Letter to the editor: LST update03 July 2017

As the largest UK supplier of trailers, and indeed supplying more longer semi-trailers (LSTs) than any other manufacturer in the UK trial, SDC is proud to be at the forefront of one of the industry’s major developments for more efficient road transport. If managed correctly, LSTs have the opportunity to significantly boost productivity levels and deliver economic savings, thus creating a more competitive and sustainable road transport industry.

It is our belief that the additional licences have come about due to the need to keep enough trailers on the road for 10 years to evaluate the trial properly. For example, we have double decks, put onto the road in 2012, with over 1,000,000 kilometres completed. With extensive use like this, the trailers’ life will likely have expired before the trial is complete. As the licences are not transferable from an expired chassis to a new chassis, a new issue of licences was required to keep the unit numbers high enough for a feasible trial.

While it has previously been reported ('The Search for Space') that operators require a command steer axle instead of a castor steer (camber steering mechanism) on a 15.65m trailer, this is not the case. SDC offers 14.6m and 15.65m LSTs with both forced steer and self-steer axle configurations for all trailer types. For the main pallet networks where reverse manoeuvrability is not critical, the cost, servicing and weight savings on a self-steer over a forced steer are more attractive. However, we have seen considerable demand for a forced steer option from operators who need greater reverse manoeuvrability, for example when moving hay and straw in small farmyards.

Double decks have been the trailer of choice in terms of popularity when it comes to LSTs. An SDC 15.65m LST double deck with a full length second deck fitted has the ability to carry 60 UK pallets, as opposed to the 52 pallets carried by a standard 13.7m with a full length second deck fitted, meaning that for every seven trips the LST completes, a distance equivalent to greater than a full trip of the standard double deck has been saved.

SDC has also developed a longer length platform trailer with a kicker deck installed. This was designed for a particular application to move new articulated trucks as well as plant and machinery. The arrangement allows the operator to fit three new trucks onto the trailer that could previously only hold two, creating a saving of 33%.

Our customers have reported no significant issues in loading or driving; there has even been an indication that LSTs are in fact safer than the standard semi-trailer, with a reduction in the number of incidents reported. That said, SDC will continue to evaluate the performance of its LST designs, in terms of their safety, robustness and durability, over the 10- to 15-year trial period.

The DfT’s LST trial is a real opportunity for operators to show the benefits these trailers can bring to the UK, and SDC is working closely with customers to support them throughout this process.

-Paul Bratton, commercial director, SDC Trailers

Paul Bratton

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