Tim Eato – Product and Compliance Officer
Tim Eato is a former Navy Engineering Officer that discovered his interest in traffic management through working in hire companies’ traffic divisions. Tim has been part of the INNOV8 Equipment team for 4 years now, whereby his career and passion for safe traffic management equipment has been key in building the company to the success that it is today.
Q) How did INNOV8 Equipment persist with the approval of the Blade TMA on Australian roads?
Prior to February 2017, State and Territory Road authorities relied upon the National Guidelines for the use of truck and trailer mounted attenuators. This provided a uniform guideline on the build and use for truck mounted attenuators for participating state and territory road authorities, this was merely a set of guidelines and was not mandated or made law in any state or territory.
INNOV8 Equipment’s endeavour into the traffic management industry started around this time, whereby we looked to build TMA trucks and were completing our due diligence to ensure necessary standards and legal obligations were being met. This is when we found out that no State or Territory Authorities had made any TMA trucks compliant in Australia.
We began knocking on doors, as safety of vulnerable road users and workers is the No.1 priority. We were then pointed in the direction of the Austroads Safety Barrier Assessment Panel (ASBAP). ASBAP then responded and disclosed the following:
“ASBAP has determined that under recent changes to AS1835 truck mounted attenuators may fall within the discussion and acceptance regime of the panel. Whilst the panel has not assessed other TMA’s in the marketplace and are not accredited by ASBAP through those processes, it is considered appropriate that such products now be assessed by the Panel in relation to their “crash-worthiness”.
This also outlined that other issues relating to vehicle design are covered by different legislation, such as the National Vehicle Design Rules. Therefore, INNOV8 Equipment were the first TMA provider in Australia to get their TMA approved and certified on Australian Roads.
Q) What are the legal obligations of TMA providers to be compliant on Australian roads?
Firstly, to bring a product into the Australian market it must either be MASH approved in the US or in Europe it must meet EN. Any product that then came into Australia after February 2017 must go before ASBAP for the approval process, which falls under Australian Standard AS3845.2.2017.
Even though this grants companies Austroads approval, they still have to go through state by state approval to meet their legal obligations and have their TMA compliant on State and Territory roads. This includes having their vehicle meet the VSG-12 requirements under Heavy Vehicle National Law, whereby important vehicle information such as minimum and maximum support vehicle mass outlined. For reference on the bearing of Australian Legislation on an international scale, I like to look at this quote from an email from the Chair of Austroads:
“The Australian Standard is a process recognized world-wide as being world leading. Whether or not a product has an approval for use in a different country, it has no bearing on its approval for use across Australia and New Zealand”.
In the traffic management industry in Australia, it is known that states and territories rely on the legislation set out by VicRoads in regard to TMA compliance. INNOV8 Equipment meets the traffic management code of practices of VicRoads, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the legal obligations under Australian Standards for this reason.
Q) You mentioned the minimum and maximum support vehicle mass – What is this, and why is it important?
The Mash 16 guidelines specify that designers must define both a maximum and minimum support truck weight to be safely used with TMA’s. This is a legal obligation of TMA providers under AS3845.2.2017 and is set out on each TMA’s VicRoads detail sheet.
Not only is having the correct TARE weight imperative to building a TMA truck, we also need to make sure we have sufficient axle weight on both front and rear axles. Rule of thumb is no more than 30% difference between both axle weights when the TMA is deployed or stowed. As a guide, the Performance Based Standards (PBS) Steer tyre friction demand standard may be referenced about suitable steer axle loading. When the TMA is any position, the minimum front axle load is suitable to allow effective steering and braking.
When selecting a TMA provider, it is important to know exact measurements, and are not classified as ‘infinite’ or ‘not specified’ to ensure that the company has done their due diligence and that all checks are in place.
The real-life implications of roll ahead distance can mean life or death for vulnerable road users. If the support vehicle is too light, the road user will travel into the work zone as the TMA does not have the support to stop the errant vehicle. If the support vehicle is too heavy, the TMA would not perform and would instead act like a brick wall, whereby it cannot safely disperse the crash energy.
