HIAB Drivers Versus HGV Drivers - Understanding the Distinctions

HIAB driver HIAB driver

In the world of transportation and logistics, the role of drivers is pivotal. While the term 'driver' may seem straightforward, the specifics of the job can vary widely — especially when discussing HIAB and HGV drivers. Both are instrumental in the movement of goods, but their responsibilities, skills required, and vehicles they operate are distinct. In this article, we’ll explore the intricate differences between a HIAB driver and an HGV driver.

Who Are HIAB Drivers?

A HIAB driver operates a vehicle equipped with a HIAB crane — a type of hydraulic loader crane. Originating from the Finnish company Hydrauliska Industri AB, HIAB has become a general term used for these lorry-mounted cranes. These cranes are pivotal for loading and unloading heavy materials such as construction equipment, industrial supplies, and even temporary structures.

The key element that sets HIAB drivers apart is their proficiency in operating the on-board crane. Not only do they transport goods, but they also perform the intricacies of safely lifting and positioning these items. This dual skill set is essential for many industries where delivery and precise placement of heavy goods are critical.

What About HGV Drivers?

On the other hand, HGV — Heavy Goods Vehicle — drivers focus solely on the transportation aspect. An HGV driver's primary responsibility is to drive large trucks or lorries, typically over long distances, to deliver goods. Unlike their HIAB counterparts, HGV drivers do not handle cranes or loading equipment attached to their vehicles.

These drivers are adept at manoeuvring large vehicles through varying traffic conditions and weather, ensuring that goods are delivered on time and intact. HGV driving is often seen as a foundation within the professional driving industry upon which many specialisations, like HIAB operation, are built.

Certification Requirements

HIAB Certification

For HIAB drivers, the certification isn't simply about mastering the vehicle; they must also be competent crane operators. They are required to complete specific training courses that accredit them with the knowledge to operate these cranes safely. Certificates such as the ALLMI (Association of Lorry Loader Manufacturers and Importers) license are often a prerequisite. This training encompasses vehicle-mounted crane operation, safety procedures, and even securement of loads.

HGV Certification

The certification process for HGV drivers focuses predominantly on driving skills. Obtaining a professional HGV license involves passing a series of practical driving skill assessments and a comprehensive understanding of road safety. In the UK, drivers need to acquire the CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) in addition to a Category C or Category CE driving license for operating heavy goods vehicles.

Job Responsibilities

HIAB Driver Responsibilities

HIAB drivers have a dual set of responsibilities: vehicle navigation and crane operation. After reaching the delivery site, they’re tasked with unloading their cargo through the operation of the on-board crane. Their role requires a keen understanding of physics because they must consider load weights, crane reach, and counterbalance factors to make precise movements. Additionally, these drivers often work closely with ground teams to ensure loads are handled safely and efficiently.

HGV Driver Responsibilities

For HGV drivers, the bulk of their responsibilities lie in the safe and timely transportation of goods. They are experts in route planning, vehicle inspections, and maintaining logbooks. HGV drivers need to be particularly vigilant about their vehicle’s weight limits and size, and how these factors influence their driving technique. They are not responsible for the operation of loading equipment, but they must be knowledgeable about load security to ensure that goods are transported without incident.

Vehicle Types

HIAB Vehicles

The vehicles operated by HIAB drivers are typically flatbed trucks equipped with the hydraulic crane. These cranes are diverse, with different ranges and lifting capacities to suit the specific needs of each job. HIAB trucks come in various sizes, from small rigs able to access tight urban spaces to larger lorries designed for substantial loads.

HGV Vehicles

HGV drivers handle a broader range of vehicle types. This category includes articulated lorries, refrigerated trucks, tankers, and more, each designed for a unique type of cargo. These vehicles usually do not have any special loading or unloading equipment integrated into them, unlike their HIAB counterparts.

While HIAB and HGV drivers may seem similar at a glance, the complexity and the skills required for their respective roles are quite different. A HIAB driver combines the expertise of a crane operator with that of a professional driver, an invaluable combination for specific industries. Meanwhile, an HGV driver’s expertise is grounded in the mastery of large vehicle operations and dealing with logistical challenges tied solely to transportation.

For industries that rely on the delivery and positional placement of heavy goods, a HIAB driver is indispensable. In the broader scope of goods transit, where the crane is not a necessity, the HGV driver becomes the backbone of supply chains. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for businesses and individuals who engage these professionals, as they ensure that the right driver, with the right skills, is connected to the right task.

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