The haulage industry is ever-changing and always evolving. Changes come in many forms, from revolutionary new technology and innovative gadgets to incremental improvements in practice.
Some of the best improvements, though, come from the simplest ideas â€“ the tiny alterations to existing equipment that let you fulfil a transport contract that little bit quicker, more reliably and more efficiently. Read on for a great example of how a small change, like a longer semi-trailer, can have a big effect.
What is it?
This oneâ€™s easy. A longer semi-trailer is exactly what it sounds like: itâ€™s a slightly extended version of a trailer. Some in the industry like to use jargon like LSTs, but donâ€™t let that fool you. It is literally just a longer trailer.
What are the benefits?
So, now you know what an â€˜LSTâ€™ is. But why are we writing about them? Well, a recent trial run has had some pretty remarkable results. According to Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), these trailers have been shown to provide â€˜a significant, positive benefit for the environment and other road usersâ€™.
The reasons for this should be obvious to any experienced fleet manager. Quite simply, if you take on a transport contract to move a set number of goods, having a lengthier trailer means you can move more goods with each vehicle. This in turn helps you save on fuel and wage costs, ultimately helping you maximise efficiency.
LSTs have also proven to be good for the environment, for similar reasons. A Transport Department trial beginning in 2012 saw 28,000 tonnes of carbon monoxide emissions saved in five years. And these extraordinary savings came from just 0.5% of UK heavy goods vehicles adding just two metres in length. Scaling up, the potential for change is astounding.
Snelling was particularly enthused about the chance for industry providers to save both money and emissions: â€˜At a time when the freight industry is looking to reduce its environmental impact while continuing to deliver efficiencies to customers in the UK and further afield, LSTs are a solution which can help achieve bothâ€™.
And thatâ€™s not all. In addition to the efficiency and emissions savings youâ€™d expect, the Department for Transportâ€™s trial also saw accident rates plummet. Measured in terms of accidents per kilometre, the Transport Department reports a 72% decrease in personal injury collisions on minor roads â€“ and a staggering 90% decrease on urban roads.
Given all these benefits, youâ€™re likely to be wondering when youâ€™ll be able to bring longer trailers into your fleet. Fortunately, the FTA is putting pressure on the Department of Transport. Contracts initially stipulated a ten-year trial period, but the runaway success by 2017 saw the duration extended by another five years.
The FTA, however, doesnâ€™t see any reason to wait. â€˜With so many positive benefits to both commercial and other road usersâ€™, says Snelling, â€˜itâ€™s now time for the government to conclude its trial early and approve an earlier-than-scheduled use of the trailersâ€™.
With any luck, you could be using longer trailers to fulfil your transport contracts and improve efficiencies very soon.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching drivers with a new transport contract. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.
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