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Minimising empty running is a full-time job. Jack Carfrae asks how it’s done, if the rates are worth it, and whether new entrants can help.

“WE’VE actually got a joke that, if we go into the kitchen or another office, I say, ‘take that paperwork with you, because there’s no dead miles’.”
That’s a bit of banter from Alan Taylor, managing director of Xs Transport, about the company’s approach to filling its trailers. Joke it may be, but it’s actually quite a pithy summary of one of the main jobs for hauliers: avoiding empty running.
No haulage company wants trucks on the road unless they’re earning their keep and most, if not all, will tell you the rates do not justify a one-way trip alone.
However, the Department for Transport (DfT) reckons 29.9% of vehicles over 3.5 tonnes were running empty in 2022 (see our sidebar Hollow man: are a third of trailers really empty? for more detail) and, realistically, constantly brimming your trailers at every stop, every time, is an economic fairy tale.

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