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.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Another clients experience with weighpads

Almost every conversation we have with a new client involves the subject of portable weighpads at some stage. 

It’s a common misconception that weighing even the largest vehicles just involves putting some plates on the ground and running axles over them.

It is though a much more involved procedure than that which, in many cases, is a more costly, time consuming and labour intensive option using weighpads than a permanent axle weighbridge.
Portable Weighpads - Great for some tasks.

Talking through a project that requires a dynamic axle weighbridge the other day, the client mentioned that they had portable weighpads which they used to monitor vehicle weights at depots around the country.

The pads were a useful tool for spot checks and driver training but were not without their problems.

The biggest bugbear was that it took two people plus the driver to weigh a single vehicle. And if the driver did it wrong, he had to go round the one-way system to do it again. Sometimes more than once.

A minor issue on the face of it but the procedure is tying up three people and the vehicle isn’t out on the road doing its job.

The pads themselves cost around £10,000.00 to purchase so that plus the labour plus the time element all adds up to a not insignificant ongoing cost to weigh vehicles.

So with a depot development in the offing it makes perfect sense to install a system that the drivers can use themselves in a fraction of the time.

With the added benefits of a longer lifespan, a permanent system can easily last 40 years against a typical lifespan of around five years for weighpads, plus far greater accuracy.

The permanent dynamic axle weighbridge is also future proofed in that it will not only weigh every vehicle type they currently run but any bigger vehicles they may obtain in later years.

As we always advise, weighpads have an important role to play but there’s often a more cost effective option available.

Friday, 28 July 2017

An axle 1,200kg overloaded!

That’s what one of our latest customers found when he weighed one of his double deck trailers.

The vehicle was sent back for the load to be redistributed and then reweighed. This time the weights were fine and the driver went on his way legally laden.

But as the Transport Manager said, how many times had that happened in the past and they had unknowingly sent vehicles out overloaded?

Now they have an Axtec Dynamic Axle Weighbridge it won’t happen again.

That’s only one of the benefits of having the system though. Maximising vehicle utilisation is also very important. Getting the most on each vehicle every trip is important for anyone in transport to make a profit.
Axtec Dynamic Axle Weighbridge - maximising payloads

So by specifying our Fleet Management Program, this customer can store each and every weighing of every tractor, trailer or rigid in the fleet in memory and analyse how their vehicle are loaded on a regular basis.

The stored information shows who has been using the system and who hasn’t. Was a vehicle overloaded? And was it reweighed shortly after with the overload corrected?

Crucially, the utilisation of every vehicle is calculated and stored as well allowing them to see how well their fleet is being used.

Armed with this information it’s easier to make informed decisions about fleet profile – do they have the right mix of vehicles? Do they have enough or too many of a particular type of vehicle? Are there any periods when loads are heavier or lighter?

And can savings and efficiencies be made?

Investing in an axle weighbridge may seem an expensive luxury. But the system would have a lifespan of many decades.

Ensuring vehicles do not go on the road overloaded and vulnerable to prosecution is only one benefit.

Adding to profits by maximising loads would cover that investment many times over and add to the bottom line for years to come.