Hope Technical Developments at the CV Show 2016

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Hope will be exhibiting again this year at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC Birmingham from April 26th to 28th.  We would be delighted to see you there, so if you are planning to visit the show please drop by stand D109 in Hall 5 and say hello.  We will be showcasing all of our products and introducing the brand new all-in-one van and tow overloading protection system.  We can discuss your commercial vehicle safety requirements and show you how the range of Hope products can work for you.

Is Your Fleet Legally Compliant?

Vehicle ChecksRegardless of the size or nature of your commercial fleet, putting safety first isn’t just a moral but a legal obligation. It’s no secret that without the right maintenance checks undertaken on a daily basis, your commercial vehicle could not only breach the latest UK health and safety legislation but leave you open to penalties with fines running in to the millions. Shockingly however van maintenance isn’t always completed and of the 10,800 vans stopped by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), 63% had major mechanical defects whilst more than 90% were overloaded.

As shocking as these recently released figures are it is essential to understand the importance of taking better care of your fleet. As well as saving you money in the long run, regular maintenance checks will also help to keep your drivers and other road users safe.

The SMMT van maintenance campaign

Launched in April 2015, the van maintenance campaign from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) offered plenty of food for thought for the commercial van industry. With more than 3.2 million vans currently servicing the UK, the need for a smooth running and safe fleet is bigger than ever. As well as providing the latest statistics regarding the road safety risk posed by commercial vehicles, campaign organisers published easy to follow guidance detailing how fleet managers and drivers everywhere can uphold safety and avoid the fines that are becoming a major issue industry-wide.

Your roadworthiness checklist

Thanks to guidance from the SMMT, maintaining roadworthiness is easier than ever and a responsibility that all vehicles carrying commercial goods should fulfil…

  • Beware of overloading and make sure all goods are fully secure in accordance with the vehicle’s maximum payload
  • Check that your brakes, tyres, wheels, seats, seatbelts, bodywork and doors are in good condition and free from damage
  • Ensure all lights and indicators work correctly – this includes all dashboard lights
  • Make sure all windscreen wipers are fully operational, whilst mirrors and glass should be aligned, secured and unobscured
  • Keep brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid at their optimum levels.

What else can be done to enhance safety?

In addition to utilising the roadworthiness checklist prior to every journey, there are a number of innovative products that can be invested in to protect your vehicle and enhance safety in the same breath. Our Hope Safe T Bar for example helps to reduce damage caused by driver error and forklift truck loading, a worthwhile investment for those looking to safeguard their vehicles, promote improved safety and effectively manage maintenance re

Transport Workplaces are Getting Safer – But How?

Transport Safety imageLike any market, the road haulage industry must safeguard its workforce and whilst in previous years there have been many scandalous articles regarding the haulage sector’s flailing reputation when it comes to Britain’s road safety record, it seems that statistics have taken a turn for the better recently.

As a supplier of UK made, industry approved products specifically designed to enhance handling and safety for fleet managers and the drivers that take to the roads on their behalf, we take safety very seriously indeed, and have become fascinated by the recent trends presented by the Department for Transport (DfT) and other industry bodies. Here we look closely at the latest statistics and the steps every fleet manager can take to improve safety further.

The road freight industry today

The number of transport workplaces in the UK has increased dramatically in recent years, with more enterprises than ever calling the industry their home. In 2013 there were 31,858 transport workplaces in total, all of which generated a staggering £22.9 billion for the UK economy, which may explain why more money and time has been spent enhancing safety throughout the sector ever since. With the rise of the number of HGV vehicles on our roads came the increasing importance of on-road safety, and according to the Department for Transport the industry has seen a 3% decrease in accident involvement rate for HGVs and an 8% decrease in LGV involvement.

Improving HGV safety

Despite the improved safety statistics presented by the DfT, the government and the fleet managers who work within the sector are keen to improve safety further and build on the UK’s reputation for having the safest roads in Europe. The majority of fatal transport workplace accidents occur due to being struck by a moving vehicle, falling loads, falls from vehicles, and collapsing or overturning vehicles, with issues involving the use of handbrakes, loading and unloading, the raising of vehicles for repair work and climbing onto vehicles being highlighted in particular.

Around 70% of all major, non-fatal injuries result due to slips and trips, being struck by moving or falling objects, falls from less than 2m, and manual handling issues. As an organisation within the haulage industry, tackling the management of these causes head on is important, and there are a number of guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that will make for essential reading. Your investment in specialist safety equipment will also help to protect your people and vehicles, and in turn enable you to manage maintenance costs.

Is the Commercial Vehicle Driver Shortage a Potential ‘Sticky Wicket’?

