Consideration Of Operational Issues & Vehicle Fleets

Transport Operation & Vehicle types

As Previously mentioned, where the operator's business entails constant weighing of vehicles and where the main concern is gross vehicle weight, a full-length plate weighbridge is the best possible method. However, other options to be considered are: -

Type of operation

Distribution, Depot, Haulage, Multiple pick-up or drops, Site work,

Type of vehicle

Twin axle, Multi-axle rigids, Articulated, Articulated with dynamic or self-compensating, suspension

Fleet size


The first general rule is that where there are a relatively large number of vehicles, or where there is a large weighing demand, then a fixed weighbridge will provide the most satisfactory results. The type of weighbridge will depend on whether or not there are vehicles with dynamic or self-compensating suspended axles. If not, then an axle weighbridge is best, otherwise a part length weighbridge is best. The distribution and depot type of operation comes within this category where there are few vehicles or the weighing demand is infrequent, then it should be possible to use portable even if it is a depot or distribution set-up. If the fleet is comprised of two axled vehicles, portable equipment is also quite practical provided the need to weigh is not excessive.

The more axles the vehicle has, the more sense it makes to have an axle weighbridge since the cost will equate with those incurred in having to buy several portables to weigh multi-axles. Where the vehicles are involved in long distance haulage, multiple pick ups/drops or site work (road works, earth moving etc) then portable equipment is the most effective means of weighing. Portables and common-sense can at least allow a driver to spot check his vehicle even if conditions are not optimum and easy access to alternative ways of weighing denied. A pair of portable units with four low cost dummy units would allow even a six axle articulated lorry to be weighed cost effectively. The axles most likely to be overloaded are the drive axle of the tractor unit and the front axle of the tri-axle trailer bogey. If these axles are weighed first and are within tolerance, then it is probable that the other axles are even more complicated, but in all cases, the actual permitted axle weight is the value plated on the vehicle plates. Most Vehicles have a manufacturer's plate showing the maximum Gross and axle weights for which the vehicle is designed. At the time of registration, the Department of Transport plates vehicles as well. This plate shows the legal gross and axle weights for the vehicle. If there is a difference between the two plates, then the DOT plate prevails. The maximum payload of the vehicle is the plated Gross weight less the unladen weight of the vehicle which is not plated but which also includes fuel, tools, oil, spare wheel, water, driver, spares. Although it is safe to assume that each vehicle is correctly plated, it is not safe to assume that every driver will be aware of axle limits. It is suggested that each vehicle and trailer carries a card in the cab that gives these weights, which act as a visible reminder to the driver of his obligations and responsibilities.

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