Project: Make Backloading work for you

Reference: TE251

Last update: 20/01/2006 15:42:33


The aim of this guide is to:

- introduce back-loading and how it works
- highlight the potential benefits of back-loading to your business
-outline ways of obtaining back-loads


Fuel represents a significant proportion of total vehicle
operating costs (at around 30%) and therefore even small
percentage reductions in fuel use can produce large savings.
There are two main ways of cutting fuel costs: by reducing fuel
consumption (getting more miles to the gallon) and
maximising vehicle use (doing fewer miles to do the same job).
Making the best use of a vehicle has the potential to reduce
your costs much more significantly than by reducing fuel
consumption alone. Increasing miles per gallon will save a
percentage of the fuel cost of all journeys, but reducing the
mileage that is done to carry out a job will save 100% of the
fuel and operating costs for those avoided miles.
Making best use of the available load space in every vehicle
trip can help to reduce the mileage covered per job. It can
be achieved through a variety of means including back-loading,
consolidating loads, load stacking, and the use of multipledecked
This guide covers back-loading best practice, and outlines
how you can save money by making the best use of your
resources: fuel, vehicles and drivers. It provides practical
advice to help integrate and increase back-loading within your
business in order to improve profitability and operational
efficiency, and reduce empty or light running.

What is back-loading?

Back-loading is the practice of making use of spare capacity
on the return leg of a delivery journey. It makes more
efficient use of valuable resources such as fuel and driver time
by finding loads that need to be shipped between similar
areas as those visited by the returning vehicle.


AEA Technology Environment
Harwell Business Centre, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QJ
+44 (0)1235 432201

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £15,000.00

Actual start date: 01 September 2004

Actual completion date: 01 August 2005

Summary of results

  1. This guide is structured in the following way:
    Section 2 outlines the benefits to your operation of
    introducing best practice in back-loading
    Section 3 contains information about the basics of
    back-loading, including typical examples, how it is done,
    what kind of organisations benefit from back-loads and
    how this practice can help to overcome industry
    Section 4 provides an overview of available services,
    systems and mechanisms for obtaining back-loads. For
    example, it covers return load specialists, load matching
    services, freight forwarders, partnerships and supply
    chain initiatives
    Section 5 provides information on overcoming
    constraints and barriers to back-loading. It outlines
    various typical scenarios and suggests possible solutions
    Section 6 outlines an approach to help you to decide
    whether back-loading is right for your business. It
    outlines four key issues to consider before accepting a
    back-load and provides useful key performance
    indicators for determining spare vehicle capacity, an
    operational checklist, good practice for working with
    customers and a guide to calculating the value of a
    Section 7 contains example services and systems that
    can be easily adapted to suit individual needs