Urban freight hubs could be a political vote winner, says London courier Fastlane

London-based global courier Fastlane International is calling on the UK’s political parties to introduce urban freight hubs to reduce congestion and emissions in city centres.

The parcel firm said the use of urban consolidation centres could be a vote winner, yet it has not been addressed by any of the major parties in the run-up to the general election.

Fastlane International head of PR, David Jinks, said: “A general election is the ideal platform for setting out bold ideas such as creating city freight hubs. Britain’s busy road freight network is essential to the success of our economy. However, it could be further improved by having HGVs deliver business, retail and domestic goods to freight hubs; rather than taking such large vehicles onto narrow city roads. These items would then be sorted and loaded onto smaller, greener, vehicles for final delivery into shops, work places and homes.”

He added that “in an election as tight as this one”, issues such as the development of urban hubs would be a bold idea to capture voters’ interest.

“In the first four days of January this year, London’s Oxford Street hit its entire air pollution legal limit for the year. Clearly a rethink is needed, and when is a better time for a clear political lead than at a general election?” said Jinks.

London Construction Consolidation Centre doubles in size as contractors realise benefits

The London Construction Consolidation Centre (LCCC) has more than doubled in size in the past 12 months, which it attributes to building contractors seeking alternative delivery methods to tackle congestion and local authority constraints they face in the capital.

Operated by Wilson James, the LCCC now comprises 12,000m2 of warehousing space – last month taking on a third 4,200m2 unit to handle additional volumes.

LCCC is currently servicing 15 major construction projects in the capital, including construction works at University College London and the Bloomsbury transformation programme.

The operation has achieved Fors Gold standard and recently won a City of London sustainability award for its work on tackling climate change and air quality.

Bob Dempsey, operations manager south, at Wilson James, said: “Given the severe delivery constraints and the restrictions placed on them by local authorities, more and more major construction projects in central London are realizing the benefits of consolidation logistics. Also coupled with the need for greater certainty of supply as well as delivering sustainability benefits.”

Smart City Logistics tool aims to help local authorities improve urban freight deliveries

An online tool has been developed to help local authorities explore sustainable urban freight scenarios for their city centres.

Smart City Logistics uses geographic information system technology to create an open source platform mapping a range of data including access restrictions, loading and unloading facilities, population, land use and carbon emissions.

It was developed as part of the Last Mile Logistics (LaMiLo) project by the Luxembourg Institute for Science and Technology with an aim to provide information to minimise congestion, CO2 and air and noise pollution from urban freight journeys.

Data is currently available for London, Brussels and Luxembourg with the developers looking to include Bergamo in Italy by the end of May. The tool can be developed for any town or urban environment, however, the maps’ availability would depend on the relevant town data being accessible.

Ian Short, chief executive, Institute for Sustainability, said: “The rise in online shopping trends has driven a dramatic increase in freight deliveries, urban transport of goods taking 20% to 25% of road occupancy. This inevitably impacts on traffic congestion, CO2 emissions and noise and air pollution levels. Finding solutions to manage the last mile of deliveries that work for businesses, consumers and the environment requires an integrated understanding of transport, environmental and socio-economic aspects to arrive at sustainable solutions.”

Using the Smart City Logistics platform, city planners can explore options for suitable locations for logistics facilities such as urban consolidation centres and use the results to inform future planning. Different scenarios can be modelled and compared to current operations to quantify potential savings in terms of road miles, congestion and air pollution.

In addition, the route selection feature identifies the shortest path for a delivery vehicle considering different parameters such as the weight load and access. This can help determine the optimum route for vehicles and help delivery companies save on fuel cost and manage time more efficiently as well as help manage traffic congestion. The platform also gives users the ability to test different potential scenarios based on future projections of number and type of vehicle, and see the variations in CO2 emissions compared to the current situation.

LaMiLo is an programme project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


Video highlights last-mile delivery pilots across European cities

An EU-funded project exploring sustainable last-mile deliveries has launched a video to highlight a series of pilots taking place across cities in north-west Europe, including London.

The LaMiLo scheme, comprising private logistics firms, local authorities and researchers, is aiming to demonstrate the economic, environmental and social benefits of consolidating deliveries and using more eco-friendly transport options for the final mile, such as electric vans or bicycles.

Ian Short, chief executive at the Institute for Sustainability in the UK and LaMiLo lead partner, said: “While most organisations extend their supply chains to large retailers, many do not focus on last mile deliveries to homes or smaller shops. Finding solutions to manage the last mile of deliveries that work for businesses, consumers and the environment is increasingly important as the way we shop continues to evolve.  With 60% of home deliveries failing, the Institute has been working with partner organisations on a range of pilots to look at how the process can be streamlined.”

