Fors directors talk version four, Truck Excellence and direct vision at first national conference

The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (Fors) held its first annual event at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham last week. Freight in the City caught up with directors John Hix and Steve Agg on the eve of the fourth version of the standard’s introduction.

The new Fors standard has “raised the bar” for operators, particularly gold members, according to the standard’s director John Hix (main picture).

Speaking to at Fors’ first annual conference, Hix said that the key changes to the new standard, which came fully into force yesterday (10 November), were in the highest category.

Hix said: “In the gold standard, we have put in noise assessment, and assessment of mode shift opportunity and use of alternative fuels.

“Silver operators now need reversing alarms, and licence checking using DVSA has moved from silver to bronze. So we’ve generally raised the bar a bit, particularly for gold operators.”

Around 400 delegates attended the conference, which featured sessions on compliance, environmental issues and the new standard, among other topics.

Steve Agg chaired the standard's first national conference at the NCC
Steve Agg chaired the standard’s first national conference at the NCC

Holding the event in Birmingham was a deliberate move to promote the nationwide roll out of the scheme, according to Hix.

“Fors will make roads safer across the country,” he said, “and that’s why our first national conference is here in Birmingham, rather than in London.

“We have members all over the country and we’re encouraging local authorities, such as Transport for Greater Manchester, to work with us.”

Steve Agg, former CILT chief executive and chairman of the Fors Governance and Standard Advisory Group, added that to keep the scheme London-focused would be missing a trick.

He said: “The only real point with London is that it’s where Fors started. And it had to start somewhere. But not having it across the whole of the UK would be missing an opportunity.”

Membership fees

Originally a free standard for operators to sign up to, Agg said there was some resistance when  membership fees were instigated in February 2015. 

“If you’re getting something for free for five or so years, and then someone says you have to start paying for it, that’s always going to provoke a little bit of discontent,” he said.

“But nothing’s free in this world. We use the phrase ‘free delivery’. But that’s cobblers. In the case of Fors, the public purse was no longer willing, or able, to fund it, so individual businesses are paying for it, without too much kickback.”


Another challenge Fors has faced in recent months was the FTA’s decision to launch Truck Excellence, an accredited scheme that is equivalent to the Fors bronze standard.

CGE16243-0038This, said Hix, just muddies the waters when it comes to keeping up with standards. “The obvious objective is to have a single standard, because no one wants multiple standards saying people have to do different things. Fors is the default setting for that.”

Agg, who worked at the FTA for just under four years, added: “It isn’t for us at Fors to say whether a scheme is equivalent or not. I don’t personally understand why the FTA is putting forward the alternative scheme. We would love to work with them. But they’ve chosen to do something else.”

Direct Vision

In London, Sadiq Kahn’s Direct Vision standard is looming over operators with its 2020 start date. But Hix said it will be a while until Fors mandates direct vision cabs in its own standard.

“The Fors standard is about minimising blind spots. If you can do that with design instead of fitting additional cameras or mirrors, then clearly we would encourage that. But there are costs to that, and operators need time to equip their fleets.”

Panellists at the Fors conference in Birmingham
Panellists take questions at the Fors conference in Birmingham

“So we haven’t mandated direct vision in the new standard, and we’ve got a couple of years. I’m just working on getting version four off the ground,” he added.

But for both Agg and Hix, promoting a better image of the industry to the public, rather than preaching to the converted, should be the standard’s priority.

A Fors for good

Hix in particular thinks Fors has the platform to appeal to the public, with accredited operators running trailers that could be advertised on all over the country’s roads.

He said: “Fors has become a force of good; it has a profile and a presence. We need to use that to get across some messages. We do need to have a public profile. You see our logo all over the country. We need to think about how that could be of use to us.”

“We have an image issue,” added Agg. “What Fors is doing is showing the public that the industry is prepared to heal itself. That it’s prepared to stand up and say we’re going to do something for our standards. That we can make the world better for everybody.”

British Gypsum calls for ‘next step’ in HGV tractor-unit design to deliver better direct vision

British Gypsum has called on manufacturers to provide hauliers with tractor-unit designs that grant drivers improved visibility from their cabs.

“We want to find someone to take the next step and give us improved visibility in a tractor unit, which is something we haven’t seen yet,” said Brian Fisher, distribution manager at the building materials firm.

