A WELL-known road haulage firm has gone to new lengths in a bid to successfully drive its way out of the recession. Consett-based Elddis Transport has designed and developed the longest trailer in Europe and possibly the world to improve efficiency and reduce CO² emissions by 250,000kg a year.
The haulage, warehousing and distribution company is looking to uphold its title as Durham and Wearside’s most innovative company at The Journal’s nebusiness Awards.
Two years ago, it embarked on a project to improve fuel economy and reduce CO² emissions in several areas, including the aerodynamics of its vehicles.
By working closely with the vehicle manufacturers, a leading aerodynamicist and a vehicle spoiler manufacturer, a bespoke solution was developed which reduced drag and improved fuel economy. This project involved a £20,000 investment by Elddis, which showed a payback period of less than 12 months.
This project earned Elddis the well-deserved Durham and Wearside Innovation award at the prestigious business competition in 2012. Around three quarters of Elddis’ 300 staff are in the North East, but its seven depots include one site in Yorkshire and two in Lancashire.
It has grown over 42 years to run a fleet of 150 vehicles and just over 300 trailers from nine sites.
The firm’s decision to mastermind Europe’s longest trailer came on the back of the government’s decision to conduct a 10-year trial of 1,800 longer trailers in 2011.
The then transport minister Mike Penning said research predicted the larger trailers would reduce lorry miles in the UK by 100 to 180 million a year by 2015.
Elddis successfully applied for a licence to run these longer trailers as part of the trial and won licences to operate 11 on the road in total.
Managing director Nigel Cook said his company has used this opportunity to not only build a bigger trailer, but rather build the biggest trailer.
“A normal trailer carries 52 pallets whereas this one carries 90,” he said. “That’s 75% more product than a standard trailer would carry. The trailer will be a year old in May this year and it will have covered 400,000km in a year.
“It’s our biggest trailer but also our most environmentally-friendly.
“It is very intensively operated between our two factories up here and in Lancashire 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
“We transport anything and everything that goes in your shopping trolley and we’ve had to adapt to the 24-7 nature of this business. The trailer cost £100,000 to develop and make but it’s already more than worth the investment.”
Despite a tough year for many in the industry, Elddis has managed to record a healthy profit throughout the long-drawn-out recession.
Cook puts this down to the firm’s passion for continuous innovation and its ability to look after its staff.
He said: “One of the strengths of our business is our ability to retain our customers and our staff.
“We still employ one of our original drivers who joined us in 1971. He’s now in his 70s!
“It’s very much about controlled growth and holding our own in a time of austerity. We’re not about to double our turnover overnight but we broke £25m in sales this year and our £327,000 profit will also be up.
“We’ve been successful in winning new business because clients like the strong family ethos that we have within the firm.”