Mack Bo­ral 10x4 ag­i­ta­tor

In an in­dus­try where prod­uct de­vel­op­ment has his­tor­i­cally moved at the speed of a som­no­lent snail, the cre­ation of sig­nif­i­cantly safer, more sta­ble con­crete ag­i­ta­tors by re­sources gi­ant Bo­ral could well be the prod for an in­dus­try-wide re­think on the desi

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS AND PHO­TOS STEVE BROOKS

Bo­ral’s cre­ation of safer con­crete ag­i­ta­tors could be the prod for an in­dus­try re­think

It’s mid-week, just af­ter 8am and it’s all hap­pen­ing at Bo­ral’s Granville batch­ing plant. Wedged amidst the multi-cul­tural may­hem of west­ern Sydney, the plant sits like a sprawl­ing slab of well-de­fined or­der against the chaos and clut­ter be­yond the fence.

Just 30 or so me­tres away is the un­re­lent­ing pan­de­mo­nium of Par­ra­matta Road, while bor­der­ing the plant’s north­ern and south­ern bound­aries are the main west and north-west rail lines. Around here, it’s just traf­fic and more traf­fic, noise and more noise. On roads in th­ese parts, there’s no room for er­ror. None at all.

That’s not to say it isn’t busy in­side the Granville plant as well, but it’s def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent sort of ‘busy’. There’s at least a struc­tured and rigidly ap­plied sys­tem in place, com­pletely at odds with the sur­round­ing bed­lam. Which is just as well be­cause on this par­tic­u­lar morn­ing the batch­ing plant seems to be run­ning at full throt­tle as a con­stant stream of ag­i­ta­tors – or, as Bo­ral prefers to call them, con­crete tran­sit mix­ers – rolls un­der the two tow­er­ing hop­pers.

Load on board, there’s a short stop at a gantry to wash down the back of the bar­rel and add more wa­ter to the mix. Then go, min­gle with the mad­ness. Ev­ery­one knows the drill. Seam­less!

Ev­ery­thing works be­cause ev­ery­one knows the sys­tem and the sys­tem is sacro­sanct. There are no com­pro­mises, es­pe­cially on safety.

Today, there’s a big pour of al­most 500 cu­bic me­tres in full swing only a kilo­me­tre or so away, and with two huge pumpers to feed at the con­struc­tion site, ac­tiv­ity in­side the plant ap­pears in­tense. The re­al­ity, how­ever, is that it’s just another day de­liv­er­ing the foun­da­tions for Sydney’s boom­ing ‘burbs.

A lit­tle while later, I’ll get to drive a cou­ple of high-ca­pac­ity Mack Metro-Liner 10x4s to the same site. For now, though, it’s easy to just sit back and take it all in, get­ting the guff from a cou­ple of drivers wait­ing for their num­ber to come up on the side of the batch­ing tower.

Still, a cou­ple of things both sur­prise and im­press, not least the in­cred­i­bly func­tional lay­out of this plant. Truck and dog com­bi­na­tions reg­u­larly roll in, fil­ing to the fur­thest end of the plant, tip­ping sand and ag­gre­gates into un­der­ground hop­pers where it’s sent by con­veyor to the top of the batch­ing tow­ers. Close by is an area re­served for tankers to dis­charge bulk ce­ment pow­der.

Lo­gis­ti­cally, the mak­ing of con­crete is a sys­tem of many parts. Yet here, at least, no func­tion im­pedes the other.

It’s all en­tirely at odds with the con­fu­sion and clut­ter of the out­side world and vastly re­moved from hazy rec­ol­lec­tions of the old plant that for­merly stood here. Ev­ery­thing is laid out with ef­fi­cient pur­pose and it’s ap­par­ent Bo­ral has in­vested plenty in bring­ing this long-serv­ing plant up to a highly pro­duc­tive stan­dard. Like­wise, it’s just as ap­par­ent that high-vol­ume fa­cil­i­ties such as this are per­fectly suited to take ad­van­tage of west­ern Sydney’s bal­loon­ing ex­pan­sion.

