Freight in the City speaker line-up brings together experts to debate sustainable urban logistics

Every day in London alone, more than 360,000 tonnes of goods are moved by lorries: that’s 15,000 tonnes of freight picked up or dropped off every hour. Without these deliveries, the capital’s shops, restaurants, offices and workplaces would come to a standstill overnight.

“No method other than the lorry is capable of delivering the scale of goods required everyday by our society,” says Christopher Snelling, head of urban logistics at the FTA. Snelling will be speaking at the Freight in the City Expo later this month about the crucial role HGVs play in UK cities and the difficulties that a ban on truck movements in urban zones would create.

Snelling’s seminar will join a top line-up of government and industry speakers taking part in the Freight in the City Expo on Tuesday 27 October at London’s Alexandra Palace, which aims to tackle the challenges and share best practice on making sustainable urban deliveries.

Clean seminars

Experts from vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing companies will be holding a series of talks on available and emerging technology aimed at urban logistics operations.

For example, Andrew Noble, head of heavy duty engines at Ricardo, will be talking about cutting-edge research into cleaner engines and alternative-fuel powertrains. The engineering firm is a key partner in the EC’s Horizon 2020 Green Vehicle Initiative ‘HDGAS’ – a project that aims to design and test advanced powertrain concepts for dual-fuel and pure natural gas-powered HGVs.

Andrew Eastlake, MD at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, will take a look at the best fuels for different types of city centre logistics operations, while we will hear from local authorities and private freight firms on their real-world experiences of trialling new fuels on their fleet vehicles and how successful this has been.

One such speaker is Justin Laney, general manager – central transport at the John Lewis Partnership (JLP), who will share his knowledge about the operation of both electric and gas-powered van fleets in the city, as well as the company’s use of dual-fuel and dedicated gas-powered HGVs.

JLP has been taking part in the DfT’s low-carbon truck trial and also recently announced it was to be the first major operator to use a new public-access refuelling station in Leyland, which is being built by CNG Fuels and is due to open later this year. Laney says of this decision: “We are proud of the efficiency of our distribution network, and a key element is running a low-carbon fleet. We see the use of methane, and in particular biomethane, as the opportunity to make a step change in the carbon emissions of our heavy truck fleet.”

Air quality will be another key theme at Freight in the City, with TfL sharing a review of how successful the London Low Emission Zone has been in driving down harmful transport emissions, and a look at the implications that proposed national Clean Air Zones will have for freight operators in several UK cities.

ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme and parent firm Transport & Travel Research will also be hosting a practical workshop session for public sector and private operators to look at ways to improve fleet efficiency and drive down carbon emissions.

Safety seminars

Tackling the topic of vehicle safety will be a host of key speakers, including truck manufacturers, logistics academics, Transport for London, local authority planning teams and freight operators.

Vulnerable road-user safety has been high on the agenda in recent years, with initiatives such as Clocs and Fors ensuring freight operators see vehicle compliance as a top priority.

Nick Blake, head of engineering at Mercedes-Benz Trucks, will talk about the role of manufacturers in designing safety into the latest vehicle designs and what the next evolution of HGVs will look like, while operator Tarmac will demonstrate how investing in the right kit can not only reduce vehicle incidents, but also improve efficiency and driver behaviour.

An in-depth study of vehicle blind spots on the most popular trucks on UK roads will also be presented at Freight in the City by Dr Steve Summerskill from Loughborough University. The study was commissioned by TfL as part of the Clocs initiative and will prove invaluable for operators looking to procure the safest vehicles and additional kit for their urban work.

The expo will also be the launchpad for an exciting new TfL competition: the Future Truck Design Awards. Open to those at school, college and university, as well as recent graduates, the awards aim to explore all aspects of improving the safety of the design and operation of trucks in our towns and cities.

There will be three categories: whole vehicle design; safety feature innovation; and system of operation.

TfL says that while great strides have already been made in improving the design of lorries operating in urban areas, this design competition asks students to create potentially radical and game-changing ideas that could be incorporated into the trucks of the future. “So this is more than a theoretical exercise and the chance to win a £1,000 cash prize – the safer vehicle designs and systems of operation developed for these awards could save lives,” it adds.

Quiet & Efficient seminars

The UK’s expanding population will see increased demand for goods and services in busy urban conurbations, with more traffic jostling to share limited road capacity in our city centres.

It is therefore becoming imperative that local authorities and businesses work together to rethink traditional delivery patterns and find new methods of getting goods to their destination. Urban consolidation hubs are increasingly being explored by city councils, but how feasible are they for all operations and what is the best way to make them work?

Mark Fell, divisional manager – sustainable mobility at Transport & Travel Research, will be sharing his considerable experience of consolidation centres during his seminar presentation. In 2010, he led a consolidation centre study for the DfT that studied the business case and social benefits of consolidation in the retail and construction sectors, as well as leading the feasibility study that led to a successful sustainable distribution centre for Southampton City Council that serves public and private organisations in the area.

Wilson James, which owns and operates the successful London Construction Consolidation Centre in Silvertown, will share its experience of setting up a consolidation hub to service building project sites in city centres.

Collaboration is also an essential ingredient to changing the way goods are delivered into cities, which is where the role of an active freight quality partnership can be of benefit.

Paul Davison, principal consultant for sustainable freight and logistics at Aecom, will share his experiences of working with local authorities and freight operators in the North East to increase the sustainability of freight journeys across the zone, as well as highlighting recent work across six west London boroughs to create a new freight strategy for the sub-region.

Fleet optimisation is another key area to get right if you want to maximise your fleet’s efficiency. Route Monkey CEO Colin Ferguson will look at how the latest algorithm-based technology can help public and private fleets make the most out of not only traditional diesel-fuelled vehicles, but also help to inform procurement decisions when exploring alternative-fuelled options.

Solutions to tackling those challenging last-mile delivery issues, such as costly PCNs and gridlocked routes, will also be explored at Freight in the City.

The FTA’s Natalie Chapman will provide guidance on the best way to avoiding parking fines, while also helping to challenge them if they are issued.

Last-mile delivery specialist Outspoken Delivery will discuss the growing cycle logistics sector and how this has transformed over the past few years as large logistics companies come under increasing pressure in urban 
areas from low-emission zones, congestion, parking and access restrictions. Outspoken Delivery uses a fleet of electric-assist cargo bikes and trikes capable of carrying up to 300kg of cargo.

The full seminar programme of Clean, Safe and Quiet & Efficient sessions can be viewed online.

  • Freight in the City Expo takes place on Tuesday 27 October at Alexandra Palace, London. It is free to attend and an ideal networking opportunity to share and learn about best urban logistics practice. As well as the full seminar line-up, an exhibition of the latest vehicles, software and equipment will also be taking place. To book your free place, go to freightinthecity.com/event.