Boots’ multi-deck trailer case study


HGVs are restricted from accessing many retailers on the high street due to limitations of length, height and turning space. Consequently, retailers have to use smaller rigid and articulated vehicles which are less efficient, put more vehicles on the road, use more fuel and produce more CO2. This case study looks at an innovate solution which overcomes the access restrictions which impact high street retailer’s deliveries.

Project ‘MUD’

Boots Fleet Manager, David Landy, came up with a solution of how to carry more stock in the same overall length and height of a standard urban delivery vehicle.

In 2009 a concept drawing was produced for a new radical designed shop delivery vehicle. Boots codenamed the project 'MUD' (Multideck Urban Delivery) trailer.

Standard rigid vehicles are designed with the rear axles running across the width of the vehicle. In addition the space between the rear axle and the front wheels on rigid vehicles is occupied with the drive shaft from the engine.

In 2010, Boots UK won the Carbon Positive Cutting Edge Award from East Midlands May Day Network. Watch this video to learn more

The design challenge

The challenge was how to use this space to carry more stock. The new “MUD” trailer concept replaced the fixed front engine and cab unit with a standard HGV cab.

The next stage in the concept was to remove the back axle and use independent suspension for each of the rear wheels. This type of wheel configuration is used on vehicles which transport specialist glass products, but to the best of Boots' knowledge has never been used in the retail delivery sector in an urban context.

The removal of the rear axle opens up the full load space between the road wheels and the landing legs, allowing an extra floor to be fitted into this space.

The results

The result was a 10m long vehicle with two floors, and a load carrying capacity of 66 roll cages. This is a 50 per cent increase in capacity over a traditional 10m urban trailer, which normally carries 44 roll cages, and an 83 per cent increase in capacity over a standard store delivery rigid vehicle of similar length.

An additional design challenge was how to unload a two-deck vehicle safely on the retail high street. The design incorporates a special door rear access configuration that prevents the public in the high street from walking beneath the vehicles tail lift when it is positioned to unload the top deck.

The trial of Boots' first prototype vehicle indicated that using a “MUD” trailer saved 212km per day or 66,000km per year on a daily delivery route in the south of England.

Following the completion of operational trials a further 9 vehicles entered service in 2010.The fleet of 10 vehicles now save an estimated 475,800km and 358 tonnes of CO2 per year.