Van DrivingThere’s no hiding that HGV drivers don’t get it easy, as well as having to spend large amounts of time away from home, the lack of basic facilities on the road at service stations and in laybys aren’t points that fleet managers like to mention when doing their latest round of recruitment. Recent findings have actually revealed that the shortage of commercial vehicle drivers is at crisis point, so what exactly is going on?

Here at Hope Technical Developments we pride ourselves on being at the heart of innovation when it comes to industry grade, fully accredited HGV safety equipment, and in turn we like to keep up with the latest goings on throughout the sector. We had to find out more about the driver shortage currently affecting the market and what can be, and is being, done to make this crucial role desirable once more.

The statistics behind the crisis

The shortage of HGV and LGV drivers isn’t just an isolated problem, it is a UK wide issue that could in fact bring this, until now thriving, industry to a halt. According to a recent survey, the UK will need an extra 150,000 drivers by 2020 to cope with the increasing number of demands on the industry, but with nine vacancies available to every qualified lorry driver, this may not be a figure that can be reached recruitment-wise. Without the right steps being taken now, the problem is also unlikely to go away – according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average age of an LGV driver is 45 years or over and with retirement approaching for the majority of long distance lorry drivers and no young people to replace them, logistics operators may be struggling even more in the coming years.

Statistics provided by a recent Commercial Fleet poll put things into perspective further as 75% of operators highlighted driver recruitment and retention as a major issue, with all commenting on their struggle to recruit drivers.

Government help for the industry

With the crisis reaching fever pitch, the government has pledged their support to improve recruitment and retention throughout the industry. In the March Budget, Chancellor George Osborne addressed concerns directly and pledged to review the speed in which HGV driver testing and driver medical assessments are conducted and finalised. Will this be enough to help the industry meet its recruitment goal by 2020? Only time will tell…

The Bestselling Commercial Vans of 2015

Ford Transit at hope Technical DevelopmentsAs we all get back to work again in January and start a new year, it is worth looking at the trends that 2015 has highlighted for the commercial van industry. Quarter 1 of 2015 in fact saw a record number of commercial van sales with the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) providing exciting news for us in particular as a leading manufacturer and supplier of innovative handling and safety equipment for vans and other commercial vehicles.

Government statistics went one step further to reveal that in light of recent developments and trends it is estimated that there will be 6 million light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on the road in the not so distant future compared to the 3.7 million present now.

The statistics behind the story

According to the SMMT, between January and March 2015, 108,456 vans and trucks were registered in the UK, figures that make quarter 1 of 2015 the best on record.

As many of you may know, the commercial van industry in particular suffered badly during the recession so these statistics are music to the ears of both the new and established haulage and transport companies currently taking charge of the sector. The latest quarterly figures reveal demand is getting stronger and the wider sector more confidently investing in the vehicles that can deliver the goods and services needed, a far cry from 2009 when just 221,132 commercial vehicles were registered throughout the entire year. At Hope Technical Developments we have seen record production numbers right across our product range.

The top ten van registrations

As part of the SMMT survey, a number of commercial van models topped the tables in regards to registration numbers. So far the following models have garnered the most UK registrations as documented here:

  1. Ford Transit Custom – 12,627
  2. Vauxhall Vivaro – 7,449
  3. Volkswagen Transporter – 5,765
  4. Peugeot Partner – 5,611
  5. Ford Transit – 5,276
  6. Citroen Berlingo – 5,207
  7. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – 5,012
  8. Ford Transit Connect – 4,096
  9. Renault Trafic – 3,368
  10. Peugeot Boxer – 2,844

Why the big sales boost?

There is no doubt that things are looking up for the commercial van and truck industry, with more and more firms willing to invest in their fleet, but with the December events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes new statistics that could see van sales driven even further. The rise (and rise) of online shopping deliveries, courtesy of better browsing on smartphones and tablets, has helped to increase the purchases of new commercial vehicles by 22% so could new UK consumer confidence be the real reason behind the sales surge seen in the past year?

 

No doubt by the time we reach the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in April we will know how 2016 is shaping up. Come and see us in Hall 5 on stand D109 – we are ready for more record figures all round.

The Trouble with Truckers’ Toilet Facilities

Drivers Toilet Facilities Whilst here at Hope Technical Developments, our team has been at the cutting edge of fleet technology – being responsible for the introduction of innovative handling and safety equipment in the industry – we understand that there are some age old problems that simply haven’t gone away. A lack of good toilet facilities is one major issue that has been hampering recruitment since our own founder Fred Hope started his own haulage business all those years ago.

Alongside unsociable hours and time away from loved ones, driver toilet facilities have been a major concern for those looking to begin a career in long distance lorry driving and those wishing to continue. But what can be done to quash this long running issue for good by drivers and roadside facilities alike?

