Operating vehicles overloaded is a pervasive compliance issue in the commercial road transport industry that goes underappreciated by fleet operators, according to Russell Ledger, Service Manager at specialist on-vehicle weighing systems provider Red Forge.

“The health and safety risks of operating a commercial vehicle while it is overloaded are without doubt underappreciated by drivers and fleet companies,” he said, speaking exclusively to FACTS. “However, the feedback we are receiving more often nowadays is that operators are in fact becoming more aware of the issue and are attempting to make the change due to the punitive measures handed out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) for those found guilty.”

According to the latest available statistics, 52.1% of the 8272 vehicles stopped in 2016/17 by DVSA enforcement officials were overweight, with vans as the highest offenders (77.3%). The average fine? A whopping £5843.32. Furthermore, given that responsibility for any infractions is shared between the driver and the company, drivers are liable to anything from points on their licence to a court summons.

“10 years ago, axle load indicator systems, which indicate weight on the front and rear axles as well as the gross vehicle weight (GVW), were seen as an unnecessary obstacle for the driver to contend with before they could begin their journey,” commented Russell. “Nowadays, many of the fleet supervisors that contact us say that their drivers will not drive without them. In this case, they feel that they are not being provided with the necessary equipment with which to operate safely, which is entirely correct. This is particularly true with local authority operators. There has been a clear shift in the culture.”

It is essential that this trend continues and a greater culture of road safety pertaining to vehicle overloading is cultivated across the sector as a whole.

Russell said: “From the top down, education is the most important element in this regard. If there is any potential risk to the O-Licence, everyone must take note and make the change. Effective defect reporting processes that keep all parties on the same page are also very helpful in this regard. Investing in on-vehicle axle load indicators will allow the driver to run the vehicle in a safe and roadworthy condition, especially if they know they are the ones responsible and will be subject to punishment if caught overloaded. Red Forge Ltd are one of only a few companies that can offer a solution for this.”

Where there’s a will, there’s a weigh

Kicking off the Red Forge range is Limitlite™ Plus, which offers overload protection suitable for vehicles up to 8.2 tonnes GVW. This efficient and user-friendly axle load indicator allows operators to avoid exceeding their legal weight limits on both the front and rear axles as well as the GVW. The Limitlite™ Plus display provides a percentage value for GVW, showing the driver exactly how close the vehicle is to maximum load. Bar graphs give an indication of the load on each axle, and by comparing values side-by-side, the driver can see where the load balance of the vehicle is positioned. The intelligent software performs self-tests and will report any faults.

In addition, the Axalert™ Plus solution has been designed to provide the same simple and effective overload protection as the Limitlite™ Plus, but for vehicles of a larger weight range between 7.5 tonnes up to 18 tonnes GVW. This system works just like the LimitLite™ Plus, giving visual and audible front, rear and gross overload warnings, along with gross percentage figures. The Axalert™ Plus also incorporates robust, lightweight sensors which are bolted to the chassis, making use of specialised bracketry and existing chassis holes, so as not to damage the structural integrity of the vehicle.

At the top end of the Red Forge product portfolio is the the Axalert™ Excel system. This provides detailed overload protection and payload optimisation suitable for any rigid vehicle up to 32 tonnes GVW, as well as articulated vehicle configurations. Vehicle Telemetrics Output (Advanced VTS) is available as standard to facilitate remote monitoring of load conditions. The Axalert™ Excel system is a high-quality solution with a proven track record of success for heavy fleet operators.

Finally, the Omniweigh™ load cell-based on-board weighing system for commercial vehicles comes with in-built axle load prediction. This innovative system provides a high degree of accuracy of up to 1%. This premium solution is often used by tanker operators who need to record precise vehicle weights to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy. By incorporating the Omniweigh system into their fleets, transport managers up and down the country maximise their payload whilst simultaneously ensure their roadgoing compliance every single day.

To learn more about the full Red Forge portfolio and which solution is best suited for your business, contact the expert team at Red Forge today.

For more information: www.redforge.co.uk