Transport for Greater Manchester rules out its own Direct Vision Standard

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is unlikely to roll out its own version of London’s Direct Vision Standard, due to it having less resource than TfL and, arguably, less need. caught up with Helen Smith, head of logistics at TfGM, at the Alexandra Palace Expo, when she said a Direct Vision Standard was not on the cards for the city.

“One reason is that we’re a long way behind TfL,” she said.  “They’ve got a lot of resource, they’ve got a big team, and they’ve been doing it for years. Manchester’s just got me! So we’re in no hurry.”

“But the other things is that within Manchester we don’t have that same disproportionate representation of cyclists involved in collisions with HGVs.

“That’s not to say that we want to sit back and accept any level of culture, because we want zero tolerance, but it’s about us working with the industry in a supportive way. It’s not about limitations, we’re about enabling, rather than using a big stick. It’s getting it off the ground and seeing how it evolves.”

Smith added that TfGM would be working with the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University to help them meet the Clocs standard.

It also plans to work with local authorities and transport operations, and eventually reach out to smaller hauliers.

Smith said: “We’ve received a lot of positivity around it, but in the main we’re preaching to the converted at the minute. We’re engaging with the higher level operators who are already engaged with the standard, or, if they’re not, they’re quite open to doing so.

“So the first big challenge will be how do we link in with the smaller operators?

“Is the approach consolidation, so lower the number of operators coming into the city centre? That way you don’t need to reach the whole supply chain, but you’ve got compliance in your open areas, which is the critical part at the minute.”

Freight “absolutely essential” to London economy, says Shawcross

London needs to find new ways to tackle issues caused by its “essential” freight movements, was the message from deputy mayor of London for transport Val Shawcross as she opened the Freight in the City Expo at Alexandra Palace this morning.

Speaking at her first freight industry event in her role, Shawcross told delegates that while the mayor’s office recognised that some of its new policies would be challenging for operators, “we all need to do things differently in order to cope with the growing demands of the roads, and to continue to ensure London gets the clean and safe deliveries that it needs”.

Shawcross outlined plans to move more freight by rail and river, and said she wanted to speak to operators about retiming deliveries to outside of peak hours where possible, as well as working with the industry to achieve more consolidation of freight in London.

She also highlighted air pollution as one of the mayor’s “biggest challenges” and priorities, and that air quality “isn’t just a London problem. It is a national problem”.

Shawcross said that 79% of Londoners had supported mayor Sadiq Khan’s move to bring forward the beginning of London’s ULEZ, and that 71% supported the decision to increase the size of the zone to cover all of Greater London.

Shawcross added: “I want to make it really clear we understand that freight is absolutely, absolutely central to sustaining London’s global competitiveness.

“Part of my job has got to be working out how we can ensure that freight is embedded in how we think about London’s growth into the future, and how we do it in a modern way.

“I look forward to working with the industry in the years ahead to ensure deliveries are made in the most efficient way, in the safest and cleanest vehicles.”

Manchester freight and logistics forum poised for action

Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) new freight and logistics forum will go live next month, with a city centre launch event taking place on 16 September at MacDonald Hotel.

The forum will act as a collaborative platform for the logistics industry and the public sector to identify new opportunities for efficiency and share best practice on safe and sustainable freight movements.

Its agenda is to be set by industry, with an introductory meeting held earlier this year helping to identify key freight sector challenges to address.

Helen Smith, head of logistics and environment at TfGM, said: “Our aim in Greater Manchester is to create a world class transport network that supports sustainable economic growth and access to opportunity. We recognise the invaluable contribution that the freight and logistics industry can make in achieving this vision.”

She added that the forum will enable freight transport to fulfill its potential for driving economic growth, whilst ensuring that this growth is “environmentally and socially sustainable”.

The launch event will feature a range of speakers in the morning, setting out how they see the future of freight and logistics in the region, including: a keynote speech by the mayor of Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd; a session on opportunities for growth within the Northern Powerhouse and how freight fits into the wider Transport for the North strategy; and operator DHL Supply Chain speaking about Manchester Airport.

This will be followed by a series of workshops in the afternoon exploring themes such as consolidation, alternative fuels, retiming deliveries and modal shift.

A panel discussion about key logistical issues across the region will round off the day.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the forum, can email



Geodis UK launches out-of-hours service for Scottish retailers

Logistics and supply chain operator Geodis UK is targeting Scotland’s fashion retail market with the launch of an out-of-hours delivery service, following a successful roll out of the service in France.

