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26th March 1937, Page 36
26th March 1937
Page 36
Page 37
Page 36, 26th March 1937 — HAULIERS WHO CUT THEIR Owl\
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?


Rational Use of the Figures in "The Commercial Motor" Tables of Operating Costs Preferable to the Preparation of New


0 F the many hopeful signs in the industry just now, the most promising is represented by the ,efforts which are being made, district by district, to stabilize haulage rates. I have some examples before me with which I shall deal shortly. In Yorkshire, I am told, operators are engaged on a scheme of this kind. Whilst they agree that The Commercial Motor Tables of Operating Costs are excellent for the purpose, they are of opinion that, as they can buy certain cornmodifies, in quantities, at prices below those applicable to the average small haulier, also in view of the fact that, in some cases, their maintenance costs are less than those in the Tables, they can afford to cut their haulage rates accordingly.

Now, as only big buyers are given advantages in prices of tyres and petrol, this attitude is equivalent to a statement that haulage rates in Yorkshire are being stabilized on a basis which will satisfy the big operator, but will show less than a fair profit to the small man. In view of the fact that big hauliers habitually complain that it is the little man who has no knowledge of costs and is the source of all the rate-cutting, this attitude on the part of the bigger operators in Yorkshire seems inconsistent, to say the least. It would serve them right if, when they have completed their labours, the small hauliers were to refuse to have anything to do with the schedule.

I am well aware that it is ordinary commercial practice for a concern, when pricing its products in a competitive market, to take every reasonable step to cut costs and to reduce the selling price. There is, however, no analogy between that method and the preparation of a schedule of rates, which shall meet B2 the requirements of a body of traders, all associated, as are, or should be, haulage contractors.

There the endeavour should be to frame a scale of rates which will show a reasonable profit to every, efficient operator. If the schedule happens to favour some of those concerned, because of special facilities which they enjoy in respect of, then, so long as the proposed scale is not extravagant and likely to discourage business, surely the logical procedure is for those favourably placed to take advantage of their economies. I can see no logic in the suggestion that the result of such business acumen, as I might term it, should be passed direct to the consumer.

Cheese-paring Rates Schedules.

If there had been any suggestion that a schedule of rates, based on average figures and giving reasonable opportunities for fair profits to all, was likely to be prohibitive, the matter might be worthy of further consideration. There is no such suggestion and there is no form of competition which will be discouraged or fostered by this cheese-paring policy, The advantage of The Commercial Motor Tables of Operating Costs, considered in this light, is that they embody average figures. The figures can be improved upon in cases where, as mentioned above, the operator is able to purchase supplies on favourable terms. On the other band, the results exemplified in the Tables are in many cases unobtainable, because of the difficult conditions of operation. A fair scale of haulage rates acceptable to all parties concerned would be one based upon the Tables.

Although I may seem to be contradicting myself, it

is worth while, in determining rates as applied to a particular class of haulage, to consider the figures from another angle. In this branch of the trade, are the conditions such that the cost of operation in any or all of the items is likely to be greater or less than the average? If it be agreed that that is so, there is justification for modifying the figures in accordance with the facts.

As an example of what I mean, take, first, furniture removing. Here there are two factors which must be considered. The first affects the actual cost of operation; the second the charge to be made per hour. Furniture vans are expensive in the first place and they cost more than the average to maintain, because of the more elaborate bodywork and painting. A considerable proportion of the journeys is over short distances, which fact tends to increase the petrol consumption per mile.

Removers' Costs Abnormal.

Consequently, at least three items of running cost increase—fuel, maintenance and depreciation costs are above the average. The fact that, taking an average throughout a year's normal working, furniture vans are in use for only about 36 hours per week, means that the cost per hour is 33-i per cent more than the hourly rate quoted in the Tables, an. that the charge per hour must be increased in like p .1.ortion.

ranches of haulage in which sp ial vehicles are required, as in the case of foodst ifs, necessitating insulation; horseboxes, vehicles for • e conveyance of sheet glass, tipping lorries—these a 1 involve extra expense in one direction or another, and this feature must be taken into consideration.

The department of the industry wi which I am at present concerned—following requests om some of my friends—is that of the haulage of vel. Here there are certain special characteristics whi h affect cost of operation. There are some hauliers ho imagine that gravel haulage can be undertaken at ss cost than the average. They are indubitably mis en. Fuel consumption in this branci of haulage is probably about the average, except cases where a vehicle is continuously engaged for long periods on particularly short hauls; then it tends to become excessive. Tyre cost is above the average, the mileage to be expected from tyres in this class of work being below normal. That is because the tyres are damaged when entering and leaving the pits, and in delivering off good roads.

There are two aspects of maintenance to be considered. There is, first, a saving on washing and polishing, because it is not the habit of gravel hauliers always to keep their vehicles in the condition one naturally expects from a delivery van, for example. On the other hand, wear and tear of the chassis mechanism are greater. In addition, there is the maintenance of the tipping gear and of bodywork, which is subject to much greater stress when tipping than inexperienced hauliers realize.

On the whole, it is fair to state that the cost of operation of vehicles engaged on sand and gravel haulage is somewhat greater than the average. It will be reasonable to take 4d. per mile as the running cost of a 3-tonner, 4d. for a 4-tonner and 6id. for a maximum-load vehicle, which will probably carry no more than 7 tons.

There might be a certain saving in respect of petrol consumption in the case of the newer-type lightweight 5-tonners, and I think probably 5d, per mile would cover the running cost. There is some doubt about this figure, because no one yet knows how these light vehicles are likely to withstand rough treatment, i.e., no one can yet assess the probable cost of maintenance or the incidence of depreciation.

The standing charges are subject to the usual modification, namely, that the figure for insurance must be at least doubled. For the time being it will be sufficiently accurate to take the cost and charge per hour given in the Tables as applicable. The actual charges should be as set out in Table I. S.T.R.


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