Letters to the editor

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Past Issues

July 2005


FleetWatch contacted a few players in the truck supply business who regularly bump up against the overloading issue and asked for their thoughts on a few pointers. Paul Collings put forward the questions. We invite readers to write down their own answers to the questions and send them to us for publishing.

Trailer truths

FW: To what extent do truck owners still demand trailers that are built for the overload?

Albert van der Wetering, MD, AFRIT:
There are different categories of overloaders and we still have to cater for the marginal overloaders as well as the occasional heavier overloaders. When quoting our customers, the question often arises as to whether they will overload or not. This may sound unethical but we sit with a major problem that customers buy our very lightweight "highway" trailers and then go and abuse it on the "back roads" with very heavy loads. Some of these trailers can obviously not handle the heavy loads together with the bad roads and often we get warranty claims from these situations. Therefore, we do need to know whether the customer will use the trailer to overload or not. If yes - we will supply them with stronger, heavier trailers - not to run into these warranty problems. I'd say the percentage of our customers telling us up-front that they will overload, though, is not more than 2%.

FW: To what extent do you believe trucks are responsible for road damage?

Peter Hoeben, MD, Transport and Equipment Engineering:
Trucks are responsible for road damage but some of the damage seen on the roads is caused by trucks operating on roads which, over the years, have had minimal maintenance and further, the quality of the road is not up to the standard required for the axle loading and frequency of the trucks using the road.

FW: What impact does overloading have on the safety of a truck - i.e. its brakes, axles, kingpins, tyres?

Peter Hoeben:
Overloading must affect the safety of the vehicles. Vehicles and components such as axles, kingpins, brakes - as well as engine - are designed for a certain duty. Exceeding these accelerates the deterioration or reduces the life. Although some of the components have a designed capability higher than allowed on the SA roads, the life of the components is affected by the load.

Tech to the rescue?

FW: How can technology help prevent overloading - load cells for example?

CUTTIN’ TARE - reducing tare mass of a vehicle is the most obvious route to optimise payload without overloading. This aluminium dry bulk tanker from TEE is capable of carrying several tons more of payload compared to a conventional steel tanker. 

Paul Chappe, MD, LOADTECH:
There is more and more proof developing that being able to watch the weight build up while loading allows the loader to accurately control the mass being loaded. Weighbridges at the loading points are also very useful. Although these can't show the loaders the mass while loading, they can at least provide a check after loading that the mass is not over the maximum allowed. If it is, the driver at least has the opportunity to unload some of the product before leaving.

FW: Are weighbridges run by the traffic authorities being fair in their application of the law?

Michael Viera, MD, Sasco Africa:
Yes they are to a degree. 

Paul Chappe:
Yes! But whether the law is always fair in its severability is debatable.

FW: Are the weighbridges properly/accurately assized/calibrated?

Michael Viera:
Yes they are. The authorities make sure of this otherwise they would not be able to prosecute. 

FW: Are alternative roads to toll routes being adequately policed to prevent the passage of overloaded trucks?

Paul Chappe:
We are told by many that lots of trucks sneak past the weighing points. 

THE MIDLANDS Meander R103 is an example of a road used as an alternative to the toll route - resulting in considerable damage

Loads and laws
Are the culprits being suitably prosecuted?

Peter Hoeben:
I believe they are.

Paul Chappe:
We have been told by many that there are huge queues at the courts. As a consequence, the courts have to cut back on the lists. 

WEIGHBRIDGES, to be truly effective, need to measure gross vehicle mass as well as individual axle mass, such as the one above, an Avery Berkel, supplied by Sasco Africa. 

FW: How does overloading affect the economy of commercial road transport - costing/pricing for example?

Paul Chappe:
The main problem appears to be that many haulage contracts do not allow for the cost of weighing while loading. So some hauliers who really want to weigh, can't afford to.

FW: Why do compliant transporters still marginally exceed the 56-ton limit?

Peter Hoeben:
I, as a manufacturer, believe that all my customers, being major operators of tankers, powder and animal feed, are responsible and do not overload or cannot be considered as overloaders. This is apparent to us in all their dealings with us. They do require equipment that can take maximum advantage of legislation as it exists today and any overload is, I believe, accidental or unintentional.

FW: Should the 5% grace overload be reduced to the suggested 2%?

Paul Chappe:
Many haulage contracts were drawn up some years ago when the axle limits were not a major factor in the costings involved. 5% allows the hauliers a comfortable safety margin - 2% will be very tight. Then there is the other side to this. Surely the roads should have been well built to allow for up to say 20% overloads. Is all the responsibility on the hauliers?

FW: Is more training needed to teach transporters and their staff how to distribute loads more effectively across axle groups?

Paul Chappe:
Yes! And it is readily available. But the biggest need in this direction is for the hauliers to be able to appreciate the value that weighing while actually loading brings, by making sure of that full, calculated profit with every load. The new proposed regulations - piloted by Alta Swanepoel - to bring consignors into the arena of joint responsibility will be a major improvement. All those concerned will also need to have the means to weigh as they load and know how to do this. It is no longer just the truck driver who is responsible.

Peter Hoeben:
Compliant transporters may, on occasion, marginally exceed the 56 ton limit. However, you will find that on a combination of 22m, the axles will still be within the allowable. A tridem/tandem interlink combination has an axle load capability of 67.5 ton -at 56 tons the axles are 83% of the allowable. A tandem/tandem interlink combination has an axle load capability of 61.5 ton - at 56 tons the axles are 91% of the allowable.

In conclusion
Every operator needs to maximise payload to be profitable. Whether this is achieved currently by overloading or running a lighter tare mass rig or using load mass readers of some sort, the way forward is clear. The government is on a mission to crack down on overloaders (both operators and consignors), making it a fait accompli that operators, in order to survive, will have to run lighter rigs and load smarter.

WEIGHT WATCHERS - provincial static weigh stations are a necessary ‘evil’ to put a stop to road-busting severely overloaded heavy vehicles.