Continuing the work of NLW 2015

Toilet facilities for those who call the long distance lorry driving industry their home have always been few and far between, and whilst this year’s National Lorry Week (NLW), which took place in October, worked to combat the issues associated with the health and well-being of lorry drivers and in turn improve quality of life on the road, continuing the work of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and other NLW organisers is a must as we enter 2016.

The event’s ‘Love the Lorry’ campaign was particularly successful and helped to provide positive progression for the RHA, its members and other drivers throughout the sector.

Improving health and safety for drivers

There are many factors that influence health and well-being for drivers currently taking to roads across the globe to make the haulage sector as successful as it always has been. It’s only human to go to the toilet, and alongside issues with hot water at service stations throughout the UK, the lack of loos with safe parking is a problem. Lorry drivers should not be forced to hold on, reduce their fluid intake or be vilified for using quiet spots as toilets when nature calls. Instead more facilities should be made available so that drivers and communities alike can live in harmony! Facilities like the food van in a Petworth layby that recently installed a portaloo to show their support for long distance lorry drivers is seeing the benefit of better facilities for everyone.

Show your support

Like the food van in Petworth, you too can show your support for better facilities on the road. Sign the Provide Better, Safer Rest Areas for Goods Vehicles on UK Motorways/Trunkroads petition today.

Driver Fuel Cards – How to Keep Track of What Your Drivers are Spending

Driver Feul Cards Hope TechnicalHere at Hope Technical Developments, safety is of course of the utmost importance, and we have made it our business to address associated problems with our products since we started out in 1962. As a result we understand the van and commercial vehicle sector implicitly, our founder Fred Hope even had his very own fleet of AEC trucks! Whilst haulage businesses everywhere are passionate about putting safety first, keeping track of and reducing driver spend is also a constant concern for fleet operators.

 

There are many ways that fleet operators can manage the provision of fuel, and driver fuel cards have proved to be particularly effective for haulage businesses big and small, but what do you need to know about fuel cards and how exactly do they cut fleet costs?

An introduction to driver fuel cards

There are many fleet fuel services that claim to be the very best provider of fuel cards, and whilst sorting the wheat from the chaff to find the solution that works for you and your fleet is important, understanding exactly how fuel cards will help you get the most out of driving is important. Businesses all over the UK already utilise fuel cards, and to this day, these cards are a popular and effective way of managing fuel purchases.

Fuel cards are given to drivers to make all their fuel purchases, whether they intend to make a large deposit or a series of smaller transactions throughout the month. By using fuel cards, the fleet operator can successfully control spending and manage this inevitable expense regardless of how much pump prices increase or company fuel budgets grow.

What are the benefits of fuel card use?

As we’ve mentioned briefly the use of driver fuel cards is beneficial whether your drivers make small or large purchases. In addition to ensuring central or cost centre level billing and providing a robust way of managing these frequently made transactions, fuel cards can lower the risk of abuse, limiting purchases of non-fuel or retail products. Reports can be easily generated to chart overall fleet fuel consumption as well as individual purchases, giving fleet operators the means to identify trends and make accurate forecasts for the months or years ahead.

For particularly large fleets, volume discounts or fixed fuel prices may also be made available across the country, small discounts that can make for huge savings for your fleet.

Scania Crowns their 2015 Young European Truck Driver Champion

Young European Truck Driver Hope TechnicalThe Scania Young European Truck Driver (YETD) Championship has always held a special place in our hearts, in fact we used to sponsor the annual event in partnership with Commercial Motor magazine and the Road Haulage Association. Another year means another event, and whilst we aren’t sponsoring the championship this time round, we’re keen to share news of the latest young hopefuls competing for the crown and the driver that subsequently took the title for 2015.

 

More about the YETD Championship

Competition is tough when it comes to being crowned Europe’s best truck driver, and with more than 20,000 individuals taking part this year, narrowing the candidates down to the final 26 was a difficult task. Held in the headquarters of the Scania Group, a leading automotive industry manufacturer of commercial vehicles, thousands flocked to Södertälje, Sweden, to see the 2015 finalists in action earlier this year and enjoy a range of exciting activities including performances from Cirkus Cirkör, seminars on bus and truck building, fun park attractions and on-site exhibitions.

The championship itself is the largest competition for drivers of heavy vehicles around the world, and to date more than 100,000 drivers and wannabe champions have competed to take the title. The 2015 event was the seventh edition of the competition, and as with the years before, the contest aims to recognise and celebrate the skilful young drivers currently taking the sector by storm with their passion for good operating economy, improved traffic safety and reduced environmental impact.

And the winner is…

With competition more fierce than ever, some 26 finalists competed for the coveted titles and the bevy of amazing prizes. The winner of this year’s competition was set to receive 100,000 euros towards the purchase of a new Scania truck along with one year’s free vehicle insurance. For second place, the runner-up would receive a VIP 24 hour racing experience for two at Le Mans, with flight tickets, accommodation, helicopter tour and VIP access all included. Third prize was a hot air balloon tour of Münsterland in Germany as part of a weekend for two.

