The article below featured in Roads and Infrastructure. It has been republished with their permission
Written by Holly Keys
One of the central concerns for any driver transporting materials or machines between construction sites is the risk of colliding with another object or vehicle.
On 22 June 2018, this fear became a reality for one driver of a trailer on the Princes Freeway in Laverton North, Melbourne.
Unfortunately, the truck driver was travelling down the motorway with the second trailer still raised.
The truck drove underneath Doherty’s Road bridge, ripping off the second trailer and leaving it wedged underneath the bridge before the driver realised the trailer had been left up.
The crash happened around midday and was not completely cleared until about 6.30 pm, creating chaos for peak hour drivers travelling home via the West Gate or Bolte Bridge.
When operating civil construction equipment such as tipper trailers, cranes and pavers with extended screeds, human error is a real concern.
An operator simply forgetting to retract attachments can cause serious damage during transportation or onsite.
To mitigate this issue, Hummingbird, a Redarc Electronics company, created the HMSW1000B, GPS Speed Switch.
The GPS Speed Switch is multi-voltage compatible and can be configured to a truck or piece of machinery to trigger certain reactions when that vehicle reaches the desired speed.
The device is integrated with the electronics of the machine and depending on the application it’s needed for, it will trigger a specific signal at speed.
The GPS Speed Switch can be configured to trigger at any chosen speed, as well as when a machine begins to move or come to a stop.
Mark Bruce, National Sales and Marketing Manager at Hummingbird Electronics, says customers come to the company with specific problems and the team creates tailored solutions using the Speed Switch.
“We have designed a left-hand turn trigger for a client before. When the truck is travelling below 50 kilometres per hour and the left indicator was engaged, an audible alarm would go off outside of the vehicle. This gave pedestrians and cyclists a warning the truck was intending to turn left,” he says.
The GPS Speed Switch was designed and manufactured in Australia. Mr. Bruce says this enables Hummingbird to react rapidly, providing support and helping customers that need tailored solutions quickly.
Customising the product involves removing the cover from the enclosure and adjusting the switches on the system circuit board to tailor the speed at which the trigger is needed.
The GPS Speed Switch is then attached to the vehicle and is configured to the relevant fuse protected power source before it is ready to go.
The speed at which the reaction is triggered can also be readjusted later if needed. The microswitches within the Speed Switch enclosure can be reconfigured to obtain the desired results.
“Speed is crucial because many safety factors are relative to speed. It could be the difference between preventing an accident due to human error,” Mr. Bruce says.
To assist with mitigating risk such as in the Laverton North trailer incident, the GPS Speed Switch could have been applied to trigger the lowering of the trailer when the vehicle was travelling at speed.
Mr. Bruce says it could also be used on tipper trucks transporting asphalt to be laid on site.
“If a truck is moving slowly, tipping out the aggregate at low speed before crews spread it out, you could configure the system to lower the bucket should the truck start travelling faster than, say, 15 kilometres per hour. This acts as a safety net in case anyone forgets to lower the trailer.”
He says the GPS Speed Switch has also been successful on some mine sites where the roads are being sprayed with water for dust control.
“If the water truck comes to a stop at an intersection, the GPS Speed Switch could be configured to automatically turn off the water system and then recommence once the truck starts moving again, this time assisting with saving water,” he says.
Hummingbird has also configured beacons that are triggered when a truck goes above a certain speed.
The GPS Speed Switch has been used for bus and transport applications to automatically lower access steps when stopped and then again raising once the machine is moving again, Mr. Bruce says. This helps increase safety for passengers or machine operators.
“Tailored solutions incorporating our GPS Speed Switch are wide and varied. Each application is different and presents a different safety concern that we can help to resolve,” Mr. Bruce says.