The Ultimate Guide To Understanding PBS

Since its release in 2007, Performance-based standards have revolutionised many parts of the heavy vehicle and transport industry in Australia, and it’s clear to see why. These days, many other countries are following the same example. But what exactly are performance-based standards, and how are they applied? In this article, we’ll deal with how the Australian Government implements performance-based standards and what’s expected of businesses.

What are Performance Based Standards (PBS)?

PBS is an Australian-designed concept that sets the standard for the expected production standards for high-productivity vehicles, allowing companies to get the most return from their vehicle fleets and other assets. The concept entails helping companies move products more efficiently. With current industry demands and driver shortages, businesses need to ensure that they’re making the best use of the transport systems, utilising space well and transporting stock at the highest capacity possible while maintaining safety standards.

Introduced in 2007, the PBS scheme is designed to promote more productivity when it comes to the movement of heavy vehicles. At its core, the scheme enables heavy-vehicle drivers and operators to be more effective, efficient, and safer as they conduct their jobs. The PBS is also designed to improve sustainability and the impact on the environment. For instance, in 2019 alone, the PBS fleet saved over 200 litres of petrol and 486,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions that would have been released.

Why is there a need for PBS?

With how competitive modern markets are, businesses that rely on heavy vehicles as a means of transporting products for services need to ensure that they’re using them in the wisest way possible. Many companies lose out on profits because they’re simply not using their fleet assets efficiently. PBS is designed to help these businesses. By assessing your assets and fleet and using several methods to optimise their usage, businesses can improve their bottom line and their productivity.

The PBS provides companies with a list of approved vehicle combinations and mass limits that are approved for use on road networks while road managers oversee the improvements of fixed assets like bridges, railway crossings, and more. The maintenance of these fixed assets is vital for providing efficient routes for fleets to travel on. The importance of PBS lies in its ability to streamline transportation for businesses with heavy vehicles. The PBS forces businesses to improve how they utilise their fleets. In doing so, they’re raising the standards of productivity for these businesses at the same time. Businesses that don’t participate in PBS will eventually get left behind.

Approved Vehicle combinations include:
  • Truck and Dog
  • A-Doubles
  • A-Triples
  • AB Triples
  • B-Triples
  • B-Quads
  • Quad Semis
  • Split Axle Semis
  • Truck and Dog-Dog
  • The rigid truck, Dolly, connected to an A-double trailer set

What are the benefits of PBS?

PBS has some significant benefits, which is probably the reason it’s become so popular. Aside from reducing emissions and fuel usage, these are some other benefits of PBS:

  • Because PBS focuses on vehicle safety and better performance and productivity, this reduces the impact large-scale transportation has on the environment and road infrastructure, resulting in the government having to spend less on maintenance
  • PBS has designed a well-designed network that can be accessed by any registered PBS vehicle. This network gives operators valuable information regarding travel and routes with interactive maps
  •  PBS ensures safe transportation while increasing productivity and opening up resources that can be used for road maintenance

How does PBS work?

There are tons of freight vehicles that function throughout Australia. The PBS scheme works by registering these vehicles by type, combination, and capacity and then using this information to assign freight tasks accordingly. For instance, A 2-ton truck won’t be assigned to carry 500kg of materials because this would be a waste of its transportation capacity.

To participate in the PBS scheme, companies have to have their vehicles assessed and approved before they’re given access to the network. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator people assess and certify the vehicles to ensure they meet NHVR standards. Once done, the vehicle is ready to go. Keep in mind that there is a fee that comes with this registration.

How to get PBS approval

Getting started on your performance-based standard application is fairly simple, but before you dive in, consider the benefits of PBS and weigh them up against your business expectations. There are three stages in the PBS application process. 

  1. Firstly, you’d need to get a PBS design approval
  2. Then, you need to get your vehicle certified with that design and obtain vehicle approval
  3. Finally, you need to get a notice or access permit to allow you to drive your vehicle on the road network
A convenient option to consider could be to buy a new vehicle from a registered party. Some trailer builders already have several approved designs for you to choose from. Remember, your design approval and road access approval need to be done before you start building the vehicle though.

Final Thoughts

Level up your transportation system now by getting PBS approved and joining others in the industry as we all move to create a more efficient and productive freight system. For more information on how to apply for PBS, check out the national site