↑ Return to Private: In Depth

Speakers’ Corner

Speakers’ Corner is produced in association with Carrier TransicoldCarrier Transicold eps file copy

Industry opinion: What one legislative (or government) change (British or European) would help your business and cold chain logistics in the UK?

I would really like to see the introduction of some form of stringent certification or registration for coolchain vehicles involved with the transport of pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs.Take my business for example.  We have just invested more than £40,000 plus VAT each on three Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans fitted with Carrier Transicold Pulsor 400 refrigeration units.  We endeavoured to fit the latest refrigeration equipment, the best body, and the most advanced satellite tracking and temperature monitoring systems available.But, anybody – whether an individual or company – can purport to operate a ‘temperature controlled’ service using any old vehicles that could have poorly maintained or inadequate refrigeration equipment.  No formal training and no understanding of the importance of maintaining the correct set point for the produce being carried is needed.In reality it is probably an impossibility for this to be regulated, but I find it increasingly frustrating that my company spends the money we do to operate the very best vehicles and kit available and yet we still see other vehicles on the road carrying something that could be critical to life, yet the vehicle’s refrigeration technology is not up to scratch.
Steve Brown, managing director, Priority Transport

To increase the operator’s licence and EU driver regulation weight threshold to allow companies to operate up to 4,500kg vehicles without coming into scope.
Martin Farrand, engineering director, Petit Forestier

Industry opinion: Is there a case for oversized aerodynamic trailers?

The EU is considering allowing longer vehicles to allow fuel saving aerodynamic fittings.  How important are aerodynamics for your operation?  Would you consider oversized trailers (with the same load carrying ability) carrying extra devices to save fuel?

“Aerodynamics is an important aspect of our transport operation and as we are constantly looking to reduce fuel costs – where aerodynamic products are proven to be beneficial we would always consider them. As for oversized trailers carrying the same load capacity that to me would be a hard sell to the industry, as an oversized trailer would certainly be more expensive and less manoeuvrable. What’s more, as the use of double deck trailers is widely becoming common practice, the load capacity they provide offers greater savings to the operator than aerodynamics. However, if aerodynamic products were proven beneficial we would most certainly be interested.  My view is that the industry will always welcome good aerodynamic products but I myself would much prefer an option for longer vehicles with an increase in GVW to more than 44 tonnes.”
Graham Proctor, group transport manager, Yearsley Group

“When purchasing two new trailers from Gray & Adams earlier this year we specified changes to the corner cappings on one of the trailers, as when we were in discussion with the Gray & Adams’ design team they advised us to look at the test results on their website regarding aerodynamic devices that had been commissioned by Marks & Spencer.  The tests found that rounded cappings, vortex generators and skirting all the way around the edge, improved the aerodynamics of the trailer studied.  But due to the nature of our work the all-round skirting would have been ripped off or damaged in no time at all, so we went with the rounded cappings and the vortex generator which is incorporated into the rear roof which delays air flow separation behind the trailer.  We have another two trailers on order for later this year to the same specification, as I do believe, having studied the test findings and from our own experience, that we are achieving between three and six per cent fuel savings on long-haul journeys, which is positive.  As our work is a mix of UK and export/import we do not use double decker trailers or oversized trailers, so an oversized trailer, even carrying devices to save fuel, would be no use to us. Fitting aerodynamic devices that positively enhance our operation is important to us, but I’ve seen other aerodynamic systems, such as a flap that opens out at speed to reduce the drag on the trailer, that from an aesthetic point of view is not great. That is not something we are planning on adopting at the moment.”
Phillip Hamilton, director/partner, P&C Hamilton

“Aerodynamics are very important to us at Shetland Transport, especially when they can improve fuel economy, but because of the type of operation we run we are limited to what fitments we can use on our vehicles.  We use aerofoils on the roof of our tractors to reduce air resistance and we have side skirts on trailers.  However, as our vehicles spend a lot of time travelling on ferries, full side skirts wouldn’t be appropriate as they don’t suit that type of transportation, so we need to adapt the aerodynamic fitments to work with our fleet. Again the problem with oversized trailers is that they are not something that would fit easily within our fleet due to the heavy sea travel we undertake, meaning it is not something that we would be able to use.  We remain committed to using aerodynamic fitments where and when possible as the benefits for fuel efficiency are clear to see.”
Hamish Balfour, managing director, Shetland Transport

Industry opinions: How feasible is increasing night-time deliveries?