Both too light and too heavy also increase the likelihood of vehicle rebound, where a road user will bounce off the attenuator and roll backwards into the travel way. A direct line from the MASH Guidelines Section A4.2.3 sums it up:
“Users cannot be assured of adequate impact performance when a TMA is mounted to a support truck heavier than that used in full-scale crash testing. Users have also questioned the performance of TMAs when mounted on very light support trucks.”
Q) A point of discussion in the traffic management industry are roll ahead distances. What are your thoughts on this?
Both the Australian Standards and MASH require carefully documented roll ahead distances in their crash evaluation reports. Under MASH, all 4 tests are then used by state and road authorities to work out their roll-ahead or shunt distance when setting up vehicles on single and multi-lane high speed roads.
INNOV8 Equipment have met their legal obligations by the Blade TMA being tested in real life scenarios, with the truck in second gear and handbrake on, as is used by Road Authorities and Traffic Management companies.
To go into more detail in terms of legislation, in the VicRoads ‘Guidelines for the use of Truck Mounted Attenuators’, their deployment diagrams explicitly outline that a work site must be set up with 30m minimum clearance as well as the shunt forward recommendation.
The relationship between minimum and maximum support vehicle mass and roll ahead distance is also set out by these VicRoads guidelines, whereby:
“The shunt/roll forward performance of a TMA vehicle is directly affected by the mass of the vehicle”, whereby the mass measurements must meet the recommendations “to ensure that the TMA performs as crash tested”.
You can be sure that when purchasing an INNOV8 Equipment Blade TMA that it will perform and meets all legal obligations.
Q) Why do you believe the INNOV8 Equipment Verdegro Blade is the safest TMA on Australian roads?
I can say with confidence that the Blade TMA is the safest TMA truck in the Australian market. Not only do we fulfil our legal obligations and measure our TMA against the toughest standards, but we are building technology for the future.
INNOV8 Equipment have remained ahead of the curve through providing equipment with proactive safety measures that are yet to be mandated. This provides utmost protection for workers and road users, while ensuring additional costs do not need to be incurred when Australian Standards update.
Features that are built for the future are the G-Force Reduction technology, Rear Under Ride Protection and basic dimensions of the Blade TMA, which target 3 high fatality problem areas that vulnerable road users and road workers are not protected from with other TMA providers.
The Blade TMA’s G Force Reduction technology showcases our dedication to protecting road workers AND vulnerable road users. In an accident, the TMA’s unique 12-Blade design dissipates the crash energy and slows the vulnerable road user down from speeds of up to 100km/hr. As an additional safety measure, 4 electric motors act like a roller coaster brake, whereby the G Force ride down is safely dissipated. This reduces the likelihood of the road user travelling through the windscreen or being injured.
The Blade TMA comes with Rear Under Ride Protection as standard to the rear of the TMA. In the chance that an errant vehicle hits the TMA while stowed, the Rear Under Ride Protection ensures the vehicle will not travel under the TMA.
The Blade TMA’s impact plate is the same width as the truck tray, significantly wider than products on the market today. This means that the TMA can capture the entire vehicle and redirect impacting vehicles away from the “coffin corner”, a leading factor of road fatalities.
These are just three ways that the INNOV8 Equipment Blade TMA provides next-level safety that protects vulnerable road users and road workers.
Q) What should readers take away from this?
Although being MASH Approved is important, traffic management companies and Road Authorities should choose TMA providers that are meeting their legal obligations for compliance under Australian legislation. This is in reference to Australian Standards, VicRoads, RMS TCAWS, and the Vehicle Standards Guide set out by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
The code of practice set out under Australian legislation, such as support vehicle mass and roll ahead distance, is imperative for the protection of vulnerable road users and road workers. TMA providers should be specifying these details and work sites should be set up accordingly to ensure utmost safety.
INNOV8 Equipment are pacesetters in the traffic management industry. We are building traffic management equipment for the future, whereby the Blade TMA features safety measures that are yet to be mandated. This makes the Blade TMA a great investment, as road users and workers are offered next-level protection, and when Australian Standards require these features as standard, upgrading costs do not need to be incurred.