Greater Manchester and Transport for the North invite operators to freight forum

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is inviting operators to come along to its second Logistics Forum on 7 March to address the challenges and opportunities for the freight sector across the region.

The event will bring together key speakers from TfGM and the freight sector, as well as three workshops in the afternoon focusing on: vehicles; urban deliveries; and consolidation.

Helen Smith, head of logistics, environment and active travel at TfGM, said: “It’s very important to us that the forum is a partnership between the public and private sectors, working together to identify challenges and put into practice solutions to support the environmental, social and economic ambitions of the city region.

“The March summit will focus on highways projects, consolidation, alternative fuels and the implications of a possible low-emission zone for freight in the region.”

She added that the afternoon workshops would consider ways to best support the forum’s activities and will help develop pilots and case studies for sustainable freight and logistics practices, “which are scalable and give tangible results”.

“It’s intended that the Forum is a channel for collaboration, consultation and sharing of best practice, and we hope that it will in time be recognised as a significant voice for the industry in Greater Manchester.”

Directly after the logistics forum, there will also be the opportunity to take part in a workshop run by Transport for the North (TfN), which aims to garner operator feedback for its Strategic Transport Plan (STP) under development.

TfN wants to enable an open discussion to ensure the needs of the freight and logistics sector are met by the STP proposals.

The events both take place on 7 March at Innside, 1 First Street, Manchester, M15 4RP.

TfGM’s forum will run from 09.30am to 2.30pm (including lunch), with the TfN workshop held from 2.30pm – 4.00pm at the same venue.

To find out more about the speakers and register, email:



Scania GB to provide dealer support for Hulsteins’ hydraulic refrigeration truck units

Hulsteins, a Swedish manufacturer of hydraulically driven refrigeration units for trucks, has joined forces with Scania GB to create an installation and support package for UK customers.

Having launched its low-emission, quiet refrigeration units into the UK market in November last year, Hulsteins said it understood the importance of creating a strong dealer support network for the technology.

The deal with Scania will see the truck manufacturer’s 88-strong dealer network providing a full service, warranty, maintenance, installation and parts network for Hulsteins.

Each refrigeration unit runs via a hydraulic pump directly from the truck engine and provides constant, even, cooling power regardless of whether the truck is on tick-over or full revs.

Units are claimed to have the same output power as traditional diesel alternatives, yet be more environmentally friendly and economical to run.

The company said the hydraulic units can cut C02 emissions by more than 98%, reduce fuel by 62%, service costs by 50% and are PIEK approved for quiet city deliveries.

“The best thing is they do not cost the earth and have a better ROI than a diesel units over five years,” added Simon Wood, UK sales and operations manager at Hulsteins.

The company said it chose Scania to work with as it was a “forward thinking” company that put customer needs and quality of service first.

“Scania is looking to offer refrigeration contract maintenance packages for Hultsteins units, as well as whole truck service contract maintenance packages on both Scania and non-Scania products across all fleets here in the UK,” said Wood.

“The idea is to eventually offer a complete ‘one stop shop’ on trucks, refrigeration and all ancillary equipment. Servicing of all the ancillary equipment can be done at the same time as the truck that reduces downtime and costs.”

Scania’s existing parts organisation VRS will provide parts distribution, which Hulsteins said will also reduce downtime compared with servicing and sourcing parts for traditional refrigeration units.

  • If you want to find out the latest trends for cleaner transport refrigeration, head to Freight in the City Spring Summit in Birmingham on 1 March. Book your free place today.

Urban Transport Group urges DfT to take a more ‘ambitious’ approach to freight strategy

The Urban Transport Group (UTG) has urged the government to take a more “ambitious, open and forward-thinking” approach to freight strategy.

Speaking to ahead of next month’s Spring Summit in Birmingham, MD Jonathan Bray said the DfT had left a “big hole” where freight strategy should be, with more work needed to address this issue.

He added. “Historically, it’s tended to be about responding to short-term issues and working closely with existing freight lobbies.

“With a lot of the interesting things happening on freight, the DfT is a bit of a bystander really.

“I think the DfT needs to take a more ambitious, open and forward-thinking strategic approach to freight.”

