Freight fleets ‘wasting millions’ with poor operational standards

Monday, January 27, 2014 - 11:00
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POOR: Could you be saving money?

Road freight operators are wasting millions of pounds and damaging the environment with their poor operational standards, new research has revealed.

The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight claim the industry could save £160million in fuel and prevent 426,000tonnes of carbon emissions by reducing empty running of vehicles.

Despite freight movements being up, loads are still down, with the proportion of empty kilometres run increasing by around 3% over the last 13years.

Recent figures show almost a third of HGV kilometres driven were without a load, when they could have been carrying on average 10.4tonnes of goods per truck.

The Centre claim that, to meet ambitious government emissions targets, operators must join forces to find efficient and innovative solutions to transporting the UK’s consumer goods.

However, the Centre – a joint collaboration between Heriot-Watt and Cambridge Universities – also claim the freight market is recovering, with logistic-related jobs accounting for 5% of the UK workforce.

Maja Piecyk, Principal Investigator at Heriot-Watt and co-author of the study, said: “While our findings show the industry is recovering, they also reveal it is highly fragmented and is dominated by small companies and sole operators, who may not have the means or the money to become more efficient or environmentally friendly.

“If the industry is going to change practice significantly, and meet government regulations, it’s important to not only invest in new technology and systems but to encourage new thinking.

“Reducing empty running will require new levels of operation and collaboration, which is one of the critical success factors the Centre aims to address.”

Already, 13 companies have signed up to help tackle road freight issues by joining an industry consortium set up by the Centre.

Combining logistics expertise from Heriot-Watt University’s Logistics Research Centre and engineering expertise from the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, it will explore ways to make road freight economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Operators of all sizes are now being invited to join the consortium, where they can help define and participate in cutting-edge research.

They will also be among the very first to trial new technology or ways of working that could make dramatic environmental and financial savings.

Members are already testing a new decarbonisation software tool which allows them to calculate the most carbon friendly and economical way to transport goods around the UK.

Image courtesy of sean dreilinger, with thanks.

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