Patlin Blog

First autonomous production truck on the road

Posted by Darren Hayes> on Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Germany has seen the world's first autonomous production truck operate on a public highway last week, albeit still in a test set-up.

The truck used for the premiere was a standard Mercedes-Benz Actros equipped with the company’s Highway Pilot system, and not a pilot vehicle, as Daimler pointed out.

“[This] premiere is a further important step towards the market maturity of autonomously driving trucks – and towards the safe, sustainable road freight transport of the future“, commented Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, the Daimler Board Member responsible for the truck business, who used the occasion to trial the technology himself.

Sven Ennerst, Head of Development Daimler Trucks, added, “We are delighted that [the state of] Baden-Württemberg has approved these tests for us. And we are of course also delighted that the German Technical Inspection Authority has so clearly confirmed the safety of our system.“

Ennerst explained that a combination of new-generation assistance and safety systems and sensors enables the truck to continually observe the entire area in front of the vehicle and take control itself in certain situations

“The Actros meticulously keeps to its lane and maintains the optimum distance to the vehicle in front of it.

Should the distance become too small or if a vehicle cuts in front of it, the truck brakes. If it approaches an obstacle … the system asks the driver to take over the vehicle.”

The Actros in question was fitted with a 12.8-litre engine and a host of standard assistance and safety systems, such as Mercedes PowerShift 3, Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC), Active Brake Assist 3, proximity control, drowsiness detection and a Fleetboard vehicle computer.

The systems were linked with the sensors of the Highway Pilot’s radar and stereo camera.

“All the technology of the Actros with Highway Pilot is in the vehicle, and the truck does not need the Internet for its automated driving function,” said Ennerst.

After presenting the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 on a test track in Germany in 2014 and the world premiere of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck in the US earlier this year, Daimler Trucks is hoping this latest milestone has brought the industry closer to real-life applications for autonomous vehicles.

“We are shaping the future of transportation with the first autonomously driving production truck,” said Bernhard.


Posted by Darren Hayes> on Monday, October 05, 2015


NSW Drivers of dolly/low loader vehicle combinations must now hold an MC licence, following changes to the licencing requirements on 1 October 2015. Previously, a HC licence was sufficient for this combination.

This requirement will not apply to visiting drivers from states that allow the holders of HC licences to drive dolly/low loader combinations.

RMS is actively enforcing the new licence requirements.

Heavy Haulage News - Tuff Trailers’ 8x8 steerable float: 15 months on

Posted by Darren Hayes> on Friday, August 14, 2015

Tuff Trailers’ 8x8 steerable float: 15 months on

Tuff Trailers’ 8x8 steerable low loader model is making a significant impact on Queensland company, Hart’s Transport. Trailer found out why this highly-specced unit represents one of Hart’s finest investments to date.

Going up and down Queensland’s highways with Hart’s Transport’s new 8x8 steerable low loader in the rear-view mirror, driver Danny Watts can’t help but get excited about the company’s latest investment. Designed and built by Tuff Trailers, the 8x8 has had such a profound effect on his day-to-day work that he now has trouble imagining ever using a different unit again.

“I love how this trailer operates,” the experienced driver of 30 years comments. “It’s simply one of the strongest, most user-friendly trailers I’ve driven in a long time. The fact that most of the on-board features are remote-controlled has made my job that much easier and safer by OH&S standards; and it can handle a whole variety of loads.”

Tuff delivered Hart’s new 8x8 a little more than a year ago. Since then, it has been working all throughout the Mackay region in Queensland, mainly transporting oversized mining machinery down to New South Wales with the help of a specially designed 2x8 dolly.

Fifteen months on, Danny is still blown away by the ease at which the 8x8 handles. He says having total control of the trailer’s axles, even in rugged off-road conditions, has given Hart’s Transport a real competitive advantage. 


Posted by Darren Hayes> on Friday, August 14, 2015

The peak road transport industry organisation in New South Wales, Road Freight NSW, has today announced its support for a road transport operator licensing system in order to ensure all trucking operators meet rigorous safety and viability standards.

Road Freight NSW General Manager, Jodie Broadbent, said an operator licensing system would protect professional trucking drivers and operators from the financial and reputational damage caused by short-lived, cut-price transport ventures.

“Our members are fed up with ignorant people entering our industry who have no knowledge of how to run a business, no concept of the costs associated with running a trucking company, and some daft idea that undercutting others is the only way to win contracts,” Mrs Broadbent said.

“Because they have never performed a cost analysis, these ventures will undercut other operators by offering prices that don’t even cover the cost of keeping the wheels turning on their trucks. The result is their employees are not paid properly, they do not meet their tax obligations, and they cut corners in managing their business, such as maintaining their vehicles.

“Eventually these businesses go bankrupt, leaving many people negatively affected by unscrupulous or poorly-informed management decisions.”