Sur­pris­ing, too, are the con­fig­u­ra­tions of the trucks. In a plant that is home base to more than 20 ag­i­ta­tors – typ­i­cally a mix of com­pany-owned and sub­con­trac­tors – eight-wheel­ers are pre­dictably the pre­dom­i­nant lay­out but it’s the scarcity of tra­di­tional six-wheel­ers which is par­tic­u­larly unexpected and, at the other end of the scale, the abun­dance of 10-wheel­ers.

I had no idea 5-axle ag­i­ta­tors were so preva­lent but, ob­vi­ously, big­ger is bet­ter on the pro­duc­tiv­ity scale.

Any­way, the gaz­ing soon comes to an end and, af­ter the manda­tory safety brief­ing and in­duc­tion, I head down­stairs to a quiet train­ing room with two men whose long ex­pe­ri­ence and prac­ti­cal ini­tia­tive will do two things.

First, they will in­ad­ver­tently high­light just how lit­tle I know about the ag­i­ta­tor busi­ness and, sec­ond, show­case the ex­cep­tional ad­vances over

“In an in­dus­try where pro­duc­tiv­ity re­mains para­mount, tare weight is no longer the sin­gu­larly most sig­nif­i­cant cri­te­rion”

re­cent years in an in­dus­try where prod­uct de­sign and de­vel­op­ment have tra­di­tion­ally moved at the pace of erod­ing gran­ite.

There are, how­ever, at least a few things I do know about con­crete ag­i­ta­tors. For starters, their record for rollovers is far from ideal. Dy­nam­i­cally, they’re a bas­ket case, with a heavy, con­stantly mov­ing, lop-sided load sit­ting high above a chas­sis and driv­e­train tra­di­tion­ally spec­i­fied for low weight rather than any se­ri­ous con­cern for sta­bil­ity.

Then there’s the mat­ter of pub­lic per­cep­tion. The raw re­al­ity is that the great ma­jor­ity of rollovers oc­cur where ag­i­ta­tors do the bulk of their busi­ness: in subur­ban ar­eas where pub­lic re­ac­tion is any­thing but pos­i­tive and me­dia cov­er­age is inevitably sharp, sav­age and spec­tac­u­larly pho­tographed. An up­ended ag­i­ta­tor looks like a dis­as­ter from any an­gle, no mat­ter whose name is on it.

There’s also am­ple rea­son to sug­gest the con­crete in­dus­try’s move to higher-ca­pac­ity eight-wheel­ers and, more re­cently, 10-wheel­ers has led to an in­crease in the in­ci­dence of rollovers. Again, higher load weights on chas­sis and sus­pen­sion spec­i­fied for max­i­mum pay­load, with lit­tle or no de­vel­op­ment at ei­ther sup­plier or cus­tomer level to ad­dress the im­pacts on safety and on-road dy­nam­ics, can be eas­ily as­serted as ma­jor fac­tors in higher rollover rates.

In cor­po­rate terms, th­ese fac­tors are per­haps a tough pill to swal­low but nei­ther of th­ese as­ser­tions cause even a mild flut­ter of de­nial or counter-claim from Bo­ral se­nior man­agers Merv Row­lands or Robert Wood. In fact, both men agree th­ese are in­deed the in­flu­ences that, over the past four years or so, have led to a dra­matic re­write of Bo­ral’s book on ag­i­ta­tor de­sign and dy­namic per­for­mance.

NEW STAN­DARD

Bo­ral Con­crete NSW and ACT fleet man­ager Robert Wood is nowa­days di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the op­er­a­tion of about 460 ag­i­ta­tors, with more than 240 units in the Sydney metro re­gion alone.

