Freight in the City Expo 2017 video highlights now live!

Why not check out the video highlights from the third annual Freight in the City Expo, which took place at Alexandra Palace on 7 November.

More than 1,000 visitors headed to the iconic London venue to see the latest clean, safe and quiet vans and lorries deigned for urban operations.

To find out more about next year’s event, which will take place on 6 November in London, make sure you are signed up to our free, fortnightly newsletter.

New Arrival in commercial vehicle sector plans to electrify the market

Arrival remains bullish about the prospects of its electric-powered light commercial vehicle, and the disruptive impact its technology-led approach will have in the broader market.

Aiming a shot at its larger, conventional rivals, Matt Key, chief of business development at the Banbury-based start up, said: “The world we live in, especially within the commercial vehicle sector, is behind what’s technically possible.”

“Overpricing is what makes electric vehicles niche. Manufacturers claim there’s no demand for them. But operators are interested until they find out how expensive they are compared with conventional designs,” he told delegates at yesterday’s (8 November) Freight in the City Expo.

Arrival, previously Charge Automotive, made headlines earlier this year when it revealed Royal Mail was conducting a long term trial of nine of its T4 [a working title], which is described as a 4.25 tonne all-electric autonomous-ready truck.

“Electric trucks should be simpler than conventional powered vehicles,” said Key, making the point that there are examples of fully electric vehicles from more than 100 years ago in automotive museums, so the concept is far from new.

“Retrofitting conventional vehicles is where it gets expensive. If you build from the bottom up as we have done – the Lego block approach if you will – you end up with something simpler.

“We are also trying to do more in software rather than hardware, which is typically heavier,” he said.

“Ultimately, we approach our truck as a device. Think of our four-tonne truck as a big phone on wheels.”

Arrival plans to put its 4-tonne vehicle into full production at the end of the year and already has designs for a 7.5-tonner.

Key claimed that the company would be able to deliver it at broadly the same price of a conventional vehicle with similar payload.

We believe it’ll be priced at £35,000, which will include the battery. This is without factoring in any available government subsidy,” said Key.

The T4 is claimed to have a range approaching 200km and can take a full charge in an hour with 100% more payload and 50% more volume than a conventional equivelent.

However, Key said: “This is a very specific vehicles for inner city deliveries.”

Arrival has designed its vehicles with shared components. Key likened the approach to a plug and play PC, which is easily upgradable.

It is using the technology to develop other variants such as a small bus, as well as a taxi and an electric-assisted bike that could be used for delivering post or pizza.



Big data will improve urban deliveries, says Microlise

Big data can improve driver and operational safety, Microlise told delegates at Freight in the City 2017, after a trial with Innovate UK captured seven billion truck miles of information.

Matt Hague, executive director – product strategy, at Microlise, said: “There is a lot of technology on the vehicle now that can help you manage risk. That’s everything from tracking, to cameras, and increasingly artificial intelligence. There is a lot of information out there to help you manage risk and manage your fleet more safely.”

Microlise has been working with Innovate UK, generating seven billion miles of truck data from throughout the UK – and has been merging it with external data sources, such as weather, traffic, and mapping.

Hague said that with the data pool growing all of the time, the information generated in the trial would allow local authorities to map to start making some planning decisions – as well as allowing operators to make smart decisions about deliveries.

“Using all of that data [HGV drivers] are generating, you can automatically understand how risky that route is. Then you make the decision on who is driving that route, a subbie or a member of staff, or do you de-route?

“It’s also about giving the driver real-time feedback when you approach those hazards – low bridges, areas where there have been cycle accidents.. but also areas of speeding, or harsh braking zones. Then you can figure out your hot-spots,” he said.

Hague said that utilising big data as part of the driving experience, warning drivers of potential hazards ahead, the plan is not to overwhelm the driver with data, but “give the driver a warning that they are about to hit a bridge – or warn them of impending risk”.

“The other reason we did this is that autonomous vehicles are going to happen. Lots of questions around that: Can our infrastructure support it? Is it safe? When the vehicle supports more and more what the driver is doing, the amount of data can only grow and grow,” he said.

