Monday, 9 January 2017

Van registrations are up but overloading needs to come down.

Whilst it is good news that LCV registrations for the year just past were at record levels, the sheer number of vans on our roads could cause problems. 

As Nigel Base, the SMMT’s Commercial Vehicle Manager recently stated, “ ...overloading rates are far too high and rectifying this is a key priority for the coming 12 months.”

Overloading a van can have serious consequences as it affects most of the major components on the vehicle – the ability to brake, wear on the suspension and tyres, clutch life etc.

All of these add to the cost of operating the vehicle. More fuel is used and repairs and replacement parts are not cheap.

And we have in the past been asked to determine how heavy vehicles were that have been involved in accidents to establish if the weight had been a factor.

One of those accidents proved fatal.

 There a range of systems available to make sure that vans are not overloaded, the correct one will depend upon the application. Weighpads for occasional weighing or spot checks or a fixed axle weighbridge for those vehicles delivering full loads to a single point.

The system most commonly specified however is an OnBoard Load Indicator.

Axtec OnBoard Prevents Overloading of Vans

Axtec OnBoard shows front, rear and gross weights permanently on a simple to read colour display. Both the actual numbers and a graphical display are shown so there can be no confusion.

And drivers do not have to remember what their legal weights are as the system will do it for them
Legal weights are shown in green, anything over 80% is shown in amber and overloads are automatically highlighted in flashing red.

There are no knobs, buttons or switches which makes the system simple to use. No training is needed and drivers cannot say they don’t know how to use it. They simply have to look at it.

And for the fleet operator who wants to know what is happening out on the road, outputs for connection to a tracking device are provided as standard so that overloads can be reported back to base.

If avoiding overloads on your vans is a priority for you this year, then we have a range of systems and software to help.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Overloading no laughing matter!

Tis the season of good will, joy and merriment.

And certainly over the years we have gathered some axle weighing stories which, with the passage of time, might seem amusing.

There was the captain of a ro ro ferry who insisted that the axle weighbridge couldn’t possibly be right because he knew how heavy his load was because of how far down in the water his ship was.

Or the story of an artic stopped many years ago weighing over 90 tonnes, the heaviest overload recorded in the UK allegedly. That one was contravening all sorts of food regulations as well with sheet steel loaded beneath hanging beef!

Another artic steadfastly refused to stop for the authorities at a weight check and when eventually pulled by the police was found to be racing to his destination because he had onboard full load of fish in a non-refrigerated vehicle!

All of those are serious issues though.
Axtec Dynamic Keeping Vehicles Legal Whatever the Season

Overloading affects all of the major components of the vehicle; steering, brakes, suspension, clutch and tyres. The cost of repairing those would be quite steep. But imagine the consequences of that 90 tonne vehicle being involved in an accident.

That would be no laughing matter.

Overloading though can be avoided and quite cost effectively.

The range of systems available is extensive as is pricing. But as with all things you only get what you pay for.

Cheap is also often not the best option. Frequently the best system for a given application is dictated by what needs to be weighed, how often, where and for what purpose.

A fleet of vans on multi-drop work wouldn’t best be served by a fixed axle weighbridge in the yard and onboard load indicators would be an expensive choice for a fleet of artics taking full loads from a DC.

So if you’d like some information on which system is best for your needs we’d be happy to hear from you.

Advice on the correct axle weighing system is free of charge from Axtec.

Now that really is something to bring joy and goodwill.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Enforcement DEFINITELY not a 9 to 5 job.

Operating goods vehicles is rarely a 9 to 5 job. 

Overnight deliveries are very much part of the job and in some industries essential and some parts of the economy would shut down if it were not for night time deliveries.

Some in the industry though believe that enforcement only takes place during the hours of daylight and that operating at night keeps them safe from prosecution.

We know though that is far from the truth.

We were chatting to a white van man the other day who told us a tale of being stopped with an overload. One of the enormous number of vans which the statistics tell us are overloaded on the roads every day.

