Greater Manchester logistics forum focuses on sustainable deliveries

Sustainable urban freight movements were a key focus of the second Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) logistics forum, held last week.

More than 60 public and private sector industry stakeholders came together to discuss ways to improve freight flow and mitigate the impact of deliveries on the urban environment across Greater Manchester.

Opening the event, TfGM chief executive Jon Lamonte announced the publication of the region’s 2040 Transport Strategy.

“This is a long-term framework to improve transport across the city region, creating a cleaner, greener, more prosperous Greater Manchester,” he said.

Manchester had also finalised its Low-Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan to ensure the city region met EU environmental targets.

“These will ensure the continued economic growth of one of the UK’s foremost city regions does not come hand-in-hand with a rise in air pollution and carbon emissions,” said Lamonte.

Measures include:  exploring the feasibility of a clean air zone; increasing the number of electric vehicle charging points; supporting sustainability in the freight and logistics sector.

The TfGM 2040 Transport Strategy follows the publication of the first Greater Manchester Freight and Logistics strategy adopted in July 2016.

Delegates were told about major highways infrastructure proposed for the Greater Manchester region, and given an insight into the skills requirements and opportunities for logistics.

Better use of urban consolidation centres was discussed by Graham Stewart from Arup Consultancy, while Sam Clarke (pictured below), director at final-mile operator Gnewt Cargo, detailed his business model of using 100% electric vehicles in London.

“We need to educate our customers; the consumer is driving our service delivery, changing our business and bringing greater complexities to the delivery. We need to educate, and legislation is assisting with this,” he said.

Clarke added that planning of business space had opened up the ability to occupy disused areas like garage parking and underground train station areas.

Allowing re-use of disused spaces located within a short distance to the user has been critical in making electric deliveries possible, he said.

“Pollution is close to my heart, Manchester must take on electric final-mile solutions,” Clarke said.

TfGM senior manager told it was “fantastic to see the expertise and enthusiasm” from both the public and private sector during the panel session, and the workshop sessions which took place following the presentations.

“This gives us great confidence that we will be able to collaborate effectively with partners as we look to deliver our Freight and Logistics Strategy,” he added.

The next TfGM logistics forum is planned for the autumn. Register your interest at

RHA says Oxford zero emission zone is “unworkable”

A proposed zero emission zone that would see all petrol and diesel vehicles removed from Oxford city centre is “unworkable”, according to the RHA.

A £30,000 study into the feasibility of the zone was launched on 10 March. If successful, Oxford City Council said the scheme could be in place as early as 2020.

RHA regional operations manager for the West Midlands, Rhys Williams, told he was concerned the idea had not been properly thought through.

He said: “They spent millions on a flagship shopping centre and lured the likes of John Lewis. These stores need to be serviced. How do we get 26 pallets of freight [at a time] into them? They haven’t put any thought into the process.

“There’s an awful lot of consultation that needs to be had, and it concerns me, whether they’ll have it or whether they’ll just slap this diesel ban on immediately.”

Councillor John Tanner, Oxford City Council executive board member for a clean and green Oxford, said: “Air pollution has a significant impact on the health of residents and visitors to Oxford. Our vision is to create a city centre that people can live and work in without worrying about how vehicle emissions will impact on their health.”

Williams added that operating without diesel vehicles was not something the industry was opposed to, but it was not ready for it yet.

“It’s obviously a goal that we as an industry would love to see, but the technology just isn’t there at the moment. So what’s going to happen until we get there? We need to be real and sensible about it,” he said.

Geodis reduces freight journeys and emissions in Paris through Distripolis scheme

An urban delivery initiative deployed across Paris by French operator Geodis has reduced its freight journeys by 20% and CO2 by more than 1,000 tonnes a year.

Geodis sales director Kevin Huskie (pictured) told delegates at the Freight in the City Spring Summit that the Distripolis programme is designed to lessen the effect of freight deliveries on an urban environment.

It was developed in 2011 as a way for Geodis to lead by example in promoting more sustainable city deliveries.

As France’s largest logistics operator, with a 40% market share, Huskie said the company believed it had a responsibility to drive change and encourage more sustainable urban deliveries.

Before it implemented Distripolis, Geodis used multiple distribution centres on the outskirts of Paris for its key divisions, such as express parcels, groupage and reverse logistics operations. Each one would send multiple vehicles into the city centre throughout the day.

But with Distripolis, Geodis uses one main consolidation centre on the outskirts of Paris, with goods travelling during the night into smaller city centre ‘blue bases’ of less than 250m².

Own or subcontracted ultra-low-emission vehicles or power-assisted tricycles are used to make the final mile delivery from these inner-city bases.

The advantages to the urban community have been improved traffic flow, due to fewer trucks on the roads; reduced air and noise pollution; a more attractive city centre that still meets local businesses’ needs; and compliance with all local regulations, such as time-restricted deliveries.