UTG has been working with cities to help address this lack of national focus, so they can see the benefits from working freight into their strategic transport plans.

It has undertaking research into the challenges from increasing levels of urban deliveries, and highlighted actions they could take to mitigate the impact in its report Delivering the Future.

“We’ve tried to make the freight debate more accessible to decision-makers in cities. I think the freight debate has a tendency to be locked into a lot of detail and long lists of issues,” said Bray.

“Senior decision-makers only have so much bandwidth. They want the simple way forward, not just a list of 120 problems.”

UTG suggests a formula that can be adopted in any city: transport more long-haul freight into the sub-regions by rail or water – although not ignoring the capacity constraints for modal switch – while ensuring last-mile deliveries have as little impact as possible on the urban environment.

Living cities

Cities are also increasingly setting transport strategies in response to the ‘place-making’ agenda, said Bray: people wanting places for people, with less space for vehicles, no matter what their purpose.

Far more emphasis is being placed on the urban realm and more value is being placed on city centres, all of which is exacerbated by a need to address air quality issues.

“I think the air quality imperative will get more acute with the third version of the government’s air quality strategy. I suspect it may be a more serious piece of work than the previous two,” added Bray.

“What’s happening as well is that the rest of the available road space is being squeezed and all the lobbies want their space: the active travel lobby – cycling isn’t going away and nor should it; the bus lobby is very vigorous in wanting their bus lanes; and freight and logistics need space to deliver.”

“The squeeze is on roads capacity,” warned Bray and a wider debate needed about future streets, which bring together both place-making and urban transport planners.

Embracing change

He wants to encourage the freight and logistics sector to become more engaged in the vision for future cities and the wider service agenda, as there could be plenty of opportunities for operators.

“The freight and logistics sector is very quick to take on new tech and innovation, but when people are talking about smart cities, they are thinking about apps and Uber and start-ups,” said Bray.

“The freight sector is naturally very preoccupied with logistical operations, but I think it could also present itself as a partner in the move towards smarter cities in some of these initiatives.”

A little history

UTG brings together Britain’s largest metropolitan transport authorities under one organisation to address both passenger and freight movements.

Members include the likes of Transport for West Midlands, Transport for Greater Manchester and Transport for London (TfL).

Historically, the work undertaken by UTG – formerly known as the Passenger Transport Executive Group until January 2016 – had predominantly focused on passenger travel.

However, as more and more cities began to move towards combined authorities, UTG realised a more holistic approach to all modes of travel, including freight, was needed and a name change.


At the same time that UTG shifted its focus, TfL came on board as a full member and brought with it “a huge amount of expertise”.

“They are one of the most admired transport authorities in the world right now. Certainly when I speak to people in other parts of the world they always speak very highly of London.

UTG takes a specific approach to its coverage of freight, looking to ensure it is included in the wider debate about what is happening to transport in cities.

Bray says that for too long freight has remained at the edges of transport planning debate, and its inclusion in city-wide strategies is long overdue.

“And I think that we’ve come a long way in a short space of time to mainstreaming freight within cities’ transport debates. It’s no longer kept at the margins as a fringe topic,” he adds.

UTG enables cities to share best practice and learn from other regions about the best ways to address urban freight deliveries.

“We offer cities the opportunity to work together and piggyback off existing research rather than have to do it all again themselves,” says Bray.



Turkish electric van-maker BD Auto launches into UK market

BD Auto and Energy is to begin offering its range of all-electric vans in the UK this spring.

The Turkish manufacturer has been producing pure electric LCVs and passenger models for more than eight years and has more than 400 vehicles in operation in seven European countries.

It believes the time is now right for UK operators to adopt electric vehicle technology, driven by greater pressure from cities to improve air quality and reduce transport emissions.

BD Auto uses base vehicles from major OEMs – ranging from 3- 4.25 tonnes GVW – and gives them a new powertrain and control system in its Turkish factory.

Customers are given a full warranty, servicing and maintenance package, as well as financing and lease options.

Vans are eligible for the government’s Plug-in Van Grant, are also exempt from paying London’s congestion charge.

