UK cities face food and drink “logistics crisis”

London and other major UK cities face a looming food and drink “logistics crisis” unless operators and planning authorities take steps to address the problems facing the delivery sector, according to a new report commissioned by the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA).

‘Feeding London 2030’ warns that, if not addressed now, the issues raised could even lead to a shortage of essential food supplies on the shelves of grocery retailers and at other food outlets.

UKWA chief executive Peter Ward said: “What we have today is not sustainable. The last time bread disappeared from the shelves was during the tanker drivers’ strike [in 2000] and then we were not far from anarchy.”

London in particular is facing significant population growth, from its present 9 million to a predicted 11 million by 2050, putting increasing pressure on the logistics industry to deliver essential supplies.

“Things are becoming stretched across London’s food and drink supply chains and current logistics thinking is no longer fit for purpose,” warned Andrew Morgan, a director of research firm Global 78 and the report’s lead author.

“Supplying food and drink that is both safe and delivered on time to London’s retail and food service outlets at an appropriate cost will become increasingly difficult unless steps are taken to address the issues highlighted in the report. At the moment we are managing, but it is difficult to see how it can carry on – especially if we are to meet the mayor’s policies on congestion and air quality.”

  • ‘Feeding London 2030’ is available from UKWA price £790 for non-UKWA members and £395 for members.

Ultra-low emission zone needed by 2018 says Labour MP Diane Abbott

London Labour MP and mayoral candidate Diane Abbott has called for the introduction of an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in the capital by 2018, two years ahead of plans already proposed by current London mayor Boris Johnson.

Abbott secured a Commons debate on London’s poor air quality yesterday (9 June), claiming City Hall has “abjectly failed in their duty to protect Londoners from such a severe public health risk”.

Dianne AbbottAccording to the UK Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (UKLPG), pollution contributes to the premature deaths of approximately 3,400 Londoners each year. It is urging the government to support automotive LPG as part of its commitment to improving air quality in urban areas.

The British government has already been ordered by the European Supreme Court to bring air quality up to minimum legal standards, or face millions of pounds in fines.

The UKLPG is hoping that local air quality concerns could spur an increase in automotive LPG take-up to power public transport and local delivery vehicles operating in urban areas. It is urging ministers to support increased take-up of automotive LPG, and to work with the body on the development of low-carbon road transport for both commercial vehicles and motorists.

This could become part of reforms due to be announced in next month’s Budget on 8 July to encourage public transport and local delivery vehicles operating in urban areas to switch from the most polluting diesel vehicles to low-emission models.

Rob Shuttleworth, chief executive of the UKLPG, said: “As a low-carbon energy, automotive LPG has huge air quality benefits. It is a versatile and flexible fuel with less environmental impact than the alternatives. We would welcome a dialogue with ministers to see how we can support their proposals for lower emissions.”

Delivering in stealth

The Quiet Cities global summit, to be held in London on 25-26 November, will bring together a wide range of products specifically designed to reduce noise during deliveries in urban areas.

One of the biggest issues when making out of hours retail deliveries can be the rattle of roll cages as they are pushed to and from the vehicle.

Leading roll cage manufacturer K Hartwall plans to show a range of products at the Quiet Cities summit designed to minimise noise disruption when transporting goods to retail outlets, pubs, and restaurants, including its Piek-certified roll cages – the Classic Silent A-frame and the European standard Classic Silent Compactainer.These have been designed for 24/7 deliveries with plastic floors, quiet wheels and other noise reduction features that make them some of the quietest cages on the market at 60dB (A).

It will also be demonstrating its new ‘lean’ retail solution with Piek-certified Euro dollies, developed to eliminate waste and manual handling of dollies. These plastic quarter-pallet dollies can support plastic crates of different sizes and used to store, transport and display bulk products.﷯Fitted with rubber wheels, they achieve a noise level of 55dB (A).

K Hartwall worked closely with DHL Supply Chain during the London Olympics and using its A-frame Classic Silent roll container on JD Wetherspoon deliveries, noise levels were reduced by approximately 15 dB (A).

John Anderson, national transport manager at JD Wetherspoon, said: “The new cages were used for night-time deliveries to Wetherspoon pubs during the Olympic Games between the hours of midnight and 6am. The lower noise levels were well received by staff and appreciated by local residents to such an extent that we didn’t receive a single complaint during the entire period of the Games.”

Noisy refrigeration

Noisy fridge units can be another major source of complaints from residents, as they are often at upper floor level where they cause maximum nuisance for sleeping residents.