“This project was about strategic planning, tactical planning and giving that information in real-time, at the right level.”

‘The vehicle is the easiest way of causing mass panic’ – counter-terrorism police tells Freight in the City 2017

HGV operators and rental suppliers have been urged to be vigilant in order to mitigate the use of the ‘vehicle as a weapon’ in a terrorist attack.

Following incidents in Nice and Berlin in 2016, where trucks were used as part of attacks in built-up and crowded areas, and incidents on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge in the capital – as well as in Manchester in May 2017 – Sergeant Wayne Watling, counter terrorism focus desk, Metropolitan Police took the opportunities to tell delegates at Freight in the City 2017 of the need to remain watchful.

How many people have drivers that go out on the same routes? They know what is normal. They will know if there is something out of the ordinary,” Watling said. “We have been at severe [risk of terrorism] since August 2014 – that is an awfully long time.

“If you look at Nice, that was a horrendous situation, and that individual was not on anyone’s radar. He was not known for terrorism,” he said.

Watling revealed that 20 attacks over the past four years have been foiled by counter-terrorism police, including seven in the past seven months. “We have to be aware of the threat but get on with things.”

He also spoke of the attacks in Nice and Berlin involving HGVs: “The vehicle is the easiest way of causing mass panic. The HGV hire industry has spent a lot in reducing that risk.”

Watling also explained that the contingencies within a company to improve safety, that businesses put in place to reduce terrorism, reduces the risk of terrorism.

Monitoring driver health will improve public safety in urban areas, says Backhouse

Operators must continue to monitor the health of their drivers in order to mitigate the risks of the business and improve the safety of the public.

Speaking at the Freight in the City Expo 2017 yesterday (7 November) James Backhouse, partner at Backhouse Jones Solicitors, cited the example of the Glasgow bin lorry crash which led to the deaths of six people in December 2014.

He said that the driver of the vehicle, in a previous employment, had an unconscious episode.

“He was in charge of a significant vehicle and suffered from medical issues that severely impacted the people around,” Backhouse said.

“After the Glasgow crash, there was an inquiry. It is important if you are employing drivers that you understand what the recommendations of that report were. The reality is, it is worth a read, as with the best will in the world you do not want it to be one of your drivers in one of your branded vehicles having a crash.”

Backhouse explained that middle-aged men – predominantly drivers – are not good at reporting issues to the doctors. He added that colleagues will spot patterns of behaviour, such as going to sleep regularly in the afternoon.

“It is very important to be alive to this. Look at your employment procedures for induction and HR. The reputational harm of one of these incidents is not to be taken lightly…” Backhouse warned.

He did concede that there was a possibility of discrimination, as anything to do with mental health is private and personal information. “This has to be dealt with with discretion,” he warned. “It cannot form the basis of tittle tattle. There is a real risk of prosecution for manslaughter if these issues are not addressed.”

Read the full Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Glasgow Bin Lorry crash here.

Increased electric vehicle adoption means rising need for safety features

Further expanding clean air zones will increase the demand for electric vehicles and hybrids, but the industry needs to address the dangers of low noise associated with electric powertrains.

Tony Bowen, LCV project manager at Brigade Electronics, told delegates at Freight in the City 2017 : “We have to understand how dangerous an unseen and unheard slow moving vehicle can be to vulnerable road users – small children, people with restricted eyesight, those of old age, etc.

“Drivers that drive electric vehicles are aware of the problem. Owners and managers of companies have a responsibility to provide drivers of these vehicles with the ability to reduce risk among these vulnerable road users.”

He said that Brigade had reacted to EU Regulation 138 – which has led to its Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System and will be introduced from 1 July 2019.

“What are we doing about this impending regulation? Using our industry expertise we have developed the quite vehicle sounder… increased frequency and amplitude as the vehicle speeds up, mimicking the behaviour of a combustion engine.

“It operates from 0-12mph (20kms) above 20kms, then tyre noise and wind noise takes over.”

Pre-production of its Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System begin from November 2017 with production units available for operation by the end of Q1 2018.

Gas is part of the solution to UK’s air quality challenge

Gas is back in a big way thanks to the UK’s air quality challenge, according to Calor Gas’s head of strategy and corporate affairs Paul Blacklock.

