Thursday, 30 July 2015

You’ve got to know what you’re doing with weighpads.

We had another interesting call the other day from a long standing customer. 

Having invested heavily in our OnBoard Axle Load Indicators to avoid overloading, he was naturally perturbed to be told by someone that the front axle on a 3-axle rigid was apparently overloaded even with the vehicle empty.

Keen to establish the facts we sent a trained engineer with a set of calibrated weighpads to ensure that all was well. Sure enough, we found nothing amiss with the OnBoard Indicator working well and displaying all of the axle weights accurately.

Certainly the front axle was heavy with a large crane mounted just behind the cab but even at full load it was still legal.

One interesting aspect was the amount of apparent overload; a tonne is quite a significant difference between what was being indicated and what the customer had been told the axle weighed. Given that considerable time and effort had been taken to design the vehicle prior to it being ordered it seemed unlikely that the calculations were out by such a wide margin.

Upon investigation we discovered that a third party had weighed the vehicle using a set of portable weighpads .This inevitably worried our customer as we had set his OnBoard Indicator up using a set of weighpads, standard procedure when we are calibrating a new system.

To set the customers mind at ease we arranged for the vehicle to be weighed at a calibrated enforcement axle weighbridge  and, sure enough the weights obtained there proved that the front axle wasn’t overloaded.
Portable weighpad. Is it being used correctly?

The conclusion we all drew was that the third party who had weighed the vehicle had done it incorrectly; not unusual if, as many people do, the weighpads are used incorrectly by simply placing them on the ground and parking an axle on them.

It’s more complex than that and you have to know what you are doing.

Having satisfied our customer that his OnBoard Indicator was correct and that we had correctly set it up using our weighpads we have now arranged for the other company to be trained in how to operate weighpads properly and avoid any future issues.

Regular visitors to this blog will know that the subject of weighpads and their potential pitfalls comes up quite often. Weighpads are an excellent tool that have many uses but they have to be used in the right circumstances and in the right way if they are to provide accurate information.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Van overloading - a hot topic

Some recent research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles found that nearly half of van drivers are driving their vehicles overloaded.

They also discovered that about half of companies don’t monitor the weights on their vehicles and that more than half of drivers don’t know their maximum weights.

You can read the full item here.

Overloading a van has a detrimental effect on nearly all the major components – brakes, steering, clutch, tyres and suspension. In short it’s highly dangerous and might even invalidate the insurance should the van be involved in an accident.

During some of our own research into overload logging software, we ran a 3.5t van fully laden for a couple of weeks. The driver, a highly experienced Class 1 driver, noted how unstable the vehicle felt and how unresponsive the steering was.

In short, he didn’t feel safe driving it even though it was just within its design limit and he was used to driving much bigger vehicles.

But if the statistics are to be believed then well over 1 million of these vans could be being driven on our roads every day, possibly with the driver unaware.

Unfortunately ignorance is not a defence and with VOSA finding that 89% of the vans they stopped in 2014 were overloaded, that’s an awful lot of fines and penalty points handed out.

Fortunately not all operators rely on the ignorance defence and contact us for a solution.
No van overloading here!

The Axtec OnBoard Load Indicator is fitted to more 3.5t vans than everything else put together.

Fitted in half a day without adding any significant weight  to the vehicle Axtec OnBoard will show the driver both his axle weights and his gross weight instantly. No knobs, buttons or switches just a clear, simple, colour display showing legal weights in green, anything over 80% in amber and all overloads as flashing red.

For managers, the system can store incidences of overloads or connect to a tracking device with some able to provide information in real time.

Axtec OnBoard is inexpensive to fit and, with a unique customer calibration facility, inexpensive to own as well as no service engineer needs to visit for any routine re-setting.

And with the system fitted to his van, the driver knows at every stage during his day what the axle and gross weights are and know he’s running legally and safely. So the ‘ignorance’ defence need never have to be used again.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Who sold you that then??

 Buying the right tool for any job is important and buying an axle weighing system is no different.

If you needed to weigh a vehicle to 2% accuracy, you’d buy a weighing system that was accurate to 1% and feel pretty confident you’d made a good choice, correct?

You may be surprised to learn that that’s not always correct.

All scale manufacturers express accuracy as a percentage of the capacity of their machine. So a 10,000kg capacity weighpad with an accuracy of 1% could be up to 100kg out and still working to specification. If you had two weighpads, the pair could be up to 200kg out and still within specification.

Now consider weighing a 32 tonner one axle at a time. That’s four axle weights you’ve recorded all of which could be 200kg out. So that’s potentially an error of 800kg on the whole vehicle.

But what if you needed to weigh an unladen 32 tonner to within 2%? Assuming your 32 tonner weighs 12,000kg unladen, you need to weigh it to within 240kg.

So you need to weigh your chassis to within 240kg but you’ve been sold a system that will only weigh it to within 800kg? Sadly it happens all the time and we read about just such an occurrence only this week.

It’s something we would never do.
Is this the right system for your needs?

Contrast that with the visit we made to a site in Birmingham last week. A customer was very keen on our product and wanting the latest technology. The system would have fitted in his yard and could have produced accurate axle weights.

However, it became clear during the discussions that there were issues with the site. Turning circles, site access and similar which meant that our system wasn’t going to be the best option. So we explained the issues to him and pointed him in the direction of a company with a product better suited to his needs.

We walked away from a sizeable order.

Selling the wrong product for the task is something we would never do. We know our products, their accuracy, their pro’s and their cons, and we thoroughly investigate the customers’ needs.  And if our systems are not right for the job we will say so.

Who would you rather deal with? An organisation that will sell you anything just to make a quick buck or because they don’t have the in depth knowledge needed or one that will give you an honest opinion on what is right for your job?

We think it’s the right thing to do and means you really will get the best vehicle weighing system for your needs.