Transport within Australia has changed considerably since the introduction of new ‘Chain of Responsibility’ (CoR) laws in 2018. These new laws, which places legal obligation on all parties within the supply chain regarding mass, load restraints, dimension, and fatigue and speed offences.

It is therefore very important that all parties understand what constitutes the weight limitations of loads combined with the specific equipment (truck/trailer combinations), to be used on all our roads nationally.

Gross Weight

This is the total weight combination that can be legally carried on our roads. This is a combination of load, container weight, truck and trailer including any sideloader equipment. The total gross weight is also determined by the number of axles across the different types of truck/trailer combinations.

As an example, for a common semi-trailer combination carrying a standard 20’ or 40’ shipping container, the maximum mass load will be 42.5 tonnes. This vehicle would need to have six axles and be less than or equal to 19 metres in length. This could be a common vehicle combination when used in trucking 20’ & or 40’ containers within Australia. 

To understand what loads can be securely placed inside import and export containers, the following information is crucial:

The combination of these weights should therefore not exceed 42.5 tonnes in a common 6 axel semi-trailer delivery. 

If we consider some industry standards on empty container weights and a truck and trailer combination, then the following may apply for this exercise only:

  • 20’ GP Container = 2230kgs
  • 40’ GP Container = 3700kgs
  • Truck / Trailer Standard (6 axel semi) = 14000kgs
  • Truck / Trailer with Sideloader = 21000kgs

We can therefore consider the load restrictions for GP containers as:

  • Via Standard trailer = 26270kgs / 20’ and 24800kgs / 40’
  • Via Sideloader = 19270kgs / 20’ and 17800kgs / 40’

At all times, the loads must be made secure according to load restraint guidelines and be distributed evenly across the container. If the distribution is not even, then the load may be considered overweight across the number of axels and steer drives. This would therefore restrict the use to specialised trailer combinations.

The examples listed above are only a guide, due to the many complexities with road regulations across the different states, plus the variations with trailer combinations.

The safe movement of containers on our roads is paramount. We encourage importers and exporters to be vigilant in knowing the load restrictions and being compliant with Chain of Responsibility laws (CoR).

Please contact your Henning Harders (Australia) office for any assistance and advice in this matter.

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