In the UK, the video shows how the London Boroughs Consolidation Centre based in Edmonton, headed up by Camden Council and currently operated by DHL, serves deliveries from more than 70 suppliers into 300 council buildings in the capital.

The video also looks at a public-sector-run consolidation centre pilot in Brussels that is managing retailers’ goods for consolidated delivery using low-emission vehicles and demonstrating how both private and public sector organisations can work together towards efficient and sustainable urban logistics ; and in the Netherlands testing a potential solution to the issue of failed deliveries to consumers. This includes delivering goods at a convenient time and offering a service to collect valuable, recyclable waste on the return journey.

Also highlighted is the work being done through the project to engage with private and public sector organisations, as well as end users, to understand their main constraints for change and help influence their behaviour to adopt more efficient and sustainable practices.

By measuring the environmental impacts of the pilots and sharing the learning, LaMiLo said it will be able to achieve more efficient and coordinated freight deliveries, which, in turn, will translate into fewer trucks on our roads, reduced costs and better air quality.

Viewpoint from DHL: Transport’s challenge

Consumers and businesses take freight and transport for granted. It an essential part of daily life and keeps the country running, writes Tim Slater, MD of transport, DHL Supply Chain UK and IrelandDHL-Transport3Jun14-460

While transport is ingrained in our routines – it would be fair to acknowledge that we are not yet close to a perfect system with a number of challenges still facing our industry on a daily basis.
Congestion is a problem that every driver can relate to whether from a commuter or commercial driver’s perspective. And besides the frustration that jams cause, the impact of vehicle fumes on our environment is damaging our surroundings and o
ur health. City centres are particularly being targeted for improvement and this is further enforced by legislation for emissions, with a number of UK cities being vulnerable to heavy financial fines for missing targets.

Safety is paramount

Safety is always a primary concern and top of all of our agendas, especially in urban environments where there are other vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians. Freight vehicles are often bigger, heavier and noisier than the average vehicle, and in densely populated urban centres, noise pollution is a particular concern.
We need to address these challenges, so at DHL we’re aiming to make all our operations, safer, cleaner and quieter. By focusing on vehicle innovation, new urban solutions, increasing collaboration and improving safety performance, we can provide the most sustainable and efficient service for our customers and play our part in addressing some of the key challenges for our industry.

Vehicle innovation

Innovative design and technology within vehicles can simultaneously address a number of the challenges the industry faces, including safety, noise and efficiency.
DHL has invested in redesigning vehicles, reducing the power and fuel needed, for example efficient designs including aerodynamic tear-drop trailers, are now widely-used across our fleets.
Also by including vehicle telematics we have ensured our drivers are aware of how to reduce their fuel consumption. Similarly, we have developed mobile apps that support driver training, make fuel usage transparent and therefore encourage more efficient driving. As a result, our fuel economy has improved month on month for the past two years.
DHL’s global GoGreen commitment aims to reduce C02 emissions by 30% by 2020 and so we need to look to how we reduce our reliance on diesel.
As part of this commitment, we operate the largest dual-fuel fleet in the UK, alongside other innovative technologies including electric and hybrid vehicles to help improve our overall environmental impact.
Electric vehicles are also the quietest type of vehicle, and as such are likely to play a greater role in future urban logistics – especially as government is backing electric and hybrid vehicles with a £40m investment in rapid charging networks and this has the potential to make electric vehicles a suitable city centre transport solution.

New urban solutions_ISM0130

Growing cities are challenged to provide world-class living spaces and passenger transport while maintaining a vibrant economy. Achieving these aims simultaneously requires new approaches to urban transportation.
DHL is establishing consolidation centres throughout the UK to combat urban congestion and reduce vehicle numbers. Consolidation centres, sited outside of urban centres, ensure final-mile deliveries are achieved in the most efficient and safe way, using the most appropriate vehicles. Our experience shows that these operations can reduce deliveries and emissions by up to 65%.
The vast majority of urban customers want their goods in the morning, and at DHL we are increasingly performing out-of-hours deliveries as an excellent method of achieving this while at the same time avoiding peak-time congestions and separating freight transport from other road users. With the correct equipment these deliveries can be conducted in a quiet and sensitive manner. DHL is working with the authorities to create an industry standard for out-of-hour deliveries that will satisfy all stakeholders.

Increasing collaboration

Operating half empty lorries still remains commonplace in the transport industry, despite being a highly inefficient practice. In fact, the most recent figures reveal that 27% of lorries were making journeys with empty loads. Both internal and external pressures are pushing the industry towards improving this rate to 17% by 2050.
One way of driving progress towards this target is greater collaboration between businesses; by sharing transport resources businesses can cut their costs and their carbon footprint.
At DHL, we are continuously seeking to support our customers in achieving their sustainability goals and financial targets. As part of this work, we have identified potential collaborative partners (companies from the same or different sectors) and introduced them to each other supporting this new approach to sharing resources. One great success story from this is our partnership between Nisa and BP. Nisa now shares BP’s journeys for delivering groceries, resulting in £5.5m worth of savings since 2010.