HGV movements in urban areas are often constrained during night-time periods by local regulations put in place to avoid noise impacts. Restrictions are imposed by local authorities in order to protect residents from noise and other nuisance during the late evening and early morning. However, they have the effect of increasing the number of deliveries that have to be scheduled during peak traffic conditions, thereby increasing congestion, reducing air quality and increasing the road safety risks for vulnerable groups such as schoolchildren and cyclists by concentrating freight traffic when competition for road space is at its highest.

These difficulties are further compounded for retailers who need early morning deliveries, for example to ensure that fresh produce or retail stock is available on the shelves in time for store opening hours. If such night-time delivery restrictions could be relaxed or removed where appropriate, there are significant benefits for society, making our urban environments healthier and more peaceful places to live and conduct business. Working together since 2007 with the Freight Transport Association, government and local government, the Noise Abatement Society has developed a code of practice for quiet deliveries.

The DfT sponsored Quiet Deliveries Demonstration Scheme, has successfully demonstrated how road freight can make significant efficiency improvements by delivering out of hours, without causing a noise disturbance; and subsequent work carried out with Transport for London, to allow out of hours deliveries during London 2012, has further proved the case for investment in quieter equipment, staff and driver training and operational amendments. Consequently, there has never been a better time to unlock the business benefits of off peak deliveries. To do so, retailers and industry must work closely together with local authorities to agree the conditions under which delivery restrictions could be relaxed while still protecting residents’ rights to a good night’s sleep.
Lisa Lavia, managing director, Noise Abatement Society

At the moment about 90% of operators have more day work than night work; getting more pm deliveries would allow far greater fleet utilisation and allow us to take vehicles off the road. However, a lot of depots don’t have staff at night to receive deliveries, so it would mean a big change for many.  Whether it would be possible or not would be down to a depot’s specific restrictions. Without a doubt though, it would make deliveries easier for firms like us. We make 75% of our deliveries during the day, so we have to run far more vehicles in the daytime. If I could split that a little more evenly it would be hugely beneficial – an increase in night-time deliveries is definitely something I’d like to see more of.
Roger Noke, group transport manager, NR Evans

The biggest hurdle we’d face is in the food service industry where a lot of delivery points want to close at midday or 1pm, because they work through the night loading their own vehicles and so won’t take night-time delivery bookings. Many feel opening at night to allow night-time delivery is not feasible, but people need to dare to think differently and try new methods.  We need to change the thinking surrounding night-time deliveries by all working together to make it possible.

The great benefit of being able to utilise your fleet in the evening and delivering 24/7 is there would be less traffic on the road, meaning faster deliveries and less fuel burned, which in turn means less emissions. We need to think greener and be innovative, not put up barriers. But at present, we are only able to double-shift about 15% of our fleet. Better vehicle utilisation would make a business such as ours even more efficient, and can yield savings. They might not be huge, but it will benefit the customer as you can lower their transport costs.
Trevor Hudson, managing director, The Ice Co

Published in Cold Chain News, 23 May 2013


Industry opinions: Do double-deck trailers double productivity? 

