Baxter Transport keen on clear road to vehicle innovation

By: Mark Gojszyk

NHVR demo day seeks to bridge industry and council divide

Baxter Transport keen on clear road to vehicle innovation
Baxter's AB-triple


Baxter Transport’s 36.49m AB-triple was front and centre at a performance-based standards (PBS) demonstration day recently, but while the productivity of industry’s vehicles may be increasing, access to the road network isn’t always keeping pace with the innovation.

That was the message coming out of the event hosted by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) at Temora, NSW.

One of the biggest items on display was the aforementioned combination, created in conjunction with Baxter-owned trailer company Lyonhaul.

In a video demonstrating its capabilities, the NHVR notes "an individually designed combination" like Baxter’s is "capable of a whole lot more payload [and] safer … than some of the other vehicles than can access depots like this in the Riverina".

"We’re keen to showcase this to councils … and transport operators and their customers to work together to improve safety and productivity in the freight task."

Baxter Transport compliance manager Fiona Baxter tells ATN that particular combination is used for various freight tasks throughout the year.

"We shift configurations between the grain harvests, cotton harvest, grape harvests, fertiliser movements and other bulk tipper work to find a best-fit freight solution," she says.

Along with its trailer innovations, Baxter explains the company also recently joined the Western Australia Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme and has expended its operations in that state, undertaking its first Western Australian harvest in late 2018.

"We have moved a number of vehicles into Western Australia for the first time - we have had triples and pocket road trains operating over there," she says.

"This has allowed another level of flexibility in dry times on the East Coast."

Obtaining permits for such vehicles, however, remains a bugbear for Baxter, and it’s a sentiment still echoed throughout industry.

"The network for AB-triples is still very heavily restricted by the last-mile access issue – which has existed for a very long time," she says.

Read more about the Direct Freight's world's longest B-triple, here

She lauds the usefulness of demonstration days in engaging with local councils and road, though, noting that one recently helped the company improve its access within central and northern NSW.  

"Councils are becoming more receptive to the higher-productivity vehicles as there is more of a push toward less freight movements and safer vehicles," she says. 

"The demonstration days, such as the most recent one at Temora, allow councils to see how the vehicle performs in a realistic situation. 

"Often, councillors and traffic management committee members are pleasantly surprised with the vehicle’s abilities.

"We conducted another demonstration day in Griffith last year which then allowed the link access to get the triples into Central/Northern NSW onto the network without drivers having to split. 

"Griffith City Council Road manager Greg Balind was pivotal in assisting with making this happen. 

"Councils are becoming more open to the suggestion and realistic to the need of HPVs and proactive councils such as Griffith lead a great example.  

"Our driver Henry Ross has participated in three demonstration days over the past six months; he is a young professional driver in the industry who is very skilled in his task.

"KBT will always participate in these trials as we are conscious of not just the freight task at hand, but the future of the road freight industry."

Baxter Transport’s contribution to industry was recently recognised when managing director Kel Baxter was honoured at the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA’s) Trucking Australia 2019 Kenworth Legends Lunch.


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