

“A lack of comparative data and multiple policy variables makes it difficult to establish the success or otherwise of the policy,” the NTC says. The panel believes demerit points and warnings might have been equally effective in reducing the rate of speeding trucks.

“It is arguable that chain of responsibility provisions mirror the intent of ‘three strikes’. The expert panel recommends that ‘three strikes’ not be included in the national law,” the NTC says.

Victoria and South Australia scrapped similar policies, and the NTC says the latter’s experience suggests enforcement was problematic because a vehicle’s information was stored on a database separate to the driver.

“Tracking and correlating data has led to delays in identifying vehicles and prosecution, thereby limiting the policy’s overall effectiveness,” the NTC says. Trucking operators have in the past criticised the scheme, complaining that the Road and Traffic Authority’s (RTA) focus on de-registering a vehicle penalises a company rather than the offending employee.

The department insists the ‘three strikes’ policy is a key component of its heavy vehicle enforcement regime. NSW is also standing by its decision to allow RTA officers to detain defective vehicles.The NTC says the expert panel wants the measure abolished in favour of allowing officers to stop a vehicle until a breach is rectified, but not beyond that. The panel claims the NSW policy might actually restrain trade.

Like its ‘three strikes’ policy, NSW claims the ability to detain vehicles promotes road safety and should be part of national regulations. “However, no empirical evidence has been presented to date that proves enhanced safety outcomes as a direct result of the power,” the NTC says.

“Given the sheer size of some heavy vehicle combinations, the very act of detaining the vehicle might compromise safety as there may be limited availability of places where it may be safely stowed.”

The states and territories have agreed in 2009 to introduce national regulations by 2013. NTC CEO Nick Dimopoulos says a single set of laws will save $12.4 billion over 20 years.“The proposed law will streamline requirements for interstate operators and allow them to focus on growing their business and improving safety, not filling in forms,” he says.

A national regulator will oversee the system and will be based in Queensland with offices throughout Australia. All jurisdictions will be responsible for passing similar laws to ensure national uniformity.

Source: ATN (

TNT bans the “ciggy” as part of OHS changes

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Pic: No smoking at TNT’s Welshpool facility

TNT Express employees, contractors and visitors will be bound by new occupational health and safety requirements at the transport operator’s new Perth depot.

TNT has banned smoking at its new $40 million Welshpool facility and installed an automated sorting system to reduce the need to manually lift freight.

Managing Director Bob Black says the company worked closely with its OHS committee to reduce injuries.

“Now we are assessing which initiatives can be rolled out to our other depots around Australia,” he says.

The company’s senior OHS advisor, Darren Wright, says the decision to ban smoking was made after thorough consultation with staff.

“The health benefits achieved by the creation of a smoke-free depot were supported by TNT staff and fully endorsed by the OHS committee,” Wright says.

Spurned Linfox accepts subbie’s asking price

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Pic: You are following another Fox

By Brad Gardner

A subcontractor who walked away from Linfox after it cut his freight rate has returned to work for the transport titan – and he’s named the price.

Owner of Reedmans Retro Roadways Glenn Reedman refused to work for Linfox and publicly criticised the company last year after it reduced rates by up 10 percent under its contract with Carter Holt Harvey.

He feared he would be blacklisted at the time for speaking out, but he says Linfox approached him this year agreeing to pay his going rate. “I managed to broker a deal with Linfox at my price. I’ve been back with them for five or six weeks,” Reedman says.

Linfox faced an angry backlash from owner-drivers last December for reducing rates. Many complained the offer was unsustainable and pursued work elsewhere. Reedman says Linfox struggled to deliver enough trucks to fulfil the contract, prompting it to contact him.

He says it is important transport operators – subcontractors especially – understand their costs and only accept work at sustainable rates. “It’s a high turnover, low leftover business,” Reedman says. “If fuel goes up again I’ll be putting the price up again. If they cut my rate I’m out.”

Despite suffering a short-term financial loss after leaving Linfox, Reedman says he does not regret standing firm on rates. “People don’t realise how much bargaining power they have,” he says.

Under its contract with Carter Holt Harvey, Linfox will manage all transport from the timber company’s mills and distribution centres nationwide until April 2016. Reedman reiterated comments made last year that low pay leads to poor safety because truck drivers will need to work longer and harder to make a living.