In a purely literal sense, the answer is no. A double-deck trailer carrying 44 pallets compared to a standard single deck carrying 26 is evidently not double. However, are they advantageous? Absolutely. The key to operational and cost efficiencies with these trailers is in how they are deployed and maintained. The real value is in two areas; trunking products which are lightweight or use on secondary deliveries where you may not have two full loads – therefore a single, larger, trailer would take the whole load. Double-decks are critical in an operational sense as any technical issues can result in two vehicles being required to recover the load. This is where maintenance scheduling is more important than ever. Yes, maintenance costs may well increase but this is offset against the outlay of running one piece of equipment instead of two. Clearly route planning, driver training and health and safety all come into play too, but if used intelligently, double-decks are worth their weight in gold.
Sam de Beaux, engineering director, Gist

Undoubtedly! Double-deck trailers have made the single biggest positive impact on being able to deliver fewer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly road miles over the last three years. Doubling productivity is certainly possible if you can utilise 52 pallet-capacity trailers, however, in reality the majority of our double-deck fleet carry 44 pallets – so we are typically achieving a 70% increase in productivity. There are a number of basic principles which should be considered to realise the true benefits, and to offset what is, without doubt, a significant investment into your fleet. There are: to have clear routes and destinations agreed to ensure safe travel and efficient offloads; to stay as close as possible to load fill levels to ensure you are sweating the assets; maximise longer distance running to maximise productivity; and to pay special attention to maintenance arrangements – especially for moving floor trailers – as they require different and more costly maintenance when compared to a standard trailer.
Chris Hall, head of central transport, Asda Distribution

Published in Cold Chain News, 12 February 2013


Industry opinions: Do customers understand the value of temperature monitoring?

I don’t believe there is a full grasp of the importance as yet, but there is certainly a growing knowledge that understanding the cold chain is critical for future business. At Axis Fleet Management, we are making this a standard feature of all fleet assets because we have a forward-looking attitude and appreciate that the industry will need the ability to validate the cold chain increasingly moving forward. Whilst the initial expectation of temperature monitoring was that it would be ‘a nice thing to have’, the reality is that it is a necessity. If operators don’t start specifying it, they may well encounter problems when the likes of the big supermarkets and healthcare companies demand it as standard on every delivery. I firmly believe this will be the case. Yes it is an additional cost, but the real cost over the asset life is negligible, and the ability to provide hard data and ensure food safety far outweighs any nominal weekly outlay. Providing this information surely shows professionalism and the value placed on customers with the careful handling of their products?
David Potter, managing director, Axis Fleet Management

Customers seem to be predominantly interested in hauliers supplying this information when something goes wrong – not often before! I believe it comes down to how high the bar is set; we set it very high to ensure we do a really good job, but the reality is that some don’t want to have to pay for that. The cost associated with temperature monitoring isn’t high in the grand scheme of things, but has the potential to raise the standard of the industry significantly. Vehicle tracking and temperature monitoring can all be encompassed in one system, such as Carrier’s Foretrack for example, and this is a very powerful tool. For us it actually saves us money and, where understood properly, it could for customers too. The biggest barrier to temperature monitoring is the perceived cost – whilst it is a selling point for us to be able to offer this information, it’s hard for those only focused on tightening expenditure to give it the consideration it warrants and see the true value of it.
Patrick Finch, director, 3 Distribution

It is certainly becoming increasingly important but it’s not quite at the tipping point yet. At the moment it is valued far more by transporters who are the first port of call when the finger of blame gets pointed. In this respect it is invaluable to be able to provide tangible evidence of cold chain integrity from loading to point of delivery. Having said that, I believe temperature monitoring will become industry standard in the future as more modern systems become the norm. The thermographs of old may well be the tried and tested method, but newer technology can provide a far more comprehensive profile of temperature performance – both historically and in real-time. For us, temperature monitoring also allows us to observe driver behaviours; there is no way of policing that instructions have been adhered to when drivers are out on the road. Data on temperature activity lets us know if the driver is doing his job correctly – if not, we can identify areas where further training may be necessary.
Graham Eardley, owner, Eardley International

Published in Cold Chain News, November issue, 15 November 2012




Speakers’ Corner is produced in association with
Carrier Transicold