Every producer knows that operating and maintaining a ready-mix truck requires a special approach when compared to other severe-duty vehicles. A true American innovation, proper mixer operation and maintenance procedures have often been learned the hard way.
Recognizing the need to more formalize these practices with an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-style procedure, members of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) have undertaken the task to develop a standard for ready-mix trucks. Currently, SAE committees have task groups that monitor documents on other specialized vehicles such as fire trucks, refuse haulers, and ambulances.
It’s not as if our industry has been sitting on its hands. For decades, the Truck Mixer Manufacturers Bureau (TMMB) has been the lead source of production and volume standards. And through the leadership of NRMCA’s OES committee, producers have had access to safety-related and training documents that thoroughly cover the subject.
Fortunately for all, these three industry-leading organizations are now working together to develop the SAE document.
Last week, we hosted about two dozen of the best minds on the subject. Composed of a handful of truck manufacturers, concrete producers, and the NRMCA, about two dozen members of the SAE Work Truck Safety Committee worked for two days on a document that will affect all ready-mix producers in the future.
The committee is developing an all-encompassing document that will provide recommended practices to ensure the safe design and operation of ready-mix concrete trucks. The working definition of the committee’s scope focuses on the construction, reconstruction, modification, care, maintenance, and operation of these vehicles. If a document is approved, interested parties can adopt the standard for their own use. The standards would likely only affect units manufactured a year after the final document is approved.
Why do we need an SAE standard? First, creating a consensus document from users, manufacturers, and the public ensures everyone has a voice in the process. Second, the formalized review process provides a collective memory. Most importantly, it provides a chance for our industry to identify and codify the best practices associated with our ready-mix trucks.
Our industry has been challenged by well-intentioned, but uninformed safety inspectors who want us to adopt procedures from OSHA regulations for plants that don’t apply to safe ready-mix truck operations. This has resulted in inconsistent rulings across many state jurisdictions, unnecessary producer costs, and little, if any, improvement in worker safety.
There’s at least another year of work ahead. SAE, TMMB, and NRMCA are to be applauded for their work. This working group’s efforts are just another example of what our industry is willing to do and what it takes to perform our work safely and productively.