Podfather becomes Fors associate member

Transport management systems firm Podfather has signed up to be a Fors associate member.

Both Fors and Clocs-compliant vehicle walk-round checks can now be carried out by a driver, site foreman or safety inspectorhrough the Podfather smartphone app.

Data is then uploaded to a secure, central website platform for analysis and reporting purposes.

Any safety checks that show the vehicle was non-compliant cause a report to be automatically emailed to the appropriate transport fleet manager, and a ‘trouble ticket’ created in the online ticketing system.

This allows the non-compliant issue to be followed up by qualified staff following a set procedure until the vehicle is compliant again and the ticket is marked ‘resolved’.

Podfather is in use on major construction projects, such as Crossrail and Tideway, as well as by many Fors-accredited companies.

You can visit Podfather at this year’s Freight in the City Spring Summit being held at Edgbaston Stadium on 1 March.

Register today to secure your free place!

Check out the latest speakers signed up to Freight in the City Birmingham on 1 March

More than 300 visitors have now registered to attend Freight in the City Spring Summit ‘Improving the last mile’ on 1 March in Birmingham.

The seminar programme is now confirmed with a strong line-up of speakers bringing together city officials and the logistics sector to promote sustainable urban freight movements.

Latest speakers joining the programme include RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding, presenting brand-new research investigating whether the surge in van traffic is the result of the online-shopping boom.

The research asks whether e-commerce is adding to congestion or actually reducing it as people do their buying from the comfort of their sofas rather than driving to the store?

Carrier Transicold’s Scott Dargan will examine the legislative changes related to the urban distribution of perishable produce and how transport refrigeration system manufacturers are rising to this challenge.

This will include insight into some of the latest and next-generation technologies which will help to minimise environmental impact, including the use of refrigerants with a lower global warming potential, alternative-fuel-powered refrigeration systems and engineless solutions.

You’ll also hear from Transport Systems Catapult about the importance of keeping pace with the latest data and technology developments bringing more efficiency to urban logistics.

“When we speak of the future innovations in freight logistics for urban areas, we mean the next few months rather than years; change is happening now, today,” said Andrew Traill, principal technologist, Transport Systems Catapult.

“If we want to prosper economically and if we want to resolve the challenges of urban growth and development, we have to embrace this change; and not just embrace and follow but, where we have expertise, we should also lead the way.”

Freight in the City Spring Summit is an ideal opportunity to network with your peers and make important new business connections, so why not take a look through the variety of organisations already registered to take part.

There will also be an exhibition of the latest equipment and services to make your city logistics operation run smoothly, as well as a small outdoor urban vehicle display area.

The event takes place on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham. Make sure you reserve your free place to attend today!

Non-compliant vehicles could pay up to £200 to enter Southampton from 2019

Commercial vehicles that aren’t Euro-6 compliant will have to pay a fine of up to £200 from 2019 to enter Southampton, according to the city’s council.

Speaking at the Making Freight Consolidation Centres Work event in the city last week, Neil Tuck, programme manager for the local sustainable transport fund at the council, told delegates about plans for a clean air zone (CAZ).

Tuck said that Southampton was currently home to a quarter of a million people and a major transport hub, including the biggest cruise port and second largest container hub in the UK.

Population growth during the next few years is expected to add 20% to current traffic levels alone, and city and surrounding area already has an air quality problem.

“We are one of the worst cities in the UK in regards breaching air pollution safety guidelines,” he said.

“While many HGVs are not at CAZ level, the idea is that the Sustainable Distribution Centre [run by Meachers Global Logistics] will be outside the boundary,” said Tuck.

Tuck added that as yet the council did not know exactly how many HGVs would be affected by the CAZ.

As with the other CAZs planned around the UK, private cars do not fall within its scope, something the FTA has criticised.

While not confirmed yet, penalties for non-compliant CVs entering the zone will likely be £100 to £200. Tuck added that CAZ rules prevent local authorities from using them as revenue raisers.

However, Stuart Banks, director at Portsmouth-based AR Banks, said the introduction of the CAZ would put pressure on smaller hauliers.

“As a small haulier who is trying to keep ahead of the innovations in safety to protect our employees and the public, I simply don’t have a bottomless pot of money to keep upgrading my lorries.

“We put our drivers through safe urban driving training, and will be shortly undertaking our first Driver First Assist course while the rates are hammered down by the big companies.”

Image: Press Association

Cenex networking evening to discuss Nottingham clean air zone challenges

Cenex is hosting a free-to-attend networking drinks reception to help UK freight and fleet operators prepare for the challenges clean air zones will bring.

