Hauliers need a lead from government if they are to adopt emerging fuel technology

The RHA has urged the government to develop clear, long-term policies to support development of alternative fuels and emission-lowering technology for the road transport sector.

Officials must also engage with hauliers and help them understand what their options are when new technology legislation is introduced, such as the roll-out of Euro-6 engines.

Jack Semple, director of policy at the RHA, spoke to delegates at the Developing low-emission transport in the UK conference in London earlier this week about the challenges facing the road haulage sector in adopting emerging fuel technology.

Diesel is an efficient fuel the industry knows, he said, and since the roll-out of Euro-6 is also an extremely clean technology and far lower in carbon emissions than hauliers expected.

“Which is something our members found out to their surprise because the government was given to understand it would be worse than Euro-5 in terms of miles per gallon,” Semple added.

In terms of emerging fuels, the DfT has committed an additional £25m to spend on supporting gas usage in HGVs. However, Semple said there remained misconceptions about gas.

“There is very little industry demand; virtually no interest at the moment, but that may change. If we look back over the past 20 years, the reasons for gas have changed a lot, but the promotion of gas and the explanation and understanding of gas in the haulage industry has moved very little,” Semple said.

He added that is was important that the industry understood the government’s intentions for gas usage, because there had been a significant amount of investment compared with other technology to lower emissions, and no policy to date.

Electric vehicle technology had been hindered, Semple believed, for reasons of reliability and cost.

Although there were a number of large companies interested in using electric vehicles, they had been put off at the costs of installing a substation for refuelling purposes, for example.

“In contrast, we have an NHS vehicle operated by DHL, which is a hybrid (pictured). It is a series hybrid unlike the parallel hybrids developed by the truck manufacturers and has been largely developed in the UK by DHL with some suppliers,” Semple said.

He felt that perhaps hauliers viewed hybrid “as a neglected technology”, but that it had a lot to offer up to 14 tonnes in urban environments in the short to medium term, such as fuel economy savings and driver comfort from electric vehicles. “I think this may well be revisited,” Semple added.

The road haulage sector was increasingly IT-led, with a huge focus on carbon reduction through better scheduling of lorries, however these strides had very low visibility in the government.

There was also far more potential from telematics technology that had yet to be embraced by the sector, which would increase efficiency and drive down emissions further.

In addition, there would also be more demand from operators wanting to run longer semi-trailers  in addition to the 1,800 permits already allocated from a 10-year government trial of the 14.6m- and 15.65m-long units.

“We’re keen for more smaller firms to have the opportunity to operate these vehicles as well as the very large firms. If we’re going to reduce carbon and we can improve transport efficiency per journey, then that ticks a box,” said Semple.

Dearman starts on-vehicle testing of refined zero-emission refrigeration system for trucks

Dearman has begun on-vehicle testing of its latest zero-emission transport refrigeration system.

Powered by a liquid nitrogen engine, Dearman said the system produces no harmful NOx or particulates and significantly reduces CO2 emissions.

The manufacturer first began testing its liquid nitrogen technology at the beginning of this year, but since then has refined the refrigeration system, alongside technology partner Hubbard Products, to be 30% lighter, smaller and more efficient.

Dearman’s Generation 2 system will now be tested with support from HORIBA MIRA, before a commercial, on-road, field trial begins with a UK operator in 2016.

Michael Ayres, deputy CEO of Dearman, said: “We have always planned to evolve and continuously improve our core Dearman engine, but to achieve such rapid improvements in weight and efficiency is a significant achievement.

“We aspire to offer systems which are not only cleaner, but that are also cheaper and perform better than polluting diesel alternatives. We are another step closer to achieving that goal.”

In June this year, the company opened the Dearman Technology Centre in Croydon, Surrey, which it said will become a hub of liquid air engine design, engineering, test and development.



Cenex develops performance calculator for gas-powered HGVs

Cenex has developed a performance simulation tool for fleets looking to operate dual-fuel (gas/diesel) HGVs.

It will enable fleet operators to calculate the cost and carbon emission savings from dual-fuel trucks and compare with their diesel counterparts.

The new software will be incorporated into the existing Cenex Fleet Carbon Reduction Tool.

It follows a three-year R&D project, part-funded by Innovate UK, as part of the government’s Low Carbon Truck trials.

