The Future of Road Haulage
As a key-part of a fast-changing economy, it comes as no surprise that haulage companies have vastly changed the way they’ve operated over the years. Whether it comes in the form of more durable...
As a key-part of a fast-changing economy, it comes as no surprise that haulage companies have vastly changed the way they’ve operated over the years. Whether it comes in the form of more durable vehicles, lower emissions, IT integration or more, the industry has changed in a good many ways. These changes haven’t always been what the public has expected, and the future could hold any number of developments. So what can haulage companies, as well as clients, expect from the industry in the coming years?
What Recent Changes Have We Seen?
The road haulage industry is the fifth largest industry in the country. It represents an influx of more than £70 billion to the UK’s economy every year, and it has seen a broad trend of growth over the years. The assumption would be that this means that there are more vehicles on the road. However, this is not the case: there are around 400,000 HGVs registered nationally, and this number has remained the same through this period of growth. Instead, the increased demand for haulage has been met by larger vehicle capacity and by more reliable vehicles. The newer generation of HGVs are more efficient and more durable vehicles. They require far less downtime and can be on the road, almost constantly, with drivers working in shifts.
Haulage companies also make unprecedented use of IT solutions in order to ensure efficient and comprehensive monitoring of all parts of their business. This trend looks set to continue as hardware and software advancements are made and integration with traditionally analogue parts of the business are improved.
What Can We Expect?
The industry is currently heavily investing in low emissions research, with additional government funding. The Office of Low Emissions Vehicles, in association with Innovate UK, has earmarked £24 million to be used for the development and testing of low emissions technologies by logistics firms and research collaborators. Walkers, for example, recently obtained eight state-of-the-art low emissions rigid vehicles, and plan to further their efforts to reduce emissions.
Haulage companies will also have to grapple with a changing legislative landscape. In the face of London’s proposed HGV ban, and the challenges posed by Brexit, we can expect to see many changes as companies aim to operate within the law while protecting their business.
There has been a recent trend towards outsourcing, and with the approaching skills gap, this looks set to continue. Those working in the logistics industry should bear this in mind as they forge and maintain strong overseas relationships. Efforts should continue to be made to structure their systems in such a way as to make outsourcing practical and convenient.
However, the exact nature of the future of the industry remains the subject of speculation and excitement. It’s not clear exactly how it will change to adapt to a changing society, but it doesn’t look like road haulage companies will lose their dominance any time soon.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.