AutoTURN Early Adopter from the Land Down Under

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” -Henry Ford

If you work as a transportation engineer in Australia, chances are good that you have spoken to Glenn Blundell. He’s a senior traffic management officer for VicRoads and a very experienced user of AutoTURN, the world’s leading vehicle swept path simulation software.

Given his knowledge of AutoTURN and his relationship with Transoft Solutions since 1992, it seems natural that Blundell has become a key link between Australian transportation engineers and the Canadian-based company. Over the years, he has provided software support for AutoTURN and been a conduit for information and feedback to Transoft’s development team in the Richmond, BC, Canada office. His role with VicRoads keeps him busy but he makes time to handle AutoTURN calls as well.

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“I never really went from one to the other, the relationship just grew,” said Blundell.  “John Gill, our contact person back in the very early days was continually asking for feedback and any ideas we had for improvements and upgrades to the software. As AutoTURN became more widely used within VicRoads and slowly reaching out to other road authorities and consultants, we worked out an agreement between Transoft and VicRoads so that I could provide advice and training to those other users. That service continues on today because of the friendships that I have made with not only Milton but all the staff at Transoft,” he continued.

Blundell is well-known in transportation engineering circles for his ability to help companies by providing accurate models of vehicles not found within AutoTURN’s Standard Design Vehicle Library. While he doesn’t use AutoTURN every day these days, he puts the functionality to good use when he does.

“I still provide our heavy vehicle specialists with swept paths when a new vehicle wants to use the arterial road network and when they are required to escort large loads,” said Blundell. “A few years ago a multi-component vehicle totaling 105m in length was needed to transport a 600 tonne generator on a particular route. AutoTURN was used to model the vehicle and used to provide guidance of where traffic signals and other road furniture needed to be removed in order for the vehicle to turn at an intersection.

A request to model a new kind of vehicle often requires a call to the Product Management department at Transoft Solutions. AutoTURN has functionality that allows a user to create custom vehicles but sometimes users do not have the time or a vehicle may be too complex for a user to model, so Transoft Solutions offers Project Support Services (PSS) for AutoTURN for users in this situation. The typical process starts with a user corresponding through Technical Support (or Sales), and making a request for project related help or needing assistance to build a specific vehicle.

“In the case of a specific vehicle requirement, Tech Support will try its best to help the user model the vehicle in the software themselves,” said Johann Flores, a senior member of Transoft’s Product Management department.  “Often users are successfully guided through the process. However, if the vehicle is too complex for the normal user to model the issue is passed on to us, the product support team.”

Flores and his colleagues will do their best to gather all the basic vehicle information data from the customer, things like the dimensioned vehicle general arrangement drawing and steady state turning diagram. For the most accurate model, he needs vehicle data like length, width, overhang, wheelbases and curb-to-curb turning radius. However, sometimes experience with different types of vehicles over the years takes over in the absence of key data.

“There have been times where the client has asked us to do the research to find this information,” said Flores. “In situations where all avenues have been exhausted to find missing critical information, we will draw from our experience and will make reasonable assumptions that are proposed to the customer for their approval.”

For Blundell, the inquiries come in all shapes and sizes and he handles each with skill and professionalism. His goal is to give the customers as much information as he can so they can make an informed decision.

“Some days I receive as many as 3 or 4 calls,” said Blundell. “Mainly the calls are about using and building custom vehicles. There are also calls related to how to best use the software and the Australian Standards but those calls are generally only from first time users.

He gives an example of one of his replies: “An email I received today was asking me ‘What is the maximum grade change for a loaded B-triple and the maximum allowable shear due to that grade change so that the trailer pins do not shear off?’ (It was) A little outside of my area of expertise but I was able to direct the user to where he might find the information.

There are hundreds of vehicles in the Standard Design Vehicle Library and extended libraries are available to customers who want them. The requests received through the PSS process puts Transoft at the leading edge of knowledge related to vehicle swept path analysis in the transportation industry.

“Quite often, the requests we get for custom vehicles through the Project Support Services channel help provide direction towards adding vehicles that are now found in Transoft’s Extended Vehicle libraries,” said Flores. “If we see a need in industry, we’ll put resources behind it to make it available to everyone. A good example is the wind energy market. Requests we received provided the initial development requirements for the Independent Rear Steering functionality currently seen in Wind Industry vehicles found in the Special Transport library of the software. Now that we have added this feature, we want people to know about it so they can do their more accurately and productively.”

Join us for the next chapter of “Our Story” where we delve deeper into the evolution of the company.  The next chapter, “The Growth Years”  with feature lots of interesting information on the early 2000s at Transoft.