This guy was delivering sundries to takeaway restaurants and does so when their customers are open which of course is during the evening. He was incredulous that the weighbridge site was open so late, as was his boss.

His boss was also incredulous about the amount of product that had to be removed to get the vehicle legal. Almost 50% of the goods on the vehicle according to the driver.

Even allowing for a little exaggeration, it seems that the van was seriously overloaded.

In a competitive market, letting a customer down can be disastrous.

Axtec OnBoard protecting vans from overloads.
With a van check weighed at a location more than an hour from base, a driver now missing deliveries due to the hold up plus having to find another van and driver to take the excess load, the cost of sorting the problem out was enormous.

For many van operators overloading is accidental. For those trying to remain legal but who might make an honest mistake, a system like the Axtec OnBoard Load Indicator would help solve that problem.

However, given the amount of weight removed from the vehicle described above it’s hard not to conclude that the overloading was deliberate and probably a regular occurrence. And maybe the company thought that operating at night would be safe with little chance of getting stopped.

Just like some transport operators though, the enforcement authorities also work anti social hours and the risk of getting caught late at night very much exists.

Friday, 18 November 2016

It's good to just help out sometimes

We undertook a weighing exercise for a customer recently, with the help of those good people from DVSA, who had concerns about possibly overloading a doubledeck trailer.

Being based in a leafy part of the country it might be thought that an operator can pass under the radar of the authorities but that’s not the case when a long distance trunking operation is involved.

Quite naturally, the business has to run efficiently using the minimum number of vehicles but maximising the carrying capacity on every trip.

But that runs the risk of overloading so they needed to find an accurate, calibrated axle weighbridge to make sure they were running legally laden. With no local weighbridges around, and certainly none open during their operating hours, they approached us for help.

Once again it's an example of how there is a need for publicly available axle weighing systems around the UK. Axle weighing systems that are open when the transport industry needs them, frequently anything but what are considered normal working hours.
Could an Axtec help increase your profits?

There is a market out there for this sort of facility just waiting for enterprising operators to install their own dynamic axle weighbridges and charge other operators using it.

We invested our money into this by offering a system for hauliers check their axle and gross weights for a charge of only £6 per vehicle. And it now generates between £6-£10,000.00 income a year.

The purchase price of an installation might be £18-£20,000.00 but an income of £6,000.00  per year would pay for it in very short order. And the cost can be spread over a number of years too so no large upfront investment might be needed.

A well designed axle weighing system would have a life expectancy of 30 years or more so plenty of time to recoup the cost and thereafter generate income which goes straight onto your bottom line.

It's not only charging for using the axle weighbridge that could up your profits though. What if an overload is discovered? You could charge for a forklift to remove the excess and for its storage.  Or maybe even use one of your own vehicles to deliver the extra load. All at a price of course.

And rather than us have to arrange access to a DVSA weighbridge, we'd be quite happy referring those customers who need to weigh axles to your site instead.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Changing rules?

One of the results of Brexit maybe that the rules governing goods vehicles could potentially change. 

Whilst not all EU rules are applied in every country, most member states have incorporated a good many of them into their own legislation.

Whilst some of what was decreed in Brussels might be removed, there doesn’t seem a lot to be gained going back to legislation that harks back to the 60’s. Roads, vehicles and technology have changed immensely over the years.

Plus the fact that rewriting the rules would be immensely complicated and probably take years, it seems a reasonable assumption that most of what currently applies will continue to do so.

National governments though have always been able to set their own internal rules when it comes to weights. The UK limit of 44 tonnes is lower than that applied in Ireland for instance.

In the UK there are already trials of longer artic trailers underway. These could be of huge benefit to operators who carry light but bulky materials although they come with their own potential problems; not all distribution centres can readily cope with bigger vehicles.
Axtec Dynamic will weigh any size of vehicle

Whatever changes there may be to size or weight, all Axtec systems are already able to cope.

The Axtec Dynamic Axle Weighbridge will weigh any current or projected road going vehicle regardless of size. One of the reasons the system is so extensively used is that whatever you are weighing the procedure is the same. 