Chris Jones, head of sales at BD Auto and Energy, said he had been meeting with key fleet customers and demonstrating products in London over recent months and is “convinced that this is the time to introduce” the vans to the UK.

“The current information surrounding diesel engine pollutants and the effect on London’s air quality means that the requirement for electric commercial vehicles has never been greater,” he added.

“We are pleased to offer a zero-emission solution to business users in London as BD Auto vehicles are 100% electrically powered and produce no pollutants as well as having an excellent working range and large carrying capacities.”


Mercedes-Benz all-electric heavy-duty truck will be on city roads this year

The Mercedes-Benz all-electric Urban eTruck is to enter the market this year in small series production following an “outstanding” customer reaction to its debut at IAA in Hannover last year.

Zero-emission, “quiet as a whisper” and with a payload of 12.8 tonnes and a range up to 200km, Mercedes said the Urban eTruck offers an economical, environmentally friendly option for operators.

Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks worldwide, said: “We are currently talking to around 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs and logistics sectors. With the small series, we are now rapidly taking the next step towards a series product. By 2020 we want to be on the market with the series generation.”

The first few units will go to customers in Germany, followed by additional units elsewhere in Europe.

Mercedes said the aim of the trials was to learn from real-life applications and requirements, coupled with customer feedback, to further optimise the electric truck’s design.

Tests will include use in shift operation, charging times, plus battery and range management.

Buchner added: “When it comes to future technological issues, we have set the standards in the sector, for instance with regard to electric and autonomous driving plus connectivity.

“2017 will now be our year of implementation: step by step we are developing the vehicles and systems to achieve market maturity.”

In order to be able to test the various application possibilities, 18- and 25-tonne models will be equipped with refrigerated, dry box and platform bodies.

Together with a special charger that takes into account the increased demands on a truck, the vehicles will be handed over to the customers to use for a period of 12 months, during which they will be supported by Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ road testing department.

The Urban eTruck is part of a wider electric initiative from Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler Trucks. Its light-duty Fuso eCanter electric truck will be in use in a global small series in 2017: around 150 vehicles will be handed over to selected customers in Europe, Japan and the USA.



UPS talks urban delivery trials ahead of Freight in the City Birmingham Summit

UPS director of sustainability for Europe, Peter Harris, shares some of the work taking place across European cities ahead of his appearance at Freight in the City Spring Summit next month.

Global parcel carrier UPS is to trial a brand-new urban delivery concept in London this year.

The company plans to operate new electrically-assisted cargo containers in London’s busy Westminster area, in an effort to reduce the emissions and congestion associated with increasing van usage in the capital.

Technology used on the ‘e-trailer’ is termed net neutral, so the weight of the trailer is not felt by the handler, allowing for increased volumes of last-mile deliveries by foot or cycling.

The trailer is being developed through the Low Impact City Logistics project, which is part of a £10m research investment by InnovateUK for collaborative R&D to improve end-to-end people and freight journeys.

It is planned that a number of the e-trailers would be preloaded at the UPS centre in Camden before being brought in on a larger trailer towed behind a normal delivery vehicle for helpers to then make the final mile  by foot or cycle.

Peter Harris (pictured), director of sustainability for Europe  at UPS, tells Freight in the City that the concept for the trailers was a natural extension to an urban delivery operation that has been running in Hamburg, Germany for a number of years.

This sees a number of urban micro depots – large containers, much like the size used for sea freight – positioned around the city.

The containers hold enough volume for several helpers to work from throughout the day, delivering parcels by foot, bike or e-trike.

The helpers also collect parcels from residents and businesses in the city centre and return them to the containers for pick-up at the end of the day by one lorry.

“So, instead of it being trucks moving around in the city all day, it’s one truck in and one truck out, and the rest of the time we’re using zero-truck transport, which is the ambition to try and get trucks out of the city and the emissions and congestion that go with them,” explains Harris.

The Hamburg model is now being expanded to other European cities.

Mega city

“But when we came to thinking about London, we thought we probably need a slightly different approach here,” says Harris.

One of the key challenges was London’s density, he says, as a mega city, with the option of siting a number of large containers on valuable road or pavement space being unlikely.

