Industry investigates coupling strength of HPFV and PBS combinations

In an industry and world first, the ARTSA Institute, Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Truck Industry Council (TIC) and Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) are investigating dynamic loads on the couplings of high productivity freight vehicles (HPFV) and PBS combinations.

Chair of ARTSA Institute, Martin Toomey says the current Australian Design Rules cover heavy coupling requirements but don’t 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,” he said.

HVIA CEO, Todd Hacking said, “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.”

While TIC CEO, Dr Tony McMullan added, “Australia has always pushed truck equipment to its limits, doing what no one else does anywhere in the world. Couplings are a prime example with quad trailer road trains exceeding 150 tonne GCMs. This project will help define coupling safety factors and requirements for multi trailer configurations around the world.”

The coupling safety project is funded by the Australian Government through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says the joint investigation will help accelerate the introduction of new safety technologies to support safe and securely loaded heavy vehicles. “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,” he 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 fifth wheel and automatic pin couplings used in heavy combination road trains including the various innovative quad road train combination types.

The ARTSA Institute has appointed Wayne Baker as project manager, citing his significant subject matter expertise and extensive industry experience. A working group from ARTSA-I, TIC, ATA and HVIA has been formed to provide project guidance.

The project is expected to be completed by June 2023.

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