Local legislation is creating a minefield for the transport industry

Local legislation, when it comes to logistics movements in the UK, is a “minefield” and TfL’s proposed Direct Vision Standard for HGVs in the capital is “not the answer”.

Speaking at the Truck to The Future debate at last week’s Microlise Transport Conference, Laurence Drake, business planning director at Daf Trucks, called on local governments throughout the UK to end the “minefield” of differing local legislation and standards.

He also called for clarity on where HGV manufacturers needed be in five years’ time.

“If we know, then we can get there,” Drake said. “When you look at TfL’s requirments, the danger is they almost become laws because you cannot quote for a tender [without meeting them].”

Martin Flach, product director at Iveco, said he did not see the Direct Vision Standard in London –which assesses and rates how much an HGV driver can see directly from their cab – “as being the real answer” to improving vulnerable road user safety.

The standard, which remains under development, rates a vehicle against a five-star scoring system based on the driver’s direct vision from the cab (as opposed to indirect vision via aids such as mirrors and cameras).

Flach thinks technology is a more cost-effective way to save lives. “There is nothing quite like an advanced emergency braking system for forward-facing collisions – So, can you do that for potential collisions at the side of a truck? [This would relieve] the driver of the decision.”

Mark Grant, UK aftersales director at Scania (GB), called on local governments throughout the UK to give the industry clear guidelines.

“What do councils want? They need to agree it across all metropolitan boroughs and in London. Manufacturers are good at coming up with great designs once we know what we have got to design for. I am a great believer in devolved power but there has to be co-ordination,” he said.

“We need a single view on what we are going to build to. And we will meet it because that is what we do.

“It is the operator that will pay if we have to do different designs. Margins are thin enough in logistics,” Grant added.

DHL Supply Chain has also recently called on devolved cities to apply a consistent approach to transport requirements.

Trenchcon picks UK’s first Volvo low-entry rigid truck-mixer for urban distribution work

Concrete specialist Trenchcon has received the UK’s first Volvo FE low-entry cab (LEC) 6×2 rigid truck-mixer unit.

Based in north-west London, the 6m³ truck-mixer was chosen for its enhanced direct vision for drivers, as well as its easy maneuverability.

Trenchcon MD Ronan Byrne said: “With the Volvo FE LEC, we are paving the way for a new type of construction truck for use in the urban environment.”

He added the driver’s lowered seating position compared with a standard six-wheel mixer significantly improved road safety for vulnerable road users.

“The type of work we do means the FE LEC doesn’t need to go off-road,” said Byrne.

“We needed the rear-steer lift axle for maneuverability and the I-Shift automated gearbox as the best solution available to help the driver manage deliveries through the constant stop-start heavy traffic.”

“It’s the first truck of its kind for Volvo and we will see many more operators opting for this type of mixer in London.”

The new FE LEC will join Trenchcon’s 20-strong fleet of 4m³, 6m³ and 8m³ mixers.

To ensure the FE LEC offered the top level of direct vision and maneuverability, Trenchcon worked in partnership with Volvo to help develop its specification.

It features a 320hp engine, coupled to a direct top I-Shift automated gearbox and a single reduction rear axle.

“This appears to be a far more efficient solution than other vehicles designed for the city environment based on refuse specs, which call for automatic transmission coupled to a hub-reduction axle, especially in and around the orbital roads,” said Volvo Trucks head of product management John Comer.

“In this respect the Volvo FE LEC will help with both London direct vision, carbon and increasingly more important, air quality demands, and it is better for the bottom line,” he added.

The truck also features air suspension on all three axles, a two-step entry steel safety cab, a lowered window in the nearside door to improve driver visibility alongside the cab, and a four-way Brigade safety camera system,

It is equipped with a Cifa truck mixer body fitted by Wilcox.

Register today for a free Clocs seminar at Tip-Ex and Tank-Ex exhibition

Tip-ex and Tank-ex visitors are invited to take part in a free-of-charge Clocs seminar during the first day of the Harrogate event.

You’ll be able to hear the latest scheme expansion plans, a local authority perspective on why they are encouraging supply chains to adopt the standard, a construction client’s take on why Clos is embedded in its procurement contracts, as well as an interactive Q&A session.

The seminar will take place at 2pm on Thursday 1 June at the Harrogate Convention Centre.

Register today to receive full programme details.

Both Greater Manchester and Northumberland City Council are encouraging operators across their localities to adopt Clocs in their operations.

Self-driving Volvo FM refuse lorry makes UK debut

Volvo Group debuted a self-driving FM refuse truck at its UK Innovation Summit this week, to demonstrate the potential safety and environmental benefits for urban areas.