It’s a po­si­tion he fills with am­ple ex­pe­ri­ence, from the days of a self-con­fessed ‘hun­gry sub­bie’ in the ‘80s with a cou­ple of ag­i­ta­tors of his own to the ini­tia­tive of ac­quir­ing a busi­ness de­gree and ul­ti­mately mov­ing into Bo­ral’s man­age­ment ranks.

Ob­vi­ously enough, there’s not much he doesn’t know about mov­ing con­crete by truck. But it’s a re­flec­tive Wood who con­cedes that, un­til the last few years, noth­ing much changed in the way a con­crete ag­i­ta­tor was built and spec­i­fied, ex­cept that eight-wheel­ers and now 10-wheel­ers have be­come more pro­lific. “Trucks just got big­ger and heav­ier,” he says sim­ply.

Mean­time, with the growth in load vol­umes from six cu­bic me­tres in a typ­i­cal 6x4 to around 7.5 me­tres in an eight-wheeler and a hefty nine cu­bic me­tres in a 10x4 – with re­spec­tive gross weights rang­ing from 23.5 to 28 and 31 tonnes – tare weight re­mained stub­bornly en­trenched as a ma­jor in­flu­ence in truck se­lec­tion.

For­tu­nately, things are chang­ing. Fast! In­deed, Wood in­sists that, in an in­dus­try where pro­duc­tiv­ity re­mains para­mount, tare weight is no longer the most sig­nif­i­cant cri­te­rion.

There is, of course, much at stake. Bo­ral is a ma­jor player in the con­struc­tion and re­sources in­dus­tries. On any given work­day, the com­pany has about 2600 trucks on roads through­out Aus­tralia. Loosely split, one-third are com­pany-owned units while the rest are con­trac­tors.

Well over half the na­tional fleet com­prises con­crete ag­i­ta­tors, again split on much the same lines be­tween com­pany-owned and con­trac­tors.

Ob­vi­ously, the other big play­ers in Bo­ral’s busi­ness are the vast tip­per and tanker fleets.

Th­ese op­er­ate within the lo­gis­tics di­vi­sion, where fleet en­gi­neer­ing man­ager Row­lands has spent close to 20 years guid­ing the de­vel­op­ment of trucks and trail­ers for a vast ar­ray of ap­pli­ca­tions across the length and breadth of the coun­try.

EN­GI­NEER­ING RE­VIEW

Well known for in­no­va­tive ap­proaches to ef­fi­ciency and safety in the de­vel­op­ment of trucks and tip­pers in par­tic­u­lar, Row­lands ad­mits the de­sign and op­er­a­tion of con­crete ag­i­ta­tors has gen­er­ally not been part of his job de­scrip­tion. Con­crete was long re­garded a sep­a­rate en­tity and ag­i­ta­tor trucks, for what­ever rea­sons, have his­tor­i­cally not fig­ured highly in the en­gi­neer­ing evo­lu­tion of the Bo­ral fleet.

Un­til now! Or rather, un­til a meet­ing of se­nior man­age­ment from Bo­ral’s var­i­ous di­vi­sions back in 2014 led to Row­lands lead­ing a de­tailed ‘back to fun­da­men­tals’ en­gi­neer­ing re­view of both truck and mixer de­signs.

“Ag­i­ta­tors had con­cerned me for a long time in a num­ber of ways,” Row­lands ex­plains. “Things like chas­sis rails that, in some cases, were just seven mil­lime­tres thick to keep tare weight down; the high cen­tre of grav­ity of a typ­i­cal ag­i­ta­tor; light­weight sus­pen­sions that, to my mind, were to­tally in­ap­pro­pri­ate; and per­ma­nently fixed splash trays that made ser­vice and main­te­nance so dif­fi­cult. And don’t get me started on the use of U-bolts to se­cure mix­ers to the chas­sis. Dread­ful!

