Friday, 9 February 2018

And the cost of routine maintenance is....

Any device for measuring loads will need checking possibly adjusting occasionally to bring it back into specification.

And with Axtec OnBoard the cost is nearly always nothing.

We have a customer who has many hundreds of our OnBoard Load Indicators installed at branches all over the country.

One of the branches queried the accuracy on a couple of their systems and wondered whether it might be beneficial to have them routinely checked by one of our engineers.

This is a service we gladly provide. But as with all service work, it comes at a cost.
Axtec OnBoard. Routine resetting costs nothing.

We calculated how much it would cost to do visit the site and do a routine reset twice a year and estimated it would be in the region of £250.00 per visit. There would be hidden costs as well in terms of keeping the vehicles in the yard ready for a service engineer’s visit.

However, the system is designed so that customers can do this simple reset themselves. At no cost and at a time to suit them.

Axtec OnBoard has no manual controls. Not only does this make it simple to use requiring no training but also means none of the settings or calibration can be changed. It is not possible to make the system display what you want thus potentially fooling drivers, loaders or the authorities.

What it does have though is a simple reset procedure which takes about twenty seconds to bring the system back within specification when the accuracy has drifted out.

Training someone to do it takes minutes, no special tools or technical knowledge is required and each vehicle can be reset in a matter of seconds.

And then that vehicle is back out on the road earning its keep.

No expensive service engineer to visit, no keeping the vehicles in the yard, no specialist tools or training.

So the cost of routine resetting Axtec OnBoard really is zero.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

How accurate is YOUR axle weighbridge?

We were asked to check the accuracy of a competitor’s axle weighbridge recently.

To the untrained eye it looked quite a neat installation. But testing it with our purpose designed calibration vehicle told a different story.

There are two aspects to getting an axle weighbridge calibrated correctly. One is to prove that it as a basic weighing machine. The other is to check that it does what it was designed to do – weigh axles accurately.

The system in question was reasonably accurate when we tested it with one tonne block weights. No error greater than 10kg up to 11,000kg and only marginally worse up to 12,000kg.

So far so average.

Axtec's Specialist Axle Weighbridge Test Vehicle
But when we weighed our test vehicle dynamically, as the system is supposed to operate, the error we found was startling.

Our test vehicle on the day grossed out at 38,680kg gross. But the axle weighbridge weighed it at 35,650kg.

More than three tonnes lighter.

That’s three tonnes more the client could have been putting on his trucks in ignorance.

Potentially three tonnes over the legal limit and almost certainly in line for a prosecution.

The concrete either side of the weighing platform is crucial for system accuracy. So we conducted a full levels survey again with startling results.

What looked like a nice level piece of concrete was in fact totally unsuitable for accurate weighing of articulated vehicles.

Unfortunately for the customer, the only option is to dig the system up and start all over again.

Getting an axle weighbridge calibrated correctly requires specialist equipment and Axtec are the only company to have invested in the right tool for the job.

And means we can offer the world’s most accurate dynamic axle weighbridge.

Can we help you check out your axle weighbridge maybe?

Get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sometimes a standard product won’t quite do what the customer needs.

We were approached a while ago by a major fleet operator running a mixture of standard artic trailers, double deck trailers and rigids. 

They had an issue with getting them loaded correctly first time to improve efficiency.

Pulling a vehicle off the loading bay, getting it weighed then returning it for the whole load to be redistributed if an overload was discovered was time consuming and expensive. With no guarantee it would be done right the second time either.

Vehicles might need to be loaded, weighed, reloaded and reweighed a number of times.
With several agency staff working in the loading bay during peak periods, training them to get it right first time wasn’t always easy.

A means of alerting the loaders to a potential overload at an early enough stage to make it quick and easy to correct would offer considerable benefits.
Standard Axle Weighbridge - not always right for the job.

But to serve all of the vehicles in their fleet no one system would suffice. A mixture of fixed axle weighbridges and onboard loadindicators would be needed to resolve the issue.

Even so, standard product wouldn’t offer the best solution. So our ability to design, write software and manufacture in-house meant we could offer a bespoke solution.

After taking the time to fully understand what the issue was, a number of potential solutions presented themselves, all of which involved enhancements to the basic products to do the job properly.

Rigids fitted with onboard indicators and axle weighbridges installed at the loading points both with alarm features to alert loaders to the state of the vehicle would go a long way to making sure loading was done right first time. Or at least flag up a problem early enough so that the load could be adjusted before the vehicle was fully laden.

Axtec’s ability to tailor a solution to a very a specific axle weighing problem will mean improved efficiency and big cost savings for one operator at least.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Six in two weeks.

That’s how many operators that have contacted us about issues with axle weighbridges. We should add that none of them were supplied by Axtec.

The issues are numerous. Load cell mountings failing – again.

The frame cracking – again.

The concrete approaches breaking up – again.

The system not calibrating – again.

Any company will experiment and look for a cheaper, faster way to make an axle weighing system. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. It’s important though to learn from the bad experiences to make the product better.

But the failures we have seen recently with these systems are all recurring problems. Some have been recurring for years. Little is being learnt to make sure the product is better, more reliable, more accurate or more hard wearing.

We have a full axle weighbridge installation in our yard purely for research and development. We can try out new load cell mountings, new software or new instrumentation in a proper working environment.
Testing an axle weighbridge - like us to test yours?