“We are continually looking for the next piece of tractor unit innovation. We’ve seen a lot on rigids and on tippers, but we are predominantly an artic fleet, so for us the vision piece is around artics.”

Fisher said the pace of change to address better visibility is too slow at the moment, with not enough options currently on the market to enable operators to plan their fleet upgrades.

“We’re buying trucks every five years and will do a fleet change in around 18 months. If there isn’t anything on the market then, it won’t be on the fleet for another five years after that. This is the challenge,” he added.

Fisher’s view was last week echoed by London operator O’Donovan Waste Disposal who urged manufacturers to work faster in providing sector-specific solutions to meeting the capital’s pending Direct Vision Standard.

Blind spot elimination

To ensure its core subbies’ fleet trucks are as safe as possible, British Gypsum already specifies additional low-level passenger door window panels on new vehicles, which are supported by cameras to eliminate blind spots.

In a recent Driver of the Year competition run by parent firm Saint Gobain, Fisher said he spent 20 minutes in one of its trucks fitted with window panels and cameras trying to find a blind spot, but was unable to do so.

However, in some truck models, the position of the passenger seat can be problematic in obscuring direct vision even with an additional window panel, he added.

“The industry has got to change this. You need to be able to go straight to a manufacturer and say I want a Fors gold tractor unit,” added Fisher.

Guiding influence

British Gypsum uses three main subcontractors – DHL Supply Chain, Ceva Logistics and John Jempson & Sons – to manage transport across its five Fors gold standard sites.

Rather than hand over responsibility of all fleet management, British Gypsum maintains control over specifying which vehicles are chosen and how they are kitted out for its operation.

“We’re different to a lot of other manufacturers that outsource their transport. We are very prescriptive on the specification of our vehicles.

“We specify a vehicle to minimise any risk to the driver and minimise risk to anyone else that comes into contact with the vehicle,” said Fisher.

For example, British Gypsum’s standard specification for a new vehicle would include: a 360-degree camera system; the near-side high-vision window – about 20 are already on the roads – proximity sensors; an extended catwalk at the back; a grab couple on the trailer; internal load system inside the trailer; and the rest would be up to Fors gold standard.

A Vision Technique’s BrakeSafe automatic handbrake failsafe system is also specified on new vehicles, with an additional requirement on existing fleet vehicles that they will not be able to enter a British Gypsum site unless fitted with an audible handbrake alarm that works.

Direct involvement

The company believes it is important to maintain good relationships with vehicle suppliers directly, rather than this being handled only by its lead hauliers.

“At the minute, we’ve got a brand-new urban artic trailer being built by Don-Bur, which will be our new specification for any urban trailers coming through. They are doing this because we’ve asked them to. Supplier relationship is really important to us,” said Fisher.

“If we look back over the past few years, we’re a different beast because we’ve changed our approach. We don’t now ask our 3PLs to do a lot of the work, we do it ourselves. Now we say ‘we know what we want’ now go and deliver it.”

British Gypsum ensures its smaller subbies are also kept abreast of its company’s safety strategy and the latest regulations by meeting with them twice a year.

It is also working with smaller subbies along its entire supply chain to help them reach Fors silver standard by the end of next year.


Freight in the City looks at the delivery innovations featured at last week’s expo

Commercial Motor group technical editor Colin Barnett headed to last week’s Freight in the City Expo at Alexandra Palace to check out some of the latest technology on show to facilitate urban deliveries…

There’s nothing like a changing legislative landscape to encourage innovation, and there were plenty of examples of new urban logistics thinking debuting at Freight in the City.

Making its first UK appearance, the full-electric Fuso Canter was represented by a six-tonne E-Cell prototype, along with confirmation that the full production 7.5-tonne version, to be called eCanter, will be available in the UK from Q4 of 2017.
FITC 2016-120
Meanwhile, Daimler says that there now around 75 Canter hybrids on British roads, where operators are reporting fuel savings of around 23% compared with diesel.

Also freshly arrived in the country was Volvo’s fully type-approved CNG-powered FE, with a 320hp Cummins spark ignition engine and Allison transmission.

Volvo acknowledges that the main obstacle to overcome is the limited recharging infrastructure in the UK.

A small but significant change to the Dennis Elite 6 sees it fitted with a longer diff ratio to greatly improve its suitability for general commercial operations.