“It was def­i­nitely time for a par­a­digm shift in the de­sign of ag­i­ta­tor trucks and it wasn’t hard to see lots of ways to im­prove,” he says sharply, cit­ing the avail­abil­ity of elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol (ESC) sys­tems as a

timely in­no­va­tion for bring­ing ag­i­ta­tor de­sign into the mod­ern world. For­tu­nately, Bo­ral had will­ing part­ners with its pre­ferred truck sup­plier Mack and lead­ing mixer builder Cesco Aus­tralia vi­tally in­volved in a com­plete over­haul of ag­i­ta­tor de­sign and sta­bil­ity.

Yet de­spite Row­lands’ firm opin­ion that ESC is the most worth­while tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance in trucks he has seen in his 40-year ca­reer, it was by no means the foun­da­tion stone for a project to rad­i­cally over­haul ag­i­ta­tor truck de­sign and safety. ESC cer­tainly plays a vi­tal role but from the out­set there was more to it than that. Much more!

As Bo­ral stated in its win­ning sub­mis­sion to the 2017 En­vi­ron­men­tal, Health and Safety Awards con­ducted by Ce­ment Con­crete & Ag­gre­gates Aus­tralia (CCAA): “The sub­ject of the sub­mis­sion is de­vel­op­ment of a new, safer 10x4 ag­i­ta­tor truck de­signed, built and tested with the co-op­er­a­tion of Mack Trucks Aus­tralia and Cesco Aus­tralia … that ex­hibits bet­ter fun­da­men­tal roll sta­bil­ity per­for­mance and there­fore bet­ter pri­mary safety for the driver.”

The sub­mis­sion fur­ther em­pha­sised: “Whilst Bo­ral is ac­tively pur­su­ing a pro­gram of driver train­ing, re­mote mon­i­tor­ing, per­for­mance feed­back and man­age­ment, and has made the fit­ment of Elec­tronic Roll Sta­bil­ity manda­tory on all new com­pany and con­trac­tor-owned ag­i­ta­tor trucks since Jan­uary 2015, the com­pany be­lieves there is also scope for sig­nif­i­cantly im­prov­ing the in­her­ent roll sta­bil­ity char­ac­ter­is­tics of the ve­hi­cles.”

For Row­lands, the ar­eas for great­est gain were in the tor­sional stiff­ness of the truck chas­sis, the de­sign and char­ac­ter­is­tics of the rear sus­pen­sion, and, most sig­nif­i­cantly, low­er­ing the cen­tre of grav­ity of the loaded ve­hi­cle.

First of the rad­i­cal re­designs cen­tred on an 8x4 pro­to­type in the early part of 2015 and, as Bo­ral puts it: “Sub­se­quent to the suc­cess of this ve­hi­cle, a fur­ther four pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles were man­u­fac­tured and put into ser­vice in NSW.”

From then on, a 10x4 ver­sion be­came nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion, but with it came the unique chal­lenge of en­gi­neer­ing a suit­able tri-axle sus­pen­sion into a big­ger, heav­ier truck that would still be able to meet Bo­ral’s pro­duc­tiv­ity pa­ram­e­ters. As Wood quips: “When it’s all boiled down, we’re here to make and de­liver con­crete in a very com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try.”

Thus, while the preva­lence of 5-axle 10x4s can be sur­pris­ing to any­one who doesn’t spend much time around con­crete plants, the fact is they de­liver a sub­stan­tial boost to pro­duc­tiv­ity and Bo­ral has been a ma­jor user of the con­fig­u­ra­tion for at least 10 years. There are about 40 of the 5-axle units in the Sydney metro re­gion alone and up­wards of 65 across NSW. What’s more, it’s a num­ber al­most cer­tain to in­crease as ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects con­tinue to come on stream in re­gions across the coun­try.

POINTS OF AT­TACK

Each of the ar­eas iden­ti­fied by Row­lands as prime for im­prove­ment went un­der the en­gi­neer­ing mi­cro­scope and sub­se­quently formed crit­i­cal com­po­nents of the com­pany’s sub­mis­sion to the CCAA awards.