The new proposition will be on offer in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Dundee and Aberdeen with “a leading European fashion retailer,” already signing up for the service, the company said this week.

Under the out-of-hours service, stock arrives at the Geodis UK depot in Stirling, Scotland, in the evening where it is loaded onto three trucks for delivery to stores before 7am.

The logistics company, which has a strong presence in the fashion retail sector, takes responsibility for prioritising deliveries, planning routes, liaising with store security, unloading pallets, removing packaging and organising returns.

Geodis has also spent around £80,000 on a new IT and security system at its Stirling depot.

Kevin Huskie, Geodis regional manager for the North and Scotland, said: “We are always looking to develop new solutions that can be tailored to our customers’ requirements.

“By developing our out-of-hours offering we have the ideal logistics solution for the retail sector which enables Geodis to be a growth partner for customers.”

How Newcastle University has learnt to love consolidation

Freightinthecity meets the team behind Newcastle University’s urban consolidation centre trial to see what’s involved, how it is going and what happens next.

Newcastle University is a thriving institution, with 24,000 students and more than 5,000 staff helping to generate an annual revenue of £438.5m.

As part of its Coherent Campus Initiative, ensuring the site is a safe, clean and pleasant environment for students, staff and visitors is a key priority for the university, with a significant reduction in freight vehicle movements at the heart of this vision.

NewRail Freight & Logistics Group – a team of urban logistics researchers based at the university – rose to this challenge and presented the university’s executive board with the best method of reducing freight vehicles on campus: an urban consolidation centre (UCC).

The UCC model had three main purposes:  to demonstrate the feasibility of electric vehicles;  to reduce congestion by slashing the number of inbound vehicles servicing the campus; and to align with the university’s plans for increased pedestrianisation, improved air quality and a safer campus.

Once buy-in was obtained from the board, a nine-month trial started in September 2014.

The UCC would be trialled through NewRail’s wider work on the Smartfusion project – co-funded by the European Union – a public-private partnership created to demonstrate smart urban freight solutions across supply chains.

Developing the concept

Principal research associate Tom Zunder, who heads up NewRail’s freight and logistics team at Newcastle, says that for any consolidation scheme to be a success, it must have clearly defined aims and ensure intervention in the supply chain is done for the right reasons.

Consolidation centres have always been set up with this intervention at the operator level, he explains. “Someone comes in and says: don’t deliver goods into city centres according to your own network and logistics plans; put them into our consolidation centre.

“However, nobody has put together a convincing business case as to why you would break the cardinal rule of modern supply logistics,” says Zunder, “which is to always reduce the number of times you touch the cargo. Every time you touch the cargo, it runs the risk of being broken, stolen, delayed or costing more to deliver.”

Therefore it was imperative for the team at Newcastle to gain a better understanding of why and how people ordered goods for delivery and to ensure any change to this process brought improvements to the university, while still meeting individuals’ needs. “In other words, we looked at the issue from the perspective of who pays the cheque and who controls the money,” adds Zunder.

For the university, the value from the UCC came from the executive board’s desire to improve the site’s environment. The campus areas had become increasingly pedestrianised over the years, however no consideration had been given to freight during any planning stage. As a result, freight vehicles were forced to park (often illegally) around the edges, or enter the campus when and where they were not supposed to, to deliver goods.

Before the UCC, NewRail’s baseline research highlighted that peak time for freight deliveries was between 8am and 10am – also a prime time for foot traffic.

“This concentrated delivery window says to me we are asking our suppliers for delivery during this time period – but do we need this?” asks Zunder. “The answer was often no. We know from staff interviews and surveys we’ve carried out on purchasing behaviour that most people don’t even know when goods are due to arrive. We found, for example, that the default delivery instruction on all our purchase orders is for next-day delivery, whether this is needed or not.”

Discussions are ongoing with suppliers to see if less frequent deliveries might benefit the university, for example through discounted rates. The uniqueness of the university’s buying power as a single customer has helped with such negotiations. This has created volumes through the UCC quickly, compared with a traditional consolidation centre that would generally require buy-in from multiple retailers and suppliers.

Due to the trial nature of the scheme, changes to existing procurement contracts were not yet necessary, and the majority of suppliers have opted to take part on a voluntary basis.

In the early days of the UCC operation, an average of five suppliers each week was contacted, rather than a ‘big bang’ switchover.