This year’s competition saw Lars Søndergård from Denmark crowned Young European Truck Driver Champion. The UK had its own champion though, with Lancashire based Chris Brooker-Carey announced as Scania’s Young UK Truck Driver of 2015, a title that saw him secure his place in the final but unfortunately just miss out on the coveted prize.

What are the Pros and Cons of Using Cheap Tyres on Commercial Vehicles?

Cheap tyres on commercial vehiclesWhen it comes to your commercial vehicle’s tyres putting safety first is vital, but like tyre replacement on private cars, the debate about whether cheap used tyres or the more expensive, new alternatives are better still rages on. Read on to discover the pros and cons of using cheap tyres on commercial vehicles, and decide whether you are for or against for yourself!

Get the best possible price

Whether you are in charge of a full fleet or just a selection of commercial vehicles, budget will be at the forefront of any decision you make regarding maintenance. Used tyres are cheaper than buying new, and whilst the condition of unused can’t be rivalled, in many circumstances a used set provides a great alternative freeing up funds for extras, such as wheel alignment and balancing, to improve performance further.

Uneven wear that isn’t always visible

Assessing the condition of used tyres is only something that can be done by a qualified professional, and without this, you risk purchasing a tyre set that is cheap but also of poor condition. Uneven wear is particularly common when purchasing used tyres, and in many cases, damage can be difficult to spot without help from expert eyes.

If your budget simply doesn’t stretch to a new set of tyres, buy used tyres with caution, keeping an eye out for wear on the inside and outside grooves of the tyre, known professionally as ‘scalloping’.

Save money and the planet

Opting for cheaper, used tyres instead of shiny new ones is not only more economical, it’s also more environmentally friendly. Buying used over new prevents waste and ensures landfills across the country aren’t filled to the brim with used tyres that are in a perfectly usable condition.

Beware of previous patchwork

When tyres become damaged, patching offers a cost effective and convenient solution. Whilst tyres affected by low tread depth, run flat damage, secondary damage, ageing, bead damage or previous faulty repairs should be replaced not repaired, those buying used always run the risk of encountering previous patches. As well as buying from a reliable supplier, make sure you check tyres thoroughly for previous patches, bubbles and thin spots to prevent second-hand damage costing you in the future.

Whilst choosing used or new tyres for a commercial vehicle replacement is entirely up to you, educating yourself on spotting wear will ensure you can find cheap tyres without compromising on safety.

What Will the Reduction of Vehicle Testing Facilities Mean for My Business?

Vehicle Testing StationFor commercial vehicle fleet operators, the need to run a tight ship can mean the difference between success and failure, regardless of the type of cargo that you transport. Van safety is particularly important, however, with the reduction of vehicle testing facilities, many fleet operators may have questions about what the closures will mean for their wider organisation.

Here we take a closer look at why van safety matters and what you can do to ensure safe practice continues regardless of test facility closures.

How testing is changing

The annual test for lorries, buses and trailers, similar to the MOT test, is changing. Whilst the number of testing facilities is being reduced, in a quest for a more flexible and efficient service Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) assessors are improving the service they provide to remaining authorised testing facilities (ATFs).

The importance of van safety

With more than 3.2 million vans on the roads in the UK, for the organisations operating fleets and the businesses enlisting them for assistance, safety should be high on their list of priorities. A recent survey by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that poorly maintained vans are actually costing the UK economy millions of pounds each and every year, and of the 10,800 vans stopped at the roadside annually 85% are overloaded, 54% have major mechanical faults and shockingly 50% fail their class 7 MOT.

What can I do to promote safety?

Whilst the closure of many VOSA testing facilities for vans above 3.5 tonnes across the UK is worrying for fleet operators who have until now relied on them to ensure their vans are correctly maintained, there are a variety of steps that can be taken to take matters into your own hands.

Completed on a daily basis, the simple checks detailed below could help you avoid the penalties and prohibitions that go hand-in-hand with vans that are not roadworthy.

  • Understand the van’s maximum payload to ensure overloading can be prevented
  • Check the vehicle’s brakes and steering, paying particular attention to the parking brake when the van is stationary and fully loaded
  • Examine the tread depth, inflation and condition of your van’s tyres
  • Make sure all lights, indicators, washers and wipers are fully operational
  • Ensure all mirrors are correctly aligned and secured
  • Top up your van’s brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid
  • Make sure all bodywork and doors are fully secure
  • Utilise specialist van and commercial vehicle safety equipment such the Hope Safe T Bar under run bars, safety steps in the Hope Safe T Step range and the Hope Tool lift system.

Alongside the daily maintenance checks mentioned above, booking an annual test at an ATF is vital.