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Solving the Problems of the Carrier

14th January 1944
Page 34
Page 35
Page 34, 14th January 1944 — Solving the Problems of the Carrier
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Why Sand and Ballast Rates Vary

Local Conditions, Many Rather Than Few, Influence Rates and Make It Almost Impossible to Apply a Nation-wide Standard IN my contribution in the issue dated December 31 last a number of schedules of rates for the haulage of sand and ballast, etc.,' was published. Wide differences in• the opinions of hauliers as to what those rates should be were shown ; the highest rate was more than 50 per cent. above the lowest ancino two were alike. '

I have, in a way, made that confusion worse confounded by compiling a new -schedule based on current figures for costs of operation; that schi-dule appeared last week. it was, naturally, higher than most of the others, because costs have of late increased.

In the longer leads it asked for rates in excess of any, and I spent a good deal of my space last week in explaining how that carne about. In brief, it is because hauliers, when they compile such schedules, axe inclined to be optimistic about the speeds at which their vehicles can travel. Alternatively, they take it for granted that they need not concern themselves with the maximum legal speed of 30 m.p.h. That is something which I must always keep in mind.. Others will have to do so when this war is over and operators will do well, in planning rates of all kinds, not to lose sight of that fact. .

Another factor which throws the haulier's calculation out, in a matter of this sort, is that he is unaware that it is a tricky business to deal in averages. To emphasize that point I propounded a riddle, concerned with the price of peaches. Thc solution, as I stated, is bound up in averages. Because the hawker was selling his peaches at six for 10s. and four for 10s. respectively, he concluded that the average price was 2s. each (10 for £1) and sold the rest accordingly. Actually, to arrive at the figure for the average price it is necessary to take into account the total number sold. In the first place, that was 130 for £12 10s., which is a fraction over 1s. 11d. each. As it happened, the mistake benefited him to the extent of 10s., but it might have been the other way.

If, during the first period of his marketing, he had sold a greater proportion of the more expensive peaches, say, 70 at four for 10s., and GO only at six for 10s.-still 130 in all-his revenue would have been £13 15s. and he would have lost 15s. as the result of the rearrangement when he had sold a further 130 at 10 for £1.

Error of Cutting Rates In the Higher Mileage 'Ranges A mistake of just the same kind is made by those who cut the rates for the higher scales of inileage. According to the method adopted in the Eastern Area schedule the figures for weightage in the fourth column of Table III (reproduced herewith from last week's article) should include diminishing amounts beyond the 13th mile. That is, for 13-miles lead the weightage should be, as I have it, nil : it should be minus ld. at 14 miles„ minus 2d. at -15 miles and so on, up to 30 miles, when the minus figure is Is. 5d.

Now, see what that means. At present, the allowance for travelling and time, in column three, is at the rate of 5s. Gcl. per h6ur and 10d. per mile. For a 30-miles lead the total is given, in Table III, as 189.90d., say, 15s. 10d., per yd., which is £3 3s. 4d. for a 4-yd. tipper. Out of that total there is £2 10s. (GO miles at 10d. per mile) for mileage, leaving 13s. 4d. for time. As time is charged at 5s. 6d. per hour, it means that the time allowance is 2.44 hours, so that the vehicle speed provided for is an average of slightly less than 25 m.p.h. That is a fair average, possibly a little low, but not excessively so, keep

lug in mind the fact that the maximum legal speed is 30 m.p.h.

If the minus weightages be taken into account, and I do, insist most emphatically that they must not be, is. 5d. must be subtracted from that figure of 15s. 10d., leaving 14s. 5d. per yd., or £2 17s. &I. for the vehicle as a whole. Take away £2 10s., as before, for the mileage and there is 7s: 8d. left for time at 5s. 6d, per hour. That means that 1.4 hours is alt the time. provided for GO miles of travelling. To do the distance in that time the vehicle must run at an average speed of rather more than 42 m.p.h.

Perhaps, the best way to compare the two sets of conditions is to point out that under those presumed in my figures it would be possible to deliver two -loads per day with time to spare. According to the other set the operator would have to deliver four loads per day regularly over a 30-miles lead. Need I say more?

An Additional Charges Point Misunderstood by Operators This matter of the additional charge per extra mile lead, in the upper reaches of these schedules of rates, seems to me to be important. I have never been able to understand why operators think it can be so small. There are a couple of outstanding examples of what I have in mind in the scales of rates published in Table I in " The Commercial Motor" dated December 31 last: Both the Northern Area, A.R.O. and operators in North Wales are agreed that an addition of 2d per ton is sufficient payment for each extra mile lead above 28.

