Ever wondered about the enormous pressures that must be placed on  the couplings of  our increasingly heavy high capacity large commercial vehicle rigs?

With our B Doubles here in Australia well into the 60tonne bracket with PBS allowances, and other heavy vehicles that are amongst the heaviest on road vehicles  in the world, the pressure on couplings is something problem needs a fair bit of scrutiny.

So in what is being claimed as an industry and world first, the ARTSA Institute has collaborated with all o the other leading heavy vehicle bodies in this country, including the  Australian Trucking Association the Truck Industry Council and Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia  to investigate dynamic loads on the couplings on heavy high productivity freight vehicles (HPFV) and PBS combinationsvehicles.

The safety of couplings project is being funded by the Commonwealth Government through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, and they say it will fill a gap in knowledge and provide evidence to update relevant standards and rules.

Chair of ARTSA Institute, Martin Toomey said the current Australian Design Rules cover heavy coupling requirements but they do not provide any guidance beyond a road train GCM of just 125 tonnes.

“As increasingly higher productivity vehicle combinations enter the Australian heavy vehicle fleet, evidence- based guidance is required to support engineers, regulators and fleet managers, so that couplings can be safely specified, inspected and maintained,” Toomey said.

HVIA CEO, Todd Hacking said that coupling failure on high productivity vehicles has the potential to lead to death and injuries, major traffic disruption and reduced public confidence in heavy vehicle safety.

“It is important for regulators and industry to be confident in the relevance and integrity of the Standards that guide the safe selectionof components,” Hacking added.

According to the CEO of TIC CEO, Tony McMullan, Australia has always pushed truck equipment to its limits, doing what  no one else does anywhere in the world.

“Couplings are a prime example with quad trailer Road Trains exceeding 150 tonne GCMs. This project will help define coupling safety factors and requirements for multi trailer configurations around the world,” he said.

The CEO of the NHVR, Sal Petroccitto said the joint investigation will help accelerate the introduction of new safety     technologies tosupport safe and securely loaded heavy vehicles.

“The NHVR is proud to support this project that will help mitigate the safety risks posed by non-compliant couplings and enhance the safety of vehicles operating under higher productivity schemes,” Petroccitto said.

The statement about the project said it will conduct investigations of coupling dynamic forces using on road testing and follow-uplaboratory testing to confirm the strength of the couplings. Couplings to be validated in the project include  5th wheel and automatic pin couplings used in heavy combination road trains including the various innovative Quad road train combination types.

The statement said that because of the complexity of the project, Wayne Baker has been appointed project manager as he hassignificant subject matter expertise and extensive industry experience. A working group from ARTSA-I, TIC, ATA and HVIA has beenformed to provide project guidance.

The project is expected to be completed by June 2023.