On the tor­sional stiff ness of the truck chas­sis: “As an ag­i­ta­tor goes around a corner, the rear

“The truly big gains, how­ever, came from a re­designed mount­ing of the mixer bowl to the chas­sis”

“The real ob­jec­tive here is to re­duce the prob­a­bil­ity of an ag­i­ta­tor rollover by de­sign­ing a higher rollover thresh­old and there­fore a greater mar­gin of safety”

half of the ve­hi­cle (at­tached to the loaded mixer bowl) nat­u­rally tends to roll side­ways, whilst the front half of the ve­hi­cle (at­tached to the en­gine, cab and front axles) tends to act as an an­chor to keep it on the road. A rel­a­tively fl imsy chas­sis will per­mit the rear of the truck to roll side­ways with less re­stric­tion.

“Ag­i­ta­tor trucks de­mand very strong and tor­sion­ally stiff chas­sis rails. In the US and Europe, chas­sis rail thick­ness starts at 9.5mm and goes up from there.

“On ag­i­ta­tor trucks in Aus­tralia, in the in­ter­ests of lim­it­ing tare weight, th­ese chas­sis rails are typ­i­cally just 8mm thick and some­times 9.5mm thick for the longer 10x4 ve­hi­cles.”

How­ever, for its re­designed 10x4, Bo­ral opted for 11mm-thick rails with the size and stiff­ness of cross-mem­bers also sub­stan­tially in­creased. It was a move that would ul­ti­mately al­low dele­tion of the tra­di­tional sub-frame for mount­ing the mixer bowl to the chas­sis. More on that shortly. Mean­time, the com­bined in­flu­ences of ride qual­ity, lower tare weight and cost, and a road-friendly rat­ing have, in mod­ern times, seen air bag sus­pen­sions largely re­place rub­ber block and steel spring sus­pen­sions on drive axles of ag­i­ta­tor trucks.

Air bags cer­tainly en­hance ride qual­ity but, as Bo­ral states: “The basic de­signs have less than ideal stiff­ness char­ac­ter­is­tics for high cen­tre-of-grav­ity ve­hi­cles such as ag­i­ta­tor trucks.”

Con­se­quently, for its 8x4 pro­to­type truck, Bo­ral fit­ted Mack’s in­verted steel leaf spring rear sus­pen­sion (MIL-M) which has sub­se­quently de­liv­ered “great suc­cess”.

Un­for­tu­nately, a steel spring sus­pen­sion on a 10-wheeler’s tri-axle group is not load shar­ing across all three axles, and for this rea­son Bo­ral opted for Hen­drick­son’s heavy-duty Pri­maax air bag assem­bly. It was a smart move. Not only is Pri­maax a far more heavy-duty air bag de­sign than the light­weight HAS460 used on earlier 10x4s, but the pres­ence of torque rods sig­nif­i­cantly en­hances roll stiff­ness, which has pos­i­tive in­flu­ences on brak­ing sta­bil­ity, wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion and trac­tion.

CEN­TRE OF GRAV­ITY

De­spite th­ese ad­vances, the sin­gle big­gest con­trib­u­tor to roll sta­bil­ity of a loaded ve­hi­cle is the cen­tre of grav­ity of both the truck and the load, and, with sig­nif­i­cant in­put from Mack and Cesco, ma­jor im­prove­ments were achieved. On the truck it was as sim­ple as chang­ing from 11R 22.5 tyres to the low-pro­file 275/70R22.5 size, im­me­di­ately achiev­ing a 22mm drop in ve­hi­cle height while also en­hanc­ing roll sta­bil­ity.

The truly big gains, how­ever, came from a re­designed mount­ing of the mixer bowl to the chas­sis. As Bo­ral’s sub­mis­sion ex­plains: “Tran­sit mix­ers in Aus­tralia fol­low a fa­mil­iar pat­tern of hav­ing the front and rear mix­ing bowl pedestals welded to a sub-frame made of square-sec­tion steel tub­ing (with) the un­for­tu­nate side ef­fect of rais­ing the height of the mix­ing bowl above the chas­sis.”