Carrier Transicold will be using the Quiet Cities event to highlight its City range of low-noise refrigeration units for rigid trucks and trailers. The City range includes two trailer fridges – the Vector 1850 City (Multi-Temp) unit and the Vector 1550 City (Mono-temp) unit – plus the Supra City for rigid trucks (mono and multi-temp options are both available). All of these are Piek compliant, meaning they can operate at or below 60dB (A). Both the Vector 1850 City and the Vector 1550 City units have won John Connell Awards from the Noise Abatement Society.

The City range also includes a Supra City Z, which is an engine-less unit for rigid trucks. It takes its power from a hydraulic pump directly connected to the truck engine’s power take-off. Whilst not Piek-compliant, it is significantly quieter than a standard fridge unit.

Quieter safety alerts

Although a clear aid to health and safety, reversing alarms have also been a source of complaints. Reversing alarm pioneer Brigade has developed a ‘white noise’ alarm, however, that warns those close to a reversing vehicle without disturbing sleeping neighbours. It is now phasing out the traditional ‘beeping’ alarm in favour of these less intrusive alternatives.

It will be showcasing its bbs-tek white sound reversing alarm, which is the only reversing alarm approved by the Noise Abatement Society. Certain models are also Piek-approved.

Now widely fitted across the full range of vehicles from large plant to airport baggage buggies, the bbs-tek is fast becoming the reversing alarm of choice, it says. Unlike beepers, which can be heard in an area at least 30 times wider than the hazard zone, a white sound alarm is only heard in the hazardous area behind the vehicle. White sound is also more likely to be heard by someone wearing ear defenders yet is less likely to cause hearing damage.

The SMART bbs is able to adjust its sound levels to compensate for ambient noise so it is always just 5dB (A) louder – loud enough to be an effective warning but not loud enough to be a nuisance.

Brigade will also be featuring its latest Backeye 360 camera monitor system. This eliminates blind spots around a vehicle by linking four cameras together to give the driver a bird’s-eye-view of their vehicle and the surrounding area.
Presenting all-round visibility in one image means the driver can focus on a single display rather than having to constantly scan windows, mirrors and rear-view camera monitors to get a complete picture of what is around the vehicle.

The intelligent control unit blends the images from the four wide-angle cameras, automatically compensating for distortion caused by the 187-degree lenses and any overlap in the view from the cameras.

The camera system is compatible with Brigade digital recorders so footage can be used to defend false crash-for-cash claims and to detect vandalism or theft.

The Backeye 360 is being trialled by Marks & Spencer, and Sainsbury’s is using it on one truck in London.

Tyre noise is another significant factor in night-time deliveries, when the absence of other traffic makes every sound produced by a truck sound relatively louder to local residents.

Michelin will be exhibiting its new X Multi D drive axle tyre, which is available in 17.5in and 19.5in sizes for trucks under 16 tonnes. It has been specifically designed for use in urban and suburban roles in all weather conditions and delivers a notable 5dB (A) noise reduction.That might not sound a lot but is in fact 50% quieter than the previous generation, and according to Michelin represents “a major technological breakthrough, particularly given the number of vehicles in this sector which are used extensively in urban environments.”

The range will be extended before November to include the X Multi Z, a multi-position fitment suitable for steer axles.

Fleets of the future

Enabling the logistics sector to schedule flexibly acceptable delivery times within urban areas is also key to successful out of hours deliveries, and here Route Monkey is well-placed to help.

Route Monkey says quiet deliveries are about the ‘fleets of the future’. These will use routeing and scheduling technology to optimise how and when the job gets done and will also use electric vehicles (EVs) to allows them to achieve their duty cycles almost silently, it suggests.

At Quiet Cities, Route Monkey will demonstrate how technology and multimodal transport solutions can work well to achieve quieter deliveries. It will be showcasing a web-based scheduling platform which is UK government-backed and can be accessed by fleets across both public and private sectors. This platform solves a real problem as it is a pay-as-you-go model that instantly delivers a return on investment. It’s accessible and easy to use and will host all the fleet’s data in one place, saving on administration and time.

At present, about 95% of fleets do not have scheduling technology as it can be expensive and often difficult to use. Similarly, a large percentage of fleets would not consider that an electric or other ultra-low-carbon vehicle could replace a conventional delivery truck because of the significant barriers to their adoption. They are considered to be too expensive and the range of electric vehicles remains limited.

Route Monkey’s online scheduling platform can be used by truck operators to create the fleets of the future, however, in modelling and scheduling and writing the business case for the procurement of electric or other ultra-low-carbon vehicles.

“Our aim is simply to convert those expensive miles to electric miles,” the company says.