The Heavy Haulage Association conference has always been a very popular and well-organised one, but this year it added peanut butter to its content recipe. Alan Titchall explains.
The 2019 Heavy Haulage Association (HHA) conference was held in Nelson in August, attracting 150 delegates and partners, consistent with previous years and the turnout in Brisbane last year where the conference was held.
HHA chief executive Jonathan Bhana-Thomson says the turnout included a number of new members who have joined in the past year.
The conference content in Nelson continued the format from the past couple of years that includes a ‘delegate’s field trip’, he says.
“Last year in Brisbane and the year before in Napier we organised a trip for the delegates to go out and view and experience industry-related sites and activities, rather than just be stuck in a conference venue for three days.
“This is along with bringing speakers in for the two days of conference, and then having a day of special meetings.
“I always like to try and utilise local speakers and reinforce the fact that we are actually in a certain destination. In Nelson our opening speaker was Pic Picot from Pic’s Peanut Butter who started off at the Nelson Market.
“I wouldn’t say his story is a rags-to-riches one but going from producing a popular food product in a garage to capturing 40 percent of the peanut butter market in New Zealand, is some achievement!
“He was the opening speaker on the Thursday and that afternoon we took the delegates out to see his peanut butter factory where we could see where he started toasting his peanuts in a stainless steel concrete mixer. The peanut roaster that he uses now is about 40 metres long!”
Getting out and mixing delegates and sponsors also gives everyone another chance to mix, Jonathan adds.
“The next stage in our trip was to one of our members, Heslops Engineering, who do heavy recovery work, and they put on a display in their workshop.
“We finished off with a tour of the Port of Nelson.
“We polled members at the end of our conference and they overwhelmingly said they wanted the field trips to continue at future conferences.”
Debating haulage issues
The Friday of the conference was dedicated to discussion between delegates and outside agency speakers.
“The NZTA is the main organisation that we deal with and on a number of different fronts. This year James Hughes, the lead safety adviser for roads and roadsides, attended and spoke.
“I’ve had contact with James over a period of years, but it’s the first time he’s actually presented at our conference and he talked about the Safe Network Programme and the $1.5 billion push to make our current roads safer.
“One of our issues concerning this, is putting medians down the centres and sides of our roads as it will impact on how we can transport oversize loads.”
Jonathan adds; “It would be fair to say, we had a good robust debate around the design of these and width restrictions on the roadside.
“We are working with James on a Technical Memo on ‘Design Vehicle Selection’. We haven’t finalised that yet but it’s basically around what sizes heavy vehicles are, and whether they are able to fit on what roads and what’s the design of those roads.
“The robust discussion was very useful for James to experience the strength of the sentiment of the members around this issue, and the need for good consultation around design.”
Kelvin Lloyd was another speaker from the Transport Agency, this time on the regulatory compliance side.
“There’s obviously been a significant change in the past nine months around this after the Agency was taken to task for not having the depth of regulatory involvement that it should have been doing.
“Kelvin Lloyd is the manager for road compliance for the South Island, and he acknowledged the Agency had been too hands off when it came to following up compliance issues – whether with the road transport sector or the CoF and WoF sector.
“He certainly left us in no doubt that the Agency is basically going to strengthen its role in that area and follow up compliance issues in a much more robust and consistent fashion.
“We want an even hand from the Agency in terms of this, so it was certainly good to hear about what he called a ‘rebalancing’ of the regulator.”
Also presenting was Mike Maloney from CVST and he evoked another robust discussion, says Jonathan.
“He certainly put the emphasis on the performance and compliance of load pilots which is obviously right smack bang in the middle of our sector.
“In particular he talked about the need for Class 2 pilots to be more up to speed, and improve their on-road performance.
“He made the point that those attending our conference know what the rules are and are setting the standard for others in our industry.
“While he was giving us a bit of credit, he also provided a challenge to the whole industry to get up to the mark.”
Jonathan says this also fitted in with the work the Association is doing with the Agency and external providers to upgrade the training for Class 2 pilots.
“This new process was launched at the conference (also see page 50 comment) and has been available since early September.
“This is a new test that’s being provided. So rather than the multi-choice questions we’ve had in the back of the pilot book, the exam is now sat by the individual on a computer with randomised questions and answers.
“This is a much more robust test, and an upgraded Class 2 pilot guide has been developed to assist with learning the material.
“While the Agency has been supportive in funding these changes, ASPEQ is the company that provides this test.
“They already provide the certificate of law and knowledge test for TSLs at the moment so they’re well known to the Agency and the industry.”
Friday night awards
At the HHA awards this year there were two ‘Chairman’s Awards’, recognising individual member contributions to the industry.
One went to Huck McCready from Tauranga who was instrumental in setting up the heavy recovery sector group within the Association, which has been a benefit to this industry.
The other was for Wayne Norris who is a load pilot in the Northland region who is the Association’s Area Rep and has been proactive with the Agency in terms
of developing better communication about the roading projects in the area and making sure that there is good liaison between industry and the road construction sector.
“And he’s doing a great job that we were very pleased to recognise” says Jonathan.