Britain needs to find an extra 50,000 lorry drivers. Mark Adams, the MD of Transdek, is helping the big players to manage their fleet more efficiently. He met Deputy Business Editor Greg Wright.
HERE’S a thought to catch your breath.
A small business based in a former Yorkshire mining community has created technology that has saved its clients a total of 1.5 billion road miles.
And how have they done it? Simply by ensuring that HGVS that carry goods to millions of consumers are loaded as efficiently as possible.
Mark Adams, Transdek’s managing director, has been campaigning to make commercial vehicles more efficient for more than 30 years.
Since he founded Transdek 21 years ago, Mr Adams has seen the company forge ties with the likes of Boots, Argos, Nisa and Eddie Stobart. From its base in Harworth, South Yorkshire, Transdek has helped these corporate giants to meet their “green” targets with more efficiently loaded trailers. Transdek is boosting the economy, and protecting the environment by cutting diesel fuel usage across Britain.
Initially created to develop and sell loading equipment for the distribution sector in the UK, Transdek has grown to offer a full range of trailer and loading bay patented products.
Transdek’s award-winning double deck wedge trailer can generate 25 per cent extra load volume and up to seven tonnes of additional load weight capacity. The firm estimates that, if the existing UK double deck trailer fleet converted to Transdek’s wedge trailer, this could save an extra 157 million road miles per year, which is equivalent to 328 return trips to the moon.
Mr Adams’ working life began in the 1960s, when he joined a transport firm as a clerk in Bristol. The transport system was not as sophisticated as it is today.
He said: “You may find this difficult to believe now but in those days, if you went, say to Gloucester, where I was based for a while, in the bad weather the tractors and trailers weren’t allowed to run because they were considered to be too dangerous.
“Since then lots of things have happened; you’ve had anti-jackknife devices and you have much better traction.”
He added: “It’s so important to make vehicles more efficient and to make them safer. We are able to work with the large companies to make them more efficient.”
In his previous role, as managing director of Carrymaster, Mr Adams produced the first double deck trailers in Britain. He went on to develop and patent a large number of trailers and loading systems that provide cost and environmental savings. Mr Adams later turned his hand to developing a range of lifts to service double deck trailers.
His goal is to make double-decking, and its associated costs and green benefits, accessible and affordable to a wider spectrum of transport operators.
During his career, Mr Adams has helped to develop multi-deck trailers, with multiple lifting sections along the trailer length, which have been used by John Lewis and the Christie Tyler Group. He’s also worked to devise 52-pallet double-deck trailers, which have been developed for Brooke Bond Oxo. Another innovation – the megadek internal loading system – is a hydraulically powered platform, which slides on rails along the internal length of trailers. Mr Adams is also behind the powered double deck trailers which were designed for the Royal Mail and have gone on to become the UK industry standard.
Transdek’s double deck wedge trailer recently won a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category.
Transdek’s growth comes at a time when Britain is facing a shortage of HGV drivers, as large numbers of the current workforce heads towards retirement.
Mr Adams said: “There’s a massive 50,000 shortage of drivers in the country. “
He added: “All large operators are very conscious of it. They are all worried but if we can design, together with the manufacturers, trucks that are a better combination, then we think that probably, for every seven vehicles on the road at the moment, you could at least take one or two off.
“But it means taking a completely different view of how things are going to be loaded and how things are going to be run.
“We’ve got about 55 staff at Transdek who are employed in skilled jobs. We are the complete solution.”
He is keen to highlight the environmental and economic benefits of Transdek’s work.
He added: “It means, in theory, the massively congested roads of ours will be marginally less congested; there should be less trucks on the road.
“Trailers are generally underloaded because they can’t run the risk, in these huge distribution centres, of being overloaded and having to go back.
“So generally, they underload them. So Transdek has just started the first trials of the trailer that is able to weigh its own load as it’s going on.
“So the driver will have screens to show exactly how much load to put on the top deck and exactly how much to put on the bottom deck, to show that the whole thing is being loaded to capacity.”
Mr Adams is proud of Transdek’s dedicated workforce. Many of them live near the former pit village of Harworth, where affinities last a lifetime.
He said: “They know that they are part of tomorrow’s world. They are not doing the same job today they will be doing tomorrow.
“There’s a very good sense of camaraderie among people who, in their own way, are coming up with better ways, of how we are putting stuff together.”
He believes there is a case for introducing a levy to ensure that all HGVs are loaded to their full capacity to reduce wastage.
He said: “We’d love to see the Government giving directives to say that you can’t overload, but you can’t underload either.”
Transdek’s customers are also happy to make the case for them. Last year, Transdek UK supplied a customised package of double-deck trailers and loading systems for Nisa Retail that will save the company an estimated £400,000 a year.
Nisa expects to cut 1,300 long distance journeys this year, and, thanks to Transdek, the firm will burn 273,000 fewer litres of diesel.
And what’s the best thing about doing business in Yorkshire?
Mr Adams said: “We have a very nice factory, with very nice people. We’re very fortunate in that we don’t have people leave us. We do a very interesting job.”