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How Domestic Changes Influence

30th May 1947, Page 36
30th May 1947
Page 36
Page 37
Page 36, 30th May 1947 — How Domestic Changes Influence
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Coal Transport Charges

The Tendency of Householders to Buy Coal in Smaller Lots Increases Distribution Costs. In this Article, Charges for 2-tonners, 3-tonners and 5-tanners on Retail Coal Transport are Set Out

IN an investigation into the cost of distribution of domestic coal, carried out just before the war, it was noted that modern houses lack the accommodation for large quantities of coal. They provide storage for only a few hundredweights, and householders are therefore compelled to pur

chase coal in small quantities: This change alone has increased the cost of transport and distribution.

Again, coal was once supplied in cart loads or lorry loads and dumped near the cellar or collshed, to be handled by the householder, but it is now usually supplied in bags and placed in the cellar or shed by the driver of the vehicle. Before being placed in bags, it is prepared to suit the requirements of the householder. Finally, the householder, purchasing in small quantities at frequent intervals, expects to be supplied promptly and at convenient times, so that transport and distribution tend to become scattered.

The result is an increase .ia the cost of distribution. To-day, even those who can accommodate and are willing to purchase their coal in 1-ton or 2-ton or-even greater loads. cannot do so. The rationing of fuel limits the size of these consignments which now, save in exceptional circumstances, may not exceed a 5-cwt limit.

Where the Money Goes Coal merchants' premises are usually situated in railway yards where there are sidings to which the coal wagons are run. The first business of the coal merchant is to bag the coal and transfer it to his vehicles. The merchant buys the coal at the station depot at an agreed price. Thereafter, according to the report of the investigation mentioned above, he incurs expenditure for the following:—

(I) Maintaining the depot and its services; (ii) loading coal into hit vehicles, transporting and discharging it to the consumer; (iii) maintaining the sales and general office and its service.

The depot costs include the standing charges represented by the stacking ground, plant and machinery, the cost of bags and weighing, and the loss on short weight. The loading and transport expenses include the cost of transport and of labour, whilst the sales and general office costs include clerical and canvassing expenditure, insurance, travelling, and management costs.

Using terms familiar to readers of these articles, the first and third of these categories may be described as fixed charges, as they do not vary with the quantities of coal delivered, whereas those in the second class are running costs, for they do increase and decrease in some proportion, acco,rding to the weight of coal delivered to domestic consumers.

Moreover, coal merchandising is one of those trades which are subject to seasonal fluctuations in demand. The depot, general office, staff and organization must be large enough efficiently to deal with the peak load of traffic during the winter. It cannot, however, without serious disadvantage, be cut down in the summer to all that is necessary to handle the traffic passing in that season. Hence the tendency of the coal merchant to do a little furniture removing and other haulage during his off season.

• The total cost of the first and third of the major items of coal distribution enumerated above was calculated, before the war, to average a total of 4s. 3d. per ton in the provinces. To-day the amount is probably not less than 6s, 6d, per ton, or 7s. per ton if London be included.

My purpose, in this article, is to discuss, in some detail, the costs and charges relating to loading the coal into the vehicles, transporting it, and delivering it to the customer. I shall again take advantage of the research work done on behalf of the Yorkshire Federation of Coal Merchants' Associations, modifying its conclusions, as seems necessary, to conform with present-day conditions.

Customs Changed

The first of these modifications relates to the average weight of coal delivered per customer. Then, about 4 cwt. was the figure; to-day, 2 cwt. is more nearly accurate.

I come now to decide the size of vehicle to be used. With a five-mile radius, the 2-tonner is to be preferred; up to 12 miles the 3-tonner; beyond that distance, the 5-tonner. In the investigation already mentioned, these were found to be the sizes most commonly used.

The average distances over which the coal was conveyed, with the three radii of action enumerated, were 3, 9, and 23 miles respectively.

Figures for cost of operation of the three sizes of vehicle are given in Table I. They show that, for the 2-tonner, the cost is 5s. Id. per ton and 3.46d. per mile; for the 3-tonner, 55. 8d per ton and 3.88d. per mile; and for the 5-tonner, 7s. per ton and 4.50d. per mile.

