PRODUCTIVITY IN BULK HAULAGE
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HOW can the Road Tank Operator best assist in increasing productivity? This ought to be the question in the minds of everyone during the next twelve months.
Before going any further, it would be as well to consider the term "Increased Productivity " and what it implies so far as road tank haulage is concerned. It does not mean simply carrying more goods or units of production; that in itself will not increase productiVity. What it does mean is carrying more units M such a manner that the transport cost per unit is reduced or, if it is not possible to reduce the transport cost, in such a manner that the efficiency of the manufacturer is increased enabling him to reduce his production costs per unit.
In this respect bulk haulage vehicles whether used for carrying liquids, powders or liquefied gases have made a valuable contribution to increasing the productivity of practically every industry. In saying this, due tribute must be paid to the chassis, tank and equipment manufacturers for the research and development which have enabled the vehicles to attain the present payload and reliability which operators now come to expect.
Average Maximum Payload As an illustration of this aspect consider the movement of an average maximum tanker payload-14 tons—of an edible oil that will solidify at atmospheric temperature and has be to heated to approximately 120F for carrying. The oil having a specific gravity of 0.9 the load would be approximately 3,500 gallons. To move this quantity in drums would require just over 80 drums bringing the weight of the consignment up to 16 tons.
A comparison of the actual haulage charges for packed and bulk movements over the average haul in this country shows that the cost per ton of oil moved may be as much as 10s. per ton in favour of packed haulage, but it is necessary to study the other aspects of the movement when considering the matter.
To maintain a regular weekly delivery would require not 80 but 240 drums. In getting the consignment ready each drum would have to be individually filled, closed, weighed and possibly marked before being loaded. In between the loads the drums would have to be cleaned and repaired. At the receiving end each drum would have to be unloaded, steamed, emptied, closed up and stacked to await return. In addition to the cost of the labour force at both ends the space occupied by the drums represents a considerable sum.
For bulk delivery a storage or holding tank with heating would be required at both ends; the refiner would probably have a tank in any case since it would enable.hinn to level out production. Even if two holding tanks had to be installed, while the first cost would be 'high the annual depreciation charge would probably be offset to a great extent by the saving in labour costs. Because the tanker would be equipped with mechanical discharge and could lift the oil, the manufacturer could put his tank overhead. When required the oil would flow by gravity into the production line while the ground space saved could be used to install additional production machinery, the siting of which might otherwise be difficult.
In all, the cost of handling in bulk instead of loaned drums represents a saving of £5 or more a ton. This puts the matter on an entirely different footing from a straight comparison of transport costs and shows how much the use of road tank wagons has helped to increase productivity. Similar savings could be shown in respect of powders. In view of the high weight ratio of cylinders the savings in respect of liquefied gases would be even more suhstanial.
If the consignment was to be exported it would need to B37 be filled into sound second-hand drums. The cost of these together with the filling, marking, etc. could be as much as £13 per ton. The cost of through road transport from say Manchester to Cologne would show an advantage to drums of .approximately £6 10s. per ton but this is more than outweighed by the additional cost of the drums and filling. By delivering in bulk to the Continent the exporter would be able to compete on equal terms with the European producer, subject always to any import duties which might apply.
What of the Future?
The items mentioned are an illustration of what has already been done for industry by bulk haulage vehicles. What of the future, particularly the immediate future? It is doubtful whether the present payload can be more than marginally increased within the framework of the present Construction and Use Regulations. The various chassis manufacturers have reduced their weights to the lowest possible compatible with safety and in doing so have, in some cases, fitted petrol engines or two-stroke diesel engines as an aid to weight reduction and efficiency. Materials used for tank construction have run practically the whole range available, even to reinforced plastics and rubberized fabrics and the possibilities of further appreciable reductions seem remote.
There have been suggestions that the permitted gross weight is to be increased from the present 24 tons to 26 tons or even 28 tons. Such an increase would assist in reducing transport cost although the reduction in cost would not be pro rata to the increase in weight. The larger tank needed would cost more, heavier tyres would probably be needed, again costing more, while the increase in the weight of the tank and tyres would. add to the Road Fund licence cost. Moreover, fuel costs Would, tend to rise because of the additional weight. Again the extra payload would probably lead to an upgrading of the drivers' rates of pay. Despite these increases in costs the transport cost per unit would show a decrease, although probably small only in comparison with total cost.
