The much greater capacity of double-deck trailers compared with single-deck versions can bring important benefits for transport operators and society in general. Fewer vehicles and drivers are required for a given payload. Fuel consumption and emissions are lower. Road congestion is reduced.
A double-deck trailer can theoretically carry up to twice the volume of a standard trailer. On the website of the Energy Saving Trust, the Department of Transport states: 'Double-deck trailers can improve the efficiency of a business by increasing load volume, cutting unnecessary mileage and reducing fleet size'.
However, all these benefits apply to the vehicle on the road. At either end of the journey, when it is being loaded and unloaded, there are several factors that weaken the case for double-deck trailers and reduce their attraction.
First, trailers with fixed second decks require some form of hydraulic lift to move goods between the decks and the loading dock or the ground. In this case the solution generally is to install scissor lifts at the destination building or have a hydraulic tail-lift on the trailer. Traditional scissor lifts involve expensive and disruptive civil engineering work, while tail-lifts have safety problems and operate slowly.
A hydraulically-powered second deck allows goods to be unloaded safely without the need for an external scissor lift or a hydraulic platform. However, these add considerably to the cost of a trailer and also reduce available payload by about five tonnes.
Transdek UK Ltd has recently introduced a range of free-standing hydraulic platforms that allow vehicle operators to take full advantage of the extra capacity potential of double-deck trailers without the disadvantages and costs usually associated with them. Powered internal decks are not needed, because fixed deck trailers can be loaded and unloaded quickly and safely without the need for tail-lifts or scissor lifts.
One of these platforms costs substantially less than a typical scissor lift and is installed and commissioned in a day, without civil engineering work. They can adapt any loading bay for double-deck operation and can also be relocated relatively simply, and maintenance is also straightforward, with all workings being above ground.
The platforms are fully self-contained and available in several models up to ten tonnes SWL, suitable for carrying up to 24 standard supermarket roll cages at a time. With a lifting range from 150mm above ground to three metres, they can work with any type of double-deck trailer, including Continental types. A large hydraulic bridging plate gives safe, full-width access between platform and trailer, and heavy-duty buffers protect the equipment from vehicle collisions. Dock seals, traffic lights, insulation and weather-protection are also available.
'We believe these platforms could truly revolutionise the use of double-deck trailers', said Transdek managing director Mark Adams. 'They allow transport operators to use the less expensive fixed-deck trailers, and they greatly increase the number of places that these trailers could deliver to. For example, they could deliver direct to retail outlets rather than solely between distribution centres'.
Transdek UK Ltd
Tel: 01777 705958