How­ever, Cesco de­vel­oped front- and

rear-mount­ing pedestals that al­low the bar­rel to be low­ered much closer to the truck’s chas­sis rails by fix­ing the pedestals on chas­sis an­gles sup­plied by Mack.

Ac­cord­ing to Row­lands, the an­gles are sim­i­lar to those fit­ted to a prime mover for mount­ing a fifth wheel (turntable) and pro­vide the im­por­tant ben­e­fit of trans­fer­ring the load di­rectly to the web of the chas­sis rail rather than the top flange, spread­ing the load over a wider area.

Cesco cal­cu­lates that the cen­tre of grav­ity of the loaded mixer is now 132mm lower which, com­bined with a 22mm drop in truck height with the low-pro­file tyres, de­liv­ers an over­all drop of 154mm, – or just over six inches.

“Over­all it’s a big achieve­ment, par­tic­u­larly with the ben­e­fit of a stiffer chas­sis and more sta­ble rear sus­pen­sion,” Row­lands says.

Gaug­ing the re­design’s op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness was done in three ways: com­puter mod­el­ling by the Aus­tralian Road Re­search Board; se­vere roll sta­bil­ity test­ing by elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol spe­cial­ist Knorr-Bremse on the skid pan of the Driver Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre of Aus­tralia at Shep­par­ton ( Vic); and, per­haps the most bru­tal as­sess­ment of all, seat-ofthe-pants opin­ions of ex­pe­ri­enced Bo­ral ag­i­ta­tor drivers from both com­pany and con­trac­tor ranks.

In all cases, the de­sign passed with fly­ing colours, ver­i­fy­ing sig­nif­i­cant gains in roll sta­bil­ity. There were other crit­i­cal ar­eas to be con­sid­ered, how­ever, in­clud­ing the ef­fect of an al­tered mixer bowl an­gle on the prod­uct dis­charge chute and in­tro­duc­tion of a re­mov­able splash tray be­tween the bowl and the chas­sis. In both cases, the changes have not im­pacted on pro­duc­tiv­ity and, re­gard­ing the re­mov­able splash tray, main­te­nance ac­cess is dra­mat­i­cally im­proved.

As for over­all cost and pro­duc­tiv­ity, it’s a good news story that seems to just keep giv­ing. On tare weight, Bo­ral’s sub­mis­sion states: “With the heavy-duty chas­sis, sus­pen­sion and ad­di­tional chas­sis an­gles, the Mack was clearly go­ing to be heav­ier than a con­ven­tional spec­i­fi­ca­tion. The dif­fer­ence is in the or­der of 300kg.”

How­ever, the new mixer mount­ing sys­tem is around 100kg lighter than the usual sub-frame lay­out, re­duc­ing the weight in­crease to around 200kg. Bet­ter still, the new mix­ers are us­ing hard-wear­ing Har­dox 450 steel for the first time, al­low­ing the use of a thin­ner bowl wall and pro­vid­ing a sub­stan­tial weight re­duc­tion of 300kg over a con­ven­tional bar­rel. So all up, the ac­tual

net weight of Bo­ral’s new 10-wheeler de­sign is around 100kg less than stan­dard models.

As for cost in­creases, Bo­ral cites “a to­tal in­crease of around 2 per cent of the price of a new 10x4 ag­i­ta­tor truck”. How­ever, Har­dox steel doesn’t come cheap, push­ing the over­all cost of the ve­hi­cle up by a fur­ther 1.5 per cent. But then, with the to­tal mon­e­tary cost of an ag­i­ta­tor rollover es­ti­mated to be be­tween $150,000 and $180,000, the price in­crease of the new de­sign is eas­ily ac­cepted from both eco­nomic and safety per­spec­tives.

As Bo­ral’s sub­mis­sion suc­cinctly states: “Ul­ti­mately, the real ob­jec­tive here is to re­duce the prob­a­bil­ity of an ag­i­ta­tor rollover by de­sign­ing a higher rollover thresh­old and there­fore a greater mar­gin of safety.