Now, 2d. per ton means 10d. for a 5-ton load, or la. for a 0-ton load. That amount has to pay for two miles of running. These operators, therefore, are willing to accept 5d. per mile for the operation of a 5-tonner, or 6d. per mile for a 6-tonner. It is just sheer nonsense Sometimes, in the past, I have thought it possible that

these operators made sufficient on short hauls, of which I presumed they had plenty, to make this low charge pay. I could not see the logic of +even that, but, knowing my :haulier, I considered it quite likely that he had thought along those lines.

Even that far-fetched theory cannot possibly apply in this case, The Northern Area rate for a one-mile haul is .1s. 8d. per ton, the lowest of any recorded.

I just give it up, hut would welcome enlightenment all the same.

It may he remembered that the instigator of these articles was " A.C.I.S.," who -contributed a particularly useful letter, on the subject of sand and ballast haulage, to the issue of " The Commercial Motor ", dated December 3. Soon after, I attended the inaugural meeting of the new Association of Distributors of Sad and Ballast. There I collected several new facts and points of view, upon many of which I have drawn for the nraterial of these articles.

" A.C.I.S." has, however, written a further letter, amplifying the information given in the. previous one. I am going to deal with his second letter in detail; it well deserves such treatment.

After setting out the statistical information with which I deal below, he refers to my article published, in the December 31 issue, giving various schedules of rates. The figures and data in those Tables, he writes, " are usually based on good roads at the pit and hopper loaded and, except where 'delays occur, through waiting at either end; or ground conditions at the delivery end, mean a fair profit to the haulier.

" But what I set out to show was that, in the ballast trade, a price based 'on standard costs built up on ordinary straight running without an appreciation of all the other factors I mentioned . . particularly. in war-time, might prove a very costly ekperience."

Effort to Secure an Economic Standard of Costs and Rates.

How very true. But he continues : " Now, what benefit are hauliers to get from this correspondence? First, I think, from S.T.R.'s efforts, a standard of costs and rates to be aimed at by the sand and ballast trade, and used as a guide.. When the costs are exceeded, it should be the signal for en examination and an answer to ' why? ' Secondly, from' my letter, I hope, a red light to those who have:the urge-:to rush in without -a full investigation of the facts."

How many hundreds of times have 1, written tile same thing, in other words perhaps, but certainly, having the same meaning. "The Commercial Motor" TableE of Operating Costs, I have urged again and again, when properly used,. serve

as a check upon the operator's own figures, which, for his OWII

salvation, he must keep. If his actual costs be higher than those quoted in the Tables, he must search for the reason. If they be lower, he should examine

• them to Make .sure that this is not -due to some essential item having been left out.

To continue: " In my' own case,' I have come to the conclusion that wet ballast should never be hauled from the pit, unless the road be hard and practically ' waterproof,' and that the rates should be on a tonnage basis, so that a fair return can be obtained for tile load carried."

Now, there is an important point, one which needs emphasis not only in connection with the haulage of sand and ballast, but of other commodities as well, such, for example, as timber and bricks.

Sometimes operators are asked to quote for the haulage of timber by the standard, and do so, often without realizing that a standard of hard wood may weigh twice as much as a standard of soft wood-. Or, again, to quote for bricks by the thobsand, ignoring the fact that a thousand bricks of one kind may weigh 31 tons as-aaainst 21 tons of another. In sand and ballast, as "

has shown, a yard may weigh as much as 1i tons, whereas the usual estimate is 11 tons,

Our friend continues, still on the subject of weight: "Not more than the maker's stipulated load should be -hauled or tipped; excess brings a multitude of. troubles from tyres, tipping gear, springs, etc."

Overloading Prevents Costs and Rates Being Properly Assessed One thing is certain : no one can possibly assess costs and fix rates in connection with vehicles which are consistently overloaded, as must happen, of course, if a 4-yd. tipper be . carrying wet balla#--so wet that the load tips the scale at 7+1 tons. Overloading and neglect are, in fact, the two most frequent answers to " A.C.I.S.'s " " Why?"

Readers should now refer back to his original letter, on. page 324 of " The Commercial Motor " dated December 3. In it, he states that) of a fleet of 20 4-yd. tippers, eight were usually laid up each day for " minor" repairs. In my comment, printed upon the same page, I queried the accuracy of that figure eight, as being an excessive proportion of the fleet. He now corrects that, as an understatement, because the repairs were, better described as " major " rather than " minor." He adds that, before the work was commenced, lie accepted the rate of 5s. 6a. as being sufficient for an eight-mile haul.. Bitter experience demonstrated his error, ' and he-decided to write to " The Commercial Motor '.' so that others Might . take warning and avoid a similar mistake.

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