Dutch company Emoss was on hand with an MAN rigid converted to full electric operation. It reports growing UK interest in fields as diverse as an urban artic, operating as a mobile consolidation hub, to a 7.5-tonner for aircraft toilet emptying.

Essex-based Tevva continues to develop and demonstrate its range-extended electric truck, possibly the most feasible compromise for the current climate. Although the fact that type approval procedures are still not geared to converting new vehicles, the firm will continue to concentrate on retro-fit conversions, with a target of 200 units in the next two years.FITC 2016-129

Lighter newcomers included the Turkish BD full-electric conversion of the Fiat Ducato, the hydrogen fuel cell Renault Kangoo from Arcola Energy, and a fully Clocs compliant Renault Trucks Master panel van.

The big story in the trailer world was the first sight of Cartwright’s Streetwise. This new concept in urban deliveries is loaded via a conventional fixed dock. However, unloading is carried out at street level through central side-loading doors.

Cartwright’s target market is multi-temperature multi-drop deliveries such as town centre convenience stores, fast food outlets and pubs.

The TransDEK Duet Urban also loads, and unloads, through the rear, but through a novel sash door system, which provides good security on the roadside. The trailer, which complies with the stringent Dutch PIEK noise requirements, can carry 29 UK pallets weighing 12-13 tonnes within a 10.6m length.1685

Stoneridge Electronics showed a Swedish Volvo FH equipped with its new camera-based mirror replacement system, MirrorEye. This uses up to six cameras and a range of interior display options to replace traditional mirrors and give a clear view all around the vehicle, even when turning and at night.

The compact system eliminates blind spots and improves fuel economy, and is going through EU type approval as an acceptable alternative to conventional mirrors.

British Gypsum working with subbies to help them reach Fors silver level

British Gypsum is to mandate that all subcontractors entering its customers’ sites hold Fors silver status within the next 12 months.

The building materials manufacturer is a Clocs champion. It uses three Fors gold level lead-hauliers to manage its five sites – Ceva Logistics, DHL and John Jempson & Sons. However, it is looking to extend this safety focus throughout its transport supply chain.

To help its smallest subbies, British Gypsum has spent the past year educating them in the benefits of achieving Fors and supporting them through the process of gaining accreditation.

“You need to be able to explain to a smaller subbie who may only be doing two or three loads a week [for British Gypsum] what the financial benefit is for gaining Fors,” said Brian Fisher, British Gypsum distribution manager.

He said that this is becoming much easier as the construction sector increasingly looks to specify Fors silver accreditation – which is aligned to Clocs compliance – as the de facto standard for vehicles entering sites.

The firm has so far helped 40 subbies begin their Fors journey. “They then started progressing towards Fors bronze over the past 12 months – we’ve even got a couple up to Fors silver already. The rest will be there by October next year,” Fisher said.

He said it is essential that large firms employing operators, such as British Gypsum, take the lead in ensuring smaller subcontractors get the support to achieve higher safety standards.

“These smaller firms are unlikely to go to an event about it [Fors] as they will lose a day’s driving and wages, so we have an obligation as does everyone else who runs large fleets,” said Fisher.

Emoss showcases full electric rigid at expo

Dutch company Emoss took part in last week’s Freight in the City Expo in London, displaying an MAN rigid converted to full electric operation.

Last month the company said it intended to use the expo as a springboard into the UK market, which it turned its attention to following London’s plans to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2019.

It reported growing UK interest for electric trucks in fields as diverse as an urban artic, operating as a mobile consolidation hub, to a 7.5-tonner for aircraft toilet emptying.

Based on rigid chassis spanning from 7.5 tonnes GVW through to 28 tonnes GVW, the conversions can be made to any make of truck, either straight from the factory or as a retrofit option on older fleet vehicles.

Emoss has also developed a range-extender for a 50-tonne tractor unit giving it a range between 900km and 1,000km.



DHL’s Roe: ‘Amazing’ industry response in developing cleaner, safer, quieter delivery vehicles

DHL’s MD of transport Phil Roe has praised the industry’s “amazing” response to working towards achieving safer, cleaner and quieter delivery movements.

Only two years ago, when DHL launched its urban concept truck at the Quiet Cities global summit, Roe said there was little on the market to help operators achieve more sustainable city logistics.

