If the coronavirus lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we must all be prepared for monumental changes to the way we work, as you never quite know what’s around the corner. This requires us to be vigilant and receptive to change, and agile enough in our business set-ups to meet the demands of our time. Similarly, it’s taught us to prepare for any eventualities, so that when change does come, we can pivot our haulage service offering to meet the needs of our clients.
In this article, we want to examine what the future looks like for construction logistics in particular. Being one of the most demanding areas of our industry and frequently involving transport through major cities, it’s more likely to see change than anything else. But while the scale and exact details of that change are yet to be known, we can speculate on what might happen to make construction haulage fit for the future.
By far the biggest challenge facing construction logistics, and indeed the entire haulage industry, is how best to adapt and become more environmentally friendly. After all, there’s no escaping the fact that the bulk of our industry relies on carbon-emitting processes, which will need to be addressed in the future.
Whilst many hauliers, including us here at Forest Freight, have taken steps to be more eco-conscious – for example, making our fleet Low Emission Zone compliant for moving goods in and out of London – we all know more will have to be done.
No doubt this will require the development and wholesale use of new technologies. And one of the biggest innovations in the sector could be the introduction of electric and carbon-neutral vehicles. While these are still some way of mainstream use, they could be the answer to the environmental issues posed by traditional city haulage. The main drawback of this technology is that there’s little evidence that electric vehicles can cope with the distance and weight required for effective haulage solutions.
However, this is where Forest Freight could be at an advantage. Our close proximity to London – being just 15 minutes away from the centre – could make electric vehicles a viable option for our construction logistics service, allowing us to pack and dispatch our fleet knowing they have the charge to make it back to the depot in one round trip. Of course, this is even before we discuss the potential of hydrogen vehicles – but that could be some way off yet!
A Change in Supply Chains
Another change that we might see in the future of construction logistics is the expansion of consolidation centres. These operate in a similar fashion to regional distribution centres, with the specific aim of servicing a densely populated area with tight logistical constraints.
Right now they represent an opportunity for hauliers, forwarders, and construction companies to process deliveries in a convenient location, but we could see an increase in them as cities look to reduce freight traffic and lower carbon emissions. When productivity is fully optimised, these ‘hubs’ could effectively change the way that city haulage operates, adding another link to the supply chain whilst making it easier for forwarders and clients to connect.
Right now, the need for consolidation centres doesn’t really impact Forest Freight. As mentioned, our main depot is exceptionally close to London, where the majority of our construction haulage goes. This enables us to receive freight from ports – London Gateway and Tilbury Docks are less than 10 miles away – unpack and condense in our warehouse, and have it out for delivery in very little time. With London practically on our doorstep, we have direct access to our clients’ sites, negating the need for consolidation. That said, if it proves a more efficient method in the future, this could be something we explore for construction haulage.
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Of course, right now we can only speculate about what the future might hold. But as an industry, it’s important that we assess what might be coming down the road, so we are best placed to make changes and offer the best service to our customers.
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