Dealing with change at IRTENZ conference 2022

In News4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 18, 2022

The IRTENZ conference returned in 2022, being held at the Jet Park Hotel Hamilton on 16 and 17 November. About 100 delegates representing key industry providers and operators attended.

This was the 17th IRTENZ conference and the theme this year was Evolution to Revolution – the topics of discussion split between the current and future movements around zero-emission vehicles; infrastructure and energy plans and solutions; legislation, compliance and dealing with productivity loss; and operator learnings from the decarbonisation journey thus far.

“We were very pleased with the uptake this year. We have to consider the rapid change coming upon us and share that thinking amongst various sectors of the industry, as well as with government departments and agencies, so we can start to get on the same page for the changes coming towards us,” said Chris Carr, IRTENZ president.

Kicking off the conference, Carr began proceedings by indicating that the industry has dealt with revolution before. “One-hundred years ago we were grappling with the change from hay to motor spirits, and that change was driven solely by technology. We then went into diesel over a relatively short period. The diesel engine is hugely refined and a fantastic tool that has carried us through our lives, but now that evolution is going to stop.

“The drivers for the change we have now are quite different: conferences, treaties, governments making rules that we have no option but to agree with.”

Carr said that the move from highly evolved diesel engines to relatively new electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles is a huge technological change that will have to be made quickly.

“In New Zealand we have 160,000 registered heavy vehicles, about 0.2% of them are currently electric. Our average fleet age in New Zealand is 18 years and there are a lot of 30-year-old trucks still operating. New Zealand’s got 300-odd trucks stops and 1300 service stations which will also need to change in the process.”

Carr warned that operators need to be willing to accept the change and cannot stand back and be reactionary. “That’s not going to work. We’re not going to have a choice because the choice has already been made. We need to be positive about what’s coming.”

However, he reiterated the need for government and council support. “Things like truck tare weights are going to get heavier. If we can’t increase our gross loads there will be a resulting productivity loss. We are not going to get the configurations we need [in New Zealand] because that kind of engineering isn’t going to be available to us in the early stages because production will be centered round mass markets – and we aren’t one. So there will be a lot of compromise.”

IRTENZ would like to thank the sponsors of this year’s conference: Fruehauf, Hendrickson, Intertruck, Jost, New Zealand Trucking Media, Tohora Enterprises, Transpecs, TR Group, TRT and Volvo.

A full report on the 17th IRTENZ conference will run in the upcoming December 2022/January 2023, and February 2023 issues of New Zealand Trucking magazine.

IRTENZ is planning a conference for 2023 and details will be released in due course.