For a lesson in improving environmental credentials, Britain’s van fleet operators could do worse than turning to their counterparts in the heavy truck world.
Recently, hauliers in the UK’s food distribution sector announced that they had reduced journey times by two million miles’ worth in the past five years by a series of innovative solutions.
Not only did this prevent tonnes of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere, it also saved them huge amounts of cash through using less fuel. At today’s fuel prices, they saved a total of £1,294,000.
The announcement came from IGD, a charity group made up of big hitters in the food industry.
Among the initiatives undertaken are sharing vehicles, even with competitors, to avoid empty trucks on return journeys, using the latest telematics technology to monitor traffic and re-route where necessary, changing the site of depots and exploring alternative means of transport, such as greater use of railways.
IGD has also published a number of best practice guides, together with a series of case studies and a cost calculator so that fleets can capture and record their savings.
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD, said: “Food and grocery companies are some of the largest users of road transport, responsible for one in four of all HGV miles travelled in the UK.
The industry recognises its responsibility to manage its impact on the environment.
This commitment includes individual and group initiatives to reduce the fuel used, miles travelled and ultimately the number of vehicles on the UK’s roads.
But while a notable milestone, the industry’s commitment to transport sustainability doesn’t stop here. IGD continues to bring a wide range of food companies together to offer to discuss ways in which they can co-operate further.
In addition, more than 200 transport opportunities have been identified since last September and many of the organisations have already started working together as a result.”
Companies that have taken part in the initiative include Asda, British Sugar, Coca-Cola, Heinz, Iceland Foods, Proctor & Gamble, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
The idea of sharing vehicles with direct competitors may seem a bizarre one but, by setting aside business differences, those taking part in this scheme have seen huge savings in fuel costs.
Richard Jones, IGD senior supply chain analyst, said: “Our work is a compelling example of how working together can really help deliver benefits to both consumers and the environment.
“Even if you run a fleet of vans, you can still review your own organisation to improve how your supply chains work. “