UPS talks urban delivery trials ahead of Freight in the City Birmingham Summit

UPS director of sustainability for Europe, Peter Harris, shares some of the work taking place across European cities ahead of his appearance at Freight in the City Spring Summit next month.

Global parcel carrier UPS is to trial a brand-new urban delivery concept in London this year.

The company plans to operate new electrically-assisted cargo containers in London’s busy Westminster area, in an effort to reduce the emissions and congestion associated with increasing van usage in the capital.

Technology used on the ‘e-trailer’ is termed net neutral, so the weight of the trailer is not felt by the handler, allowing for increased volumes of last-mile deliveries by foot or cycling.

The trailer is being developed through the Low Impact City Logistics project, which is part of a £10m research investment by InnovateUK for collaborative R&D to improve end-to-end people and freight journeys.

It is planned that a number of the e-trailers would be preloaded at the UPS centre in Camden before being brought in on a larger trailer towed behind a normal delivery vehicle for helpers to then make the final mile  by foot or cycle.

Peter Harris (pictured), director of sustainability for Europe  at UPS, tells Freight in the City that the concept for the trailers was a natural extension to an urban delivery operation that has been running in Hamburg, Germany for a number of years.

This sees a number of urban micro depots – large containers, much like the size used for sea freight – positioned around the city.

The containers hold enough volume for several helpers to work from throughout the day, delivering parcels by foot, bike or e-trike.

The helpers also collect parcels from residents and businesses in the city centre and return them to the containers for pick-up at the end of the day by one lorry.

“So, instead of it being trucks moving around in the city all day, it’s one truck in and one truck out, and the rest of the time we’re using zero-truck transport, which is the ambition to try and get trucks out of the city and the emissions and congestion that go with them,” explains Harris.

The Hamburg model is now being expanded to other European cities.

Mega city

“But when we came to thinking about London, we thought we probably need a slightly different approach here,” says Harris.

One of the key challenges was London’s density, he says, as a mega city, with the option of siting a number of large containers on valuable road or pavement space being unlikely.

Also, the option to deliver by trike might prove tricky in London’s bustling streets, making foot delivery with an e-trailer a more practical proposition.

To overcome all these challenges, UPS is working within a consortium including the University of Huddersfield, Westminster City Council, Fernhay, Skotkonung and Outspoken Delivery to develop the e-trailer technology and prototype.

“At our central London depot in Camden, the e-trailers will be positioned  on the belt just as our normal trucks are” says Harris.

“The trailers will then go down-town already loaded into drop order.”

To avoid the need to drop-off large container units across the city, e-trailers will be delivered by a transfer trailer pulled by a regular distribution truck. This will likely hold around six units, although this has not yet been finalised.

Timescale for rollout of the e-trailers has yet to be confirmed, but will take place this year.

Urban focus

The project is just one element of the move towards sustainable deliveries taking place in the UK by UPS.

For example, the company has just deployed its 52nd electric truck in London

“They’re mostly conversions from diesel, which is quite interesting in its own right because a version of the style and configuration that we wanted didn’t exist, so we developed our own  working with a German technology firm called EFA-S,” says Harris.

UPS carries out the strip-down and refurbishment of the older trucks used itself ahead of the electric conversion by EFA-S.

The company has received funding through its work on the FREVUE project that aims to establish the feasibility of electric commercial vehicles in real-life operations across Europe.

Project work has included significant expenditure to overcome the challenges of charging multiple electric vehicles from the grid at one time.

“We actually went through a major expenditure in London to achieve this. We don’t want to do this again as it’s very expensive and it’s not moveable. Nor is it incremental.

“So what we’re proposing instead is a smart grid facility that would connect our vehicles to the grid in an intelligent way and look for available capacity within the existing supply,” Harris says.

“If we can make that work, and we are hoping to do it in conjunction with UK Power Networks Services, then it could potentially open up a completely new realm of opportunity for urban electrification.”


The company is also planning to introduce 15 more range-extended electric 7.5-tonne Tevva Motors trucks into its fleet (pictured).

And gas-powered trucks are also a key player in the UPS alternative-fuelled fleet, with the company operating 19 HGVs on LNG from its Tamworth depot.

“The challenge is that we want to run them on renewable gas, but it’s just not available in liquid form. So we’ve had to fall back on LNG” says Harris.

“There needs to be new infrastructure put in place to capitalise on this new market.”

Harris believes the UK is well placed to be a leader in terms of renewable fuels expertise, with a political framework supportive of driving such developments forward.

As such, the UK continues to be a pivotal market for UPS to trial new emerging technologies and developments.



H2ME project puts 60 Renault Kangoo fuel cell vans into operation

The first 100 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) deployed through the €170m Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) project are now on the road in Germany, France and the UK.