Huskie said the initiative had “massively reduced road miles and made a big difference in Paris”.

“The target was to remove 1,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions. In year one, we achieved a 365-tonne reduction of CO2 and are now achieving more than 1,000 tonnes.”

Geodis wants to roll out Distripolis in Lille, Strasbourg and Marseille, and aims to reach every city in France.

However, because the UK marketplace is much more fragmented, Huskie believes collaboration is the key to achieving a similar effect here.

Earlier this year, Geodis announced an extension to its UK night-time deliveries initiative.

UPS: The big data revolution will drive logistics efficiency

Rapid advancements in data capability will be a core driver of innovation across the urban logistics sector, delegates to Freight in the City Spring Summit heard yesterday.

“If there’s one thing that’s really driving the opportunity for our industry to march forward in terms of its efficiency capabilities today, it’s the big data revolution,” said Peter Harris, director of sustainability for Europe at UPS.

“The opportunity for technology to enable us to crunch data in a way that wasn’t available just a few years ago,” Harris added.

UPS has been using its Orion (On-Road Integrated Optimisation and Navigation) system since 2014 across its US operation to analyse delivery drivers’ daily multi-stops and optimise the best route to take.

The system has enabled the parcel operator to reduce each driver’s average distance by seven miles per day.

Across the whole of the US driver-force, this has reduced annual journeys by 100 million miles, slashed 100,000 metric tonnes of CO2, and saved 10 million gallons of fuel.

Rolling laboratory

UPS has also been using its scale to enable it to take the lead in trialling the latest vehicle technology and fuels on the market.

Its “rolling laboratory” of more than 8,000 alternative fuel lorries and vans have now travelled more than one billion miles worldwide.

This has enabled the parcel firm to map the technologies it feels are most suited to each of its operations, focusing on duty-specific application of individual fuels.

Its Alternative Technology Vision is a strategy for each of its urban operations, ranging from city-to-hub feeder routes using biomethane trucks, through to a truck-free future in the densest urban areas.

In these central-most zones, the parcel firm revealed a plan to expand out the successful urban logistics model in place across Hamburg.



Paris promotes warehouse strategy for urban logistics use

Paris is adopting a new urban warehouse strategy to enable freight operators to occupy centrally-located city hubs at affordable rates.

The warehouses will enable more efficient consolidation of freight into central hubs, with goods transferred to cleaner modes for the last mile of delivery.

Speakers at Wednesday’s Freight in the City Spring Summit heard from Laetitia Dablanc, director of research at the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks, about the programme.

The ‘logistics hotel’ in Chapelle International in the 18th arrondissement of Paris uses a multi-storey design to maximise occupancy: the hotel has two floors dedicated to logistics activities, while the rest is used by offices, a data centre and a school on the upper floors.

Paris has also introduced a number of smaller underground freight parks to handle growing demand for e-commerce parcels.

For example, in the Place de la Concorde, a 1,000m2 underground park has been created for operator Chronopost, with a similar unit in use by Fed-Ex near the Rue des Pyramides.

The sites are built in old, disused buildings which enables them to be rented out at affordable rates for logistics activities.

There are currently around 20 of these smaller logistics terminals in Paris, with provision for around 80 more logistics terminals to be built within the Paris zoning plan.


UK should stop looking overseas for solutions, says Transport for the West Midlands

The UK shouldn’t be looking to cities overseas for answers to problems such as congestion and air quality, according to the chief executive of Transport for the West Midlands.

Speaking at the Freight in the City Spring Summit, Martin Reeves (pictured) told delegates that industry must “test things, try things. Or we’ll be back in this room in five years with nothing different”.

He said: “We should  not just address these issues, but we should be a beacon. Why is it that we find ourselves having to go to other European countries – to North America, to Scandinavia – and other parts of the world to understand best practice? We should be generating the international standards on best practice.”

On the day’s theme of improving the last mile, Reeves said that congestion around UK cities was “intolerable” to the detriment of final mile deliveries.

He said: “We are woefully behind our European counterparts in congestion. It’s a challenge to our economy. Every day you see the congestion on the network, which then affects last mile in our city centres. That is intolerable.”

Reeves also urged delegates to think of the air quality issues as an opportunity for change.

He said: “Rather than seeing air quality as a public health challenge, let’s see as it as a challenge and an opportunity to think fundamentally differently about disruptive technologies and how people live their lives. We have got to change the dynamic.”

The West Midlands, he added, will “never ever get the chance again to reimagine physically, socially, economically, environmentally, practically rebuild our cities.

“We have a choice,” he said.  We can do it well, and future proof it as best as we possibly can and grab the opportunity, not despite the challenges that we face but because of them. Or we do it badly.

“You’ve got to be leaders yourselves, you can’t be self-interested. Understand the power that you offer to future cities and future communities.”

Another speaker at the event agreed that urban freight challenges were an opportunity for creative thinking.

