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HGVs Through The Ages

No one can question the importance of HGVs in keeping our economy moving. As one of the most important logistics tools available, HGVs are responsible for transporting goods across the country. From moving goods from suppliers to business to moving goods to customers. Just take a look at our highways at any time of day and you will see a HGV or two.

However, it hasn’t always been like this. While HGV driver training is ubiquitous in our modern day societies, HIGVs are relatively modern inventions. They only recently replaced the bee of smaller vehicles, carts and horses that transported goods across the country. Owing to their sizes, such cars had a hard time transporting large quantities of goods and only moved small quantities of goods.

So, how did we shift from using lower tonnage vehicles to using HGVs.

The 1900s – The Birth Of The Lorry

In the early 1900s, a career in truck driving was undesirable. This attitude towards truck driving had to do with work experience afforded by the equipment of the time. For instance, the tyres in popular use at the time were made of solid rubber. Consequently, the journey was bumpy, rough, and uncomfortable.

Around 1912, the pneumatic (better known as air-filled tyres) was invented. This new invention improved the ride quality for drivers. The driving experience became comfortable in an instant. Driving became pleasant.

Aside from comfort, the tires also made trucks drive faster. This sped up the freighting and shipping process. The invention of pneumatic tyres transformed the entire HGV industry.

Around the same time, the HGV industry in our country was influenced immensely by success of tracking trucking in the U.S. The Seattle Chamber of Commerce set out to demonstrate the usefulness trucking in 1916. The organisation sponsored a truck and driver to drive from Seattle to New York, a trip that took 32 days to complete.

The trip was carefully designed to show manufacturers how the trucks and the new highways being built would influence transportation and commerce in the future. It signalled that any organization that did not get on board would be left behind. The demonstration trip was a huge success.

The 1920s – The Influence Of Illumination

Electric headlights were a common feature even before 1920s. However, they were not a common feature in HGVs until the 1920s, when they became a common feature and the compulsory. While this might seem like a trivial advancement in HGVs, it was revolutionary in the haulage industry.

With electric lights, HGVs were not limited to driving only when sunlight was available. Drivers could continue with their journey even well into the night, potentially doubling the progress they could make along their journey. Importantly, these development allowed haulage industry to cut travel time. The entire haulage industry could speed up, allowing businesses to grow more grow and thrive. Crucially, improved efficiency lead to an increase in demand for consumer goods, and the haulage industry has been able to keep up.

The 1920s also saw the invention and integration of the 5th wheel in HGVs. At this point the wheels had existed for a long time. An enterprising engineer came up with the idea of fitting a fifth wheel. This invention improved the speed of picking up and dropping off loads. Combining the electric lights with the fifth wheel equipped HGV with advanced capability, which improved efficiency in the haulage industry.

The two changes increase consumer demand and, creating more jobs in the haulage industry. New HGV drivers were hired, new routes were planned, and more deliveries were completed. Companies enjoyed success which attracted more businesses to take up the use HGV. This cemented the HGV as an important logistics tool. And with more and new roads being constructed, the industry had grown to over 329,000 registered HGVs by the 1930s.