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New tipper body design code implementation extended

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) released Vehicle Standards Bulletin 6 (VSB6), Version 3.2 on 1 July, which saw the implementation of the J4 tipper body design code. Following further review and consultation the NHVR has now extended the transitional arrangements for the implementation of the new design code to 1 February 2024.

Owners and modifiers that require an extension to February 2024 need to apply to the NHVR for the extension via email ( with their request. This is to allow the NHVR to monitor how industry is progressing as well as target any future communications related to the new code.

What is Section J of VSB6

This section of VSB6 relates to the design and installation of bodies to vehicle chassis. It specifies the minimum design and performance requirements for the installation of a body onto a vehicle. Modifications that could affect the body mounting system include:

  • change of body type
  • change of body size
  • extended or shortened wheelbase
  • fitting of an additional axle
  • fitting of chassis reinforcements or adaptations
  • chassis extension, such as increased rear overhang

What is Section J4 

The new modification code provides the standards that must be met when designing tipper bodies. It provides standards relating to all aspects of tippers such as safety, hydraulic, warning devices, etc.

Some of the recommendations seem a bit pointless

Under section 8. Hydraulics/Pneumatics it is recommended that pneumatic and hydraulic lifting systems should incorporate over-pressure protection set to at least 10% below the lowest rated component in the hydraulic/pneumatic system but sufficient for the maximum operating hydraulic circuit flow rate and a “red tell-tale light in the vehicle cab which indicates when the overpressure set point is reached”. We are not sure what the point of this is as “deadheading” the hydraulic ram is a common occurrence and the system has over-pressure protection. Adding another flashing light (to be ignored by the driver) to an already busy dashboard seems a bit pointless.

Some of the recommendations seem not to understand tipper operation 

Under section 9. Alarms, warnings and lockout features it is recommend that tailgates fitted with positive locking mechanisms (mechanical, air or electric) should be fitted with a visible and/or audible tell-tale located at the tipper controls which warns the operator when the tailgate is locked, and the front of the tipping body is in the raised condition (50mm or more above its transport position) or automatically unlock the tailgate when the body begins to rise.

Tailgate lock indicators are nothing new and are generally placed in the drivers line of sight at the rear of the vehicle, this is because the driver should be monitoring the unloading process in the rear view mirrors.

Automatically opening the tailgate if the body lifts, amongst other things, would mean that drivers would no longer be able to adjust their loads for axle mass compliance. 

Training the drivers in proper unloading techniques such as ensuring that the tailgate is unlocked prior to engaging the PTO you will have the best defence against sitting a dog trailer on its end.


Some of the recommendations may be a wasted opportunity 

Under section 10. Controls it is required that control systems must provide fail-safe operation at all times (including during a failure of the system, power supply, etc.) if the tipping body is not designed to tip in motion the control device must:

  • be positive in motion hold-to-run type; and
  • return to neutral when released

If the tipping body is designed to tip in motion it must be designed in a way that minimises operational risks and accidental operation of the tipping body. The section goes on to say:

It is understood that in many cases return to neutral and hold to operate controls in certain tipper applications is not practical or safe. For example:

  • Tipping in motion where the vehicle must continue to move while tipping and the driver must continue to steer the vehicle.

Tipper drivers (operating end tippers) that we have worked with have always been instructed to have their hand on the controller at all times when raising or lowering the body. This is particularly important when operating the body and moving the vehicle at the same time. The time lost reaching for the controller could mean the difference between having or preventing an accident. Further, by the driver having a hand on the controller the risk of activating the wrong controller in an emergency situation is eliminated. We much prefer hold-to-run controllers for end tipper applications as it ensures that the driver is in the vehicle and is in control of the motion of the body.

Some of the recommendations are a bit unclear

Under section 12. Stability Equipment, the vehicle may be fitted with a device, such as an

inclinometer, that is interconnected with the tipping mechanism and will prevent the body from raising any further if loss of lateral stability is detected.

The document should make it clear that any interconnected device must allow the body to be lowered if instability is detected. Many tip over events are caused by tipping on a cross slope or other uneven surfaces. Some transport companies install inclinometers as a “take 5’ precaution before the tipping process begins rather than waiting until the vehicle loses stability.

Section 12 goes on to advise that many electronic brake systems have a stability function incorporated with an output that can be utilised to activate a warning signal (buzzer, light etc) or interlock. This signal may be used in lieu of a dedicated inclinometer if performed in accordance with the brake manufacturer’s requirements. Whilst this is good in theory, accessing “proprietary” information from EBS manufactures may prove difficult and may not add any value if the air in the suspension is dumped prior to tipping (many tippers function this way).

Talk to your body builder

If you are considering having a tipper built it may be a good idea to talk to your body builder before the extension runs out and make sure that the money you are spending gives you a fleet that is both safe and productive.

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