H2ME brings together eight European countries to help make the market ready for hydrogen mobility and is the largest-scale project of its kind.

Its key activities include market testing of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure; deployment of hundreds of fuel cell electric cars and commercial vehicles in real-life operations; demonstration of the system benefits generated by using electrolytic hydrogen solutions in grid operations.

A total of 60 Symbio Renault Kangoo ZE-H2 range-extended fuel cell vans have hit the roads in the UK and France to help support the development of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in those markets.

Powered by a 5kW fuel cell module, coupled with a hydrogen storage unit and medium-size automotive battery pack, Symbio’s range-extender kit doubles the reach of Renault’s electric-only Kangoo ZE model to 320km (around 200 miles).

Symbio said that in specialised markets where zero emissions and daily operation are critical, Kangoo ZE-H2 customers are now winning business over their competitors.

It added that to perform last-mile delivery in cities that prohibit polluting transport, hydrogen provides unique features compared to pure battery-based utility vehicles.

For example, last September, French delivery firm CETUP’s Symbio-equipped Kangoo ZE-H2 broke a range record by covering 367km with a fully loaded battery and a full hydrogen tank.

In the next few years, the H2ME project will roll-out the next generation of FCEVs, including Symbio’s latest fuel cell range-extender vans and also trucks.

In total, more than 1,400 FCEVs will be deployed throughout the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

Pierre-Yves Le-Berre, VP, Symbio, said: “Our ambition is to equip all urban delivery centres with our vehicles to guarantee the absence of harmful emissions, as well as address new market trends and regulations.

“For instance, if a delivery centre used a Renault Kangoo equipped with our range extender, driving 200km a day in Paris, it would remove the carbon emissions of 20 private vehicles.”

Ben Madden, Element Energy, overall coordinator of the H2ME scheme, said: “We are proud of the rapid progress our partners have made in deploying this technology, which can accelerate Europe’s move to clean transportation.”



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!

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.

Ulemco to lead project for mass market hydrogen vehicles in China

Liverpool-based tech firm Ulemco has been picked to lead a project to enable development of mass-produced hydrogen-fuelled vehicles for China, as the country looks to significantly reduce emissions within the next 10 years.

The Chinese government has prioritised the need to decarbonise energy and address air quality problems through the use of hydrogen energy from renewables and into vehicles.

ulemco2This £2m industry-led, two-year project will investigate the practical challenges of developing mass market hydrogen-fuelled vehicles for China, especially commercial vehicles. It will explore novel routes to ‘green’ hydrogen production, and relevant hydrogen storage approaches designed to meet the specific market challenges in China.

Ulemco, which specialises in hydrogen-fuelled systems for transport, has received grant funding via Innovate UK from the cross-government Newton Fund – which was created to use science and innovation  to promote the economic development and welfare of countries overseas.

The firm will work with partners the University of Liverpool (UoL) and two Chinese organisations: the Wuhan New Energy Institute (WNEI) of Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) and Hubei Swan Coatings, a major Chinese business.

The project will incorporate development work on renewable generation technologies, through hydrogen storage and then use of hydrogen fuel in vehicles, all aimed at lower cost, greater practicality, ultra-low emissions and carbon reduction.

Ulemco will use its experience in safe conversion of commercial vehicles into dual fuel hydrogen/diesel combustion, and develop this approach for a “better than Euro-6 emission standard vehicle” suitable for Chinese markets.

The project will combine a new engine control approach, hydrogen selective catalysts and the low cost storage system into a mass production retrofit conversion kit for light and heavy duty commercial vehicles.

“This is a real opportunity to work with excellent research partners both here and in China,” said Paul Turner, technical director at Ulemco, “as well as opening up a potentially huge market for our commercial dual fuel approach in China. More broadly, this is a real benefit to the UK in the post-Brexit days ahead.”

Fife dual fuel bin trucksIn the UK, Ulemco’s dual-fuel hydrogen technology is currently being used by Fife Council for its urban refuse collection fleet (pictured).


Smart Mile Solutions locates PackRobot delivery terminal in German city

Dutch firm Smart Mile Solutions has installed Germany’s first PackRobot in the city of Nagold, as part of a shared urban delivery platform to encourage sustainable deliveries of locally-produced goods.

The PackRobot is a secure, self-service parcel terminal designed by Estonian tech firm Cleveron, with an automated smart storage system that optimises the use of available space.

This is performed by a 3D lift that picks and delivers the right parcel to a secure delivery slot.

Octagonal shaped, the PackRobot is capable of holding up to 500 parcels on just 4.9 m² of floor space and can be used for high-value and temperature-sensitive packages.

Packrobot picture press releaseCustomers using the Smart Mile Solutions app are able to order goods directly from local businesses and have them delivered to the centrally located PackRobot for pick-up at a convenient time.