The Road Freight NSW Policy Council, made up of both large and small businesses, voted unanimously to work with governments and the NHVR to develop a system that ensures legitimate businesses with solid and safe business practices are protected from those looking to make a quick buck.

“There are almost no barriers to entry in our industry. You can literally grab a laptop and become a freight forwarder, or buy a vehicle, stick a driver in it and call yourself a transport company, without any knowledge of the obligations and costs associated with running a business,” Mrs Broadbent said.

“Having some requirements to ensure trucking business owners are well aware of their business and safety obligations will help the industry become safer, more viable, and more professional.”


Heavy Haulage Patlin - North east truck curfew trial

Posted by Darren Hayes> on Monday, August 10, 2015

To improve local areas at night, a one year truck curfew trial is being implemented in the North East suburbs of Montmorency, Eltham and Viewbank from August 2015 to September 2016.

Following feedback from community members, the curfews have been carefully planned to strike a balance for the local community and truck operators. From August through to November 2015, the curfew trial will be progressively implemented to reduce truck volumes and associated noise at night:

Introduced from Curfew times Roads
August - September 2015

10pm - 6am
  • Greensborough Highway – Rosanna Road (Grimshaw Street to Banksia Street)
  • Lower Plenty Road (Greensborough Highway to Waiora Road)
  • Waiora Road (Kingsbury Drive to Bell Street)
  • Waterdale Road (Kingsbury Drive to Bell Street)
  • Ryans Road - Wattletree Road
November 2015
  • Lower Plenty Road – Main Road (Wattletree Road to Greensborough Highway)
  • Para Road (Grimshaw Street – Lower Plenty Road)
  • St. Helena Road – Karingal Drive
  • Bolton Street

The truck curfews will run daily from 10pm – 6am. Trucks making local deliveries will be exempt from the curfews.

VicRoads will monitor the truck curfews and will seek ongoing feedback from the community, councils and truck industry through the one year trial period. The success of the trial will be assessed through the establishment of a community reference group and monitoring of truck volumes. The outcome of the trial will be available in September 2016. 

HEAVY HAULAGE : Victorian roads gets multi-million dollar maintenance boost

Posted by Darren Hayes> on Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Victorian Government will spend $135.6 million over the next year to repair unsafe and deteriorating roads across the state.

The funding includes $80 million for road resurfacing under the Road Surface Replacement Program and $10.4 million for resealing repair works in Victoria’s eastern region.

Hundreds of sites across regional Victoria will be resealed, including $11.6 million for 130 sites across northern Victoria, $11.4 million for 300 sites across north eastern Victoria, $12.6 million for 120 sites across western Victoria and $14.2 million for 160 sites across south western Victoria. Metropolitan Melbourne will receive $19.8 million in resealing projects.

In addition, $55.6 million will be invested across Victoria to deliver more significant road rehabilitation projects on key arterial routes including the South Gippsland Highway at Ruby, the Great Ocean Road, and Hamilton Highway at Penshurst.

While interim measures such as asphalt patching works over the winter period will ensure roads can continue to operate safely in the short-term, the projects under the Road Surface Replacement Program and rehabilitation works will ensure their ongoing, safe operation into the future.

Work on the projects is due to start later this year.

HEAVY HAULAGE : Report finds Chinese slowdown could affect Australia

Posted by Darren Hayes> on Thursday, July 23, 2015

According to a new report from Deloitte Access Economics, Chinese growth is set to drop to the lowest in a quarter of a century, with notable implications for Australia.

"The chance of a recession is higher now than its been for quite sometime and China, and the potential for stumble there, is what people need to focus on much more than Greece or indeed China's share market," Deloitte Director, Chris Richardson, told ABC News. "It is China's economy which is key."

China recently released official Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data which showed that growth slowed to seven per cent over the past year – a figure that matched the authorities' target but could potentially be whitewashed, according to Richardson.

"We're now in a phase where perhaps the official numbers are overstating China's strength," he said.

He added that it would prove to be impossible for the Federal Government to deliver on its budget promises if China continued to slow. "If China were to stumble, the Australian economy would take a hit and the Australian budget would be hospitalised.”

HEAVY HAULAGE NEWS: Drake acquires O’Phee Trailers

Posted by Darren Hayes> on Thursday, July 23, 2015

Heavy haulage trailer specialist Drake has announced the acquisition of fellow Queensland-based manufacturer O’Phee Trailers, in a move to strengthen and diversify its product range.

According to Drake, the new alliance formalises a long standing connection between the two companies. “The synergies between both companies have always been undeniably strong and complimentary, and the bringing together of these great manufacturers will provide customers of both O’Phee and Drake access to a diverse range of transport solutions,” said Khali Lake, General Manager of Drake Trailers.

“Mick and Sharon O’Phee will continue to operate the O’Phee Trailers business at their current location with their highly skilled and experienced staff and all contact details will remain the same.”

