Axle norms amended

The Min­istry of Road Trans­port and High­ways (MoRTH) has amended CV axle norms to be on par with the in­ter­na­tional norms.

Commercial Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

The Min­istry of Road Trans­port and High­ways (MoRTH) has amended CV axle norms to be on par with the in­ter­na­tional norms.

The Min­istry of Road Trans­port and High­ways (MoRTH) no­ti­fied a change in the Gross Ve­hi­cle Weight (GVW) and max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble axle load lim­its of heavy com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles re­cently. Fol­low­ing the changes no­ti­fied by the Min­istry of Sur­face Trans­port on Oc­to­ber 18, 1996, about the max­i­mum gross ve­hi­cle weight and the max­i­mum safe axle weight in­line with rule 95 of the Cen­tral Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Rules 1989, the new axle load norms for twoaxle trucks mark an in­crease to 18.5-tonnes from 16.2-tonnes. This trans­lates an in­crease in pay­load ca­pac­ity of about 20 per cent by re-con­fig­ur­ing the axle load into six-tonnes for the front axle and 10.2-tonnes for the rear axle. In the case of a three-axle truck, the GVW is capped at 28.5-tonnes from the ear­lier 25-tonnes. Six­tonnes for the front axle and 19-tonnes for the tan­dem rear axle. In the case of a fiveaxle truck, the GVW is now capped at 43.5-tonnes from 37-tonne pre­vi­ously, in­creas­ing the pay­load car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity by an es­ti­mated 25 per cent. For trac­tor trail­ers and other multi-axle trucks, the limit has been raised by 36 per cent. Ex­pected to curb the ram­pant prac­tice of over­load­ing in the coun­try, the move is also said to in­tend get­ting In­dia on par with the in­ter­na­tional freight norms for trans­port

ve­hi­cles. Be­sides amend­ing the GVW and axle load lim­its, the manda­tory an­nual re­newal of fit­ness cer­tifi­cate for freight car­ri­ers has also been scrapped. A fit­ness cer­tifi­cate will now have to be re­newed every two years.

As far as the change in axle norms are con­cerned, al­most every stake holder of the trans­port in­dus­try is in search of clar­ity. May it be the OEMs, an­a­lysts, sup­pli­ers and var­i­ous other in­dus­try el­e­ments, they all seem to be look­ing at an­swers. The key ques­tion they have is if the axle norms change will ap­ply to ex­ist­ing trucks or new trucks. In view of this, a se­nior govern­ment of­fi­cial is known to have said that the new axle norms will ap­ply to ve­hi­cles man­u­fac­tured af­ter the statu­tory or­der comes into ef­fect. This is con­trary to the spec­u­la­tion that the norms will ef­fect ex­ist­ing fleet. Said an in­dus­try leader on the con­di­tion of not quot­ing him that a clar­ity is nec­es­sary, and quickly. He ques­tioned the prospect of govern­ment le­gal­is­ing over­load­ing by in­creas­ing the axle norms, and if it was the right thing to do. He also ques­tioned if it will trans­late into a safe prac­tice with a given CV’s abil­ity to per­form, brake and op­er­ate re­li­ably. The in­dus­try, he ex­pressed, used to build trucks with a mar­gin of 10 to 12 per cent ear­lier by keep­ing in mind that they were go­ing to be over­loaded. With the move to rated pay­load post the Supreme Court judge­ment ban­ning over­load­ing, in the in­ter­est of ef­fi­ciency and re­li­a­bil­ity, man­u­fac­tur­ers are re­sort­ing to light weight­ing. An at­tempt to over­load such CVs just be­cause the axle norms have changed will cre­ate a safety sit­u­a­tion, he said.

Erich Nes­sel­hauf, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and CEO, Daim­ler In­dia Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles, opined that the own­ers of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles cer­ti­fied un­der the old norms should be able to un­dergo an ef­fi­cient, short­ened re­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process be­fore be­ing per­mit­ted to carry more load as per the new lim­its. “This will pro­tect the in­vest­ments of those cus­tomers who have opted for mod­ern and ca­pa­ble trucks. It will also safe­guard the resid­ual value of these ve­hi­cles,” he added. A study con­ducted is said to have pegged over­load­ing of trucks ply­ing on the high­ways at 50 per cent. It looked at long-haul trucks that typ­i­cally spend a good deal of their life on the high­ways that criss cross this large coun­try. Over­load­ing is how­ever ram­pant in ur­ban re­gions too where a ma­jor­ity of goods are fer­ried by small com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. Lack of toll roads and weigh bridges that most toll col­lec­tion agen­cies have in­stalled at toll gates in ur­ban ar­eas means it is of­ten dif­fi­cult to de­tect over­load­ing. Said Vishal Ram­chan­dani, Di­rec­tor, B.M. Road­lines Pvt. Ltd., “Seg­ments like liq­uid bulk cargo are bound by de­part­ment of weights and mea­sure for cal­i­bra­tion and con­troller of ex­plo­sives. Hence there is no

ram­pant over­load­ing in this sec­tor.” He drew at­ten­tion to the tanker shell, and said that it needs to be pre-ap­proved. The pos­si­bil­ity to over­load­ing in such cases is min­i­mum, he added.

