FONTERRA is making milk transport safer, thanks to a new A-double tanker plying the routes between its Victorian factories.
The new tanker is the same length as a conventional full-size B-double at just under 26 metres, but has its load spread over an additional eight wheels.
“With the extra wheels and braking it can stop faster than a B-double,” said Tony Miller, Fonterra’s national milk transport manager.
Mr Miller said tests had shown it could stop in about 11 metres less than a B-double from 100km/h.
The A-double differs from a B-double by having the second tanker connected to the front tanker via a Ringfeder coupling and dolly, rather than a turntable mounted on the back of the front trailer.
The dolly connects to a two-axle boggy and turntable, giving the unit the additional eight wheels, taking the total to 42 wheels.
The system also gives the truck three points of articulation instead of two. The effect — one welcomed by drivers — is that the second trailer tracks the prime mover more accurately, minimising the cut-in on sharp turns.
“With a B-double, the driver has to allow for the second trailer to move into the inside lane on a sharp turn. The A-double uses up a lot less road,” Mr Miller said.
“The only disadvantage is that you can’t reverse it. A B-double is hard enough, but the third articulation makes it virtually impossible. The driver has to plan to drive forward out of any situation.”
The system also allows increased capacity. A B-double sacrifices front tanker capacity to make room for the turntable, while the A-double uses a full-sized tanker at the front.
A B-double can hold 41,000 litres and weighs 68 tonnes fully loaded, while the A-double has a capacity of 54,000 litres and would weigh more than 80 tonnes if fully loaded.
However, this capacity can’t be used due to other regulations, including restrictions on the bridges on the approved routes.
The truck is licensed to carry 40,000 litres at present and Fonterra has an application with VicRoads to increase this to 47,000 litres, which would give a gross weight of 75 tonnes.
Mr Miller said the unit was fitted with Rollover Stability Program brakes and suspension, a system fitted to all its tankers.
It detects when a tanker is entering a corner too fast and automatically applies the brakes.
“We haven’t had a rollover since we started fitting the system about six years ago,” he said.
The A-double system is the same as that used on multiple-trailer road-trains in northern Australia. Fonterra obtained a licence to operate its truck after satisfying a range of performance-based criteria.
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