Road transport is playing a critical role in moving freight through the Victorian stage four lockdown, continuing to operate in metropolitan Melbourne to deliver essential items to stock shelves of every supermarket.
Makers and suppliers of diesel engines, equipment and fuels embrace the global challenge of a cleaner environment by taking positive actions to use less energy and reduce emissions whilst also enabling the prosperity of peoples and countries around the world. Read more
Australia’s national truck laws must be substantially redrafted, the Australian Trucking Association said in response to the first issues paper of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review. Read more
NTC CEO Dr Gillian Miles.
The TWU is demanding that fatal truck crashes be investigated as workplace deaths when a truck driver is killed, following the death of two truck drivers in a head-on collision on the Augusta Highway in South Australia just before Easter.
Police are investigating driver fatigue as a possible cause for the fiery crash.
Road transport is Australia’s deadliest industry. A truck driver is 13 times more likely to die at work than any other worker.
“We are deeply saddened to lose two truck drivers and in such dreadful circumstances. Our thoughts are with the family and friends who received the tragic news this Easter weekend. We urge the Federal Government to ensure no stone is left unturned in finding the cause of this crash and prosecuting where necessary. Fatigue is being investigated as a possible cause, in most cases this is a direct result from pressure at the top of transport supply chain. To provide justice to the drivers we’ve lost, the families that mourn and the road users at risk over this busy period, it is only right that all possible factors be considered and punishment served where it’s due,” TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said.
When a truck driver is killed on the road workplace death investigations are forfeited, assuming a forensic crash investigation will determine the cause. These investigations fail to explore all possible causes beyond the mechanics of what happened at the time of the crash.
“Truck driver deaths have bypassed the vigilant investigations that rightfully follow deaths on building sites, in factories, in the mines. A truck driver’s workplace is on the road. When the worst happens, we must look beyond the debris and ask the important questions: was this driver fatigued or under pressure to meet a deadline? Was there enough money in the pot to ensure their vehicle was properly maintained? Until we start asking these questions and laying blame where it’s due, truck drivers will never be safe on our roads,” Kaine continued.
Safe Work Australia refers to a workplace as any place where work is carried out for a business or undertaking, including vehicles.*
Police have rated the crash risk three times higher over the Easter break.
“The skewed belief that speedy delivery is more important than road safety is exacerbated at busy periods like the Easter break. We urge the wealthy companies at the top of supply chains to ease the pressure on truck drivers and ensure there is enough money in the pot for trucks to be properly maintained and goods to be delivered safely,” TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said.
Three container stevedore companies have amended their contracts with land transport businesses after the ACCC raised concerns that certain terms in each of these agreements may be unfair contract terms.
DP World Australia, Hutchison Ports Australia and Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) agreed, after the ACCC’s intervention, to remove or amend terms in their standard form contracts that the ACCC considered were likely to be considered ‘unfair’ within the meaning of the Australian Consumer Law.
DP World and Hutchison had contract terms that allowed a stevedore to unilaterally vary terms in the agreements without notice, including fees paid by the land transport operators.
DP World and Hutchison also had terms that limited their liability for loss or damage suffered by the transport businesses, while not offering the transport businesses the same protections. VICT’s contract had a term requiring transport businesses to indemnify VICT for loss or damage, with no reciprocal obligation on VICT.
DP World’s standard agreement also required the transport businesses to pay the stevedore’s legal costs and expenses, in circumstances where such payments would normally be determined by court order.
The three stevedores cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation and agreed to remove or amend the terms. Hutchison has made its commitments in a court enforceable undertaking and will also place a corrective notice on its website and put in place a compliance program.
Those contract terms which previously allowed the stevedore to amend the contract without notice have either been removed, or now require the stevedore to give 30 days’ notice of any changes, including for any price rises.
“Thousands of transport businesses, which have standard form agreements with DP World, Hutchison and VICT, stand to benefit from these changes,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“The handling of containers has a direct bearing on the cost of goods in Australia and the competitiveness of Australian exports, so it is crucial for businesses and consumers that the supply chain operates fairly and efficiently.”
The ACCC launched its investigation in early 2018 following concerns being raised about alleged unfair terms in contracts between container stevedores and land transport operators, such as rail and trucking businesses.
The ACCC’s 2018 Container Stevedore Monitoring Report noted the ACCC was assessing unfair contract terms within the industry. The ACCC has now concluded that assessment.
The court enforceable undertaking given by Hutchison can be found at Hutchison Ports Australia Pty Limited.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) is disappointed that the final report of the Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles has missed clear opportunities to boost the uptake of EV in the freight logistics sector.