While an in­dus­try ex­pert claimed that the new axle norms are be­ing in­ter­preted dif­fer­ently by dif­fer­ent Re­gional Trans­port Of­fices (RTOs), which are state sub­jects, an amount of con­fu­sion seems to pre­vail at dif­fer­ent quar­ters of the CV in­dus­try. Of the opin­ion that the govern­ment no­ti­fi­ca­tion to al­low an in­crease in max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble axle load of truck is a move in the right di­rec­tion, Dr. Ab­hay Firo­dia, Pres­i­dent, So­ci­ety of In­dian Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers (SIAM) said, “It has the po­ten­tial to im­prove ef­fi­ciency of com­mer­cial trans­port in the coun­try.” High­light­ing the ab­sence of an ad­e­quate en­force­ment of rated load com­pli­ance on ground at the source of load­ing like ports, etc., Dr. Firo­dia cau­tioned of preva­lent prac­tices of ram­pant over­load­ing, which pose se­ri­ous road safety threats. Urg­ing the govern­ment to is­sue suit­able ad­vi­sories to en­sure clar­ity, Dr. Firo­dia hailed the move to do away with the pre­sent CMVR ta­ble of tyres and axle com­bi­na­tion against per­mis­si­ble Gross Ve­hi­cle Weight (GVW). This, he averred, will al­low greater flex­i­bil­ity in de­vel­op­ment of new ve­hi­cle con­fig­u­ra­tions of var­ied ton­nages. Touch­ing on ar­eas of con­cern like safety, ap­pli­ca­ble date of change, readi­ness of the sup­ply chain, he men­tioned, “Higher ve­hi­cle loads will ne­ces­si­tate suit­able tyres (and up­grades), the sup­ply chain for which should be ready.”

While an in­dus­try ex­pert drew at­ten­tion to the date of im­ple­men­ta­tion not men­tioned in the no­ti­fi­ca­tion, Vinod K. Dasari, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Ashok Ley­land, ex­pressed sur­prise over the time of an­nounce­ment. He un­der­lined the need for the an­cil­lary in­dus­try to be ready. Dasari drew at­ten­tion to the fact that a typ­i­cal six-tonne front axle will call for a 305 ra­dial tyre to be able to move up to 7.5-tonnes in com­par­i­son to the 295 ra­dial tyre used ear­lier. Do we have a 305 ra­dial avail­able, he ques­tioned. “The de­vel­op­ment of a 305 ra­dial tyre will take a year at least,” he said. If there is a lack of the right tyres to achieve the nec­es­sary change in line with the new axle norms, such changes would add to the cost of the trucks, which is said to be al­ready un­der pres­sure be­cause of the de­vel­op­ments like the up­com­ing reg­u­la­tions. It is not just the tyres or the axles, the com­plete ve­hi­cle in view of the in­crease in GVW will have to be tweaked, said an in­dus­try leader un­der the con­di­tion of not re­veal­ing his name. Changes would in­clude the pow­er­train, chas­sis, brakes, sus­pen­sion and a host of other ag­gre­gates and com­po­nents, he ex­pressed.

Ex­plained Girish Wagh, Head _ Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles Business Unit, Tata Mo­tors, that any re-en­gi­neer­ing of the ve­hi­cle would have to fol­low a val­i­da­tion. “Any re-en­gi­neer­ing of ve­hi­cles be­cause of the reg­u­la­tory changes needs to be fol­lowed by some kind of val­i­da­tion in com­pli­ance with the CMVR norms.” Stat­ing that work was al­ready un­der­way at Tata Mo­tors to re-engi­neer ve­hi­cles, Wagh men­tioned, as an in­dus­try body it is en­gag­ing with the Govern­ment to de­fer and de­cide on the date of im­ple­men­ta­tion. “On the front end, we con­tinue our ef­forts to sell ve­hi­cles,” he added.