If the Federal Government fails to establish its proposed ‘safe rates’ scheme, he says it must educate transporters on how to negotiate contracts.

With operators labouring under notoriously tight margins, Reedman says it is important they maximise profit where possible to remain viable. “I just want to keep doing the job I’ve done for years. It’s what I love. There’s nothing else I would rather do,” he says.

Source: ATN (

Linfox adds 17 Kenworths to its burgeoning fuel business

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Linfox Logistics, Asia Pacific’s largest privately-owned supply chain solutions company, has purchased 17 T408SAR prime movers – its first Kenworth purchase in more than a decade.

A proven performer in a variety of line haul applications, the new Kenworth trucks join Linfox’s expanding fuel distribution fleet, hauling fuels to 7-Eleven and Caltex depots and service stations along the east coast.

Ray Gamble, Linfox’s President, Fleet and Procurement, says his company is delighted to be working with Kenworth. “Linfox has built its reputation on delivering virtually anything, anywhere and at any time in the region,” Mr Gamble said. “We need trucks that we can depend on; trucks that will work hard – year in, year out – and under the most grueling conditions. That’s why we’re buying Kenworths.

They are highly productive and reliable vehicles that are built in Australia for Australia’s harshest operating environments.” Rated to 70 tonnes, each of Linfox’s T408SARs is configured for 19m fuel tankers and are powered by a Cummins 15-litre ISX engine, producing 500 hp and 1850 lb/ft of torque. The trucks also include an Eaton RoadRanger RTLO20918B 18-speed manual transmission, Dana D46-170 rear axle and Kenworth Airglide 400 suspension.

Mr Gamble says Kenworth’s classic-looking model, which features a set-forward front axle and short bumper-to-back-of-cab length, is a versatile workhorse that’s ideal for Linfox’s fuel business.

“The T408SAR has been intelligently engineered so that it has the maneuverability, visibility and shortened length of a cab-over as well as the improved cab access, serviceability and low-tare weight of a conventional bonneted truck.

“For us, that means a dependable and flexible truck that can handle long, heavy-haulage on interstate freeways just as easily as deliveries on metropolitan streets,” he explained.

Patrick to lobby for end to paid waiting times

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Patricks Botany Bay waiting times

By Brad Gardner
Patrick plans to lobby for newly-introduced paid waiting times at Port Botany to be scrapped, claiming the scheme has had little effect on efficiency.

Less than a month into the Port Botany Landside Improvement Strategy (PBLIS), a spokeswoman for Patrick says trucks are still arriving late to slots.

The NSW Government introduced PBLIS on February 28 to improve truck turnaround times. Stevedores must pay trucking operators if drivers are forced to queue. Trucking operators are also penalised for arriving late or not turning up at all.

“There’s been no significant improvement,” the spokeswoman says. “We will definitely continue to meet with both sides of government and continue to push for an alternative.”

The spokeswoman claims trucking operators continually arrive late due to traffic congestion. While no figures have been released, she says Patrick is servicing vehicles under 40 minutes on average.

“We’re certainly paying a lot less out [in penalties] than we’re taking in,” the spokeswoman says.

Mike Moylan from the NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has dismissed Patrick’s push for an end to PBLIS and says it is too early to tell if the scheme has been successful.

“We’re just at the start of it. I think everyone needs to chill out and not get ahead of themselves,” he says. He questioned Patrick’s claims about poor turnaround times because analysis on truck movements in and out of the port has not been released. PBLIS monitors truck movements using in-vehicle electronic tags and fixed cameras and clocks at entry points.

Moylan says he is not surprised by Patrick’s comments because the stevedore has long opposed government intervention into the running of the port. “They want to go back to yesteryear when they had the whip hand,” he says.

Under paid waiting times, stevedores must compensate trucking operators $25 for every 15 minute delay, $100 if a booking slot is cancelled within two hours of the agreed time or $50 if the slot is cancelled outside the two-hour timeframe.

Trucking operators pay $50 for a late arrival and $100 if their trucks do not show up. The stevedore last year unsuccessfully tried to strike a deal with the trucking sector to avoid government intervention. It proposed an $80 late payment to trucking operators in 15-minute increments if the average turnaround time exceeded 50 minutes.

