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IRTE conference discusses

8th May 1970, Page 42
8th May 1970
Page 42
Page 43
Page 42, 8th May 1970 — IRTE conference discusses
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Safety, efficiency, education and training

• Theme of the annual conference of the Institute of Road Transport Engineers held at the Civic Hall, Solihull, last week, was "safe and efficient mechanical operation of heavy lorries". On Friday afternoon papers were presented by C. C. Toyne, assistant chief mechanical engineer, Ministry of Transport, B. S. Pickup, home sales director of 13LMC truck and bus division, and F. E. Harper, transport manager, Hall and Ham River. The programme on the Saturday started in the morning with separate sessions on education and training (four papers) and talks by personnel from different manufacturers with films and a "brains trust". There were demonstrations of equipment on Saturday afternoon.

The president of the IRTE, Mr G. E. Liardet, said at the opening of the conference that the Institute was still intending to remove the word "Road" from its title; it would do so as soon as the Board of Trade agreed to it. Mr Liardet also said that the IRTE would soon have the status of a charity. This would release it from paying certain taxes and rates. Mr Liardet expressed his disappointment that the Friday session had not been better attended.

Mr Toyne dealt with official inspection procedure for psv and goods vehicles in the UK, detailing the requirements which had to be met by vehicles and referring to MoT checks and annual tests. He also spoke of the new operators' licensing system and gave guidelines that have been laid down to indicate what constitutes adequate maintenance facilities.

All the factors that had to be taken into account in making the right selection of a truckspecification to meet particular operating requirements were given by Mr Pickup, and he dealt in detail -with weight distribution, performance standards and transmission layouts as well as a selection procedure which should be adopted.

The problems of the operator were highlighted by Mr Harper and he said that proirided guidelines and calculations set out by vehicle makers were followed, a truck that was trouble free and able to meet every demand placed upon it should result. Unfortunately, he said, this was not always. the-case, especially with entirely new models even when they had undergone extensive test programmes. Mr Harper suggested that manufacturers would earn respect of operators if they diverted some money from pre-manufacture design and research to after-manufacture service. Many manufacturers who had produced fine vehicles had failed because they did not recognize service as a problem, The key to economic vehicle operation was simplicity of design, Mr Harper said, adding that this also reduced maintenance costs. And he produced charts from surveys of vehicles less than two years old which showed that major components did not constitute a problem.

Speaking of his expectations for the future, Mr Harper stated that he felt the diesel engine would continue to be the major source of power for some years, with the maximum horsepower likely to be around 350 bhp. Above this it was said that the gas turbine would come into its own and take up a dominant position within the next 10 years.

Mr Toyne's mention of the existence of the "type approval" system, as regards psv vehicles, sparked a series of questions relating to the possibility of "type approval" for goods vehicles. He explained that, with "type approval" the first vehicle would be examined by Ministry of Transport examiners and the manufacturer would sign a certificate of declaration to the effect that the other vehicles of that model would be of equal standard to the first vehicle. As regards goods vehicles, Mr Toyne said that he thought "type approval" was very much a thing of the future, Mr Pickup said that with goods vehicle production being so specialized "type approval" was very difficult.

Mr D. Grimster, transport manager of Texaco Ltd, told Mr Pickup that he could "throw all his selection figures out of the window". What mattered was which manufacturer could supply a vehicle in three months. He had recently been quoted a delivery time of 18 months.

In reply to this speaker, Mr 'Pickup admitted that the home market tended to suffer because of manufacturers' export commitments. Manufacturers had to supply a certain number of vehicles each week to their foreign buyers in order to honour their export contracts. If this was not done then a penalty clause would be enforced. Looking after the export market, said Mr Pickup, was for the good of the country but this would always mean trouble for the home market.

Adding to what he had said in his paper, Mr Harper called for hinged radiators, self-adjusting brakes and more accessible parts in general; this would make repairs easier and quicker. He was sure that if operators and manufacturers worked together, a more efficient vehicle would be produced. Another of Mr Harper's points had been that drivers took very little notice of gauges and warning lights, and, anyway, these tended to come into effect only when the damage had already been done. He said he favoured a built-in device which would automatically stop the vehicle before any damage was done.

In closing Friday's session, Mr Liardet said that the knowledge that export orders were being met was of little consolation to the operator who was waiting for a vehicle to be delivered.

Education and training Although there was a good deal of gloom about the present position of the training and education of technicians and road transport engineers, four speakers at the conference opened the door to new ideas and approaches which would revitalize the whole position and improve the status of the road transport engineer and his management potential.

Mr R. A. Brown, lecturer at Carshalton College, Surrey, reviewed the new integrated technical training course which has been devised in conjunction with the RTITB. Welcoming the new scheme as a real effort in comprehensive training and education, Mr Brown stressed that it provided background material on motor vehicle mechanics but, at the same time, allowed time for specialized work in heavy vehicle body repair with opportunities for further specialization with the heavy commercial vehicle field.

A highly controversial point in Mr Brown's paper touched on the necessity for assessment training before the apprentice could be started on the integrated coarse. Few disagreed with the need for assessments but many speakers from the floor called into question Mr Brown's choice of three basic tests: (a) mechanical ability, (b) spatial ability, and (c) the mathematical ability expected at craft level.

Mr Brown agreed that these types of assessment must always be thoroughly reviewed, especially as more than half his own intake failed to make the grade at this assessment level for the first integrated course. Nevertheless, it was agreed that, while the detail of assessment should be constantly appraised, the system had undoubtedly improved quality.

