The current driver shortage, resulting in empty supermarket shelves and dire warnings of worse to come for Christmas, is a storm that has been in the making for some time but has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and BREXIT.
The stark reality is that the UK needs around 100,000 more drivers (estimated by the Road Haulage Association) and with some 30,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driving tests not taking place last year the situation is desperate.
There’s no doubt recruiting and training more drivers is a key area to address, but it only makes up one part of the jigsaw. It is encouraging that the Department for Transport (DfT) is looking at enabling vehicles to carry more load and the expected roll out of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) next year is a step in the right direction. These trailers, depending on product payload, along with double deck vehicles can enable a driver to deliver significantly higher load volumes per journey.
Transdek UK, which specialises in modular loading bay lifts, has long championed the use of double deck trailers and high-volume distribution vehicles, such as Wedge trailers and LSTs, which can reduce delivery frequency, mileage per product and CO2 emissions, as well as supporting the driver shortage. Central to this is the ability to load and unload a wide range of vehicles and trailers quickly, safely and effectively. Transdek’s range of innovative loading equipment has been continuously developed to meet these needs.
Leon Butler, Managing Director at Transdek, explains: “The recent media about the continued driver shortage only highlights the benefits of Transdek’s modular lifts and drives home our message over the last decade. It’s what you are pulling behind the tractor that really counts, and more importantly converting the traditional loading bay to accept the demands of a fast-moving supply chain sector along with vehicles of the future.
“For example, using a double deck trailer enables one driver to carry double the load, so as much as we must focus on attracting more class 1 HGV drivers, just as much consideration should be given to efficient vehicles within supply chain delivery fleets.”
Another factor to consider is the continuing expansion of Internet shopping. This trend is particularly driving growth in same and next-day delivery, resulting in more frequent deliveries by vans and electric light commercial vehicles from large distribution centres along with HGVs, as demonstrated by major online retailers.
Integral to ensuring these vehicles can be effective in the supply chain is the ability to load and unload them efficiently. Transdek advocates converting traditional loading bays, which can generally only service single and powered double deck trailers, to loading pods that can service any goods vehicle including 3.5T vans, rigids, single deckers, fixed, powered, euro and wedge double deck trailers and LSTs.
Transdek has always been the forefront of innovation when it comes to modular loading bay equipment with lifts that can convert both traditional loading docks and level access sites to accept all HGV vehicles without the need for pre-dug pits in just one day. However, its latest lift design called the ‘Universal Dock Door’ really is the utopia of loading bays and can be quickly installed at new build warehouses or retrospectively fitted to existing sites.
Butler comments: “Our Universal Dock Door lifts combines all our usual modular design benefits along with two additional unique features. The first is a specially adapted bridge plate that quickly adjusts its width, using hydraulics, to cater for anything from 3.5T vans to a double deck trailers in a matter of seconds.
“It also comprises a unique tail-lift pocket which allows vehicle tail-lifts to simply slide and stow underneath the lift platform in a special compartment, which cannot be achieved with traditional scissor lifts. This removes the need to use tail-lift at DCs, significantly extending reliability, speeds up loading considerably, improves operator safety and allows home delivery vehicles to dock safely.
“These developments provide the ultimate in loading bay flexibility and technology that future proofs supply chain operations to accept any type and configuration of goods vehicle.”