Quiet & Efficient seminars draw the crowds at Freight in the City Expo

Last week’s Freight in the City Expo in London held a series of seminars exploring how urban logistics operations would need to evolve to service cities of the future, and looked at initiatives in place today that are already helping to drive this change.

David Beeton, MD of Urban Foresight, highlighted that London sees 280,000 freight journeys every day, compared with just 25,000 van deliveries a day in Amsterdam. “Companies need to create integrated urban platforms” – such as shared user consolidation hubs – to reduce the volume of freight, he said.

Gloria Elliot (pictured), chief executive of the Noise Abatement Society, discussed quiet vehicle technology and said that delivery vehicles so quiet that no one can hear them are “not so far away”. Quieter engines and roll cages were among the technologies she listed as already changing the face of night-time deliveries. However, she added, the country needs more government incentives to encourage and further this work.

In a session on rethinking traditional deliveries, the FTA’s head of urban logistics Christopher Snelling discussed the threat of a London lorry ban. “Needless to say,” he told delegates, “the FTA is opposed to the idea.” He added that while there is “no magic fix” for the pressing issue of cyclist and HGV collisions in the capital, a switch to vans could prove just as dangerous, if not more so to cyclists because of the increased number of vehicles this would put on the roads.

Freddie Talberg, chief executive of Pie Mapping, discussed how restrictions on freight in London can cause confusion and, subsequently, ineffective route planning. He cited an example in which operator Wincanton had been using a 25-mile route around the city to reach a second delivery point that was just a couple of miles away.

In the collaboration session, Mark Fell, divisional manager for sustainable mobility at Transport and Travel Research, explained how a business model could be made around consolidating retail loads to town centres. He said that for it to function as a business model, however, the option should be given to public sector users first and retailers second because they have shorter decision-making chains and are “more into the sustainability agenda”.

Sean Kelly, director of strategic solutions at Wilson James, spoke on what a consolidation centre can offer construction projects. He said the construction industry had an outdated understanding of the logistics industry, and that further understanding and planning would assist construction projects immeasurably.

Paul Davison, principal consultant for sustainable freight and logistics at Aecom, explained how an active freight quality partnership can provide an ideal platform for businesses, operators and authorities to communicate about freight and protect the sustainable movement of goods, adding that they will be instrumental in the government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda.

The final collection of talks addressed final-mile delivery and problems that arise in cities in the final stages of the delivery process.

Rob King from cycle courier Outspoken Deliveries told delegates that cities are set to become increasingly pedestrianised, and put forward bicycle delivery couriers as a way to keep cities moving in this scenario.

Natalie Chapman, head of policy for London from the FTA, gave advice to hauliers on handling parking penalty charge notices (PCNs). She said operators should keep a record of where PCNs have been awarded and use the data to identify their PCN “hot spots”, and tackle the issue from there by looking for alternative times or locations, or contact the local traffic authority.

Freight in the City Expo took place on 27 October at London’s Alexandra Palace.