“If this saves a rollover and the pos­si­bil­ity of se­ri­ous in­jury or a fa­tal­ity, then the cost ef­fec­tive­ness is im­mea­sur­able.”

WIDE­SPREAD BEN­E­FIT

The new de­sign also at­tracted plenty of in­ter­est from other par­ties in the con­crete busi­ness when Row­lands and Wood proudly ac­cepted the top gong for Health and Safety In­no­va­tion at the an­nual CCAA awards on Septem­ber 1 this year. Bet­ter still, it seems Bo­ral is happy to share its find­ings, stat­ing it “wel­comes re­view and ex­am­i­na­tion of the con­cept by other stake­hold­ers in the in­dus­try with the hope it will cre­ate a safer work­place and re­duce the risk and like­li­hood of ag­i­ta­tor rollovers”.

It’s worth not­ing the award recog­nises ex­cel­lence in devel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing an in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion to an iden­ti­fied health and safety is­sue, with Bo­ral’s sub­mis­sion de­scribed as one of many ex­cel­lent en­tries in this im­por­tant cat­e­gory. In ef­fect, it took some­thing spe­cial to win, and Bo­ral is cer­tainly not wast­ing time im­ple­ment­ing its higher stan­dards in pur­chases of new ag­i­ta­tors.

With early de­vel­op­ment units prov­ing their worth, in 2016 Bo­ral took de­liv­ery of nine Metro-Liner ag­i­ta­tors – five 8x4 and four 10x4 – built to the new roll sta­bil­ity stan­dard for NSW op­er­a­tions. In 2017 a fur­ther 26 Metro-Lin­ers con­sist­ing of four 6x4s, 12 8x4s and 10 10x4s will be spread across the fleet in NSW, Vic­to­ria and Queens­land.

How­ever, as Row­lands adds, the safety stakes don’t end with the new trucks.

“We are also work­ing closely with Trans­port for NSW and the Mel­bourne Metro Rail Author­ity on what can be done to im­prove safety for vul­ner­a­ble road users, mainly pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists, in terms of the in­ter­ac­tion with con­struc­tion ve­hi­cles in the city and built-up ar­eas.

“This is a multi-pronged ap­proach that in­cludes safety pro­ce­dures, bet­ter road and site de­sign, driver train­ing and, crit­i­cally, ve­hi­cle de­sign which in­cludes higher vis­i­bil­ity and side un­der-run pro­tec­tion.”

Fi­nally, it’s a smil­ing Merv Row­lands who con­cludes: “It might have taken a while for things to change in the de­sign of an ag­i­ta­tor but we’ve cer­tainly come a long way in the last four years.

“A very long way,” adds a res­o­lute Rob Wood.

“It might have taken a while for things to change in the de­sign of an ag­i­ta­tor but we’ve cer­tainly come a long way in the last four years”

Above: Tra­di­tional six-wheel­ers are the ex­cep­tion rather than the rule th­ese days but new stan­dards for roll sta­bil­ity are be­ing ap­plied to all con gu­ra­tions

Be­low: Merv Row­lands. “It was de nitely time for a par­a­digm shift in the de­sign of ag­i­ta­tor trucks and it wasn’t hard to see lots of ways to im­prove”

Op­po­site: Bo­ral’s Robert Wood. Af­ter decades of lit­tle change, tare weight is no longer as signi cant in the pro­duc­tiv­ity equa­tion

Op­po­site above: Side un­der-run. All part of a pro­gram to im­prove safety for vul­ner­a­ble road users, mainly pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists

Above: Mack is the ob­vi­ous truck of choice at Bo­ral. Eight-wheel­ers dom­i­nate but 10x4 lay­outs are in­creas­ing. Vastly en­hanced roll sta­bil­ity stan­dards are be­ing in­tro­duced on all new ag­i­ta­tors

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