Heavy Haulage - VTA Port Outlook seminar reveals concerns about lease agreement

Posted by Darren Hayes> on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Held at the historic Spotswood Pumping Station in Melbourne, the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) 2015 Port Outlook seminar brought together leading stakeholders from stevedores, industry groups, freight operators and government to discuss the many changes confronting Melbourne’s port network.

Next to VTA CEO Peter Anderson, the discussion also involved prominent guest speakers like Victorian Minister for Ports, the Hon Luke Donnellan, MP, Victorian Farmers’ Federation President, Peter Tuohey, and DP World Australia Chief Commercial Officer, Max Kruse.

To emphasize the scope of the debate, the seminar commenced with a video presentation of a striking 1930s black and white documentary called ‘Ships that come to Melbourne’, which Anderson later used to compare and contrast freight activities of the past with the present day.

“The documentary’s message that a vibrant and sustainable port network and sea freight infrastructure is critical to our economic well-being has just as much relevance today,” he said.

“As a nation we need to be exporting more than we are importing if we are to meet and exceed our economic potential and maintain a trade surplus, which presents its own challenges as we transition to a services-based economy.”

Reflecting on freight movements of the past, Anderson pointed out just how rapidly trade volumes have grown and how impactful technology has been on port performance worldwide. His main point, however, was of a more economic nature.

Anderson said the VTA fully supported the port’s lease because sale proceeds would boost funding for much-needed infrastructure spending, but also pointed out that concerns about potential cost hikes in the Victorian Government’s lease legislation needed to be addressed first.

“The current legislation could adversely affect freight operators through excessive cost increases, and we remain to be convinced that operational improvements and efficiencies will be a by-product of privatisation,” he told delegates.

“We are also concerned the Government may accept an inflated price for the lease, requiring a new operator to increase fees and charges to maintain margins. And with the new operator having an effective monopoly over the port, users will have little choice but to accept the increases, or leave the port altogether.

“It is important that we make the right decisions with respect to what’s happening at our Port, because there are ramifications for freight operators and generators, and ultimately consumers.”

Agreed Dr Hermione Parsons, Director of the Victoria University Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics, “This is a multigenerational project. It’s going to affect all of us in Victoria for the next 50 years and beyond.”

Dr Parsons especially focused on future port capacity growth, stating Victoria would need a new port by mid-2030. “There is strong agreement that the Port of Melbourne will not cater for the 50-year private lease, currently proposed,” she commented – adding that from a scientific point of view, a new port in Port Phillip would be the obvious choice for a new location.

“A new port will be required 15-20 years before the new lease ends, so any contractual arrangements involving compensation payments should be carefully reconsidered. The discussion should be pragmatic, realistic and informed.”

During his brief visit, Victorian Minister for Ports, the Hon Luke Donnellan (pictured), tried to address the issues presented by saying there would be a price cap on all port charges for the first 15 years of the lease agreement.

In line with Parsons, he added that there would be no “premature” decision on a new port location, but disagreed on the risk of paying compensation for a prolonged period should the existing port become to small.

“Contractual arrangements involving compensation payments are standard for any lease agreement regarding a public asset,” he argued, adding the risk would be small as a backup port would likely be in place once the capacity threshold is reached.

However, there was no agreement on when a second port will actually be required, with growth predictions ranging between four and eight per cent annually, and future port capacity including Webb Dock estimated to be between 5.5 and 8.0 million TEU – making for distinctly different growth pattern depending on the data chosen.

What delegates did agree on, however, was that further discussions are required to ensure the privatisation of the Port of Melbourne will be a success and not drive freight volume from Victoria to Adelaide or Sydney.

Heavy Haulage - HHA to be formally wound up

Posted by Darren Hayes> on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ferrier Hodgson’s Brendan Richards, Voluntary Administrator of Heavy Haulage Australia (HHA), has announced that the company has failed to attract an investor willing to operate it as a going concern. 

“While we received a promising level of initial interest from investors, the continuing fall in iron ore prices and the subsequent pressure on the Australian mining industry has seen that interest dissipate,” said Mr Richards. 

As a consequence, HHA will be formally wound up with the loss of more than 70 jobs across its operations in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Perth and Port Hedland. 

HHA had a high profile as a heavy haul logistics specialist servicing the mining and infrastructure sectors, as well as being a prominent sponsor of V8 Supercars.

It was also the subject of the ‘Megatrucker’ series featured on Foxtel’s A&E Channel. 

The assets comprising more than 50 prime movers, 120 heavy haulage trailers, 15 cranes and 40 pilot and light commercial vehicles will be offered up for private sale. 

“This is another sad day for the Australian transport industry but also further evidence that the decline in the mining industry is still very much continuing.

“The outlook for many of the companies with exposure to that decline is troubling to say the least, and further fallout is likely in the near future,” commented Mr Richards