International Truck Shop - Finland's new

Friday, March 16, 2018


This 29m-long and 92 tonne gross Volvo FH16-700 pulled
C-train transports bulk cargo in its Italian-made tanks.

Peering over the fence to see what the neighbour’s up to can be interesting. In Finland’s case it’s changed the trucking game for the better, and for good.

For over half a century Sweden was looked at with envy by other European countries when it came to economical and flexible road transport. Although Finland has similar distances, and more or less an identical infrastructure, it was only during the past 20 years that Swedish style 25.25m and 60 tonne GCM truck and trailer combinations were allowed on Finnish roads. These days Finland’s neighbour runs a 64 tonne GCM, and since March 2017, 74 tonnes on designated public routes and 90 tonnes on forest tracks. Operation of the latter combinations is still in a trial phase. Hauling 50 percent more freight on a twin trailer unit is very efficient and reduces the CO2 emission 20 percent compared with a standard 60 tonner. It was only a matter of time before the inhabitants of Finland, who are known to be much concerned about the future of our planet, would also embrace the use of more environmentally friendly heavy trucks.

In a country as large as France with only 5.5 million well spread out people, efficient road transport is a top priority. Also, the modern infrastructure lends itself well to the use of heavy, long vehicles. Apart from a mountainous area in the northwest that borders Norway, major arteries run through endless dead flat or at best slightly hilly forests. Although 60 tonne rigs have proved themselves in latter years, the Finnish government has recently passed a new traffic act that allows for the operation of much longer and heavier truck and trailer combinations. The legislators say that new technical innovations that improve safety have made it possible to construct and operate larger vehicles on public roads. Goods carried are mainly rock, timber, paper and raw materials for the paper industry. Despite the relatively good roads and lack of steep hills, operating conditions are tough. Finnish winters are long and severe with lots of snow and ice. Also, vehicles are often used around the clock with drivers working in shifts, making for very high mileages.

This impressive 11-axle combo for thetransport of woodchips
grossing 90 
tonnes is owned by Pohjaset Oy in Keminmaa.
It’s expected to complete 
400,000km per annum.

In 2015 the government agreed to make room for tests with so-called High Capacity Transport (HCT) vehicles on specific stretches of the national road network. Permissions were granted on a vehicle-to-vehicle basis because of narrow/weak bridges, villages, tight roundabouts and sharp turn junctions. Combinations of a tractor or truck with multiple trailers can be as long as 36 metres and have a GCM of 105 tonnes maximum.

One of the first HCT combinations to go on the road was owned by Speed Oy. The Volvo B-train set-up grossing 90 tonnes and measuring 32m is used to haul two 40ft containers from the ports to destinations inland and vice versa. Another rig weighing just over 100 tonnes gross with a length of 36  metres and hauling timber was put on the road by UPM- Kymmene Corporation. A Scania R730 tractor semitrailer plus full trailer owned by OAK Oy is hauling general cargo between the cities of Helsinki and Oulu. It is running at a gross weight of 94 tonnes and has a length of 33 metres.

Although this multi-axle logging truck stays within the standard
25.25m limit, its weight of 84 tonnes makes it an HCT.

Finland has a well laid out road network that allows the use of very
efficient rigs like this immaculate Renault T460 B-double tanker.

Another fine example of a rig in this premium class is the new Volvo FH16-750 10x4 rigid truck with 6-axle dog trailer operated by Pohjaset Oy in Keminmaa. The 28m-long combo has a GCW of 90 to 100 tonnes depending on the load hauled, which is woodchips or turf. The special body is made by LIPE in Finland and incorporates sidewalls made of composite and a canvas type roof. The latter can be opened sideways hydraulically. For quick emptying there is a chain-driven walking floor system built in. Since October 2017 it has operated on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis almost year round, with four regular drivers on a 460km return trip between Kemi and Kemijärvi. The rig is expected to clock up a staggering 400,000 kilometres per year!

One operator tried to get an HCT permit for the transport of cattle, but this was denied. Some who wished to use over- weight and over-length fuel tankers did not receive permission in 2017 either. But for the year 2018 new regulations have been announced that will make HCT operation on public roads more flexible and easier. This year the maximum GCM for a conventional 25.25m rig will go up to 74 tonnes for combinations equipped with at least nine axles. Every truck longer or heavier than that will be classified as a HCT. Designated HCT main road networks already in use will pose no issue for operators, however a separate transport authority for each single haul, or bracket of six months for a regular haul, will be required.

Vähälä Logistics operates this striking Actros 3363S tractor
with van
type goods trailers grossing 100 tonnes.

There are also stringent rules for axle weights, axle spreads and twin-steer, tandem drive, or single axle set-ups. For example, nine tonne is allowed on single wheels, 10 tonne on a non-driven dual axle, and 11.5 tonne on an axle with dual drive. For tandems and tridems the maximum is 20 tonne and 27 tonne if they have the right number of driven wheels, and depending on the type of suspension – air, steel, or a combination of these.

As from 1 August 2018, when the new act comes in force, the maximum for existing and future HCT combinations will be a GCM of 105 tonnes and a length of 36m. To achieve this, up to 11 axles are sometimes necessary. Although there are only 40 HCT combinations in active service right now, it is expected that this number will increase steadily. This is a good thing for both truck operators who want to transport as much freight as possible for less cost, and the nature-loving Finns who try to keep their beautiful country healthy.

This Arocs 4463 10x4 with 5-axle dog trailer has a GCW of 84 tonnes.