Patrick suggested a $60 fine for trucking operators whose vehicles did not show up at a designated time. Under its scheme, Patrick said it would open more booking slots to meet demand and consider finding alternative time slots for operators if they showed up late.

Moylan, who is also the general manager of wharf operator Johnston’s Transport, is critical of Patrick’s decision to increase vehicle booking slot charges and phone booking fees.

The booking slot charge will increase from $4.75 to $9.75 on March 28, while the phone booking fee will rise by $5 to $20. Patrick’s Sydney terminal manager Scott Forster says the increases are necessary due to the high costs in complying with PBLIS, such as installing cameras and clocks at entry points to the terminals. He says Patrick is also incurring costs to train staff and administer invoices.

“Why are we paying manual processing costs? Shipping companies have always paid that,” Moylan says. He believes Patrick’s customers – the shipping lines – should pay. He says Patrick finds it is easier to slug the trucking industry because operators have no choice but to accept the charges.

“If we want to go to the terminals we have to sign up to VBS. The easy way out is to charge the carrier who has no choice,” Moylan says. Patrick announced the increase in fees on March 15, and Moylan says operators will not have enough time to pass on the costs before they are introduced.

ATA NSW manager Jill Lewis says she is considering lodging a formal complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the incoming NSW government about the charges, which were approved by the Sydney Ports Corporation.

Toll buys Mitchell to increase presence in WA

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Toll Holdings plans to muscle in on the booming resources trade in Western Australia after buying Mitchell Corp for around $110 million.

Toll, the transport and logistics giant, finalised the $110 million Mitchell deal last week, which will need the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) approval. Mitchell is a major supplier of transport and logistics services to and from mining sites in Western Australia.

“It will be an important part of our global resources division where it will provide Toll with a strong base in the WA resources market complimenting our mining services operations in other states and creating service opportunities for other Toll businesses,” Toll Managing Director Paul Little says.

“The continuing development of the Western Australian resources industry is globally significant and offers Toll important growth opportunities in a number of our businesses.”

The CEO of Toll’s global resources division, David Jackson, says Mitchell provides transport services in the bulk resources, hydrocarbons and dangerous goods market.

Toll’s global resources division services the oil and gas, iron ore and coal industries in Australia and Asia while also providing marine and remote logistics services.

“Mitchells provides us with a strategic market position in a growth sector and the opportunity to further improve and grow that business,” Jackson says.

The deal came as Toll was awarded the contract to help in the construction of a Queensland LNG project between Gladstone and Curtis Island. The company has also been shortlisted to build, own and operate Darwin’s proposed marine supply base.

Once complete, the base will provide space for rig tenders supplying offshore oil and gas activities from the Arafura Sea to the Browse Basin.

New Mobile Road Warrior App gives drivers instant real time access

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

New Bespoke Smartphone and PDA internet based Mobile Service Solution

Thousands of commercial vehicle drivers, courier and suburban delivery vehicles, truck and tanker drivers travelling suburb to suburb, or long distances between Perth and Sydney, Adelaide and Darwin, Brisbane and Melbourne – and all points in between – will soon be able to gain instant detailed access to their head office Fleet Management Computer Mainframe System, in real time, while on the move anywhere in Australia following Chevin Fleet’s announcement of their new bespoke smartphone and PDA internet based Mobile Service Solution.

Chevin Fleet Solutions whose popular browser-based multi vehicle Fleet Management software, FleetWave®, is used by client fleets totalling tens of thousands of vehicles across Australia, has launched a new innovative application which will enable drivers instant access to their head office’ Fleet Management system in ‘real time’, using smart-phones or PDAs.The new system will be rolled out over coming months after training is complete.

For more information please contact Matthew Frost, General Manager, Chevin Fleet Solutions in Australia on 02 8019 0223, talk to Chevin’s PR Terry Quinn 0439 710 418 or go to

Australian clients for FleetWave include Abigroup Construction, Volkswagen, NSW Rural Fire Service, Cadbury Schweppes, Hitachi Construction Machines, Blue Mountains City Council and RSL Care. Chevin provides fleet solutions to the public, utility and corporate sectors as well as government and NGO operations of every size.