Steve Carroll, senior technical specialist at Cenex, said: “The real benefit is that we can assess gas vehicle performance before the onset of costly vehicle trials or purchases. The truck model allows us to show the cost and carbon benefits of operating gas trucks in a bespoke fleet environment.

“We record GPS data from fleet vehicles and run this through our model, which allows us to estimate the total cost and emission savings, not only for the fleet but also on a per route basis.”

Throughout the three-year R&D project, Cenex managed the performance evaluation of 40 natural gas trucks for a major UK distributor.

It led the testing and validation work that reported on truck performance during the trial including economics, fuel consumption, carbon emissions, noise performance, air quality performance and driver perceptions and attitudes towards gas vehicles and refuelling stations.

Chris Walsh, head of technical support at Cenex, said, ‘Working on the deployment and evaluation of the gas trucks has given Cenex valuable understanding of vehicle performance in real-world scenarios and allowed us to develop the tools necessary to support the economic roll-out of gas vehicles into heavy duty fleets.”

Local authorities encouraged to be confident and ‘ambitious’ in adopting low-emission vehicle technology

Local authorities have been urged to take the lead and be “ambitious” to help stimulate the uptake of low-emission vehicles and refuelling infrastructure in the UK.

The second Low-Emission Cities Workshop took place in Sheffield this week, organised by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LCVP).

It saw speakers tackling the topic of how to mitigate the impact on air quality and reduce carbon emissions from road transport.

Andy Eastlake, MD at the LCVP, spoke of his organisation’s role in bringing together stakeholders to develop policy for low-carbon vehicles, which will enable more confident buying choices for individual and fleet users.

He said that in order for wide-scale uptake of lower-emission technology to take place, vehicles must be fit for the job they are needed for. “We cannot compromise mobility just to get lower carbon. This is an important message,” he said.

Many alternative fuels are now available, which can be used effectively in different operations. “But it can be guaranteed that there isn’t one solution that will fix all our problems in the next 10 years,” he said.

As well as the emergence of plug-in vehicles, range-extended technology and gas power for vehicle fleets, Eastlake urged fleet buyers not to write-off the merits of the latest generation of internal combustion engines, which can be very clean and an efficient way of travelling long distances.

Retrofit technology for the existing vehicle parc also offered significant opportunities to lower carbon emissions and improve air quality, he added.

What does ‘low-emission’ look like?

LCVP is working on a number of initiatives to help define what a low-emission vehicle should look like for different sectors. “One of the challenges is that there are a number of differing definitions of a low-emission vehicle,” he explained.

Applying consistency to defining low-emission vehicle standards in a city was vital, so as not to confuse vehicle operators wanting to drive in different regions.

“My plea to local authorities is don’t try to create a new standard, for example a Sheffield taxi, or a Leeds bus. Let’s try and use a standardised approach for the UK as a minimum. A consistent approach is needed,”Eastlake added.

He encouraged local authorities to be confident and get these cleaner vehicles in operation on their fleets, whichever new technology they plump for. “You’re not going down a blind alley by picking one of the alternative fuels already available. They won’t disappear in three years’ time.”

While there were many barriers for local authorities and vehicle operators to making the switch to an alternative fuel or powertrain, he urged cities to overcome these challenges and try to be ambitious with driving through change. “Cities need to ask themselves ‘how can I be more ambitious?’”

“And it is happening,” Eastlake added, as there is a huge uptake in the switch to plug-in cars, however vans remain a challenge and a frustration, as they are the fastest growing category of vehicle in terms of CO2 impact.

Lack of operator demand and lack of available product both need addressing to see wider uptake of cleaner van technology. “This to me is one of the key areas where we need to stimulate both the supply and demand side. It’s a market that needs a bit of tweaking and one to focus on,” he suggested.

On the HGV side, one of the biggest challenges for operators has been how to measure any savings made from using new technology.

LCVP is therefore working on a new testing process for the truck sector to provide a standardised way to assess carbon and air quality impact of their HGVs, including the development of a standard for retrofit technology. It will be holding a workshop on 30 November to discuss the process.

It is also working with the DfT to test the real-life emissions performance of gas-powered trucks.

You can view Eastlake’s full presentation online.

FREVUE wants to work with large electric HGV manufacturers for urban delivery project

A European project exploring the viability of electric vehicles for urban freight deliveries is calling on the manufacturers of electric HGVs of 7.5-tonnes and over to take part in the scheme.