In just two years, this has completely changed he believes, with an array of new vehicles and technology available for operators: DHL itself even manufactures its own electric vehicles for its German post office operation.

Speaking to delegates at last week’s Freight in the City Expo in London about alternative delivery patterns, such as retiming out of peak hours and consolidation models, Roe said there were some “fantastic islands of best practice”.

“But for all those deliveries being retimed, there are thousands of deliveries not being retimed,” he added.

“When I talk to my customers, they are interested, but want the confidence to know the trend will last.”

Adopting a common national standard that defines and recognises an acceptable ‘quiet delivery’ could hold the key, he believes.





























Hauliers urged to respond to Ultra Low Emission Zone consultation

It is essential that hauliers take part in the current consultation over London’s ULEZ to make it work for them.

Speaking at last week’s Freight in the Expo at Alexandra Palace, Lucinda Turner, acting director of TFL borough planning, said responses were crucial as TfL works through the details.

“The consultation process is a real opportunity to understand how we can support you and make sure the different initiatives on environment and safety are integrated,” she said.

Following a first stage that ran for three weeks in July, stage two of the consultation process is seeking to provide more detailed information about the proposals and runs until 18 December.

Last month the London mayor’s office confirmed it was pushing to bring the start date of the ULEZ forward from September 2020 to September 2019.

It will require diesel vehicles to meet the Euro-6 standard 24/7 in central London or pay a £100 daily fee.

Lucinda Turner, acting director for TFL borough planning
Lucinda Turner, acting director for TFL borough planning

“The mayor is also pushing for a London wide expansion for the requirements for heavy vehicles (coaches, buses and HGVS), which will require these to meet Euro-6 everywhere within the current LEZ boundary [by 2019].

“And finally we are looking at expansion of the ULEZ for cars, vans and motorcycles to an area roughly bounded buy the north/south circulars,” said Turner.

The mayor also wants to introduce an emissions surcharge, subject to consultation, that will commence on the 23 October 2017 and require vehicles entering the existing congestion charging zone during charging hours to be at least Euro-4.

If they’re not they will pay an additional £10 on top of the Congestion Charge.

“The emissions surcharge is a stepping stone to the ULEZ. We estimate that around 10,000 vehicles a day – including 2,000 vans and 400 HGVs a day – will be liable for the surcharge,” said Turner.

“The mayor has made it clear this is a major priority for him and we need to make faster process.

“We do recognise however at the same time that there are challenges involved for you in the industry in meeting these new standards. We want to work with you,” she said.

Freight in the City talks to Daf Trucks about Direct Vision

Freight in the City (FitC) caught up with Phil Moon, marketing manager at Daf Trucks, at the expo to discuss London’s proposed Direct Vision Standard and its potential implications for hauliers.

FitC: On display you have a Daf CF low-height 8×4 rigid tipper fitted with a ClearView passenger door window, what other features does it have making it suited to urban delivery?

Moon: It’s got a camera system, warnings, filled in sideguards. But the fundamental design change is that the truck is not an NG3, it’s an N3, so it sits a bit lower. About six inches lower than the majority of 8-wheelers that we’d sell today and in the past.

This brings us to the forthcoming Direct Vision Standard, which has been discussed at length at the expo today. What are Daf’s thoughts on it?

I have some concerns from an operators’ perspective. A lot of the focus has been on construction vehicles. Most manufacturers base their construction chassis around a mid-range cab anyway. So although the sort of trucks that have been identified as probably not getting any stars are N3G tippers it may be the case that a lot of higher cabs, longer distance tractors, may also fall into the same category.

That could have a real impact on major national and international fleets that do have to come into London to deliver. I’m not sure that really been appreciated as a knock on effect.

And it’s not a long time frame to introduce new vehicle models, I guess?

Yes, 2020 is a relatively short time-period away. An eight wheeler operator could well keep a vehicle for up to eight years. And to potentially ban that vehicle from London in less than four years’ time could be quite dramatic.

And there’s still uncertainty [in regards who will be conducting the Direct Vision audits for TfL and when]. So I think there’s a possibility that operators won’t be able to understand what a truck’s star rating might be until earlier into 2017 [so there’s a time issue].

That’s potentially quite the headache in regards planning for operators.

