Written by Russell Ledger, Service Manager
In my time involved in ‘On Vehicle Weighing’ one of the more curious things I have come across is; resistance to maintaining an On Board Weighing System or Axle Load Indicator. When this is explored a little further; generally this isn’t down to the cost of the work itself, but the costs of having a vehicle off road, even for as little as 30mins for an LCV. As part of my role at Red Forge I manage a fleet of mobile Service Engineers and in a previous life I planned routes for a fleet of 50T Weighbridge Test Units, so I can sympathise with an initial objection to standing a vehicle down until the issue is looked at a little more closely.
So why should you get your On Board Weighing Systems and Axle Load Indicators calibrated? In the first instance, if it is recommended by the equipment manufacturer then it is likely with good reason. Axle Load Indicators in particular are measuring the changing state of the vehicle suspension and ride height when the load is increased, there are different approaches and different technologies but they all measure this change in some way.
Road springs do not behave in the same way when they are 12 months old and two years old as to when they were brand new; Red Forge Axle Load Indicators cope extremely well under the vibration and general wear and tear of road use, but will require an adjustment annually to ensure they are still operating within the tolerances we quote.
Secondly, it can be a matter of compliance, you’re Health and Safety Manager may tell you that you’re legally required to maintain them under Section 5 of ‘The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998’ (PUWER). We often liaise with an organisations safety personnel at the initial booking phase of a calibration visit because they want to be compliant with this regulation in particular, but, it also goes hand in hand with aiding an organisation to be compliant with ‘The Road Vehicles (Authorised) Weight Regulations 1998’ in providing a tool to help them prevent overloading in their vehicle fleets.
Whilst we have come across systems which give a driver the ability to ‘self-calibrate’ or even claims that the systems calibrate themselves, this leaves no paper trail of a competent technician performing routine maintenance. Considering the implications if ‘vehicle overloading’ was found to be a contributing factor in an accident, this can make the culpability of an organisation extremely high if something were to happen.
None of the information above is news to anyone in the industry. In an environment where there is always pressure to keep vehicles on the road, my service team will arrange around our customers’ needs as best we can. Often we find that these objections fall away once the options for minimising downtime are discussed, for example: we can work early mornings, early evenings, out of hours when vehicles may be stood down. We will also regularly split the job so we adjust vehicle empty weights when vehicles return to the depot after the days work, and catch the full weights before they head out in the morning fully loaded.
Maintaining your On Vehicle Weighing System is important business, you’ve purchased a system and it needs to be kept in good order. It helps to protect other road users, it helps to protect your drivers from accidents, fines or a court summons and, it helps to protect your organisation from enforcement action. As I’ve indicated, in a lot of cases you can get that Certificate of Calibration without having to V.O.R your fleet.