The Freight Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe (FREVUE) project wants to make sure its research is representative of a wide range of vehicles used for city logistics, from car-derived vans through to 18-tonne goods trucks.

It currently has 55 electric freight vehicles procured and operational across the partnership, 17 of which are in London. These vehicles provide valuable data ranging from procurement and maintenance costs to kilometres driven per day and battery status at the end of each shift.

However, the project team said larger electric freight vehicles over 7.5 tonnes involved in the project are under-represented, with few available on the market and those that are set with a “hefty price tag”.

To develop a better understanding of the reasons for this lack in vehicle choice at the heavier end of the market and to address these issues, FREVUE would like to co-operate more closely with a European manufacturer of electric HGVs.

If you would like to get involved or find out more about the project, please contact the FREVUE co- ordinator, Tanja Dalle-Muenchmeyer, on tdmuenchmeyer@westminster.co.uk

Project partner Heineken is successfully operating larger electric HGVs in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, with a plan to expand their numbers on its urban beer delivery routes.

Gasrec sources LNG from National Grid’s new Kent terminal

Gasrec is now using LNG supplied from National Grid’s new Isle of Grain terminal in Kent.

The facility went live on 11 November and the LNG supplier, which claims to fuel 60% of natural gas vehicles running in the UK, described it as a “critical” step in ensuring reliable and consistent availability of gas.

Rob Wood, Gasrec CEO, said: “We now have the largest LNG import terminal thanks to National Grid investing in such a strategically important piece of infrastructure.

“We have the largest LNG refuelling station at Dirft near Northampton and we already have more HGVs running on LNG than anywhere in Europe – perfect foundations for increased widescale use.”

In March, Argos put the first of five gas-powered Scania tractor units on the road as one of a number of retailers and operators exploring the use of the technology.

Bibby lowers carbon impact with investment in LPG trucks and longer semi-trailers for Ultraframe

Bibby Distribution has boosted its investment in LPG technology with the addition of five converted dual-fuel MAN TGX tractor units for customer Ultraframe.

It has also introduced three 15.65m longer semi-trailers (LST) onto the conservatory roofing firm’s fleet, which Bibby said will slash road miles and carbon emissions due to their greater internal load capacity.

The new dual-fuel tractor units, which are expected to cover 200,000km a year, have already seen diesel usage drop by 20%, with projected carbon emission reductions of more than 10% over the next five years.

A dedicated LPG tank has been installed by Bibby at Ultraframe’s Lancashire site to enable easy refuelling for the new tractor units when returning to base.

Bibby now runs a total of 10 LPG tractor units, having already successfully introduced the fuel to five converted vehicles working on its Unipart contract in May last year. The company said at the initial introduction of LPG technology that it offered a “genuine long-term solution” to driving down fuel costs and lowering fleet emissions.

The new 15.65m LSTs joining the fleet will operate on trunking routes from the Ultraframe depot in Clitheroe to distribution centres in Glasgow, Avonmouth and Biggleswade.

They will form part of the 44 units Bibby is operating as part of the government’s 10-year trial of LSTs.

The LSTs will feature a lower deck and smaller wheels, allowing for a taller trailer, which reaches the maximum legal height of 4.96m. With an increased capacity of 35%, the trailers can accommodate six stillages in the front of the trailer and seven in the rear.

They will be used to carry pre-fabricated roofs, roof components and non-standard freight, which includes 6m long stillages, 7m length beams that can weigh up to 120kg, and sheets of polycarbonate glazing.

Paul Greaves, logistics manager at Ultraframe, said: “Bibby Distribution has always understood the detailed nature of our business and our specific delivery profile. The new trailers have already delivered in terms of cost, efficiency and our green footprint.”

The introduction of the new trailers on a permanent basis follows the trial of a loaned LST, which was a shared resource borrowed from another part of Bibby Distribution’s fleet.

To ensure driver and operator compliance with the regulations of the trial, Bibby has provided an on-site driver trainer at the Clitheroe depot to ensure its team are expertly trained in operating the longer articulated combinations.


Iveco launches New Daily Electric for urban operations

Iveco has launched the New Daily Electric in Italy this week, which features reduced energy use, higher payload and longer battery life.

With an extended range of up to 280km, the manufacturer said its 100% electric, zero-emission van is particularly suited to urban distribution work.

Compared with its predecessor, New Daily Electric sees a reduction in energy consumption due to high-efficiency, low-weight electric auxiliaries, in addition to a 20% increase in battery life. It also features an increased payload capacity of around 100kg.

