Its distribution arm, Co-operative Retail Logistics (CRL), has invested £3m in the new trucks, which will ferry ambient goods between its national distribution centre at Coventry and regional depots.
The lorries have almost 60% more load capacity than CRL’s existing trailers, boosting transport capacity from 51 to 81 cages of product.
This increased capacity will enable CRL to reduce the number of deliveries and cut costs for fuel and tyres. “The
amount of runs required between depots will drop. Three runs with the new trailers would count as four with our standard trailers,” said Ken Thompson, CRL group transport manager. The group is also looking to develop chilled and frozen runs between its regional distribution centres - stretching from Cumbernauld in Scotland to Chelston in Somerset - and the national distribution centre before the end of the year.
This will enable it to respond quicker to orders of chilled and frozen products from Co-operative Group retailers.
Thompson said the decision to revamp the fleet was not taken primarily to comply with the EU Working Time Directive but it would help CRL meet its requirements as well as keeping operating costs down.
The directive, which passed into UK law in April, limits average working hours of goods vehicle drivers to 48 per week.
It particularly hits logistics operations and forces companies to employ more drivers and vehicles to make up for lost time.
“The bonus is these trucks mean we need fewer drivers for the trunking operation.
“We will be able to reduce the number of drivers needed for this project by about 30-40%,” said Thompson.
“We need five drivers to perform work that previously would have been done by eight,” he added.
The double-decker trucks have a payload of 22 tonnes.
They have aerodynamic wedges on their roofs that reduce wind resistance, therefore reducing fuel consumption. They also sport solar panels powering loading lifts at their rear.
The trucks have been purchased by CRLfrom the Dunfermline-based trailer company Gray & Adams.