Heavy vehicles / Productivity / Increasing allowed volume where mass is not the constraint

We are investigating potential areas to improve the productivity of volume constrained vehicles, partnering with the NHVR to implement proposals or trials.

Increasing allowed volume where mass is not the constraint

  • Scoping > 
  • Analysing issues > 
  • Analysing options > 
  • Implementing


The Australian freight task is growing. Industry has told us that up to 80 per cent of vehicle trips are constrained by the volumetric storage capacity of the vehicle (i.e. ability to fit freight into the allowable length, height and width), rather than mass limits.

This project aims to increase the productivity of the road network and freight fleet by sharing good practice and helping road managers identify ways to improve the productivity of their road network.

Next steps

We will be working with stakeholders, particularly industry, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and road managers to identify specific opportunities to improve the productivity of volume constrained freight.

The first step will be to look at the available information to better understand:

  • the impacts of vehicle dimension constraints on productivity
  • what type of vehicles and operations face volume constraints (as opposed to mass).

Next we will be talking to industry and governments to investigate the options available to improve the productivity of volume-constrained loads, including:

  • using the current permits and access approvals systems
  • examining examples of higher volume configurations used in jurisdictions that could be applied nationally
  • examining if improved volumes can be accommodated under current PBS arrangements
  • identifying possible risk management and compliance measures to provide assurance to road managers (such as location assurance or limiting speed under particular access schemes).

In November 2016, we released a discussion paper seeking feedback on ways to increase the volume of some heavy vehicles to increase their productivity. Submissions for this paper were due by Friday, 3 February 2017. For more information, or to make a submission, please contact Julian Del Beato, Project Manager, at jdelbeato@ntc.gov.au.


Our stakeholders have told us that they see a need to drive down transport costs, particularly when the cost of goods is marginal - such as toilet paper.

We recently completed a case study of access management decisions that found similar examples of loads that were not mass constrained, but where permits were still needed because of increased volume (width and length) negatively impacting transport timings and cost for Australian manufacturers and businesses. 

Our research also indicated that looking at more long haul freight such as mail operations on highways, where lower mass, but higher volume freight could significantly improve productivity. 

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Project Manager Julian Del Beato
Last Updated: 13/2/2017