HVIA gives context to VSB6 bullbar delay

By: Rob McKay

Current designs may obscure headlight but other complications are at play

HVIA gives context to VSB6 bullbar delay
Paul Caus says there is a lot of work to do


Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) has fleshed out compliance issues and implications of a delayed but now-live National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) update.

HVIA says that following the release of Vehicle Standard Bulletin 6 (VSB6) Version 3, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has become aware of compliance issues relating to the design and manufacture of bull bars and front underrun protection devices (FUPD).

"The delay is in the implementation of modification codes H6 and H7, covering the fit of front underrun protection devices and front underrun compatible bull bars," HVIA reports chief technical officer Paul Caus explained to attendees of HVIA's Industry Forums in Brisbane and Melbourne this week.

The NHVR has identified that many common bull bar and FUPD designs may not meet requirements for headlight visibility.

Initial discussions with bull bar and FUPD manufacturers have indicated that to produce compliant components, it will be necessary to carry out re-design and testing work that cannot be completed by September 1, the HVIA says.

"The delay will ensure bull bar and FUPD manufacturers are able to adjust their designs," Caus says. 

"HVIA will continue to work closely with our members and the Regulator to resolve this issue." 

Section H of VSB6 covers chassis modifications. Within Section H, codes H6 and H7 cover the following:

  • H6 – the fitting of Front underrun protection devices designed according to H7 code or FUPD sourced from the vehicle’s original equipment manufacturer
  • H7 – design requirements for a FUPD.

"The implication is that the regulator is not going to enforce H6 and H7 temporarily," Caus tells ATN, adding the NHVR was seeking to avoid huge disruption to manufacturers caused by a great deal on ensuing non-compliance.

Caus notes that certification depends on the equipment’s impact on compliance will all other Australian Design Rule (ADR) items.

This includes light angles at the front of trucks, particularly as bars have historically helped protect lights and have attracted no enforcement action for decades.

Caus sees a parallel with historic non-enforcement on light vehicle bullbars in New South Wales that came to a head in 2014 with more aggressive modern version being defected, despite being bought in good faith, 10 years after they had been ruled against.

He says the NHVR should be commended for acting swiftly in liaising with the industry on the issue once the depth of industry concern was brought to its attention, particularly given that stocks of truck bullbars worth $6,000-$10,000 each represent a financial risk to manufacturers, particularly smaller ones.

"If these guys have got in stock 20 bullbars, that’s a lot of coin to have in your warehouse and that might be just one model of truck," Caus points out.

He warns it is early days in the liaison process and timing of an outcome will depend on what direction the regulator would take.

Certification issues are another aspect that the industry is still coming to grips with.

"It’s still a bit fresh because before the regulator became active in 2014, none of the jurisdictions required any certification on bullbars," Caus says, particularly for smaller firm that are less involved with government and less familiar with blue plates.

He believes communications issues remain to be addressed by both the industry itself and the regulator.

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