Supplier choice

The type of supplier was also an important consideration, if the model was to drive more sustainable transport movements; for example, those delivering high-density loads were purposely excluded.

“The reason is, when we talked to high-volume suppliers, like Office Depot, it was  obvious their supply chain was already very efficient. If we’d put them through the consolidation centre, they would still have needed to run the same volume of vehicles, but they would have been running half empty without the university’s goods; from a sustainability point of view, this made no sense,” says Zunder.

With suitable suppliers identified for the trial, NewRail needed to find a logistics partner to operate the day-to-day running of the UCC and its onward deliveries to the university.

Clipper Logistics – a partner in the Smart-fusion project – was chosen because of its experience in existing UCCs, at Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield – where it runs a close proximity shuttle service for retailers, and at London’s Regent Street – where it operates two electric vehicles from a UCC 12 miles away.

NewRail’s former Smartfusion project manager Bruce Carnaby, who, since the end of the project has taken up the position of urban freight development manager at Clipper Logistics, says: “Clipper has been working with consolidation schemes for a long time, and has a lot of experience, but was a little tentative at first, as working with a university differed from the traditional model of collecting from retailers such as Meadowhall.”

On trial

During the trial project, Clipper elected to operate the UCC through its existing facility at Wynyard Park, Billingham, 33 miles from the main university campus. Suppliers drop off goods to Billingham, which are then immediately logged on to the Clipper real-time tracking system, to ensure visibility of location at all times.

Original destination addresses are still required on packages, to enable Clipper to deliver them to the correct final destination. It is also possible for suppliers to put multiple single orders inside one package, which can be broken down by Clipper, into individual parcels, at the consolidation centre.

“This is potentially quite useful to some of our suppliers because they pay a per carton rate, so they can send us one carton, which then breaks down at the UCC into 10 cartons. Previously they would have paid for 10 cartons,” explains Carnaby.

Approximately 60 to 80 parcels a day, destined for more than 200 separate university addresses, are bundled by Clipper into nine drop zones, located on a route across the campus; these are then in turn loaded on to an electric vehicle (see box below), for the last leg of their journey. The number of parcels is increasing daily as more suppliers join the scheme.

Success rate

The university has to date achieved a consolidation rate of about 80% with the suppliers that have joined in the pilot scheme; this means that, for those goods, eight out of nine trucks that normally delivered directly to the campus, no longer visit the site.

NewRail says it expects this rate to inevitably drop as the scheme expands to include more than 50% of suppliers; however it predicts that the scheme should still achieve at least a 50% reduction in the number of vehicles. Even by conservative estimates, a full service of the scheme could save about 400 tonnes of carbon each year.

The university’s executive board is evaluating a business case to turn the pilot scheme into a long-term operation. In this scenario, the medium- to long-term plans for the UCC would include siting it closer to the campus, as although the Billingham facility was the most cost-effective option to get the trial under way, it was further away from the university than intended.

The UCC model could be simply applied to any university, or public sector organisation in the UK, the NewRail team believes. “You don’t need to go through the modelling process again, as we have done it – but you have to establish who will pay the cost,” says Zunder.

Low-emission vehicles

Clipper is operating an electric Smith Newton 7.5-tonner for the 33-mile trip to and from the university campus, equipped with a 120kW battery capable of driving up to 100 miles.

The vehicle is also fitted with a telemetry system providing feedback on battery usage, driver performance and CO2 emissions. In the first 1,000 miles the truck has already saved 350kg of CO2 compared to an equivalent diesel vehicle.

However, the vehicle manufacturer has now ceased production in the UK, with only its R&D Clipper2team remaining in the UK’s North-East, due to a lack of commitment from industry to purchasing electric vehicles in bulk, explains Carnaby.

“Sadly, many people are opting for one unit at a time so it looks good on sustainability reports, but they are not committing to fleets of vehicles.

“It remains a challenge to source ultra-low-emission freight vehicles in the UK”, he adds, “and convince manufacturers that are already producing such vehicles in other countries to bring them here.”

Zunder agrees: “They need to be ordering 300 at a time. As part of the Smartfusion project we worked in Como in Italy, and in Berlin, where we trialled a 26-tonne diesel electric hybrid  – and it worked. We put a system on it so it knew where it was in the city, and it would switch to electric when it was in an area with poor air quality, or where noise pollution was an issue or, for example, near schools.

“However, at the end of the project there was no market demand for it, despite a high demand for hybrid buses.”