For our purpose these figures for costs need to be converted into charges by adding 20 per cent., the amount of the net profit. Pc* the 2-tonner, the earnings must be at the rate of 6s. per hour and 40. per mile; for the 3-tanner, 6s. 10d. per hour and 40. per mile; and for the 5-tonner, 8s. 6d. per hour and 5i-d. per mile.

The next matter to be discussed is terminal delays. I am told that, with help given to the driver, the average time necessary to bag and load a ton of coal from a wagon was half an hour. To deliver the bags of coal to the householder the same average time can be assumed.

I am not concerned with assessing rates for delivery per mile lead over a range of distances, but am endeavouring to discover a charge for collection, transport and delivery to be made for bagged coal conveyed to consumers generally-a flat rate which, for convenience, is assessed in respect of the three zones already named.

It is necessary to agree upon figures for time and mileage in respect of each of the three vehicles for the three average distances and then to apply the rates per hour and per mile, so as to arrive at the final figures for charges.

The time for bagging and loading and for unloading is assessed at a total of one hour per ton, so that, with a 2-tonner two hours are required. For travelling time I go back once more to the formula I have enunciated so many times recently. I assume that the first and last half-miles of the journey are traversed at 6 m.p.h. (five minutes each), the next half-mile at each end of the run at 15 m.p.h. (two minutes each), and the middle mile at 24 m.p.h. (2i minutes). The total is 161 minutes for the distance of three miles, which is the average distance that the 2-tonner is stated to run.

In the investigation already referred to, an average speed of 12 m.p.h. is assumed, which would mean an allocation of 15 minutes for the distance of three miles. Adopting that figure, travelling occupies half an hour and the total time for a 2-tonner to make an average journey, including waiting time, is 21 hours. The charge is, therefore, 21 times 6s. (I5s.), plus six miles at 40. (say 2s. Id.); total 17s. Id. It would be reasonable to assume a charge of S. 6d. per ton.

In the case of the 3-tanner, the loading and bagging and unloading time would amount to three hours. The average distance travelled is nine miles. Beyond three miles the average speed is assumed to be 30 m.p.h., so that for the additional six miles 12 minutes are necessary, or 57 minutes for the round trip. The total time for the 3-tanner is,. therefore, about four hours, during which it collects and delivers 3 tons of bagged coal and travels 18 miles.

At 6s. 10d. per hour, the charge for time would be £1 7s. 4d., and at 40. per mile the charge for 18 miles would be within a fraction of 7s. The total charge would thus be £1 14s. 4d. and the price per ton a little less than lls. 6d. That, be it remembered, covers deliveries over a radius of 5-12 miles.

Corresponding figures for the 5-tonner, with an average radius of travel of 23 miles, are as follow:-For loading and unloading, five hours; for travelling three miles, 16,1 minutes each way, plus 40 minutes for the additional 20 miles. The total can be said to be seven hours. The rate for the 5-tonner is 8s. 6d., so that for time we must charge £2 19s. 6d. and for mileage (46 at 5i.d. per mile) practically 21s. The total charge should be £4 Os. 6d., or approximately 16s. per ton.

Total Charges

In order to arrive at the total charges, we must still add the 7s per ton assessed as being depot costs, etc., so that the coal merchant should charge 15s. 6d. per ton for coal delivered in a 2-tonner within a five mile radius, 18s. 6d. per ton for coal delivered in a 3-tonner within a 12-mile radius, and £1 3s. per ton for coal delivered in a 5-tonner within a 30-mile radius.

It is sometimes said that there should be an addition to the charge to make up for seasonal fluctuations. Before the war, summer deliveries approximated to half of winter deliveries, and the seasons were of about six months each. In the calculations which accompanied the investigations of these costs, allowance was made far this fluctuation by increasing the vehicle charges by approximately 33i per cent.

To-day I think it is true to state that that wide variation as between summer and winter deliveries does not exist. There is probably some difference, but not 50 per cent. The reason for the change is that in these days many coal consumers are in the habit, during the summer, of continuing to acquire their ration of coal, putting it in the cellar, and holding it there for winter consumption, An addition of one-fifth to the vehicle cost should amply compensate for that fluctuation in quantity. Accordingly, the rates per ton should be increased to the following:-For coal delivered in the 2-tonner, 17s, per ton; for that in the 3-tonner £1 Os. 9d., and for coal delivered in the 5-tanner £1 6s. per ton. S.T.R.

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