A tool to show HGV operators the ground conditions they will encounter at construction and waste sites has been developed for Clocs by consultancy Aecom.

Announced at last week’s Tip-ex and Tank-ex shows in Harrogate, the new website tool grades all sites with a five-star rating (see box, below) to show which vehicles will be able to access them.

The aim is to help operators confidently order low-entry-cab models (LEC) and N3 (on-road) trucks as opposed to traditionally picking N3G specification HGVs for operations that never face the true off-road conditions they are designed for.

The site assessment is based on four ground-condition categories: approach angle; materials; rutting and bumps; and water. These four categories have been identified as the most important factors in determining which vehicle types can operate on sites safely.

Weather can considerably effect site conditions and alter the outcome of the rating, so assessment ensures to take this into consideration.

Clocs on-site ground conditions rating

• 5 Star: Site ground conditions suitable for all vehicle types including LECs (in all weather conditions)

• 4 Star: Site ground conditions suitable for all vehicle types including LECs (weather permitting)

• 3 Star: Site ground conditions suitable for most vehicle types including on- and off-road capable HGVs (not LECs)

• 2 Star: Site ground conditions suitable for off-road capable HGVs only (in all weather conditions)

• 1 Star: Site ground conditions only suitable for plant machinery and weather permitting, may be suitable for off-road capable HGVs

In the first stage of the pilot, all sites across the South East – as the project has been funded by TfL - have received a provisional rating based on satellite imagery.

The next stage will see the rollout of a guidance handbook, also available online, to all sites, with owners encouraged to verify their rating through a simple assessment procedure.

“Should we then start rolling this out across the UK? Are the categories right?" asked independent logistics consultant at firm AtoH Glen Davies, who encouraged feedback from operators. "This is a pilot and is the first time it's ever been done."

Speaking to Tip-ex visitors at the Clocs seminar session, Davies said the logistics sector had already stepped up to the challenge of making vehicle movements as safe as possible in an urban environment.

However, he added as London mayor Sadiq Khan’s political aim is to remove “dangerous trucks” from the capital’s streets, it was essential that site conditions were of a good standard to avoid contributing to the issue.

“There is a real balance of need to make sure the physical conditions are right,” he said. “We need to improve the sites to make sure vehicles aren't damaged and remain fit for the road.”

Davies added: “In Scandinavia they do it really well. Trucks never have to leave the hardstanding, so only need N3G specs when working on a site and never leave it; demonstrating a segregated approach to the use of their vehicles."