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Coupling safety project prepares for on-road testing

A group of industry bodies are investigating dynamic loads on the couplings of high productivity freight vehicles and PBS combinations, with a dolly currently being fitted out in preparation for on-road testing that’s due to start as early as next month.

The ARTSA Institute, Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Truck Industry Council (TIC) and Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) have been collaborating for the project, which has been funded by the Australian Government through the NHVR’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative.

The end goal is to investigate dynamic loads on couplings to support engineers, regulators and fleet managers, so that couplings can be safely specified, inspected and maintained.

The original on-road test plans involved fitting load cells and data logging equipment to a tri axle dolly.

To conduct the road test, this dolly would then be swapped with the existing dolly used in a ABB quad road train, which would be supplied by Direct Haul in Darwin. However supply chain issues meant that the company was unable to commit to the testing.

The project team faced challenges in sourcing a suitable tri-axle dolly to prepare for the road test; but during HVIA’s State Committee meeting in Perth last month, Howard Porter’s Roy Lombardi put his hand up to assist.

“After the Industry Project team assessed the Howard Porter dolly, we noted that it was suitable with one issue – that the draw bar was longer than the ideal configuration,” said

HVIA chief technical officer Paul Caus.

“Again I reached out to members for assistance, and again I was humbled by their willingness to assist, despite the challenging commercial environment.”

CIMC has offered to build a new draw bar for the team that will match the draw bar length of the existing draw bar used by Direct Haul.

The dolly has since been transported from Howard Porter in Perth to CIMC in Melbourne, where Smedley’s Engineers will install the load cells and data logging equipment on the dolly.

The next step will be transporting the dolly to Darwin, in preparation of the road test – currently planned for late August or early September.

“It is really heartening to see members collaborating and giving of their time in this important project,” Caus added.

“The next challenge we will face is the weather. The project team understand that the wet season in the top end lasted longer than usual this year; obviously road conditions will be affected and may compromise the timing on the road test.”

HVIA says coupling forces on multi-combinations were studied in the early 1980s and formed the technical foundation of current standards around couplings.

Since then, combinations have obviously gotten a lot longer and heavier.

The project aims to validate the work done in the 1980s, to ensure continued safety and efficiency when selecting couplings for use in large combinations.

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