“There is clearly a willingness within this industry to move towards greater use of EV in freight delivery. It is disappointing that the committee has not supported that positive attitude by explicitly addressing freight vehicles in its recommendations to the government,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“It is especially perplexing that the committee recommends establishing national EV targets for light passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles and metropolitan buses – but is silent on establishing a similar target for heavy vehicles.
“It is similarly disappointing that the report did not take the opportunity to recommend a review of the Australian Design Rules, to that they can better accommodate the unique size and shape of some electric freight vehicles.
“ALC is pleased that the report does make recommendations on some of the issues raised in our submission, including the need to facilitate the rollout of charging infrastructure and ensure the energy network is able to sustain a reliable supply of energy to power EV.
“However on the whole, these recommendations fall well short of the type of action that is needed to hasten the uptake of EV in the freight logistics sector.
“One opportunity that was clearly missed was a recommendation to establish a Low Emission Vehicle Contestable Fund, similar to one already operating in New Zealand.
“Indeed, the report specifically refers to the New Zealand fund in its commentary and notes its benefits – but does not follow through by recommending a similar initiative for Australia.
“Just last week, the New Zealand Government announced a further round of projects to be supported though its fund, including projects specifically focused on the freight sector designed to showcase the capabilities of long-haul heavy electric vehicles.
“Similar initiatives will need to be adopted in an Australian context if freight logistics operators are to be encouraged to incorporate EVs into their own operations. This is something ALC will be pursing in its pre-Budget submission and in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government.
“The ALC’s Electric Vehicles Working Group will continue to pursue these matters with all political parties in the lead up to this year’s federal election,” Mr Coningham said.
CEVA Logistics Greater China has sent the first-ever TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) truck from Khorgos, China via Kazakhstan to Europe.
The trial run was on 13 November, 2018 and was operated as a joint initiative between CEVA Logistics, the IRU (International Road Transportation Union) and CEVA’s partners Alblas and Jet-rail.
The truck arrived in Poland on 24 November, with no disruption or Customs issues after 11 days on the road. The closing TIR at its final destination was after 13 days on 26 November.
According to CEVA, the new road service will deliver a cost saving of about 50 per cent compared to air options. With a lead time door-to-door of between 10 to 15 days, it will be 30-50 per cent faster than rail.
Customs sealed in Khorgos, the first TIR truck from China to Europe started its 7,000 kilometers journey via Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus to Poland in the afternoon of 13 November. It was a historic moment when the truck, operated by CEVA’s partner Alblas International Logistics, left Khorgos to cross the border into Kazakhstan.
“This is a day to remember. Together with our partners, we have trialed TIR all the way to Europe today the very first time,” Kelvin Tang, Director Road & Rail at CEVA Logistics Greater China said.
The Toll Group has unveiled its first-ever Australian control room in Melbourne that the company says will enable improved safety and more efficient deliveries throughout the country.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the control room is the new nerve centre for Toll’s national road network, responsible for monitoring fleet location, delivery times, engine performance, driver fatigue and distractions, speed events, and incident analysis – all in real time.
Toll president of group operational services, Peter Stokes said the control room puts Toll at the forefront of transport technology.
“The new Toll Control Room is a major milestone for our company and the businesses we support throughout the country,” Mr Stokes said.
“Using data and digital technologies, the control room allows the Toll team to view and respond to any safety or operational issue across the country.
“Our team now has the very latest technology at their fingertips, enabling them to safely monitor and move our fleet across our national network like never before, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The new centre is an investment in the future of our transport network and will ensure Toll continues to deliver strong results for safety and on-time deliveries.”
The control room features a massive video wall with a 9.5 metre interactive touch LED display screen – the largest in Australia and one of the largest of its kind in the world. Smart software integrates data from multiple sources including Toll’s in-truck telematics, which is then displayed and interacted with at the screen.
The new control room comes as Toll gears up ahead of the busy peak holiday season, where the number of linehaul movements is expected to surge by up to 40%.
The control room is staffed by 24 specialist analysts, planners and operational personnel.
Toll also announced that it will partner with the Australian Government under a new telematics data sharing project that aims to improve road safety and infrastructure planning.
Among the technical features of the control room are:
- The first Australia-wide control room for Toll.
- Comprehensive monitoring of biometric eye-tracking technology that detects driver distractions and potential fatigue.
- Connection to GPS-enabled telematics to track truck location, and monitor driving hours to help manage fatigue.
- Oversees telematic systems to improve truck and operator performance to reduce fuel usage and carbon emissions.