The event will be held on Tuesday 7 February at Nottingham Contemporary, supported by Nottingham Go Ultra Low.

It is open to anyone involved in operating vehicles in and around Nottingham, open to both public and private sector fleets, and will allow local government representatives to discuss the issues with freight companies and local businesses.

“We all know that clean air zones are coming, and this event will provide support and advice on how best to prepare for the changes, and offer opportunities to share best practice and learning,” said Luke Redfern, commercial partnerships manager at Cenex.

The agenda includes a keynote address about clean air zones plans across Nottingham, and a technical talk on real-world emissions by Nick Molden, CEO and founder at Emissions Analytics.

To register for the event, head to nottinghamcleanairzone.eventbrite.co.uk


‘Dangerous lorries’ could face criminal fines under London’s Direct Vision Standard plan

The mayor of London has revealed the next steps in plans to rid the capital of “dangerous lorries”, which could potentially see breaking the Direct Vision Standard made a criminal offence.

Under the mayor’s plans the “most dangerous” HGVs will be banned from London’s streets entirely by January 2020.

These HGVs, described as often off-road variants, would be zero-rated under the five-star Direct Vision Standard.

The standard is determined by what a driver can see from his cab directly without aids, and is still being refined with more vehicles set to be classified.

However, under the scheme, HGVs entering London would be required to have at least a three-star rating by 2024.

A TfL spokesman confirmed that Loughborough University Design School has been contracted to handle the assessment of vehicles under the star system and “is working with manufacturers now to analyse and rate vehicles”.

To drive adoption, TfL is planning to include references to the Direct Vision Standard within newly advertised contracts from April.

This it said would help inform its suppliers about the standard and ensure there is a plan for compliance with Direct Vision Standard requirements when a contract is awarded.

“It will ensure we are leading by example and work with our supply chain to raise compliance ahead of any London-wide restriction,” said a TFL spokesman.


Although yet to be finalised via further consultation, TfL has indicated it is not in favour of a civil enforcement charge for the Direct Vision Standard.

It said public feedback to a previous consultation on improving direct vision from HGVs, showed 56% of respondents supported a criminally enforced ban, something it also favours.

A criminal offence would see enforcement conducted by the police via a fixed penalty notice or, if convicted in a magistrates’ court, a fine. This would be enforced most likely via co-ordinated Traffic Regulation Orders akin to the Safer Lorry Scheme.

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, said: “Removing lorries that are unsuitable for London’s busy roads will improve road safety for all. Our Direct Vision Standard will be key in this and by continuing to engage with the freight industry it can begin to have a positive effect now.

“This won’t just increase safety, it will improve how our streets are used. We now know that another benefit of being able to make eye contact with a driver is that it makes pedestrian and cyclists feel safer, and this feeling can make our streets nicer places to live in and visit.”

Councillor Julian Bell, chairman of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “It is taking far too long for lorry manufacturers to realise that their outdated juggernaut-style vehicles are not suitable for our city street environments. More needs to be done to improve lorry safety standards at a national and international level but in the meantime, I welcome this intervention from TfL to set a safer standard for London.

“We need to encourage as many people as possible to cycle and walk when they can, to better improve our chances of tackling key priorities such as congestion, air quality and improving the health of Londoners.”

Penalty levels will be subject to further consultation.

TfL has today also launched its first public consultation on the Direct Vision Standard, which is open until 18 April.

The FTA has previously described the Direct Vision Standard as a sensible way forward.

Research on HGV indirect vision

Research conducted by Leeds University and ARUP, showcased at last year’s Freight in the City Expo, shows that the amount of direct vision a driver has could be a crucial factor in allowing a dangerous collision to be avoided.

Using a simulator to replicate real-life driving, the researchers found that HGV drivers respond, on average, 0.7 seconds slower when checking blind spots and monitors compared to directly through the windows. This delay can result in a lorry travelling an extra 1.5 metres before seeing a nearby road user, enough to cause death or serious injury.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This new research being released today shows how important it is we take bold action to address dangerous and poorly designed lorries operating in the Capital. HGVs with poor vision of cyclists, pedestrians and other road users from their cabin should simply not be allowed on London’s roads. Every time someone is killed by a lorry on London’s roads it is an appalling tragedy.

“Our ground-breaking Direct Vision Standard will be the first of its kind in the world, and TfL will lead by example by not using any zero-star lorries in its future supply chain.