Improving safety performance

DHL has also invested heavily in driver training. We do not settle for basic minimum qualifications, and believe continuous training is vital. In addition to the 35 hours of approved training every five years, we also train our drivers in Smith System Defensive Driving.
This world-leading programme has a proven five-step approach to considerate and safe road use. Our investment in this area has led to a 17% reduction in accidents and collisions over the past two years.
In September, DHL added an additional Driver CPC course called ‘Sharing the Road’. The module was designed by our Training Solutions team and was specifically aimed at raising awareness of vulnerable road users.

The future

At DHL, we’re already making progress on our safer, cleaner and quieter goals. DHL is really excited to be launching a new concept in the coming months as part of our work around the Quiet Cities Summit in November in association with TfL, Route Monkey and Motor Transport.
DHL will continue to invest in innovative vehicle technology, alternative fuels, accident prevention systems and driver training. We are particularly interested in developing new solutions for increasing city populations. This is incredibly important to us as we continue to ensure that DHL is a company both fit for the future and supporting the UK’s future economic and environmental health.

Hushing it up

Out-of-hours deliveries were introduced for the London Olympics and, while not without challenges. were so successful that several firms have continued them. Louise Cole reports

There are many reasons why urban deliveries should be conducted between late evening and early morning. Traffic levels are at their lowest, so the largest vehicles on the road can move without contributing to or being delayed by congestion. Some 80% of road fatalities in London are vulnerable road users, with cyclists the most affected by HGVs – yet 75% of London cyclists cycle during the day. Parking is also less of an issue at night.

The London Olympics & Paralympics compelled many logistics firms to give a powerful demonstration of how out-of-hours urban deliveries could be carried out. According to Transport for London, 15% to 20% of the commercial vehicles typically driving in London between 6am and 6pm disappeared from the roads – 10% of these went to night time deliveries (source: FTA Logistics Legacy).

Many of those who delivered out of hours during the Olympics have carried on doing so – but challenges remain. The London Lorry Control Scheme is still too rigid; logistics firms must often seek individual agreements with local authorities over parking; there is widespread education needed – and hearts and minds still to win –among local authorities, residents and customers.

The key message that needs to be communicated is that HGV deliveries, even of noisy goods, are rarely disruptive – and that out-of- hours deliveries serve all our other policy priorities such as clean air, less congested roads and safety.

DHL Tradeteam

Like many logistics companies, DHL Tradeteam was forced by the 2012 Olympic Games to reschedule as many deliveries into central London as possible. It first ran an out-of-hours trial with Transport for London, the FTA, Noise Abatement Society and Southwark Council, bringing forward deliveries of beer kegs and other drinks to the Swan at the Globe, a central London restaurant. Normal licensing restrictions mean the Swan cannot take delivery of alcohol before 7am, so special dispensation was needed for the trial.

The major problem was identifying and eliminating sources of noise. “Rolling an empty beer keg is like rolling a bell,” says Tradeteam regional operations manager John Crosk. “But a lot of the noise residents hear is the vehicle pulling up, idling engines, talking and so on. So we looked at the whole process and not just the delivery.”

Crews were taught to communicate without speaking: “Eye contact is the important thing,” says Crosk. Radios are turned off on approach, engines on parking. The team tried rubber mats to suppress keg noise but this was only partially successful, so they switched to barrows with pneumatic tyres.

The Swan takes consolidated deliveries, including up to three tonnes of beer (approximately 40 kegs) at each drop. Throughout the whole trial, only one noise complaint was lodged.

Despite the success of the trial, the Swan cannot maintain out-of-hours deliveries. “It doesn’t have any benefit for us as a customer; we are restricted by licensing legislation to post-7am deliveries and earlier drops would require us to pay our teams for an extra hour,” says Carol Dean, project and facilities director at the Swan.

It is important to note the customers for whom this kind of change is untenable long term. However, DHL Tradeteam has continued to service hundreds of accounts between 5am and 7am in London, with 20 routes running out of Enfield (as well as two very late routes) and up to 15 out of Gatwick.

Crosk says the major obstacle is the London Lorry Control Scheme, which forces unnecessary mileage on fleets, wasting fuel and 
raising emissions. “It needs reviewing urgently,” he says.

DHL Supply Chain for JD Wetherspoon

DHL Supply Chain runs a 24-hour operation for JD Wetherspoon, with over one-third of 
all deliveries made before 6am or after 6pm. DHL services more than 900 sites across the UK and Ireland.

It had already identified problems with conventional roll-cages, both in terms of noise and safety, when the pressure for out-of-hours deliveries increased during the Olympics.

