Monday, 24 February 2014

Some things worth knowing.

It's still surprising what some people don't know about vehicle weights. And sometimes the axle weighing systems on the market don't help.

Some people don't appreciate that the vehicle weights are shown in kilogrammes on the plating certificate.

To avoid any confusion, we always show the weight in kilogrammes on our displays so they appear in the same format as the vehicle plate. Some systems don't and quite a few imported ones show weights in lbs.
Axle Weighbridge showing weight in kilogrammes.

Other people may not know the  difference between GVW and GTW.

For anyone wondering, GVW is the Gross Vehicle Weight is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle including the load whilst the GTW is the Gross Train Weight is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle, any trailer and its load.

With so many options available to weigh axles it's surprising how many people still rely on the declared weight of the consignment. Even more surprising given that its the operator doing the hauling and his driver who are responsible for any overloads not the consignor.

Our advice would be to never ever trust any weights you are provided with and to make sure you weigh the vehicle.

There is though the possibility that the consignor can be charged with causing and permitting the vehicle to be overloaded.

Whether making the consignor liable or not is another debate but because an overload  affects all the major components of the vehicle - suspension, tyres, steering, clutch, brakes - it ought to be in the interests of everyone who transports goods to avoid it.

Some may be tempted to overload a vehicle as they think they are saving money by doing fewer trips but exactly the reverse is true. Tyre wear will be greater, fuel consumption will be higher and by wearing out the clutch, brakes and steering components quicker you'll need to make expensive repairs sooner than you were expecting.

There is also the possibility that driving a vehicle in an overloaded condition can invalidate the insurance. After all, the Construction and Use regulations clearly state that “all parts and accessories and the weight distribution, packing and adjustment of their loads shall be such that no danger is likely to be caused to any person in or on the vehicle or trailer or on the road.”

All this plus the fact that it's potentially fatal even. We've been involved in more than one investigation into fatal accidents where we've been asked to weigh the vehicles involved.

And as companies have a duty of care under the Health & Safety legislation, it is down to managers to make sure that they are not putting their drivers, fellow work colleagues and even members of the public at risk by overloading their vehicles.

The bottom line is that an operator ought to understand how the weight is recorded on the plating certificate, have a weighing system with an identical display so there is no confusion and know exactly what his vehicle and/or trailer can carry.

We have a vast range of systems available and can recommend the correct one for you vehicle and your needs.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The overloading perils of 7.5 tonners.

One of the most frequently overloaded trucks is the 7.5t 2-axle rigid. The low axle weight limits on these vehicles make them notoriously easy to overload, especially the front axle.

Although it's largely felt in the industry that this weight of vehicle is in decline, replaced with either 3.5t,  4.5t or larger 2-axle rigids depending upon the application, the number of 7.5 tonners registered actually increased in 2013. The overall numbers are still way down on on their hey day when they accounted for almost a third of the light truck market but they are still on the road in significant numbers.

Clearly someone has a need for them but the problems of getting the axle weights right still remain. Pull back the curtain on a 7.5 tonner and, assuming it's legally laden, there will be an awfully lot of fresh air. And it is surprising how many people still think that all of that 'space' is usable. The truth is that the amount you can legally get on a 7.5 tonner is actually quite small.
This 7.5 tonner is actually fully loaded!

One of The perthe most common problems is front axle overloading when these vehicles are being used on multi-drop work. The natural tendency is to put loads right behind the headboard which is fine if weight is then placed behind the back axle. But as soon as that weight on the rear is removed there is a real danger that the front axle will become overloaded.

It can be a tricky concept to grasp. How can removing some load cause the vehicle to be overload? Surely the weight has decreased? Yes the overall weight has decreased but the weight on the front axle has increased.

It's basically a see-saw effect with the rear axle as the pivot point. If you put weight behind the back axle, it will reduce the weight on the front axle. Take that weight away and the front axle weight increases, put it back on and the front axle weight will decrease again. We refer to it as a diminishing load problem; despiute the fact the overall weight is dropping, the front axle weight is increasing.

It's exactly what happens when one person gets of a see-saw - the other person is lowered to the ground. If that person gets back on the see-saw again then, assuming they weigh the same or more, the person who stayed on will be raised again.

Our OnBoard Load Indicator we developed with the 7.5t market in mind. A display that shows front, rear and gross weight all the time with no operator input, it was specifically designed for vehicle on multi-drop work where the axle weights can change throughout the day.

The Axtec OnBoard is keenly priced and can be fitted in half a day. The costs of having a vehicle prohibited at a weight check could be enormous and far in excess of protecting the vehicle from the very common common diminishing load problem.

If overloading your 7.5 tonners is easy, the solution could be quite simple too.