Logistics August 2019

Delivering efficient freight transport

An efficient road haulage sector is crucial for the productivity and competitiveness of the UK economy. Almost everything we eat, drink and wear depends on trucks – and the drivers and companies that operate them.

The vast majority of goods transported by land are moved directly by road – and even the 20% that is not moved by road often needs road haulage to complete journeys to and from ports, airports or rail terminals. According to the Road Haulage Association, 98% of food and agricultural products, consumer products and machinery are transported by road freight.

More than 2.5 million people work in the haulage and logistics industry – the sector is the UK's fifth largest employer – and around half a million commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes are registered in the UK.

We're all used to seeing these vehicles criss-crossing the country every day – but are they operating in the most efficient way? Are their routes being planned to make the most of drivers' time, keep unnecessary mileage to a minimum and avoid congestion as much as possible?

Tachographs already keep track of things like driving time and rest breaks to help ensure commercial drivers stay within the law. But with the help of GeoSpock's state-of-the-art spatial big data platform, this information could be analysed and transformed into a valuable tool for haulage route planners.

Is it more effective for a particular driver to be allocated a shorter journey at the end of the day as they approach their maximum daily driving hours, for example? Could certain routes be swapped between drivers to reduce their driving times?

If you then add in data on traffic congestion, it might be possible to avoid certain stretches of road at times when they are known to be a problem. Combining this with weather data could help ensure drivers don't get stuck in floods or snowdrifts.

This kind of joined-up 'intelligent' route planning could optimise road haulage operations like never before – saving money and improving efficiency. Insurance costs could be reduced, for example, if the risk of incidents was lower through drivers avoiding hazardous weather conditions or accident blackspots. Overtime payments to drivers could be kept to a minimum. And freight could be moved around the country with fewer delays.

But it's not just the road haulage sector that stands to benefit. The government is aiming to reduce HGV greenhouse gas emissions by 15% against 2015 levels by 2025. Optimisation of haulage routes could have a key role to play in getting the industry on the right road – for the benefit of us all.

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