Speaking to delegates at Freight in the City, where the company was showcasing its electric LPG range extended rigid truck developed with Emoss, Blacklock said “until three years ago LPG fuel seemed to be on its way out.

“Then the air quality crisis and the VW scandal happened”.

Blacklock said that with a ready built infrastructure of LPG, the fuel source could be described as the ‘cheap date’ when it came to tackling the UK’s emissions challenges.

“While there is no one technological solution to the air quality challenge, it is also true to say there’s too much cost to electrify everything in terms of rewiring the network and power generation,” he told delegates.

“Dedicated gas trucks are coming to form part of the air quality landscape. Dedicated electric vehicles are coming, but HGVs have not been seen as part of that movement and aren’t going to happen anytime soon.”

“We believe our range extended truck is a game changer that will drive transformation in the UK,” said Blacklock.

Calor Gas, which operates a fleet of some 800 vehicles, said its range-extended truck uses LPG to drive the vehicle’s electric generator. This charges the battery supplying the motor with electricity.

Compliant with the latest emission requirements, Calor said its LPG range extender will deliver lower carbon emissions than petrol and provide the capability to increase a vehicle’s battery-only range up to 250 miles.

The technology also offers the opportunity for geofencing to cut emissions to zero when operating in city centres.

Calor added that BioLPG, which is due to be available in early 2018, offers “even more significant environmental benefits over existing range-extension technologies, such as diesel and petrol”.

Claimed savings are an 82% carbon saving compared with conventional diesel power, rising to 94% with BioLPG. Particulate matter is also virtually eliminated and there is a claimed 94% cut in NO2.

Hauliers face period of unprecedented change, says Innovate UK

Hauliers face the biggest change to how they do business since they left behind the horse and cart, according to Innovate UK’s Venn Chesterton.

Speaking to delegates in the first seminar session at the Freight in the City Expo today (7 November), the ultra low emission vehicle lead at Innovate UK set out a raft of emission and technology changes that hauliers will need to wrestle with in the next few years.

“Make no mistake. We are seeing a push towards zero emissions in urban areas,” said Chesteron (pictured).

He added that the government’s air quality strategy meant there would be more examples of London’s T-Charge and forthcoming ULEZ to come across the UK (likely as Clean Air Zones) as local authorities have been charged with cleaning up the UK’s air.

He added that while the government’s approach to tackling climate change remained voluntary for the sector at present, that remained open to legal challenge and hauliers needed “to be aware” for that reason.

“No one technology will fix this. Electric, bio-gas, hydrogen will all have their parts to play. In the near future we will see something that does long-haul conventionally than switches to zero emission mode when entering a city. The technology for this is already here,” he said.

Chesterton used the example of John Lewis switching its heavy fleet to alternative fuels as an example of movement in the industry, but warned delegates that changes happening were broader than even emissions. “How will you stay competitive and at the cutting edge?” he asked delegates.

He also said his one year old daughter will quite likely never have a driving licence. “And insurers will price the rest of us off the road if autonomous systems fulfil their potential and are deemed to be safer than humans,” he said.

Innovate is a government backed agency that funds, tests and showcases the best new technology.

Hiab and Emoss to bring electric skiploader concept to Freight in the City Expo

Hiab and Emoss are to debut a fully electric skiploader concept vehicle at tomorrow’s Freight in the City Expo.

Hiab has fitted a Multilift Futura 12 skiploader body onto an Emoss EMS 18 series electric chassis with Hiab’s electric power take-off (PTO) system, making it 100% electric.

The electric PTO will also be showcased at the expo, which takes place at London’s Alexandra Palace tomorrow (7 November). It allows Hiab equipment such as cranes and skiploaders to be operated with the vehicle’s engine switched off.

Hiab product manager Alastair Evans said: “It’s clean and quiet, so would be ideal for early hours skip deliveries when builders need them in an inner-city residential area.

“This is purely a concept vehicle, but if the demand is there then it could certainly go into production.”

Hiab will also be showing its Moffett E4 electric truck-mounted forklift system on its stand (V07).