In addition, the vehicle’s flexible charging modes allow operators to recharge the van in public or private infrastructure, by connecting to a fast-charging station for an average charge time of just two hours.

The vehicle allows the driver to choose between two driving modes: Eco and Power. In Eco mode, the engine torque is moderated to minimise energy consumption, without imposing any limits on the maximum speed of the vehicle. In Power mode, the driver can enjoy the full performance of the electric drive motor.

Regenerative braking is another major new feature of the New Daily Electric, allowing the driver to decide which braking method to use while driving.

The vehicle’s nearly-silent running characteristics contribute to a reduction in noise pollution, said Iveco, and enable night-time deliveries in urban areas. In addition, it is equipped with a pedestrian acoustic alert system as standard, which is activated automatically when driving at speeds of 0-30km/h.

Iveco said the vehicle’s power and robustness are guaranteed by its C-profile frame. Formed in high-strength steel, the C-profile frame ensures maximum durability over time and flexibility of use.

Inside, the New Daily Electric is equipped with a 7’’ detachable tablet and an electronic dashboard for vehicle data management, navigation technology designed by TomTom® Bridge for Iveco. A semi-integrated dashboard dock delivers the comfort of a built-in system and the flexibility of a detachable device.

ECO Stars joins forces with Route Monkey to boost operators’ fleet efficiency

ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme is partnering with Route Monkey to help freight operators make their fleet operations more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Members of ECO Stars – a voluntary scheme that provides guidance and recognition for operators striving to the reduce fuel consumption and harmful emissions from their fleet vehicles – will now be able to access Route Monkey’s optimisation software, which the company said can shave up to 20% off fleet running costs.

Ann Beddoes of Barnsley Metropolitan Council, the scheme manager for ECO Stars, said: “We are delighted to be working with Route Monkey – a company whose services align perfectly with ECO Stars’ objectives – and we continue to seek out partnerships with organisations to enhance the benefits of the scheme for our members.”

Colin Ferguson, CEO of Route Monkey, said: “ECO Stars is a fantastic initiative that has a fantastic membership of public and private sector fleets. By working closely together with ECO Stars we can deliver even greater efficiency savings for these members.”

ECO Stars was created in 2009 in South Yorkshire and has since expanded to 18 schemes across the UK, with more in the pipeline. It is open to fleets of all sizes and types of operation.

Route Monkey’s optimisation system uses algorithm-based technology capable of making millions of calculations in a relatively short space of time to help eliminate unnecessary fleet mileage and improve vehicle utilisation.

The company has also developed unique algorithms for identifying where and how ultra-low carbon vehicles can be deployed, and has been working with local authorities in Scotland to help them explore if electric vehicles could work in their fleets.

Both Route Monkey and ECO Stars were exhibitors at the Freight in the City Expo, which took place at Alexandra Palace in London on 27 October.


Route Monkey develops online national scheduling platform for fleet operators

Route Monkey is keen to speak with fleet operators at next week’s Freight in the City Expo interested in taking part in trials of its online national scheduling platform.

The optimisation specialist is poised to launch an online tool enabling both public and private sector fleet managers to instantly access its powerful algorithm-based software to ensure vehicles are being used to their maximum effect.

Route Monkey CEO Colin Ferguson said: “Companies like Yodel and XDP Express  already benefit from the efficiency savings that our algorithms deliver. We are now working on a national, fully online scheduling tool to open up this technology to fleets large and small.”

It will enable fleet managers to carry out their own analysis work that not only takes into account the best routes to use, but also calculates roads infrastructure, congestion, carbon impact, payload, shift patterns and drivers’ hours, for example.

Route Monkey said the online tool will also incorporate optimisation technology for low-carbon vehicles, such as electric vans, as well as enable fleet managers to locate and book recharging/refuelling points on a route.

The online platform is scheduled to be live by Q3 next year, and Route Monkey would like to hear from any interested fleets looking to trial it in their own operations. Head along to stand E16 at Freight in the City Expo next week to find out more.

Colin Ferguson will also be hosting a seminar session about the environmental, cost and efficiency benefits to be gained from effective fleet optimisation.

  • Freight in the City is a free-to-attend one-day expo about sustainable urban logistics. It will be held on Tuesday 27 October at London’s Alexandra Palace. Book you place now!