App users are also able to use the PackRobot for national deliveries as well, with parcel couriers using the terminal as a final destination for goods rather than delivering directly to an end recipient.

Smart Mile said local businesses are also able to benefit by being able to use sustainable delivery options, such as cycle logistics couriers, to drop their goods at the PackRobot and eliminate the need for traditional delivery methods.

Following its launch in Nagold, the company will expand this scheme into other cities in Germany and across the rest of Europe.

In Germany, Smart Mile Solutions operates through its subsidiary citydibs Deutschland.

A company spokesman said: “The Smart Mile platform puts consumers in control over receiving their online purchases, reduces inner city traffic and carbon emission and stimulates the local economy.”

Iveco debuts smallest natural gas-powered refuse truck

Iveco showed off its smallest natural gas-powered, mid-range truck for refuse collection at French trade show Pollutec in Lyon earlier this month.

The manufacturer chose France for the truck’s debut as a number of major cities across the country are now exploring natural gas as a viable alternative to diesel to reduce emissions, noise and operating costs in the muncipal sector.

“Iveco is very active on the natural gas-powered vehicle (NGV) market. The market is in a period of strong growth,” said Steve Giguet, sales development manager for the NGV line at Iveco France.

“Major distribution chains have shown the way in France. Today, end users and the owners of heavy vehicle fleets in the municipal sector are putting their trust in this technology.”

Iveco’s Eurocargo 120EL21 P is equipped with a 204hp Euro-6 compressed natural gas (CNG) engine and features a fully automatic Allison 2500 transmission with FuelSense technology (a set of software and electronic controls to improve fuel economy up to 20% according to Allison).

A Farid PN10 Mini Compactor body optimised for organic waste collection and 480 litre/80kg CNG tank are integrated with the truck.

Iveco said this combination delivers the optimal combination of size and load capacity resulting in a vehicle ideal for environmental-friendly operation in congested urban areas and in the narrow streets of historical city centers.

Last month, Spanish capital Madrid picked gas-powered Ivecos for urban refuse collection work.

November also saw the Italian manufacturer display its latest gas-powered Stralis NP at Freight in the City– a truck Iveco believes will bring gas into the mainstream for long-distance haulage operations.

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

We look forward to seeing you there.




EC low-emission mobility strategy aims to curb CO2 from transport sector

The European Commission (EC) has published its low-emission transport strategy that aims to drastically reduce harmful emissions by 2030 through facilitating a faster take-up of cleaner vehicles and fuels.

Objectives include roll-out of a certification and reporting process to measure fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on HGVs, with the EC also looking to introduce measures to “actively curb” CO2 emissions from lorries, buses and coaches.

Countries outside of Europe, such as the US and Japan, have already brought in CO2 curbing measures and Europe “cannot lag behind”, the EC warned. It therefore plans to speed up work on designing CO2 emissions standards for larger vehicles.

“Given the average lifetime of a lorry of about 10 years, vehicles sold in 2020 will still be on European roads in 2030. In order to be able to make swift progress, different options for standards will be considered, including for engines only or for the whole vehicle, with the objective of cutting carbon well before 2030,” the EU strategy said.

Other measures include more distance-based road-charging, alongside work to improve EU-wide interoperability of electronic tolling systems; a revision to the directive on HGV charging to enable fees to take into account CO2 differentiation; and frameworks for all member states for boosting development of alternative fuels and infrastructure and promoting multimodal transport.

The FTA said the strategy is a step in the right direction, and welcomed the multi-faceted approach.

Pauline Bastidon, FTA head of European policy, said: “An effective framework for low emission alternative energy and an adequate roll-out of infrastructure for alternative fuels are key for us and can go a long way in helping the logistics sector reduce its carbon footprint.”

However, the FTA added that two key issues were not adequately addressed in the strategy: grants to support take-up of new technology; and changes to vehicle weights and dimensions.

“The EC needs to ensure that financial instruments providing guarantees to private investors are not the only source of funding available for the take-up of new technologies, and we would also like to see changes to vehicle weights and dimensions considered as a fundamental measure to reduce carbon emissions,” Bastidon added.

The ACEA, which represents vehicle manufacturers across Europe, called for a more balanced approach to reducing CO2 emissions, with more emphasis on all modes of transport – including air, maritime and rail.

It added that technology neutrality is key to supporting innovation and welcomed the fact this principle was embedded in the new strategy.

The association added that industry is working closely with the EC on a computer simulation tool (VECTO), which will model CO2 emissions from a wide variety of complete truck and trailer configurations. By 2018, VECTO will enable manufacturers to provide certified CO2 values to their customers for each and every truck produced.

ACEA urged the EC to allow enough time to analyse the impact of VECTO data and certification procedure before setting new CO2 limits.

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.”