As details of the UK's first trials of driverless HGVs were revealed in George Osborne's Budget, Chris Fenton, Business Transformation Director at Wincanton, comments:
"As the largest British logistics business, we welcome the government’s planned trial of driverless vehicles as a way of reducing carbon emissions, but we also know there are other measures that can be taken to deliver reductions sooner.
"Through developing the skills of our people and working collaboratively with our customers, we are innovating how we approach supply chain management.
"Driverless vehicles travelling in a platoon, metres apart, will deliver significant fuel savings, helping the UK achieve a more sustainable future. However, to fill up to 10 trucks travelling in the same direction, businesses will need to collaborate. In fact, closer collaboration to reduce instances of empty running to near zero would have huge environmental benefits immediately, far sooner than driverless vehicles.
"The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight claims this could save £160 million in fuel and prevent 426,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from being released, equivalent to the amount generated by approximately 70,000 cars a year.
"Wincanton has the scale to be able to spot opportunities for shared loads within our network, and we work closely with our customers to make sure every vehicle is full before it leaves a depot. We’ve also developed technology to better track progress out on the road to ensure efficient routes are taken and every mile is well travelled, and have some of the most highly trained drivers in the business who are expert at driving in a way that uses the least fuel possible.
"It’s now time to broaden this collaborative approach across the business community, which potentially means competitors needing to work closer together – something third party logistics providers like Wincanton are ideally placed to help with."