The concept truck has been developed and tested over the past two years in collaboration with Swedish waste and recycling firm Renova.

Volvo Group chief technology officer Lars Stenqvist said: “There is amazing potential to transform the swift pace of technical developments in automation into practical benefits for customers and, more broadly, society in general.

“Our self-driving refuse truck is leading the way in this field globally, and one of several exciting autonomous innovations we are working with.”

How does it work?

The first time the automated refuse truck is used in a location, it is driven manually while the on-board system monitors and maps the route with the help of sensors and GPS. Upon entering the area a second time, it knows exactly which route to follow and at which bins it has to stop.

At the first stop, with the automated system activated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and empties it as normal. When the operation is completed, the truck automatically reverses to the next bin upon the driver’s command.

The driver walks the same route as the truck to have a full view of what is happening in the direction of travel.

Reversing, rather than driving forwards, enables the driver to remain closer to the compactor during collections.

“And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at every start and stop, there is less risk of work-related injuries such as strain on the knees and other joints,” said Hans Zachrisson, strategic development manager, Renova.

Volvo said the self-driving truck aims to reduce the risks associated with reversing an HGV in urban areas, even when fitted with cameras.

Sensors continuously monitor the vehicle’s vicinity and the truck stops immediately if an obstacle suddenly appears in its path, or if the driver activates the emergency stop function.

It also has potential for lowering fuel consumption and emissions, as gear changes, steering and speed are constantly optimised.


The joint research project with Renova will continue until the end of 2017 and will be followed by an evaluation of functionality, safety and the acceptance of drivers, road users and residents.

However, the manufacturer said a lot more R&D work remains before self-driving refuse trucks will become a reality on our roads.

Instead, it believes varying degrees of automation will probably be introduced earlier in other applications, where transport operations take place within strictly confined areas.

For example, the technology used in the refuse lorry research is also being used in a trial of a self-driving truck for mining operations in the Kristineberg Mine in northern Sweden.

Volvo Group demonstrated the truck in action yesterday at its Innovation Summit in London, where it also brought its fully-electric passenger bus and the world’s first zero-emission, near-silent, all-electric excavator aimed at urban construction sites.


Renault designs low-entry, high-vision cab for Veolia’s urban multi-stop work

Renault has developed a low-entry, high-vision Range D day cab that it said “challenges the conventional approach” to tackling driver direct vision.

Working with waste management firm Veolia, Renault has designed the Range D Low to improve road safety for cyclists and pedestrians and provide easy cab access for crew members making 100-plus collections a day.

It has been developed as part of a £5m, two-year investment by Veolia to support the objectives of Clocs and work towards London’s proposed Direct Vision Standard.

The low-entry cab has a ground step height of 375mm, some 75mm lower than traditional crew cab models in this sector, according to Renault. It is accessed via two steps that sit slightly inside the cab.

This lower height is achieved by fitting 315/60 tyres and air suspension front and rear, while an additional ‘kneel’ function drops the front of the vehicle a further 50mm.

The cab features a larger window area, nearside vision panel and lowered driver position to improve direct vision of vulnerable road users around the truck.

It is is available to order directly from the factory with no additional conversion needed.

Veolia UK and Ireland senior executive VP Estelle Brachlianoff said the Range D Low would help protect other road users and assist its crew members: “This will help us to operate more productively for our many customers, and extend the safety aspects of our operations.”

Renault Trucks product manager Mike Stringer said the new cab “challenges the conventional industry solution with a traditional day cab that delivers class-leading low entry access and egress”.

He added: “Despite its lower bumper, the vehicle’s shorter front overhang compared with alternative low-entry crew cabs on the market offers an improved approach angle for easier manoeuvrability on city streets, helps with ground clearance issues to reduce vehicle damage, and crucially, enhances the field of vision.”

Based on a Range D Wide (2.3m) cab, the low-entry model is available as a 4×2 18-tonne rigid or 26-tonne 6×2 rigid tag with fixed or steered rear axle.

It uses Renault’s DTI 8-litre engine, with a choice of power ratings (250hp, 280hp or 320hp) and can be specified with a manual, Allison (automatic) or 12-speed Optidriver automated gearbox and a variety of body options.

Freight vehicle restrictions proposed in Oxford Street transformation vision

Freight vehicles could be removed or time-restricted from London’s Oxford Street, as plans for a major revamp of one of the world’s busiest shopping destinations take shape.

