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There has been a considerable increase in goods deliveries to retailers’ regional distribution centres at weekends as a result of Sunday trading – resulting in a reduction of up to a quarter in deliveries during the week. This brings benefits in reduced congestion on Britain’s roads in the peak Monday-Friday period.

This is one of the key findings of the major survey of food and drink deliveries conducted by SCALA logistics consulting on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT). On March 8th drivers and managers of almost 9000 goods vehicles, from commercial109 Fleets carefully monitored on an hourly basis the performance of their vehicles on the road. The vehicles involved in the survey covered a distance of 1.3m kms.

The full survey will be published by the DfT in the near future, but a summary of some of the key findings was presented by SCALA Managing Director John Perry at the SCALA Annual Logistics Debate on July 12th. The subject of the debate was “Will Environmental Issues Force Us To Think The Unthinkable?” A separate press release on the debate will follow today.

Mr Perry said that deliveries to the on-trade, (pubs and restaurants) plus small independent traders still received most of their deliveries Monday to Friday. “Another major contribution to reduction in goods deliveries during peak times is the growth in 24 hour retail operation. Primary delivery fleets make considerable use of night time deliveries but it is virtually non-existent for deliveries to the on-trade, pubs, restaurants and small independent traders (tertiary deliveries, mainly for drinks).

“The reasons for not using night time and weekend deliveries for these smaller deliveries are usually customer and local authority constraints” Mr Perry said. “Primary fleets make extensive use of the full 24 hours, secondary fleets drop around 30%,
Mr Perry added, “A significant impact of these first two points is that local tertiary drinks deliveries are condensed into just Monday – Friday – and just during the day. Add to this the early morning deliveries of fresh and chill into the majors’ supermarkets and we can see a major peak of activity around urban areas causing additional congestion problems.”

Another key finding was the cause of delays during delivery of food and drink. “There is a perception that the major cause of delays is traffic congestion, but the results of this survey show that although these happen frequently and although there is often a knock on from one delay to another - the delays due to traffic congestion were only 22% for food and 17% for drinks and most were due to loading and unloading problems at customers’ and their own premises”, Mr Perry said.

“If the companies could sort these problems out with more efficiency and more flexibility, then they could save both time and money” he added.

There is a lot of talk about food miles at the moment. We evaluated the distance travelled per pallet delivered – typically for primary and secondary this ranged from 3 to 13 kms per pallet – for tertiary the typical range was 14 to 50 kms per pallet delivered. A very interesting finding – but basically, the local tertiary works out far higher because we are using smaller vehicles and doing far smaller deliveries.
For further information please contact:

Denis O’Sullivan

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