Published Monday 7th October 2019

In modern business, one of the most pressing issues across all sectors is sustainability. With increasing importance put on environmental concerns by both paying customers and enforcing governments, all corporations are taking steps to future-proof their current processes.

The distribution and logistics sectors have been put under particular pressure with regards to environmental practices. Modern shopping habits have increased the number of vehicles on the road, many of which run at inefficient capacities. Whilst their importance cannot be underestimated, consumers expect heavy goods vehicles to reduce their emissions contributions going forward.

One way HGVs could be set to modernise is through the introduction of platooning systems. Considered by the UK government for many years, trials are expected to take place later this year, as its value to the transport industry is analysed in more detail.

What is HGV Platooning?

In its simplest form, HGV platooning is a system which allows vehicles to reduce fuel consumption through synchronised accelerating and braking.

A common sight on UK motorways is a string of HGVs travelling in tandem. As mentioned above, they provide a vital service to businesses across the country but can be inefficient when compared to other methods, such as rail freight. This inefficiency is often due to the fuel required during acceleration, an issue which is compounded when vehicles ahead suddenly decelerate.

Platooning is a smart technology that links the actions of consecutive vehicles to a leader at the front. All vehicles in the ‘platoon’ will then automatically match the lead vehicle’s actions regarding braking and accelerating.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of HGV Platooning in the UK

Various technological experts and haulage companies have triumphed the advantages of platooning for many years. The primary benefit of such a system is a reduction in fuel usage for all vehicles involved. When used effectively, platooning should reduce the likelihood of sudden and excessive braking and accelerating, which can be a significant drain on fuel for HGVs.

A reduction in fuel consumption could ultimately lead to cheaper deliveries for businesses, helping to reduce distribution costs. It would also lead to journeys being more environmentally friendly than they are currently, which could be vitally important for long-term sustainability.

Despite interest in platooning’s advantages, there are many reasons why the technology has not been introduced onto UK roads yet. One of the biggest concerns for platooning regards safety, not just of the vehicles involved but also other road users. It is currently unclear how, if at all, other drivers will react to HGVs travelling almost in autopilot as large groups. While current trials appear to be limiting platooning groups to three vehicles, a long line of HGVs could cause issues regarding sign visibility and the use of slip roads on motorways.

Concerns about other aspects of platooning have also been raised. It is currently unclear how exactly the technology would work, while worries about cybercrime’s impact on such devices are also frequently raised. Furthermore, debates are still being had concerning the tangible impact platooning would have on fuel consumption metrics.

Utilising Modern Technologies to Reduce Distribution Expenses

Ultimately, it feels like there is still a long way to go before we see HGV platooning become a reality in the UK. There are many reasons behind that, both technological and social, as the nation adjusts to new modes of operation across business sectors. Beyond platooning, however, many new technologies are already revolutionising how supply chains interact.

Here at Expense Reduction Analysts, we’re experts at helping companies reduce distribution costs through effective, long-term procurement strategies. Our specialists have worked across a range of industries and can help to streamline your supply chains, unlocking capital for further investment and strengthening of corporate operations. Modern technologies have opened up more opportunities for businesses to reduce the cost of their logistics operations. If you are interested, get in contact with us today and discover what savings we could create for your business.