TfL has opened a consultation this week into proposals to make Oxford Street area more pedestrian-friendly and tackle air quality and safety concerns from over-crowding.

This requires a “significant increase in the amount of space provided for pedestrians and a radical reduction in the amount of traffic using Oxford Street,” according to the consultation.

As an established retail and business hub, TfL said it is “extremely important” that businesses based on Oxford Street can receive deliveries and be serviced efficiently.

“At the same time we recognise the importance of ensuring that local residents are protected from excessive noise, pollution and congestion. Any proposals must ensure that freight and servicing vehicles are able to continue to access the Oxford Street district efficiently,” the consultation added.

At present, Oxford Street is open for freight deliveries at any time, with the majority being made between 22.00 and 10.00. Some businesses on Oxford Street already have arrangements in place to make or take deliveries via nearby side roads or to loading facilities at the rear.

Possible changes

However, if the current status quo is maintained, planners say it would “greatly limit” their ability to transform the area.

They say removing access for freight entirely would increase the scope for transformation; however they acknowledge this may have implications for businesses or traffic flow in neighbouring areas.

Restricting freight vehicles during the day-time is another option, with night-time access either to the full length of Oxford Street or to certain sections of it.

This option would give pedestrians more space, however would require businesses to re-time the receiving of their goods.

“We will continue to work with businesses to find new ways of improving the efficiency of deliveries and servicing, while reducing the impact of these journeys on those visiting, living or working in the Oxford Street district,” the consultation document said.

It added that successful consolidation schemes had already reduced freight and servicing journeys in both Regent Street and Bond Street,

If freight vehicles were banned from Oxford Street, planners would consider the potential for designated crossing points to enable vehicles to head north to south and vice versa.


TfL said air quality in Oxford Street is a “serious and pressing” issue, regularly exceeding legal limits, despite a boost in low-emissions buses and taxis and existing freight consolidation and re-timing work.

Road safety is also a “significant concern”, with around 60 collisions a year on Oxford Street resulting in personal injury.

Options for restricting or rerouting buses, taxis and cyclists are also included in the early proposals.

TfL is keen to hear industry views on the project and the consultation will be open until 18 June.


Terberg DTS UK debuts refrigerated safety truck for urban deliveries

Terberg’s refrigerated Urban Safety Vehicle made its debut at this week’s CV Show in Birmingham.

Working with sister firm Dennis Eagle and bodybuilder Gray & Adams, the refrigerated truck has been designed specifically for temperature-controlled deliveries in urban environments.

It is based on the Dennis Eagle Elite 6 4×2 rigid chassis with a Volvo D8K 280hp engine and Allison 6-speed automatic gearbox.

The low-entry, walk-through cab enables direct vision of vulnerable road users with full-length glass panels to the cab, as well as improved driver safety by allowing them to exit on the nearside.

Other driver aids include Mobileye Shield+ collision avoidance system, as well as lane change and distance control features.

A Vue CCTV system is also fitted to the truck, allowing the vehicle’s journey to be recorded back at a central command centre and highlighting areas of potential danger for cyclists and pedestrians.

Full side-length scene lighting is fitted to the vehicle to illuminate the vehicle during loading or unloading, while a new Dhollandia 500kg side loading lift is incorporated into the nearside of the body. This aims to reduce congestion and enhance both safety and speed for kerbside loading and unloading, whilst retaining a standard Dhollandia rear tail-lift for loading docks.

The Terberg truck also features the low-noise, low emission Carrier TRS Twin Cool undermount 2CPT refrigeration system as standard, fitted onto a Gray & Adams dual compartment reefer body with an internal movable bulkhead.

This has a curved roof and internal body length of 7,750mm and a 45m3 capacity.

Mercedes-Benz Econic urban tractor unit ready for operator trials

Mercedes-Benz Trucks said its new Econic urban tractor unit will be ready for real-life operator trials next month.

It features a deep, panoramic windscreen and full-height glazed passenger door, along with a low seating position that allows the driver to make direct eye contact with cyclists and pedestrians.

The 4×2 Econic 1835L tractor, which Freight in the City first revealed last year, will operate at a maximum gross combination weight of 36 tonnes.

It has a 7.7-litre straight-six engine, which transmits its 260 kW (354 hp) output via a six-speed Allison automatic gearbox. However, the manufacturer plans to offer its Mercedes PowerShift transmission in Econic models powered by the same engine before the end of 2017.

The tractor unit also incorporates a number of refinements to the Econic cab aimed at drivers and crew, including a taller, wider-opening driver’s door and a re-profiled floor to make cross-cab access easier.