Whether it’s a car derived van or one of the longer trailers currently being trialed, they can all be weighed on the Axtec Dynamic.

Similarly, Axtec OnBoard, which will fit to any 2-axle rigid and most multi-axle rigids is programmed specifically for the vehicle it is being fitted to which means that any changes in vehicle size or weight will have no effect on how it works.

All Axtec systems are effectively future proof then. So whatever the post-Brexit world throws up in terms of weight legislation, there will be an Axtec system able to ready to deal with it.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

And the cost of having your van stopped is...

Estimated at £4,000.00 per day.

That's the figure estimated by DVSA as published in their Guidance notes. You can access these notes by clicking this link. 

The DVSA stops more than 15,000 vans a year. And of those stopped, almost 84% of them were found to be overloaded. In fact, overloading was the single biggest fault found with vans by some considerable margin.

Unlike Large Goods Vehicles, that is anything over 3,500kg gross weight, vans can be operated by anyone. No special licence or training is required and yet there are estimated to be around 3.6 million of them on our roads.

Many of them are obviously making deliveries, supermarket home delivery vans and parcel delivery vans but often they are seen as a mobile toolbox.
Axtec OnBoard - prevents van overloads

In those cases the driver of the van is employed as something else – a service engineer or installation engineer – and little thought is given to the van they drive with the emphasis being on how many physical tools or equipment they can get in the back rather than the weight of it.

The design weight of the van though must not be exceeded. The design gross weight includes the van, the driver and any passengers, fuel, the load and anything else that happens to be in the van.

And these days, most drivers and passengers will be kitted out with safety boots, hard hats, hi-viz jackets etc all of which add weight to the vehicle.

The cost of having a van stopped is far in excess of any fine that may be applied. Finding another van and driver and then sending them possibly miles to the prohibited vehicle is very costly.

Or how about the time and effort that might need to go into preparing a case and attending court?

And with your van prohibited you’re not getting to the job. That delivery isn’t being made. The vital piece of equipment isn’t being serviced. Your customer is being let down.

The bad will that a late delivery or missed service call generates could cost your company considerably.

Overloading a van is something that is costly and needs to be avoided so Axtec offer a range of systems to prevent it with prices starting under £1,000.00

So which could you afford more?

I would guess it’s certainly not the £4,000.00 the DVSA estimate it could be costing you.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Another interesting conversation about weighpads

So that’s the RWM show over for another year.

And as with every exhibition it threw up some interesting conversations.

One that stuck in our minds is a conversation we’ve had many times over the years. It was from a company who originally contacted us about three years ago. At the time they felt that they were best served by some portable weighpads which they bought from a competitor.  Not a view we shared as we felt a more permanent solution would be a better option.

Unfortunately, as with many others in the past, they found out the hard, and expensive way, that weighpads weren’t really up to the job they wanted to do. Their weighpads spent more time away being repaired, recalibrated or awaiting parts than actually doing what they had been bought for.

Often seen as a cheap option, and there are plenty of very cheap ones on the market, - hand portable, no special installation work, simply park each axle on the one at a time – they seem the perfect solution for weighing axles.

Weighpads are ideal for many applications and we have plenty of customers who use them very successfully.
Portable weighpads - great for some jobs but not for all!

But for long term, heavy duty use by non-skilled personnel they are rarely the best or most cost effective option. Especially if they are cheap ones of which there are many on the interet.

Driver training and spot checks out on site are perfect examples of where weighpads score. When used by a responsible manager who is going to look after them, make sure the batteries are charged and ensure they are used correctly, they can provide very good results.

But even then they have a limited lifespan, typically five years whereas a fixed system can last for 30 years or more.

We’re happy to discuss and demonstrate weighpads with anyone who is interested in them. Even offer short term trials to determine if they are the right tool for the job.

But we’ve got a long and growing list of customers who have tried them, usually after getting poor advice, and found them to be wanting.

And that customer from the show – we’re off to see him in a few days to discuss a more permanent, less fragile solution for his needs.