FTA condemns HGV rush-hour ban call in its mayoral election manifesto

The FTA has condemned calls for “superficially attractive” blanket bans on HGVs during rush hour in the capital in its manifesto for the London Mayoral election.

Peak-time bans, such as that proposed by Lib Dem candidate Caroline Pidgeon, would create more issues in terms of road safety, emissions and hurt the London economy, according to the Freight Manifesto.

“Many would downsize their vehicles to avoid the restriction. The reality is that vans have twice the fatality rate with cyclists per tonne carried compared to HGVs,” the FTA said.

It added that because of the additional smaller vehicles required to move the same volume of product, an HGV ban would also drive more pollution.

The manifesto identifies a stronger economy, cleaner environment and safer roads as priorities for the road freight industry in London.

Other recommendations the FTA makes in the document include better cross-river infrastructure in east London; a change in night time delivery restrictions so more vehicles can make out of hour deliveries; support for urban consolidation centres and improved enforcement of current safety regulations.

FTA chief executive David Wells said: “Freight is vital to the future of London.  Cities are built by freight and they live on freight.  The social importance of the logistics industry is all too often overlooked.

“FTA’s Manifesto emphasises that freight is always only used when there is a purpose.  London’s people and businesses require over 360,000 tonnes of goods to be supplied by lorry each day.

“That’s 15,000 tonnes picked up or dropped off each hour, or 250 tonnes every minute; as this figure excludes vans and other modes, it is only a part of what freight delivers.”

TfL launches directory of construction consolidation centres in capital

TfL has published a directory of construction consolidation centres in London in a move to encourage the reduction of individual vehicle movements travelling to and from building sites.

It is expected that increased use of consolidation sectors will improve the safety, efficiency and planning of deliveries by combining and co-ordinating ‘just-in time’ deliveries.

TfL said it is working closely with the construction logistics industry to improve the collaboration and sustainability of deliveries.

Ian Wainwright, head of freight and fleet at TfL, said: “There is no one answer to improving the efficiency of freight on our roads but the Directory of London Construction Consolidation Centres is a valuable addition to the toolkit.”

He added: “We are working hard to ensure that London’s roads support its growth and a key part of that is making sure that they are used efficiently. The use of consolidation centres can benefit operators, clients and all other road users, and our directory will make it easier than ever to find the right centre for the right job.”

London Construction Consolidation Centre operator Wilson James (pictured) last year announced plans to expand its facility due to increased volumes.



Manchester geared up for lively debate at tomorrow’s Freight in the City Spring Summit

Manchester Central is poised for the arrival of hundreds of delegates heading to the Freight in the City Spring Summit: Driving Growth in the North event tomorrow.

This free-to-attend summit will be taking the debate on sustainable urban logistics out of London and into the major cities of the Northern Powerhouse region: Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

An exciting line-up of speakers will be looking at future growth plans for the region and the role the freight sector needs to play in unlocking this potential, as well as drawing upon lessons learned in London on how collaboration between logistics companies and city officials can help ensure HGV movements in urban areas are safer, cleaner and more efficient.

There will also be an exhibition highlighting the very latest equipment and services for logistics firms to make their urban operations run smoothly, as well as some of the industry’s safer vehicles on display outside the venue, including: a Mercedes-Benz Econic operated by builders’ merchant group Travis Perkins; the latest fixed-deck urban box van from Cartwright Group; and a Daf LF180 12-tonner fitted with additional passenger door window along with a Daf FAD CF hookloader with lowered suspension to enable better driver visibility.

Nearly 500 people have registered to attend tomorrow’s free event, so don’t delay in booking your place there’s still time.

The next Freight in the City Expo is scheduled to take place at London’s Alexandra Palace in November, so make sure you sign up to our free fortnightly newsletter to find out the latest urban logistics news and event updates.


Gary Sullivan of Wilson James on why a rush-hour HGV ban would cripple productivity

A rush-hour lorry ban in London could see construction hauliers losing four hours of productivity each day, according to consolidation centre operator Wilson James.

Speaking to following Lib-Dem London mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon’s proposals to roll out a blanket lorry ban during peak times, Wilson James chairman Gary Sullivan said with the capital’s current infrastructure the move would cause “huge problems”.

Building sites are generally only permitted to operate between 8am and 6pm under planning regulations, he said.