“There are a lot of injuries with roll-cages on this kind of high street delivery. The standard security cage also makes about 100dB of noise,” says John Anderson, national transport manager for the Wetherspoon account at DHL.

Anderson and his team started to redesign their cages, adding operator safety features and taking out 5kg in weight by replacing steel elements with low-noise polymers. Wheels became rubber and hinges became plastic, and the six places where metal clanged against metal when nested were identified and modified. The cage now makes 77dB of noise, which Anderson notes is a huge achievement.

Anderson is confident that DHL and its supplier will now make DHL’s ‘Olympic cage’ the first full-security cage to meet the Piek standard for ambient noise, which is 66dB.

The Olympic cage has become standardised across DHL accounts globally, so that kit can be transferred across accounts easily. The Olympic cages also have longer lifespans, improved from three-to-four years to 10, due to the use of high-﷯tensile steel and the plastic/polymer components, which can be easily and economically replaced.

“The roll cage itself is more expensive,” says Anderson. “But the 5kg weight saving gives us an extra 225kg payload on a standard 13m trailer or 370kg on a double-decker.”

Having a cage manufactured in and then imported from China creates 120kg of CO2. The DHL cage, however, can be refurbished to give an extra five years of life, with a carbon cost of 20kg and for half the original purchase cost.

FM ConwayFM Conway Tipper

Infrastructure services company FM Conway routinely repairs London’s roads at night, and demonstrated its skill at doing so quietly when tasked with lifting 34 pedestrian islands to facilitate the Olympic cycle road race. These islands through Hammersmith and Fulham had to be lifted each morning of the two-day race and then re-laid for night-time traffic control.

Since London 2012, FM Conway’s night-time work has steadily increased, almost doubling as a percentage of its overall workload. “We are currently doing a lot of work on Putney Bridge, where we have a high concentration of equipment in an extremely small area,” says Richard Carson, plant and transportation director at FM Conway.

The company made large modifications to its fleet before the Olympics, with rubber linings in the cargo bay for quiet loading and unloading, rubber seals on tail-lifts to stop banging, and hydraulic clamps that compress the body to stop rattling when the vehicle moves. The vehicles are also fitted with white noise reversing alarms and electric sheeting systems, both for noise reduction. It has also invested in driver training for all its employed drivers and subbies, which includes education about noise control.

Its quiet delivery measures won it the Noise Abatement Society’s Enterprise in Quiet Transport Award in 2012.

Since then the company has invested in Euro-6 vehicles for quieter running. “In some instances they cut noise by 10dB against the Euro-5s,” says Carson.

Night-time road repair is essential to prevent huge road congestion during the day. Carson says there are two more crucial benefits: the first is that road repair is extremely dangerous for operatives, and his men are much safer at night when there is little surrounding traffic. And, second, they get 30% more work done when traffic levels are low.

“The public response to night-time working is much more positive since we have focused on communicating with the public, our ‘macro’ client, and not just with our immediate client,” says Carson. “If people understand the benefits, and we in turn understand their needs, it becomes a positive experience for everyone.”
Carson urges TfL and London borough councils to review the London Lorry Control Scheme, both on the grounds of safety and efficiency. “We want our people to be able to work in maximum safety. Plus we often have to do three times the necessary distance to collect asphalt because we cannot drive through central London. This creates more pollution and makes public road repairs more expensive.”

Clean Linen Services

Laundry service Clean Linen Services supplies more than 500 restaurants and hotels in London, and 3,000 nationally. Its fleet travels approximately two million miles a year using more than 600,000 litres of fuel.

During the Olympics, it anticipated higher volumes of product and traffic, so brought morning deliveries forward by three hours 
and pushed late afternoon services back by three hours.

While not without its challenges, the Olympics experience was so positive that the company has continued running out-of-hours deliveries in the capital wherever possible. Group transport manager Peter Cox says: “Overall this is making our business more efficient. We now estimate 40% of our deliveries in London are outside peak hours.”

Cox says the benefits for the company include improved customer service, journey times, turnaround of goods and fuel economy, as well as altogether smoother operation and parking, and savings from Congestion Charge exemptions. The benefits to the city are less pollution, congestion and noise, and improved road safety.

Since its successful Olympics trial, Clean Linen has invested in quieter, more fuel-﷯efficient Mitsubishi Fuso Canter diesel-electric hybrids. Quieter tail-lifts and the addition of rubber strips to roll-cages also help.

There are still challenges. The capital has shrinking kerb space and unforgiving parking rules. Noise abatement orders can be raised from a single complaint, regardless of the hundreds of non-disruptive deliveries that are carried out. “We have recently had to amend our methods again in one road where we have five long-term clients, in response to a single complaint,” says Cox. “There are also still curfew issues and problems that local authorities could address. We want to carry on with what we are doing and it would be helpful if the restrictions in London were lifted.”