Mr Sidney Eveleigh, lecturer at Riversdale College, Liverpool, bemoaned the low status of the road transport fleet engineer and raised the question: "Is the seven years of day-release study worth while when often only an ulcer is the reward to this personal endeavour?" Mr Eveleigh foresaw an important overhaul of the concept of examination systems. He called for an end of the technician examination which, he said, was little more than a memory test, and wondered if candidates could not use reference books in a differently devised examination. Delegates sympathized with Mr Eveleigh in trying to rid examinations of so much memory work and suggested that individual and group project work should become an integral part of technical and engineering examination at all levels.

Mr George Wilmot, senior lecturer in Transport Studies, London University, analysed the recent recommendations of the Haselgrave Report (Technical Courses and Examinations) and welcomed the attempt to simplify a highly complex structure of awards. He was impressed by the two-route scheme recommended—(i) Technical Certificate—Higher Technical Certificate plus up-dating courses, and (ii) for abler apprentices, Technical Diploma—Higher Technical Diploma followed by direct entry to a degree and Chartered Engineer. Both routes would be organized through a Technical Education Council.

Mr Wilmot expressed doubts about how the road transport engineer could fit into this deceptively simple pattern. But he noted that Haselgrave had recommended a Business Education Council in which commercial and management skills would be included as a parallel scheme and felt that road transport engineering.often missed out in this area of expertise and could take advantage of the close partnership which was recommended between the two Councils as road transport engineering was something of a "hybrid" skill. Mr F. M. Pickering, of the RTITB, while agreeing with the concept of hybrid skills, feared that the road transport technician and engineer might be forced into an examination pattern which was much too rigid, but Mr F. Coad, of the Bromsgrove College of Further Education, could not wait to see the Haselgrave Report implemented because, as a technical college provider, he was becoming more and more overwhelmed with the multiplicity of overlapping courses available.

Mr V. A. W. Hillier, lecturer at Croydon Technical College and an examiner for the City and Guilds, looked at the revised C and G schemes with special reference to craft training and the Motor Vehicles Technician Course. He stressed the problem faced by the C and 0 in trying to revise their schemes constantly and defended the present courses at these levels. Mr Hilliees chief worry was the lack of training provided by all too many firms who regarded the MVT qualification as the terminal point. This attitude lowered the calibre of the intake with the results that potential managers did not have the necessary background, and often suitable managers had to be poached from other fields.

Warning on cleaning In the second session on Saturday morning, Mr R. C. Newham, of the Penetone Co Ltd, said recent legislation had highlighted the need for thorough cleansing of mechanical components. Because of the Transport Act's provisions the whole question of steam cleaning was being examined afresh by the equipment manufacturers in this field. Explaining the use of his company's preparations for the cleansing of interior, exterior and mechanical sections of road vehicles, the speaker said that this work must be regarded as an effective part of the maintenance system. It required as much planning as any other operation in the workshops and should not be left for attention as and when it could be fitted in. Mr Newham warned his hearers that local authorities were getting tougher on the matter of effluent disposal systems so that good drainage facilities.were essential.

Although some components demanded drastic treatment, where total immersion methods were used there was no risk to the personnel concerned. Disposal of certain wastes, however, needed to be carefully arranged and usually this was best left to specialist chemical waste contractors. As the preparations concerned were long-lived, disposal might only be required at yearly, or longer, intervals. Suitable products were available for dealing with oily floors and for treatment of oil spillage either within a plant or on the road.

Mr A. Enticknap, chairman for the session, sought further information regarding a case where a brake line had failed, reportedly as a result of steam process cleaning, but no additional details were available. A speaker from the floor complained that, while drastic cleaning certainly removed dirt, the engineer was liable to end up with a chassis that required painting. Another member contended that, while prices would be higher, aluminium metallizing at the facfory would be the best answer.

Replying to a question on the differences in price between naturally aspirated and turbocharged power units, Mr T. Scharff (Cummins Engine Co Ltd) said there was more to the question than just attaching a turbocharger to the engine as the design had to take into account factor a that could otherwise reduce the engine life. Thus, fairly substantial expenses could be involved. In answer to a query on the possibility of turbocharging taking in a far greater volume of impurities, the speaker pointed out that demanding more power from a Mat meant that a larger air-cleaning system must necessarily be incorporated. Mr Scharff specially stressed the value of turbocharging for high-altitude operations.

Analysis of used lubricants for trace metal content, as a technique in measurement of wear, was described by Mr J. C. Nutter (Wear-Check International (UK) Ltd). Correct analysis revealed what foreign elements had entered the system, apart from which tiny particles of metal indicated the state of the equipment. Such information showed what was taking place inside the enginelong before this could be discovered by physical examination. Thus they could predict the length of life left in different components and could take action before damage developed. Neither the equipment required, nor the skills, were cheap and he calculated that a user would need some 10,000 items of plant to justify that sort of expenditure. Carried out by specialists, such checks would be performed for £3 each.

While a single test was useful, said Mr Nutter in reply to questions, two or three samples gave a basis for comparison, facilitating the preparation of an accurate forecast for the life of the individual unit.

His company recommended that the first tests should be made when 60 per cent of the anticipated life before overhaul had elapsed. While tests were normally made on engines, such work was also done on rear axles and gearboxes.

The technical session was completed with the showing of a Shell lubricants film.

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