It will make its public debut at this weekend’s (30 April-1 May) Truckfest in Peterborough, before being demonstrated to potential customers at Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ Wentworth Park complex near Barnsley next week.

Following this, it will go on static display at the latest Mercedes-Benz RoadEfficiency Live event, which takes place at the Millbrook Proving Ground from 15-19 May. By then, the manufacturer anticipates “operators will be lining up to try the vehicle in ‘real life’ applications”.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks senior municipal sales & special applications manager  Philip Chance said: “Our experience over the last couple of years in London and elsewhere has proved that the safety benefits  the Econic offers in comparison to a conventional rigid truck chassis give it significant market appeal.

“It was a logical next step, therefore, to explore the potential for an Econic-based urban tractor. We have adapted the base unit built by the factory in Germany so that it is better-suited to a UK audience and are now keen to talk to operators, and to get their feedback on our new prototype.”

He added that the Econic was available with a wide range of camera and proximity alarms to enhance road safety, as well as including Active Brake Assist 3 technology as standard.

The truck is pictured here with a Transdek Duet Urban double-deck trailer, fitted with a Piek-compliant Thermo King SLXe Spectrum Whisper Pro transport refrigeration system for quiet operation.


O’Donovan Waste Disposal trials sheeting system offering unobscured view

A new remote control sheeting system for trucks which allows drivers an unobscured view along the side of their vehicles is being trialled by O’Donovan Waste Disposal.

The London-based construction and demolition waste management company has fitted manufacturer Transcover’s UnderCover sheeting system to an O’Donovan Waste hookloader, as part of the company’s drive to help protect vulnerable road users on London’s roads.

The UnderCover sheeting system sits under the body of the vehicle when covered or uncovered, giving the vehicle no additional width as it travels, unlike other sheeting systems.

This keeps the width of the vehicle at 255cm.

O’Donovan, which is a Fors Gold operator and a Clocs champion, said the strategy is part of its long term ambition to make driving HGVs in London safer for both drivers and cyclists.

O’Donovan Waste Logistics Supervisor, Paul Neal, added: “Other sheeting systems can obscure the drivers’ views down the side of the vehicle when using their mirrors, yet the storage of the arms in this new design allows the driver to see everything down the sides of the container.

“We’re excited to be trialling the system and believe it will prove a very worthwhile investment.”

MD, Jacqueline O’Donovan said: “The safety of road users is an issue of paramount importance to me personally and the business, in terms of where we invest our money and the time we dedicate to training and promoting best practice.

“We are striving for a safer London where cyclists, pedestrians and HGVs can co-exist on the road.”

Direct Vision Standard for trucks is unworkable, warns BVRLA

TfL’s plans for a new Direct Vision Standard for trucks is unworkable, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

Responding to TfL’s Direct Vision Standard consultation, the BVRLA said more road safety evidence is needed to justify the proposed changes. It also called for a national policy on direct vision rather than a unique standard for the capital.

Under the direct vision proposals a rating system from zero to five stars would be imposed on HGVs entering the city, based on the level of unaided vision the driver has from the cab.

Although not yet finalised, it is understood that trucks fitted with low-entry cabs would typically score highly, perhaps the full five-stars.

From 2020 trucks with a zero-rating will be banned from the capital, and by 2024, TfL wants trucks achieving less than a three-star rating to be excluded from London.

It has been reported that this could see approximately half of all HGVs currently operating in London banned from the capital by 2024.

The direct vision proposals are in response to the level of HGVs involved in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the capital, which TfL said in 2014/15 stood at 22.5% and 58% respectively.

Commenting on the proposals, BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “We welcome the mayor’s attempts to improve road safety in London, but while his intentions are noble, he’s approaching this the wrong way.

“Installing a window in the door panel [seen as a possible, partial solution] of every truck that our members operate is not feasible, and there is only a limited number of low entry cab vehicles on sale. TfL needs to provide more robust safety evidence to justify the changes – it should clearly explain how this new standard will work.

“BVRLA members are already improving road safety in the capital, as they have invested heavily in cyclist detection systems, sideguards and cameras. While rental and leasing companies are unable to endorse the proposals as they stand, we have told TfL that we want to help the mayor meet his goals.”

The association is calling for a national road safety framework. Keaney said: “Road deaths are not just an issue in the capital. Any new standard should be applicable for all cities in the UK, not just London.

“Our members hire out HGVs across the country to enable companies to conduct their business. One day a vehicle might be needed in Birmingham, and the next it could be required to travel into London.

Companies should not be forced to make separate considerations solely for work in the capital,” he said.