Helen Smith, head of logistics, environment and active travel at Transport for Greater Manchester, said vehicle design in particular was an area that could use more joined up thinking.

She said: “We could be more creative in our solutions. One basic example is there is a lot of work happening with schemes like Clocs, and the manufacturers are coming forward. But actually is there a programme that combines all these things?

Are we having the right conversations? Are we tackling this in a combined way, or looking in isolation at different problems and coming up with solutions that run parallel?”

Last chance to book your free place at Freight in the City Spring Summit

Freight in the City Spring Summit is now only a few days away and promises to be a must-attend networking opportunity for anybody interested in improving last-mile deliveries in towns and cities.

More than 500 visitors from across the public and private sector have signed up to attend the one-day conference and exhibition on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham.

Speakers from the UK and mainland Europe will be leading the debate on better ways to handle urban deliveries, while the exhibition will bring you the very latest vehicles, equipment and services for city fleets.

Doors open at 8.15, with a delicious bacon or egg roll waiting for you courtesy of Mercedes-Benz and Fuso Trucks UK, so make sure you get there early to look around the exhibition.

Freight in the City Spring Summit ‘Improving the last mile’ is supported by the Urban Transport Group, Transport for West Midlands, Mercedes-Benz and Fuso Trucks UK.

There is still time to reserve your free place to attend, so make sure you do so today, and we’ll look forward to welcoming you next week!




Meachers’ winning formula makes Southampton consolidation pay

The Meachers-run Southampton Suitable Distribution Centre (SDC) has proved a success and no longer needs any subsidy, according to the man leading the project.

Speaking last month at Making Freight Consolidation Centres Work, Meachers Global Logistics commercial director Gary Whittle said that three years on from signing up to operate, the consolidation centre no longer needed any subsidy.

“The centre bolts on to what we do at Meachers and therefore will exist in 10 years time regardless,” Whittle told delegates.

The SDC is run on behalf of Southampton City Council, which received funding from government through its local sustainable transport fund to get the project off the ground.

Whittle added this was money used to support council departments make the move to using the SDC and not something Meachers made use of.

Whittle said that the success and sustainability of the consolidation centre in a sector where few have proved to have longevity was down to integrating the facility into Meachers’ day-to-day operations on the Nursling Estate, Southampton.

“If we had been a dedicated, standalone SDC we’d have been out of business in the first six months,” said Whittle.

Whittle illustrated this point by stating that although 14 local government departments expressed interest in making use of the SDC, which runs around the clock through the week, only three actually signed up and began consolidating their loads through the facility at the start of the project.

Because Meachers had its private business operating from the same site (clients include cruise ship operator Carnival), Whittle was able to keep the lights on while he worked on signing up more public partners.

Despite this, Whittle said getting local government on board was ultimately invaluable for anyone looking at setting up and sustaining a consolidation operation.

“You need scale for a consolidation centre to work. The public sector brings this, which allows me to then sell the concept to the private sector,” said Whittle.

Clients include New Forest District Council; Southampton City Council; the NHS; University of Southampton; Solent University; Hampshire County Council Records Department; Try-A-Bus and Solent Go.

The SDC is located outside Southampton’s proposed Clean Air Zone, which was also discussed at the event.

  • Whittle will be sharing his experiences and what he’s learnt in the process about operating a successful consolidation centre at next week’s Freight in the City Summit in Birmingham. Register now to reserve your place at the free event, which takes place at Edgbaston Stadium on 1 March.


Councils need to stop scapegoating hauliers over the condition of local roads, says RHA

RHA has demanded that councils “get their act together” and stop scapegoating UK hauliers for road damage in a bid to cover up their own failure to maintain their roads infrastructure.

It follows a report from the Local Government Association (LGA) last week that claimed rising numbers of HGVs were pushing the state of the UK’s local roads “over the edge”.

Pointing to government figures that reveal HGV-transported goods rose 5% last year, the LGA warned motorists to “brace themselves” for a surge of potholes.

It said HGVs “exert massively more weight on road surfaces than cars, causing them to crumble far quicker” and warned that the rise in HGV numbers, combined with lack of funding, “could push our local roads network over the edge”.

However, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett hit back. “Many of our worst roads have little or no HGV traffic while many of the best are used by HGVs all the time.

“Local authorities have failed to maintain their infrastructure. Maintain roads properly and repair them after the installation of pipes and cables, and there will be little problem with pot-holes. Failure to do so will see problems multiply, along with the cost of repair and associated congestion,” he said.

He added: “Road hauliers move 85% of the UK economy, delivering food, clothing, houses and jobs. The roads are their main place of work and the industry is doing its job. We expect infrastructure providers, working with central government, to get their act together and do theirs”.

“Our lorries now are no more damaging to our roads than they have been for many years, in fact quite the opposite. However, the damage to vehicle suspensions and tyres as a result of poorly maintained roads costs the haulage operator thousands of pounds each year”.

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: