A big change is coming to the UK’s roads and logistics sector, after the UK government greenlighted Longer Semi Trailers (LSTs) for general use on 30th May 2023. The move comes after 11 years of trials on the public highway, and it is hoped that the bigger trailers will significantly cut transport emissions by enabling transport businesses to handle larger freight volumes on each journey.
What Is An LST?
LSTs are heavy goods vehicle (HGV) trailers that are larger than the standard semi-trailers currently used on UK roads. An LST can measure up to 2.05 m longer than the current standard semitrailers, which are typically 13.6 m long, making road legal LSTs up to 15.65 m long, with the capability of carrying up to 15% more than their standard-length counterparts.
The introduction of LSTs is good news for logistics operators, road users, and the wider economy, with several important benefits:
- Transport companies can increase carrying capacity without expanding their lorry fleet or team of HGV drivers (at a time when there is still a skills shortage in this area), leading to higher sales revenues and profits.
- HGVs equipped with an LST can carry more stock, leading to fewer lorries on the road and reduced congestion.
- Reduced congestion means that journeys can be completed more quickly, with less fuel wasted in idle traffic and a wider choice of routes.
- Reduced transport overheads will enable operators to offer more competitive prices on haulage.
- Lower transport costs will counteract inflationary pressure on consumer and industrial goods.
There are a few short-term downsides of LSTs for operators, however, not least the capital outlay of investing in the larger trailers, and the driver training required to address road safety concerns arising from their increased length.
Larger trailers also present a logistical difficulty for many smaller transport and distribution companies, whose transport yards are configured for smaller scale standard semi-trailers. Simply put, is your transport yard big enough for your business to take advantage of the increased efficiency, cost savings, and carrying power provided by the bigger trailers?
Site Optimisation And Design Options
As most logistics businesses won’t simply be able to purchase a larger transport yard, the most cost-effective way to accommodate LSTs is to optimise and redesign the space you already have. Here are some key considerations and steps to guide a reconfiguration of your transport facilities:
1. Assess Your Existing Yard Layout:
Start by quantifying the available space in your transport yard, taking note of existing routes, docking bays, and external storage areas. This will help you identify high traffic areas and bottlenecks that may reduce efficiency within the yard when using LSTs. Make a special note of any physical constraints, such as buildings or infrastructure, that may limit your ability to expand or modify your layout.
2. Develop A New Yard Layout For LSTs:
It’s unlikely that most businesses will migrate entirely to LSTs from standard semitrailers overnight, so start by allocating specific docking bays and drop-off zones for LSTs, ensuring ample space for vehicle manoeuvrability. To avoid safety issues and congestion, redesign routes to reduce cross-traffic and sustain a smooth flow of vehicles and people within your facility. As part of your review, plan for future expansion or adjustments that take into consideration the growth of your business, the needs of your transport operation, and future requirements for more LSTs.
3. Investing In New Equipment:
With a new LST-optimised yard layout in place, you’ll need to invest in the appropriate equipment for handling LSTs to ensure a smooth and efficient operation. This may include a yard tractor or shunter specifically designed to manoeuvre larger trailers and handle their increased size, weight, and turning radius requirements, with the necessary engine power and attachment mechanisms to move fully loaded LSTs safely.
4. Staff Training And Preparation:
To ensure a smooth transition to handling LSTs within your operation, it’s essential to adequately train and prepare your staff for the change. In particular, invest in comprehensive training for your HGV drivers on how to handle loaded LSTs, focusing on the longer length, increased weight, and unique manoeuvrability requirements. Even experienced HGV drivers may have little to no experience working with LSTs. At the same time, educate your warehouse and support operatives on the safety protocols and hazard awareness requirements of working with LSTs, as well as how to facilitate smooth docking, loading, and unloading without risk of injury or damage to stock.
Find Out More
As logistics planning specialists, the consultants at LPC can help you review you transport operation to accommodate more LSTs utilising our vehicle tracking software, get in touch today by calling 44(0)1285 640038 to find out more.
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