That facility wasn’t cheap but it means we can thoroughly test every design change or new idea before it goes to the customer. And if a problem does occur on site, we can replicate the conditions in our factory to track down and eliminate the cause.

Operators contact us because they are frustrated at the repeating problems and disillusioned with the attempts to rectify them.

And Axtec can test and maintain most systems usually to a higher standard than the original supplier.

And some axle weighbridges we look after are approaching 40 years old and still in excellent working order.

Sometimes we have to advise the customer they must bite the bullet and replace the system in its entirety. That is never a cheap option but at least it’s a long term solution.

So if you have a troublesome axle weighing system that we might be able to help with, feel free to get in touch and we’ll see what we can do for you.

What we tell you might not be what you want to hear but at least we will have the solution to the problem.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Overloading could be very serious

We had a very interesting conversation with a client recently, one who takes vehicle overloading very seriously.

Recognising the potentially catastrophic effects of overloading his vehicles, of which he has many hundreds around the UK, he took some portable weighpads from us to conduct trial weighings around the country.

But some of his firm’s drivers couldn’t see how important it is to run their vehicles legally laden and couldn’t see the worth in the exercise.

One example though seemed to bring the message home.
Axtec Portable Weighpads - Useful for Weighing Trials

Whilst weighing one vehicle, a typical 3.5t flatbed, the driver was asked to bring his vehicle up and place the front axle on the pads – and overshot them by about 1.5m.

The excess load on the vehicle caused the brakes to function less efficiently.

What if he had been trying to stop his van with a child in the road at a zebra crossing instead of just taking part in a weighing exercise in his yard?

The consequences could have been severe.

As our client said to his driver – do you want that on your conscience?

A lot of the time, the drivers are just trying to do their jobs and the van is just a mobile toolbox.
Sometimes it’s not only drivers that need convincing about overloading but senior management as well.

Which is why we often offer to help with surveys, loans of weighpads even free trials at the premises of customers with axle weighbridges.

Armed with information cleaned using their own vehicles in a working environment, it can often be much easier to convince the powers that be that there is a serious problem there to be solved.

So if you think you have concerns about vehicle loading and think doing some trials might be helpful, feel free to contact us and we’ll certainly be able to help.

Usually at no cost.

And as for that client, we’re now in the process of installing axle weighbridges at his major depots around the UK.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Any vehicle can be weighed.

The perception may be that only heavy goods vehicles can be stopped at a weight checks. They are after all by definition heavy.

But in fact any vehicle can be overloaded and can be pulled in and weighed.

Figures show that in 2012, 24 cars were weighed for instance. And 19 of them were found to be overloaded.

Car, HGV or anything in between, overloading affects all the major components making vehicles potentially unsafe and in danger of being prohibited. The worst cases could end in a prosecution.
It is not unknown for the insurance on an overloaded vehicle that has been involved in an accident to be invalidated.
Any vehicle can benefit from being weighed.

As in all areas, technology is improving and that includes the detection of overweight vehicles.  The installation of sensors in the road coupled to ANPR cameras ahead of enforcement sites means that an overloaded vehicle is more likely to be detected.

Recent statistics show that the number of these sites are now into double figures and that number could well grow meaning that more overloaded vehicles could be detected.

This is good news for law abiding operators in that they ought not to be diverted from a busy day into a weight check but also because more of those illegal transport companies will be caught.
But many operators find there are positives to weighing their vehicles too, particularly those who err on the side of caution and underload them.

Running vehicles at full legal weight is a good thing. It means you are maximising the capacity and running at peak efficiency.

One of our clients found he could get a staggering 30% more material on each vehicle after he installed his own axle weighbridge.

Imagine reducing your running time by a third.

There are plenty of systems available to prevent overloading. Whether they are weighed back at the depot or out on the road where the load may change throughout the day, there is a suitable system in our range to help.

And reducing the underloading can only add to your profits.

Monday, 4 September 2017

See you at the NEC in October?

We’ll be making our debut at FleetManagement Live at the NEC in October.

The decision to exhibit is a logical step and recognises the increasing number of van operators in the UK. And we have systems that are extensively used by van operators.

Axtec’s OnBoard Load Indicator for instance is ideal for multi-drop or diminishing load operations. Overloading has a detrimental effect on many major components of a van – tyres, brakes, steering, clutch, suspension – and can lead to prohibitions, prosecutions and, if you run larger vehicles, may even affect an ‘O’ licence.
Axtec OnBoard - Preventing Overloading on Vans.

With more new vans registered each year joining already heavily-congested roads, driver and road-user safety has never been more important for fleet operators.

But, with DVSA figures showing 93% of 10,000 vans stopped in 2015 were overloaded, it seems the safety implications of carrying additional weight are not always fully realised.
The Axtec OnBoard Load Indicator can help solve that problem though.

With a simple colour display that shows all the axle and gross weight information all the time and no manual controls so no driver training is involved. Axle and gross weights are all displayed the second the ignition is switched on.

The colour display allows information to be displayed graphically. Legal weights are shown in green, loads over 80% in amber and overloads in flashing red. There’s even an audible alarm selectable by management if required.

And outputs for connection to a tracking device are included as standard. So incidences of overloading can be recorded and reported back to base.

And the customer calibration facility means that keeping the system accurate can be done quickly and simply by our own people.

No expensive service visit is requird.

So if you're operating vans that you need to keep legal, come and see us at the NEC. We’ll be on stand P62 on 3rd and 4th of October.