Weighing the options: how transport challenges demand a response
As the transportation industry faces down a range of competing market pressures, from the depressed construction market in some countries to the rising regulations in others, how are trailer and truck body fabricators responding?
The transportation industry in the Gulf is currently facing a number of different challenges — from a selective slow-down in construction in several countries to tightening restrictions on gross and combination vehicles weights and the reduction of fuel subsidies — raising the prospect of increasing diesel prices in the not-too-distant future.
The combination of all these pressures, particularly in the absence of signs of consolidation among existing players, can only serve to increase competition among fleet operators, drive down prices and squeeze margins — intensifying the need for fleet operators to look for an edge over their competition, or a means of reducing their operational costs.
This month’s special report focuses on the trailer and truck body fabrication industry, which has a key role to play in delivering products and technologies to the transport market that can help reduce operational expenses.
In recent years, for example, the tightening of local weight restrictions in the Gulf has led to an increase in the production of lighter trailers and truck bodies made with specialist materials that provide greater toughness or strength — allowing less material to be used in production, more payload to be carried for a given vehicle weight, and less fuel to be consumed when running empty.
Road safety, while always a source of risk and therefore concern for fleet operators, is also coming into sharper focus — with authorities across the GCC increasingly singling out heavy commercial vehicles for their role in a disproportionate number of accidents. Neither is the region alone: the same is true in developed markets like the USA, where a report came out in July revealing the same pattern.
Nevertheless, the result is that trucks are increasingly subjected to safety checks by police in an effort to weed out operators with poor maintenance or operational safety records. We can also expect that fleet operators that overload their truck combinations or avoid connecting braking systems should find themselves the subject of increasingly intense scrutiny.
A flipside of this is the growing demand for trailers and truck bodies that run counter to these failings, and which are designed and built to lower the burden of maintenance operations, while delivering higher safety.