Also, the option to deliver by trike might prove tricky in London’s bustling streets, making foot delivery with an e-trailer a more practical proposition.

To overcome all these challenges, UPS is working within a consortium including the University of Huddersfield, Westminster City Council, Fernhay, Skotkonung and Outspoken Delivery to develop the e-trailer technology and prototype.

“At our central London depot in Camden, the e-trailers will be positioned  on the belt just as our normal trucks are” says Harris.

“The trailers will then go down-town already loaded into drop order.”

To avoid the need to drop-off large container units across the city, e-trailers will be delivered by a transfer trailer pulled by a regular distribution truck. This will likely hold around six units, although this has not yet been finalised.

Timescale for rollout of the e-trailers has yet to be confirmed, but will take place this year.

Urban focus

The project is just one element of the move towards sustainable deliveries taking place in the UK by UPS.

For example, the company has just deployed its 52nd electric truck in London

“They’re mostly conversions from diesel, which is quite interesting in its own right because a version of the style and configuration that we wanted didn’t exist, so we developed our own  working with a German technology firm called EFA-S,” says Harris.

UPS carries out the strip-down and refurbishment of the older trucks used itself ahead of the electric conversion by EFA-S.

The company has received funding through its work on the FREVUE project that aims to establish the feasibility of electric commercial vehicles in real-life operations across Europe.

Project work has included significant expenditure to overcome the challenges of charging multiple electric vehicles from the grid at one time.

“We actually went through a major expenditure in London to achieve this. We don’t want to do this again as it’s very expensive and it’s not moveable. Nor is it incremental.

“So what we’re proposing instead is a smart grid facility that would connect our vehicles to the grid in an intelligent way and look for available capacity within the existing supply,” Harris says.

“If we can make that work, and we are hoping to do it in conjunction with UK Power Networks Services, then it could potentially open up a completely new realm of opportunity for urban electrification.”


The company is also planning to introduce 15 more range-extended electric 7.5-tonne Tevva Motors trucks into its fleet (pictured).

And gas-powered trucks are also a key player in the UPS alternative-fuelled fleet, with the company operating 19 HGVs on LNG from its Tamworth depot.

“The challenge is that we want to run them on renewable gas, but it’s just not available in liquid form. So we’ve had to fall back on LNG” says Harris.

“There needs to be new infrastructure put in place to capitalise on this new market.”

Harris believes the UK is well placed to be a leader in terms of renewable fuels expertise, with a political framework supportive of driving such developments forward.

As such, the UK continues to be a pivotal market for UPS to trial new emerging technologies and developments.



MP Rob Flello to speak at Freight in the City Birmingham 1 March

Freight in the City is delighted to welcome MP Rob Flello as keynote speaker to open next month’s Spring Summit in Birmingham.

The Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Freight Transport, as well as being a member of the House of Commons Transport Committee.

He has recently taken part in a hotly debated inquiry into urban traffic congestion, calling for research to be undertaken into whether newly constructed cycle lanes are a help or a hindrance to reducing congestion.

More than 350 visitors have already booked their free place to attend the Freight in the City Spring Summit, which will address the issue of improving last-mile freight journeys in urban areas.

A full day’s speaker programme features projects taking place in the West Midlands region, Birmingham City, Greater Manchester, Southampton and London.

You’ll also hear from a number of operators about best practice delivery operations already helping mitigate the impact of freight on city environments, as well as a look at some of the emerging trends to hit the sector.

In between sessions, make sure you take time to visit the exhibition area and check out the latest vehicles, equipment and services to aid your urban haulage operation.

For early birds, looking to make the most of the exhibition and networking opportunities, Mercedes-Benz will also be making sure a bacon roll is available for you to enjoy from 8.15am.

Freight in the City Spring Summit takes place on 1 March at Edgbsaton Stadium. It is free to attend, but you must register to secure your place.



Howard Tenens to operate UK’s first 26-tonne dedicated gas rigid trucks in Innovate trial

Howard Tenens is to operate the UK’s first pair of 26-tonne rigid dedicated gas trucks under the government’s £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial.