Proposals as to the gross weights and lengths of vehicles • in Europe have recently been published. Weights for rigid vehicles show no increase over ours, in fact one suggests a reduction, but those proposed for articulated vehicles are much higher. They range from 32 to 38 metric tons. Hauliers delivering to or collecting from Europe almost exclusively use articulated trailers but are at present limited to our internal gross weight. If they were permitted to conform in this country to the Continental weights and lengths for articulated trailers when carrying direct loads to the Continent the transport charges could be reduced to the advantage of our exporters. The use of such vehicles could perhaps be permitted under special trip permits. The reduction in charges is, of course, the haulier's equivalent of Increased Productivity.
Reliability In what other directions can the haulier assist?
By giving special attention to the reliability of his service. Bulk loads for production purposes are largely individual loads. Collection or delivery at the time stated on the date required are often vital. Failure to collect the load may lead to embarrassment for the refiner who may have to cease refining until his storage has been cleared, while failure to deliver at the required time may result in the manufacturer having labour, machinery and perhaps other raw . material idle awaiting the delivery of the load in question. ,Any .improvement that _can be made under this head is an aid to industry. In this Connection a further check on the maintenance system, particularly preventive maintenance, not only of the vehicle but of the hose, pump or compressor and the tank might be. of advantage to the operator.
Tank Cleansing There are not many liquids which have to be cariied under special regulations and, therefore, require speeial tanks. The main deterrent to using onc tanker for all traffics is the danger of contamination. An improvement in the tank cleansing system offers a possible means of improving the utilization of the vehicle so enabling it to carry a greater tonnage and thereby reducing the cost per ton moved.
Many tank hauliers have experiences of movements of liquids which are so dissimilar that they cannot possibly be carried in the same tank and yet the tonnage of each offered is not sufficient to keep a tanker fully occupied. In such cases the use of articulation—one motive unit with two trailers—will help to keep down costs and, therefore, increase productivity.
Time is an important item to any haulier but more so to the tank haulier since his vehicle is more costly than the general haulage vehicle. In saving time the trader can often assist the haulier: perhaps by better planning of his loading or unloading facilities; by programming vehicles for definite collection times when a number of loads of the same material are to be collected or delivered; by staggering the meal breaks of his staff so that there is no hold-up; by extending the hours during which vehicles can be received; by ensuring that the storage tank will take the full quantity ordered or that the batch to be loaded is up to quality; and by ensuring that the lines to or from his tank are free and feeding in the right direction, so as to save unnecessary hold-ups.
The Five-day Week In itself the five-day week is a good thing in that it allows more leisure and relaxation for everyone, but it has increased costs for the haulier. On a maximum capacity tanker the fact that the standing charges have to be spread over five days instead of five •and a half days may mean as much as an increase of ls. 6d. per ton without there having been any increase in costs. One development of the five-day week particularly where heated liquids are being moved is that some firms are not ready to load until the Monday afternoon while receivers are not prepared to take in much after midday on the Friday with the result that the working week for this class of tanker is reduced to three full and two half-days. A road tank wagon is
too expensive a piece of equipment to be under-utilized in this manner. Any increase, therefore, in the times for loading and unloading can Only be of direct advantage to the trader by reducing transport costs.
Time so far has only been reviewed as referring to that spent stationary, but time on the road is an equally important factor to the haulier. The maximum speed for heavy goods vehicles was increased to 30 m.p.h. some years ago and there is now a suggestion that it may be increased to 40 m.p.h. Any such increases help to increase the productivity of the tank haulier in that he can carry a greater tonnage per vehicle. With a tanker this additional utilization can arise in a number of ways. An important one is the matter of cleaning. If ajourney .cannot be completed in one day and the vehicle has to return to the depot early the following day, cleaning will probably eat into most of the earning capacity of the second day. But if thetime can be so reduced that the tanker can return to the depot the same day, cleaning can be carried out overnight and the tanker can be available for work first thing on the second day. With longer journeys the increase in speed may mean as much as a complete day being available for additional utilization.
More Powerful Engine
What is necessary to take advantage of the extra speed and to ensure that the heavy goods vehicle does not hold up other traffic, particularly on hilly roads, is a more powerful engine. This in turn being heavier will have the effect of reducing the payload, but not by sufficient to offset all the advantage from increased availability brought about by better average speeds.
Road haulage is a service and road tank haulage a specialized service which in itself does not produce any manufactured goods. Nevertheless its productivity can be measured by the efficiency of the service it offers to industry: not solely in the movement of goods but also in the advantages it gives, by its specialized vehicles, to manufacturers to increase their own productivity. Road Tank Haulage is well equipped to play its part in National Productivity Year ".