Road haulage vehicles criss cross the country and deliver everything from essential everyday items to heavy machinery and dangerous loads. They’re the bread and butter of the logistics and freight forwarding industries, and our world would look a lot different without them. There’s a big range of vehicles to choose from, and having the correct vans and trucks could make the difference between a well-optimised business and a money and time wasting operation.
Legal requirements for haulage vehicles
First off, it’s a good idea to be aware of the current legal requirements for haulage vehicles in the UK. A vehicle must not exceed 44 tonnes, which includes its load and fuel. The maximum length for a truck is 12 metres, while an articulated truck and trailer must not be longer than 16.5 metres, and road trains up to 18.75 metres. All vehicles must not be wider than 2.55 metres, and if a vehicle is over three meters tall, a special notice must be displayed in the window. Further details can be found on the government website, https://www.gov.uk/moving-goods-by-road.
Different types of road haulage options
Articulated lorries, more commonly known as artics, are the staple transports for any kind of cargo, and a popular choice for many large-scale road haulage firms. Artics are combined with a trailer, and it’s here that haulage firms have decisions to make. There’s a wide range of trailers to suit every cargo, starting with flatbed trailers. This is a straightforward platform without a roof or sides, so goods are exposed to the elements and there’s a higher risk of theft. Although these vehicles generally transport odd-shaped loads such as machinery or building supplies, so the risk of theft is relatively low.
Unlike flatbeds, curtainsider trailers have solid rear doors and a roof. As the name suggests, the PVC sides can be drawn open and closed, meaning goods can be loaded and positioned in a similar way as a flatbed trailer. Pallets could also be loaded from the side, and secured using straps attached to the trailers. This ease of access makes curtainsiders among the most popular trailers to use.
Another popular choice is the less-versatile, but more secure, box trailer. This is one solid unit with two rear doors. The sides don’t open, meaning these trucks are ideal for items requiring more security. Both box trailers and curtainsiders could be doubled up to create a road train. These giants are created simply by attaching one trailer to another, and are capable of hauling huge amounts of items. They’re perfect for when time is an issue, and a mass delivery is essential. Given their length however, they’re not built for city driving, or rural lanes.
A swap body system is ideal for freight forwarding companies dealing with ocean shipping. It’s designed to carry standard sized cargo containers, meaning they can be transferred from the truck to the ground, or vice versa, quickly and efficiently. At this higher end of the scale, there’s also low-loaders, used primarily for transporting smaller vehicles. These are closer to the ground for ease of loading.
Road haulage firms are not short on options. There’s also smaller vans and trucks, but artics continue to be popular vehicles in the logistics industry. The question now is which trailer is best suited to the stock you’re delivering and the conditions you’re driving in, and that can only be answered by experienced logistics professionals. The right vehicles mean a happier workforce, potentially shorter lead times, and a more reliable service.