“So, under that basis, if you take [morning] rush-hour, and said it was from 7am to 9am, you’re probably losing at least two hours of productivity because although you can’t technically start unloading until 8am, your trucks are arriving about 7.45am, which means they are in the Congestion Charging Zone around 7.15am or even 7am,” said Sullivan.

A further two hours would also be lost at the end of the day if a second ban was implemented between 4pm and 7pm.

“Most construction sites are restricted to one delivery point, maybe two on bigger sites. So you are taking a huge chunk out of their ability to deliver materials out of their working day,” he warned.

Starting point

However, Sullivan is pleased that Pidgeon’s proposals have “got people talking about” the challenge of urban logistics and is keen for the debate to drive efficiency.

Wilson James runs the London Construction Consolidation Centre in Silvertown, east London, which has been experiencing growth in volumes during the past two years, doubling its warehousing capacity to more than 12,000m² of space.

“I would agree with Caroline on the issue of increasing consolidation centres. There is no reason why half empty vehicles should be coming into London. Consolidation has to be the way forward,” Sullivan said.

“Other than big lumps of steel, muckaway and readymix, which can’t be consolidated, pretty much everything else can.”

However, Sullivan said consolidating items was not always the most efficient option for all jobs, and a “mix and match” delivery approach would work well.

For example, on bigger projects such as multi-storey office blocks, it would still make sense to directly deliver full lorry-loads of items such as drywall plasterboard that will be consumed very quickly in a day.

“It’s about having a coherent logistics plan in place for your construction site. Deliver in bulk where appropriate or via consolidation where appropriate. You mix and match it to meet your cranes and your hoists and any bans that governments might impose,” explained Sullivan.

Out-of-hours deliveries

He also called on regulators to enable freight deliveries to be made at more hours than currently permitted due to hurdles such as the London Lorry Control Scheme.

“If we are going to restrict lorries in rush hour, as Caroline Pidgeon suggests, you need to make other times of the day more available. You need to deliver in the evening, or possibly early in the morning. But then you have to take into account residents and noise and that the streets have to be cleaned and repaired.”

With limited road capacity in London and fierce competition from many different sectors wanting to use the available space, Sullivan said better understanding and a far more integrated approach from traffic planners was vital.

The issue of cyclists taking more responsibility for their own safety was also a key challenge Sullivan would like taken up by the next London mayor to help lift the burden of responsibility currently disproportionately placed upon the haulage sector.

“I’d like to see a politician come out and very strongly say we’ve done a lot to improve our roads and through freight operators improving their vehicles and retraining their drivers. What is the cycling industry doing to make sure cyclists wear high-vis clothing, use lights, do not cycle down the inside of a lorry or cars?”

Making it happen

The concept of consolidation is not new. “It’s about the will of people wanting to do things the right way. For construction, it’s going to take some leadership from the developers, the client, the government to say you are not going to build unless you do it this way. It needs to bewilson james O2 mandated and certain areas need to be traffic free,” he said.

But Sullivan is a firm believer that a real step change in delivery patterns will be achieved in the long-term, even if unpopular at the start.

“If you banned trucks in London, we’d all moan for a few years, but we’d all get used to it. People just don’t like change. Construction likes its own way of doing things, it’s resistant to change. It would have to think differently and one day it will happen.

“The sector needs to think about all parties in its logistics planning. It will find if it does this it can save money, save waste and it will be a better environment for everyone to work in. I’d love to see it happen in my lifetime. If it received political leadership and leadership from large developers, the rest of us will follow suit and find ways to refine and improve it,” said Sullivan.











































EU project BESTFACT launches city logistics best-practice handbook

EU project BESTFACT has published a report covering its four-year study on sustainable city logistics.

The report, available to download for free, features 157 strategies and activities that promote efficient urban logistics in cities across Europe, including an analysis of 60 best-practice examples.

These include a study of Gnewt Cargo’s low-emission last-mile deliveries in London; a zero-emission beer boat and the Cargohopper electric-powered road train in Utrecht, Netherlands; and multi-use lanes for freight distribution in Balboa, Spain.

BESTFACT’s aim of researching best practice examples from European cities of different sizes was to help reduce negative environmental impact, improve transport efficiency and present the positive results of such measures.

The project said it was important that the best practice principles could be applied to other cities.

“Of course, there is no standard formula that is valid for all scenarios. A city or an enterprise must decide what concept best fits their particular needs,” says Marcel Huschebeck, project coordinator at PTV Group. “However, we could provide a basis for innovation and its implementation.”