- Remotely monitors road speed data in real time allowing intervention if necessary.
- LED interactive display technology for enhanced operator collaboration.
The control room is part of Toll’s broader eight-year, $1.6 billion investment in new fleet and equipment.
Image: Most likely automation scenario, absent policy intervention.
University of Pennsylvania sociologist Steve Viscelli has conducted a thorough study into driverless trucks and has just released his final report Driverless? Autonomous Trucks and the Future of the American Trucker.
The study was conducted on behalf of the Centre for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley, and Working Partnerships USA, and questioned whether autonomous trucks will mean the end of the road for truck drivers. His findings are summarised below.
Will autonomous trucks mean the end of the road for truck drivers? The USD 740-billion-a-year US trucking industry is widely expected to be an early adopter of self-driving technology, with numerous tech companies and major truck makers racing to build autonomous trucks. This trend has led to dozens of reports and news articles suggesting that automation could effectively eliminate the truck-driving profession.
By forecasting and assessing multiple scenarios for how self-driving trucks could actually be adopted, this report projects that the real story will be more nuanced but no less concerning.
Autonomous trucks could replace as many as 294,000 long-distance drivers in the US, including some of the best jobs in the industry. Many other freight-moving jobs will be created in their place, perhaps even more than will be lost, but these new jobs will be local driving and last-mile delivery jobs that — absent proactive public policy — will likely be misclassified independent contractors and have lower wages and poor working conditions.
Throughout this transformation, public policy will play a fundamental role in determining whether we have a safe, efficient trucking sector with good jobs or whether automation will exacerbate the problems that already pervade some segments of the industry. Trucking is an extremely competitive sector in which workers often end up absorbing the costs of transitions and inefficiencies. Strong policy leadership is needed to ensure that the benefits of innovation in the industry are shared broadly between technology companies, trucking companies, drivers, and communities.
The findings are based on in-depth industry research and extensive interviews with the full range of stakeholders: computer scientists and engineers, Silicon Valley tech companies, venture capitalists, trucking manufacturers, trucking firms, truck drivers, labour advocates and unions, academic experts, and others.
How many will go – 294,000 or 2.1 million?
Prior studies and news stories have suggested that nearly all of the roughly 2.1 million heavy-duty truck drivers in the United States could lose their jobs to automation. However, that number includes many industry segments that are unlikely to be automated in the near future, such as local pickup and delivery and carriers using specialised equipment. This report finds that the jobs most at risk of displacement are long-distance driving jobs with few specialised tasks, representing about 294,000 drivers.
What is likely to happen?
This study is based on an analysis of six potential scenarios for how self-driving technology could be used in the trucking industry. The scenarios are the result of interviews with engineers, developers, trucking firms, and drivers, along with reviews of industry trade literature.
Human–human platooning. A series of human-driven trucks would be electronically linked, with the lead truck controlling speed and braking in the following truck(s). This approach would let the trucks travel much closer together on the highway, improving aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Each truck would still have a human driver to maintain the lane and navigate local streets.
Human–drone platooning. Similar to the human–human platoon, except that a single human driver would lead a platoon of autonomous drone trucks on the highway. The human driver would be available to operate the lead truck, manage unexpected situations, or make repairs and ensure safety if a truck broke down mid-route. As in the exit-to-exit scenario below, local drivers would bring loads to an autonomous truck port (ATP) near the highway, where they would swap trailers with the drone trucks for the highway platoon.
Highway automation + drone operation. Human operators would remotely control trucks on local streets and in complicated situations, and then trucks would drive autonomously on the highway. This approach would rely on highly trained dock staff to handle tasks currently performed by drivers, such as inspection and coupling.
Autopilot. Similar to autopilot in airplanes, a human would handle loading and local driving, then sleep in the back of the truck while the computer drove on the highway.
Highway exit-to-exit automation. Human drivers would take care of non-driving tasks and navigate complicated local streets, then swap trailers with self-driving trucks at an ATP next to the highway. The autonomous truck would handle the long-distance freeway driving, then hand off the load at an ATP near the destination.
Facility-to-facility automation. In situations where warehouses and shipping facilities are located near major interstates, autonomous trucks may be able to handle industrial roads (where there are few pedestrians and complex intersections) and drive directly from origin to destination.
Absent significant changes in the policy or economic context, this report concludes that highway exit-to-exit automation is the most likely scenario to be widely adopted in the future. However, human-led platoons represent a model that has fewer technological challenges, a strong economic case, and better jobs for long-distance drivers.