Industry News

Taking PBS Forwards

One of the most influential movers in the development of Performance Based Standards explains how the scheme is preparing for the next twenty years, taking PBS forwards and developing it further.

Les Brusza, now with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, as Chief Engineer, but earlier working as an engineer based in Brisbane for Queensland Transport (now TMR) has been at the forefront of the development of Performance Based Standards (PBS).

Many would regard him as the father of PBS, as he played a major role in its development, but also work strenuously as an advocate for the increased use of higher productivity vehicles, in a period when prescriptive vehicles were the only game in town.

“I’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years,” said Les, speaking at the NatRoad Conference. “What PBS has created over the last 15 years, but mainly in the last 10 years is very unique for the transport sector. My first job was working with Toll Group, and that was putting the 25m long B-doubles on the road in Melbourne, back in the early 90s.

“Now, if you look around B-doubles are running everywhere, but that development is nothing compared to the development of the PBS scheme. Now we can think about what’s possible, even a crazy idea like the truck carrying a double stacked containers in the Port of Brisbane, in Project London. The vehicle has been specially designed and assessed based on PBS principles and carries four 40ft or eight 20 foot containers.

“How can we have 7.4m high vehicles traveling in certain areas? What it shows is that PBS provides a framework to optimise a vehicle for a particular freight task, in this case, carrying large number of empty container boxes around the port.”

Image: Prime Creative Media

The PBS scheme started to function in 2008, and when the NHVR took over management of the scheme in 2013, there were 1050 PBS combinations on the road. That number is now approaching 19,000, safer and more productive trucks out on the highway.

“When I worked for Toll, Paul Little told me that in the transport industry, productivity is the name of the game, productivity is extremely important,” said Les.

“We are all concerned about safety, and we have to make sure that our vehicles are the safest on the road. Productivity for the transport sector is critical, and it’s critical for this country’s economy.

“In terms of the trends, what we see is that there are a large number of new combinations, we have more than 90 new combination types, which weren’t available to the industry when the PBS scheme started. There is a large range of new combination types which have been introduced under PBS.

“We see an increased number of A-doubles and larger B-doubles, the 30m long A-double combinations are replacing B doubles in many operations, because they have good performance characteristics and they are more productive. Sometimes they have better access possibilities, in terms of low speed performance.”


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