If it will re­quire dras­tic de­sign change to im­ple­ment new axle norms, Piro­jshaw Sarkari, CEO, Mahin­dra Lo­gis­tics, hailed the govern­ment de­ci­sion. “This hike will in­crease load-abil­ity by 20 to 25 per cent. The

tim­ing is also per­fect as the high­ways and ar­te­rial roads have im­proved con­sid­er­ably,” he said. Of the opin­ion that most trucks in the coun­try are run­ning with lower ca­pac­i­ties as their engines are equipped to carry more, Sarkari averred, “This move will help in ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion and will pro­vide a huge fil­lip to the lo­gis­tics sec­tor.” “We and our business part­ners are look­ing for­ward to its suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion. This mea­sure will un­doubt­edly re­duce the cost of lo­gis­tics and im­prove the over­all Lo­gis­tics Per­for­mance In­dex of In­dia,” he said. Point­ing at the global trend where higher axle loads are per­mit­ted, and have helped dial higher ef­fi­ciency in the goods trans­port in­dus­try, Dr. Firo­dia com­mented that axle loads in In­dia have been his­tor­i­cally low, and due to the in­abil­ity of the road and high­way in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port higher loads or higher speeds. “The new max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble axle load may suc­cess in curb­ing the prac­tice of over­load­ing, it could also lead to an ex­po­nen­tial rise in road dam­ages,” he averred.

Heavy goods ve­hi­cles, buses and coaches in Europe must com­ply with cer­tain rules on weights and di­men­sions for road safety and to avoid road dam­age. As per a 2015 di­rec­tive of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, and of the coun­cil, to fur­ther pro­mote in­ter­modal trans­port op­er­a­tions and to take into ac­count the un­laden weight of con­tain­ers or swap bod­ies of a length of up to 45 ft., the cir­cu­la­tion of three-axle mo­tor ve­hi­cles with two-or three-axle semi­trail­ers has been al­lowed up to a to­tal au­tho­rised weight of 44-tonnes. Two-axle mo­tor ve­hi­cles with three-axle semi-trail­ers trans­port­ing con­tain­ers or swap bod­ies of a length of up to 45 feet should be al­lowed in in­ter­modal trans­port op­er­a­tions up to a to­tal au­tho­rised weight of 42-tonnes. In case of in­creas­ing au­tho­rised weight of buses with two-axles for in­stance, it is done within lim­its that en­sure the road in­fra­struc­ture is not dam­aged as a re­sult of faster ero­sion. Three-axle al­ter­na­tively fu­elled mo­tor ve­hi­cles (25-tonnes or 26-tonnes) where the driv­ing axle is fit­ted with twin tyres and air sus­pen­sion, or where each driv­ing axle is fit­ted with twin tyres and the max­i­mum weight of each axle does not ex­ceed 9.5-tonnes, an in­crease in weight re­quired for the al­ter­na­tive fuel tech­nol­ogy with a max­i­mum of one-tonne is per­mit­ted.

While trucks be­ing grossly over­loaded un­til a decade ago were a com­mon oc­cur­rence in In­dia, the im­prove­ment in in­fra­struc­ture and the tight­en­ing of anti-over­load­ing norms in­creased the scope of op­er­at­ing at rated pay­load. How­ever over­load­ing has re­fused to die in en­tirety. This de­spite the knowl­edge that over­load­ing in­creases op­er­at­ing costs due to higher main­te­nance out go, higher road user costs, higher pol­lu­tion lev­els and be­cause of po­ten­tial haz­ards like ac­ci­dents. The dam­age to the road in­fra­struc­ture and low­er­ing of life ex­pectancy are yet to be added to the equa­tion. The new axle norms may pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to the trans­porters to carry more, ex­ist­ing CVs will have to be cer­ti­fied how­ever to en­sure that they can ac­tu­ally carry higher load safely and re­li­ably. Warned Dr. Firo­dia, that there will be se­vere con­se­quences if the new pro­vi­sions pave way for ex­ist­ing ve­hi­cles to carry higher loads. “Such over­loaded ve­hi­cles may or may not be able to meet the manda­tory brak­ing and steer­ing per­for­mance re­quire­ments lead­ing to safety is­sues on the road. The new norms should be ap­pli­ca­ble only to the new ve­hi­cles which are cer­ti­fied by the test agen­cies from the safety point of view,” he said.

⇩ Be­sides amend­ing the GVW and axle load lim­its, the no­ti­fi­ca­tion has ex­tended the an­nual fit­ness test for freight car­ri­ers to two years.

⇦ Erich Nes­sel­hauf, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and CEO, Daim­ler In­dia Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles.

⇨ Dr. Ab­hay Firo­dia, Pres­i­dent, So­ci­ety of In­dian Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers (SIAM).

⇨ Girish Wagh, Head – Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles Business Unit, Tata Mo­tors.

⇦ Piro­jshaw Sarkari, CEO, Mahin­dra Lo­gis­tics.

⇦ Vinod K. Dasari, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Ashok Ley­land.

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