Working in a consortium led by gas specialist Air Liquide, the operator will use the government grant funding to purchase the two new Scania rigids that will run entirely on biomethane.

The trucks will operate out of Howard Tenens’ Swindon depot and be used on a number of its main contracts such as Toolstation, Honda and Cotswolds Outdoors.

Howard Tenens has been an early adopter of gas-fuelled trucks on its fleet, taking part in previous government-funded trials of the technology enabling the firm to run 36 dual-fuel gas/diesel vehicles.

However, in line with industry advances in technology and research into gas-fuelled trucks, the company believes dedicated biomethane vehicles will deliver much greater environmental benefits.

Ben Morris, executive director at Howard Tenens, said: “Adding these new trucks to the Howard Tenens fleet seemed like a natural development in our ongoing journey to use gas vehicles.

“These new vehicles will reduce carbon emissions by around 70% compared to a normal diesel engine and is the most viable option available to us for reducing our carbon footprint.”

Howard Tenens said it as has overcome the availability issue associated with gas by investing in a gas refuelling station at its depot in Swindon, where the two new trucks will be based.

The operator has also partnered with a local company, Advanced Plasma Power, which will supply sustainably produced biomethane for the trial.

Advanced Plasma Power will produce the biomethane from its plasma gasification plant, turning household rubbish into the gas needed to fuel the two vehicles.

Not only does this process reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfill in the local community, but it also generates a clean and sustainable fuel.

Rolf Stein, CEO at Advanced Plasma Power, said: “The biomethane project sets out with a goal to provide sustainable and low cost solutions to the challenges of decarbonising heating and transport.”

The new trucks will join the fleet later this year and be closely monitored throughout the trial to assess if their performance meets operational and environmental targets.

If successful, Howard Tenens will look to add more to its wider fleet.

Smith Electric Vehicles ceases trading – or does it?

Smith Electric Vehicles has ceased all operations due to lack of funding, according to a statement issued by one its shareholders this week.

Tanfield Group, which owns 5.76% of share capital in the electric truck firm, said: “In August 2016, the board of Smith stated that it planned to centralise its operations in the United States while retaining a presence in the UK as a branch of Smith USA Corp, but due to a lack of funding, it recently ceased all activity in both the United States and the UK.”

Tanfield had previously taken the decision for the year ended 31 December 2015 to “impair the investment value of Smith to nil” due to the uncertainty around its future and the level of funding it required. understands that the CEO of Smith Electric Vehicles, John Dixon, has retired from the board and that the remaining members are exploring possible funding options.

“The board of Smith also stated that there was no guarantee they will be successful in raising the required funds and that without funding it is unlikely that Smith would remain solvent,” Tanfield added.

In an exclusive interview with Freight in the City last year, the company shared its comeback plans as it believed the time was right for industry to embrace electric trucks.

Its aim was to bring its latest generation of electric trucks to the UK this spring, thanks to a fresh injection of funding from a US investor.

Smith Electric Vehicles, responded and said that “we have paused the operation – not ceased it – and the board are working on getting the company back on track”.

Freight operators urged to have their say on London Lorry Control Scheme review

London Councils is calling on freight operators to have their say on the London Lorry Control Scheme review, which it started working on last October.

It has launched a short online survey for freight operators to complete, and will also be running an Operators’ Workshop on Thursday 9 March in central London.

The workshop will allow representatives to discuss the existing London Lorry Control Scheme and the planned review in more detail, and answer any questions operators may have at this stage.

It is free to attend but you must register in advance, with a maximum of two people per company allowed to take part.

The London Lorry Control Scheme review plans to look at routing, signage and hours of operation, as well as enforcement, permissions and exemptions.

London Council also added it planned to take into account technological advancements in HGV design, as well as traffic management and planning techniques.

A steering group, which includes representatives from London Councils, TfL, the Greater London Authority and the London boroughs, is in place to provide a strategic overview of the aims of the review.

Alongside this is a working group, which meets monthly to discuss the current scheme and future options and includes freight trade associations, business federations, residents’ associations and anti-noise campaign groups.

A review of this size has never been conducted during the scheme’s three decades in operation, and the aim is for recommendations to be put to London Councils’ transport and environment committee later this year.