2018 Perspectives

Pushing for the oversize industry in 2018

It’s the NZ Heavy Haulage Association’s aim this year to get issues of concern on the agenda of the decision makers and push to get resolution of them in a timely manner. Jonathan Bhana-Thomson, chief executive, NZ Heavy Haulage Association.

TOO OFTEN WE find ourselves responding to problems and issues that are forced upon the industry. While we are very keen to resolve these for members of the industry, we want to progress and resolve projects that make it easier for our members to operate in this highly regulated industry.

It always brings satisfaction assisting members with problems that they come across in the everyday operation of their business. Members of the oversize industry are “can-do” men and women who are used to coming up against problems, being asked to undertake load movements that can be challenging, and finding ways to undertake this efficiently and safely.

So when a member does raise a problem with the Association, then rest-assured that they have already tried many options to solve it, and need the Association to take it on to get it fixed.

However, in 2018 we want to progress projects, and longer term, issues that we want to get the agencies that regulate our industry to respond to and find ways to solve or implement them together.

In general the oversize transport industry has been busy the past 12 months, and what this means is that operators do not often have the time to work through the detailed process of finding solutions for the problems that they come across. It would be fair to say that a lot of “extra load” that was demanded by clients on members was driven by various natural disasters such as earthquakes and infrastructure reconstruction, but also ongoing demand for roading construction and development.

One example of this was the transport of 135 bridge beams from various places around New Zealand to the Irongate bridge project north of Kaikoura. This was led by an Association member, HEB Construction, which coordinated the effort of five other member companies to undertake this work over a two-month period.

While we are not wanting to predict that 2018 will also include disasters that require the same kind of response, we do expect that the demand for the transport of large oversize items will continue.

What then are the kinds of projects that this Association wants to progress in order to make the transport of large items easier, more efficient, and with high levels of safety.

Efficient regulation

Permit and Approvals are what the industry lives and breathes by. With any freight item, that is overwidth, overheight, overlength, overweight or otherwise exceptional, it requires special permission from often many different organisations.

The Association’s aim is that these permitting systems are as efficient as they can be while at the same time ensuring that the risks are managed to a high standard.

For many years the Association has been pushing for using technology for making and managing permit applications, as well as notifying load movements. To date each one of these permit issuing authorities wants processes that suit their individual operation. We aim to make each one of these processes as painless as possible for our industry members, but we looking to progress the idea that there can by synergies in bringing together these permit application processes so that one application can be made to many authorities simultaneously.

Access to the best and safest roads

So often when a new roading project or a new stretch of road is opened, we find that one of the last things to be considered is access to it for permitted loads. New bridge structures have to be analysed and the routes entered into the appropriate permitting analysis programmes. Often this is not done (or perhaps able to be done) until well after the road is opened to public traffic, but permitted loads are left in a no man’s land. We aim to get NZTA better at having all this in place on day one.

In addition we have the ongoing battle of access to toll roads for oversize loads on permits. They are the best roads for transporting large loads, given that they are dual lane, median divided and have very good rearward visibility for traffic approaching. However NZTA is still sitting on the fence for providing that definitive answer to fully open these roads up so that they can be utilised on the same basis as other state highways. We want to get this sorted.

Better information

There is a plethora of information out there, about what works are happening on which roads, what is changing in the industry, and a key role for the Heavy Haulage Association is the delivery of key information to our members that helps them carry out their jobs efficiently and effectively. We are in the process of scoping options for different ways of providing this info so that it is able to be accessed in easy and relevant ways.

Technology is a key means of delivery that we are factoring into this project and we are learning from other similar organisations about how this information can be delivered.

Having a relevant and responsive voice

There does seem to be an increasing requirement that the consultation of stakeholders is an important part of any process, and this association is very keen to engage with this. However, the key point of this is the “closing of the loop”, so that those engaging in consultation are required to report back to their stakeholders – not just at the formal stage – but also if there are important changes made that stakeholders must know about.

From our perspective, these decisions need to be transparent and open to scrutiny. In our experience, this is not often the case.

Between these proactive aspects that we intend to be focusing on, we will continue our mantra of putting forward the interests of the oversize transport industry in this next 12 months, and amongst the challenges that we are sure will be a part of this coming year.

This article first appeared in Contractor Perspectives 2018.

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