The transport and movement of heavy vehicles, machinery and loads on public roads is a highly regulated process and there are strict legal responsibilities for all parties involved in the transport logistics supply chain, including cotton growers.
While there is now much greater national consistency between NSW, QLD and other jurisdictions when it comes to heavy vehicle road transport, enforcement and compliance is still administered at the State level and some differences may be experienced across state borders. Cotton growers, module transport and harvest contractors need to be fully aware of their responsibilities and must comply with the relevant road transport rules or otherwise risk costly infringement notices.
It is important to become familiar with these regulations that can be found at the respective state road transport authority websites:
Cotton Australia continues to work hard to maintain a pro-active and direct engagement with the relevant road transport authorities towards reducing the compliance burden on growers through the preparation of plain English best practice transport guidelines and advocacy for reforms to out-dated regulations that have not kept pace with technological and other advances in the Australian cotton growing industry.
Under the ‘Chain of Responsibility’ (‘COR’) provisions within the regulations each party involved in the loading, restraint and transport of cotton modules from farms to a cotton gin share the responsibility for transporting cotton modules in a safe and compliant manner. The individual responsibility is greater for those matters more directly under your control.
In practical terms for the grower this means ensuring that all cotton modules are constructed consistent with current industry best practices, including;
- Harvested cotton adequately compacted into rectangle or round modules so as to avoid loose modules that may be inclined to break during loading, transport or unloading at gin site;
- Modules not too heavy that they may create an over-weight load for trucks;
- Modules properly tarped or wrapped;
- Modules constructed and/or presented on even pads to facilitate loading, including correct alignment onto trailer decks for transport; and
- Checking all modules are adequately restrained on trailers prior to leaving the farm. ( including monitoring the practices of your transport contractor)
Guidelines for Loading, Restraint and Transport of Cotton Modules and Bales
Cotton Australia has overseen the preparation and certification of cotton module and bale load restraint systems. These load restraint systems have been independently tested and certified to comply with the performance standards of the National Transport Commission of Australia ‘Load Restraint Guide’ 2nd Edition 2044 and are described in the Cotton Australia ‘Cotton Module and Bale Load Restraint Guide’ 2012.
Oversize Permits and Exemption Notices
Specific permits may be obtained from your state road transport authority that permit the operation and transporting of oversized and overmass vehicle and loads on roads. Your state and local road transport offices can provide you with information on what permits may be available and what type of vehicles may be eligible for permits.
Cotton Australia has successfully negotiated on behalf of industry for various exemptions (or concessions) that allow certain vehicle and trailer combination types and over-dimension loads or machinery to be operated and transported on roads and with exemptions against specific sections or requirements to the road transport regulations.
Exemption notices are usually only provided for a defined temporary period and are associated with special ‘Operating Conditions’ often including travel restrictions and conditions and requirements for pilot vehicles.