“By continuing to work closely with industry, and beginning our first consultation now, we’re confident that many of the most dangerous lorries on London’s roads will be upgraded before our ban comes into place.”

Proposed steps to implementation

1) Winter/spring 2017: carry out this first phase of consultation. TfL will also work with manufacturers to rate vehicles against the Direct Vision Standard.
2) Spring/summer 2017: analysis and publish the responses to this phase of the consultation. New Euro-6, ULEZ compliant HGV models will have been rated to the Direct Vision Standard to inform operators buying new vehicles.
3) Autumn 2017: complete the impact assessment of the use of Direct Vision Standard on London and finalise proposals for any ban or other restrictions on zero or low rated Direct Vision Standard trucks.
4) Spring 2018: we will launch a statutory consultation on the appropriate regulatory measure to enable any ban or other restriction, subject to government and European Commission support.
5) Pre-2020: a lead-in period to allow necessary adjustments and preparation for compliance.
6) Early 2020: enforcement of the regulatory measure for the Direct Vision Standard scheme to go live.

Registration open for Freight in the City Birmingham on 1 March

Registrations have now opened for the ‘Freight in the City Spring Summit: Improving the last mile’ on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham.

This free-to-attend summit will focus on the need to think differently about how cities, businesses and operators approach last-mile deliveries to reduce freight’s impact on urban areas.

You’ll hear from major cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Southampton about the challenges they’ve faced to mitigate the impact of essential goods deliveries to businesses and residents in urban areas.

These include mandated clean air zones that need to be in place by 2020, as well as a need to reduce conflict between goods vehicles and vulnerable users, and finding ways to tackle congestion on key routes into and around cities.

Leading researcher Laetitia Dablanc will share urban logistics best practice across Europe, complemented by seminars from major operators such as UPS and Meachers Global Logistics on their work to make inner city deliveries more sustainable.

Delegates will also take a look at some of the latest technology and delivery methods emerging to the marketplace, as well as the potential of modal switch to water, rail or bicycle for relieving pressure on the roads network.

There will also be the opportunity to ask questions via a lively panel debate on the challenge of persuading consumers to accept more sustainable methods of receiving their online purchases.

“This really is a must-attend event for local authorities, businesses and freight operators to learn from their peers about more sustainable ways to handle last-mile deliveries, demonstrating how cities and industry have worked collaboratively to ensure freight journeys are cleaner, safer and quieter,” said Hayley Pink, Freight in the City editor.

The spring summit is supported by the Urban Transport Group (UTG) and Transport for West Midlands.

Jonathan Bray, UTG director, said: “Getting last-mile logistics right forms part of a much wider debate about what kind of cities we want to live in and how we want them to look and feel.

“This conference presents a great opportunity to explore innovative solutions that enable last-mile journeys to be completed as safely, unobtrusively and with as little environmental impact as possible.”

  • Reserve your place now and browse through the speakers and exhibitors taking part, or to check out the organisations already signed up to attend.

Freight in the City takes the last-mile debate to Birmingham in March 2017

Save the date for the Freight in the City Spring Summit ‘Improving the last mile’ on 1 March 2017 at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham.

This exciting, free-to-attend-event will focus on the latest innovation and operational practices to ensure last-mile freight movements are safe, clean and quiet across urban areas.

An exciting line-up of speakers from both the private and public sector will debate the last-mile challenge and explore some of the successful work already taking place in cities across the UK and mainland Europe to address the issue.

The Urban Transport Group (UTG), which brings together and promotes the interests of Britain’s largest metropolitan areas on transport, will be supporting the event in Birmingham.

Jonathan Bray, UTG director, said: “Urban Transport Group is pleased to be sponsoring ‘Improving the last mile’. Getting last-mile logistics right forms part of a much wider debate about what kind of cities we want to live in and how we want them to look and feel.

“This conference presents a great opportunity to explore innovative solutions that enable last-mile journeys to be completed as safely, unobtrusively and with as little environmental impact as possible.”

Alongside the seminar programme will be an exhibition hall dedicated to the latest equipment and technology to enable compliant, efficient city deliveries.

While outside the venue will be a display of some of the newest urban vehicles on the market.

Details of the speaker programme and exhibitors will be released early in the new year, so make sure you are signed up to receive the latest event updates and our fortnightly round-up of urban transport news.

If you are interested in presenting at the Freight in the City Spring Summit on the topic of clean, safe and quiet last-mile deliveries or servicing, then please contact hayley.pink@roadtransport.com.

We look forward to seeing you there.




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 Freightinthecity.com 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 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.

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.