Fleet procurement, fleet replacement, what they [operators] can do with vehicles that they think aren’t going to be compliant by 2020; I think that on top of bringing forward the ULEZ, which yes we’ve known what the objective is but the scale of it and the timing of it has changed, puts an awful lot on to hauliers. As an industry that could be a real challenge and ultimately could impact on the cost of transport.

DAF FITC expoDo you sell enough trucks into London and the surrounding area to make a model exclusively for it to meet Direct Vision?

Like any European, or even global manufacturer, in order to build trucks as cost effectively as we do we rely on a large market. There’s obviously diversity in all the markets we sell to but we try to do that out of a toolbox of different components and with a relatively small market when you take the European market as a whole it will be very challenging to do that in a cost effective and a timely way.

And the projected time is very short term. In terms of the gestation cycle and the development cycle for new vehicles, and particular new vehicle concepts you shouldn’t underestimate the implications of producing for instance a low-entry cab it’s quite dramatic.

Is a low entry cab the be all and end all?

When we design trucks we have to take into account a number of different aspects according to the operation. Off road ability might be one for construction. Ease of entry and access might be another one for distribution, there’s lots of different aspects.

Whilst a low entry cab might improve direct vision there are a lot of knock on consequences and disadvantages. It might be suitable for certain types of application if you’re in a multi-drop urban environment but they may not be apparent. As soon as you start to use that vehicle on long distance haulage, which you’d have to if you were bringing goods from the North of England to the South, then how would you accommodate that? There’s no sleeper cab facility, there’s no power train options available to power a 44-tonne vehicle.

So it’s not one size fits all then?

Operators need a degree of flexibility. Where they haven’t got flexibility they maybe have to make sure they have dedicated use that they can make sure they can utilise that vehicle as much as possible. If there are restrictions that means you can’t use it in a certain area or you can’t use the vehicle it could be quite impactful.


Clocs sees surge in interest as it works to extend scope

Clocs has had a surge of interest in the last eight months that has seen it add 30% more champions, according to Derek Rees, SECBE, chief executive and project director of Clocs.

The Work Related Road Risk (WRRR) standard launched in February 2013 now has more than 5,000 sites in its scope and more than 350 companies [champions] signed up – including clients, construction firms and hauliers.

Rees is heading a new Clocs Secretariat and Administration appointed by the standards major stakeholder TfL.

As well as SECBE, consists of the Construction Clients Leadership Group, procurement group LHC, Build UK and the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

Speaking at last week’s Freight in the City Expo, Rees told delegates that “the vision for Clocs is that it will be everywhere. Some have seen it as being London-centric but it’s now going absolutely everywhere in the North East, the midlands and starting in the South West”.

On the topic of businesses saying they will do Clocs when it comes to them, Rees said: “I would challenge you to go out proactively, get the commercial advantage of saying we are already committed to a higher standard and we want you to do the same.”

Rees added that Clocs was about saving lives, money and businesses’ reputations.

“It’s about holding others to account in a positive and constructive way. Everyone you work with does absolutely all they can to eliminate WRRR,” he said.


London Lorry Control Scheme review will take into account technological advances in HGV design

A wide-ranging review of the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) will take into account technological advances in HGV designs when it decides whether exemptions should be considered.

Following the first steering group meeting to discuss the scope of the review, council representatives agreed that the scheme’s effectiveness, as well as its impact on the freight industry will be included.

A review of this size has not been conducted before during the scheme’s three decades and the aim is for recommendations to be put to London Councils’ (LC) transport and environment committee later in 2017.

An LC spokeswoman said: “It will look at the management of freight, evaluate how the scheme can assist with the reduction of congestion and ensure noise pollution continues to be kept to a minimum in residential areas during unsociable hours.

It will cover routing, signage, hours of operation, extent of restrictions, enforcement, permissions and exemptions, taking into account technological advances in HGV design as well as traffic management and planning techniques.”

The FTA has pointed out that LC is likely to come under pressure from mayor Sadiq Khan, who is keen to resolve the Capital’s air quality issues.

The LC spokeswoman added: “The review will aim to ensure that the scheme continues to provide essential environmental benefits and protection for

Londoners as it has done for more than 30 years and will make sure the scheme plays an integrated role with other existing and emerging freight and environmental management initiatives being led by the boroughs and the Mayor of London.”