Capacity Utilisation

Empty running and capacity utilisation is an important issue, but apparently with few solutions. In principle in a market place a road haulier, shipper, freight forwarder will have no interest in planning empty runs. However, in many circumstances empty runs are impossible if more goods are transported in one direction than in the other direction.

In 2011 the Swedish authorities published a thourough study of capacity utilisation. The study was based on consultations between the authorities and representatives from Logistikforum, the industry, academia at a number of seminars.

The combined knowledge of capacityload factor is limited. Focus has been on sustainability and efficiency, where load factor is just one element. Furthermore, the concept load factor has many different definitions, which contributes to the fact that no clear statistics exist and so many different perceptions float around.

In other words, the study concludes that facts are missing for assesing load factor for freight transport on both way and railway. In the report to the Swedish government  Transportstyrelsen, together with Trafikverket, Trafikanalys and Vinnova proposes need for better statistics and to move the discussion away from empty running and load capacity to focus on efficiency.

Furthermore the study observers, that the problem with low load factors may be smaller than expected. On this basis the report makes two suggestions:

- Better statistics but with an eye on the extra costs of collecting this new data

- Focus on transport efficiency in the logistics systems and the sustainability discussion where load factor is only one element of many.

The report can be read here: