Route Monkey develops online national scheduling platform for fleet operators

Route Monkey is keen to speak with fleet operators at next week’s Freight in the City Expo interested in taking part in trials of its online national scheduling platform.

The optimisation specialist is poised to launch an online tool enabling both public and private sector fleet managers to instantly access its powerful algorithm-based software to ensure vehicles are being used to their maximum effect.

Route Monkey CEO Colin Ferguson said: “Companies like Yodel and XDP Express  already benefit from the efficiency savings that our algorithms deliver. We are now working on a national, fully online scheduling tool to open up this technology to fleets large and small.”

It will enable fleet managers to carry out their own analysis work that not only takes into account the best routes to use, but also calculates roads infrastructure, congestion, carbon impact, payload, shift patterns and drivers’ hours, for example.

Route Monkey said the online tool will also incorporate optimisation technology for low-carbon vehicles, such as electric vans, as well as enable fleet managers to locate and book recharging/refuelling points on a route.

The online platform is scheduled to be live by Q3 next year, and Route Monkey would like to hear from any interested fleets looking to trial it in their own operations. Head along to stand E16 at Freight in the City Expo next week to find out more.

Colin Ferguson will also be hosting a seminar session about the environmental, cost and efficiency benefits to be gained from effective fleet optimisation.

  • Freight in the City is a free-to-attend one-day expo about sustainable urban logistics. It will be held on Tuesday 27 October at London’s Alexandra Palace. Book you place now!

TfL urges tomorrow’s designers to create the urban safety truck of the future

Inventive young designers of tomorrow are being invited to create the next-generation of safer, urban trucks in an exciting new competition from Transport for London (TfL).

The Future Truck Design Awards have been developed to explore all aspects of improving the safety and operation of trucks in towns and cities.

With the population of the UK expected to rise to 81 million by 2060, making the UK one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, our towns and cities are getting increasingly busy. This expanding population means rising demand for places to live and work, with increasing expectations of round-the-clock availability of goods and services.

The freight industry must feed the urban economy and, with more traffic than ever sharing crowded streets, making these large goods vehicles as safe as possible for other road users is vital.

Launching at next week’s Freight in the City Expo at London’s Alexandra Palace, the awards will ask students to create radical and game-changing ideas that could be incorporated into the trucks and freight operations of the future.

TfL said this opportunity is more than a theoretical exercise and the chance to win a £1,000 cash prize – the safer vehicle designs and systems of operation developed for these awards could save lives.

Road safety is a particularly high-profile issue in cities due to the number of accidents involving vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, and the increasing popularity of active travel.

The TfL document ‘Delivering a Road Freight Legacy’ states that: “Ensuring the safety and security of all users, including cyclists, pedestrians, drivers and vehicles, should be the highest priority for anyone who uses or manages London’s roads. It is the single greatest challenge facing any major city with a growing population and a changing profile of road users.”

Through engagement with schools, colleges and universities, the awards aim to raise the profile and awareness of commercial vehicle safety through an active media campaign and design competition.

Closely aligned with TfL’s Safer Trucks Programme, the competition will: seek out innovative new ideas that can help inform future vehicle design; identify sources of new talent; accelerate the development of safer urban trucks; and showcase the programme of work undertaken by TfL to protect vulnerable road users.

There will be three categories for students to enter, all of which must be for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes:

  • Whole vehicle design: All age groups eligible to enter. Entries will produce designs covering the whole of the vehicle and will be expected to have designed safety features into the overall vehicle package;
  • Safety feature innovation: Open to the 16-to-18 and 18-plus age groups only, entries will produce ideas for new safety features which could be added to the vehicle to improve safety;
  • System of operation: Open to the 16-to-18 and 18-plus age groups only, entries will produce ideas for innovation in urban freight deliveries which would have a significant impact on safety in operation.

Hints and tips for students on making the most of their entries, prize details and full eligibility criteria can be found at

The competition will be officially launched at Freight in the City Expo on 27 October and open for entries on 1 January 2016. The closing date will be 11 March 2016, with a shortlist – chosen by a panel of expert industry judges – announced on 4 April 2016. Awards will be presented at a ceremony on 26 April.

  • Freight in the City Expo is a free-to-attend, one-day event focusing on the challenges of delivering into city centres. A top line-up of industry speakers, as well as an exhibition of the latest urban vehicles and equipment, make this an event not to be missed. Register today and join more than 700 of your industry peers at Alexandra Palace on 27 October.

ECO Stars’ practical workshop at Freight in the City Expo will help boost fleet sustainability

ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme will be holding a practical workshop at this month’s Freight in the City Expo to help both public sector and private sector fleets become more efficient and sustainable in their daily operations.

The initiative is a free-to-join scheme that aims to help fleet operators improve efficiency, reduce fuel consumption, slash emissions, and make cost savings.

It was launched in South Yorkshire in 2009 when four local councils – Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham – wanted to tackle local air quality issues caused by transport, focusing on HGVs, buses, coaches and vans.

They quickly realised that many fleet operators were already making progress in reducing their environmental impact, and wanted to recognise their efforts, but at the same time provide expert and practical advice on how to make improvements. As a result, ECO Stars was created.

The scheme now has more than 400 members, representing 14,000-plus vehicles. It has been adopted by many local authorities across the UK and several cities in Europe, as well as private sector fleet operators across all industries.

For local authorities, ECO Stars can provide fleet managers with industry best practice ideas, help review fleet composition and activities identifying savings opportunities.

An ECO Stars spokeswoman said: “It is important to remember that local authorities manage very complex and diverse fleets and many of the vehicles are not driven by vocational drivers and may have an alternative line management structure.”

She added that by adopting the scheme on their own fleets, local authorities can lead by example and ‘walk the talk’ by getting their own house in order before asking private fleets to get involved, which can give them more credibility.

“Local authorities have air quality targets and ECO Stars is increasingly one of many tactics the councils use to try and achieve challenging air quality targets,” the spokeswoman told

For operators in the private sector consdiering joining the scheme, membership benefits include a free review of fleet composition and fuel efficiency measures from an independent consultant, who is able to discuss and share best practice and introduce technologies that the operator may not have considered relevant. Savings opportunities will be discussed and agreed during the membership application and an agreed plan of progression developed.

Visitors to Freight in the City can talk to ECO Stars representatives during the day at stand B11 to find out about the straightforward application process and the tangible benefits for their own, individual operations.

The free-to-attend Freight in the City Expo takes place on Tuesday 27 October at London’s Alexandra Palace. It comprises a full seminar programme and an exhibiton focused on the challenges of urban logistics.









Paragon’s smart mapping software can boost speed and precision of urban deliveries

Paragaon is offering three smarter mapping options that enable transport planners to make vehicle routing and scheduling as precise as possible in dense, urban logistics operations.

Street Level Mapping, Average Road Speed Data and Truck Attribute Data all provide planners with a highly detailed picture of the road network, allowing for the faster creation of more accurate and realistic plans, which Paragon said can reduce mileage and fuel costs as well as improve the accuracy of delivery times.

“When producing a transport plan, customers want to get as close as possible to reality,” said William Salter, MD, Paragon Software Systems. “Detailed data including the average road speeds attainable on a specific route, or weight, height, width and length data overlaid on a map, all help the planner to quickly and easily build feasible routes with more accurate arrival times, resulting in happier customers and drivers alike.”

Paragon Street Level Mapping includes all residential streets and minor roads, as well as turning restrictions, such as no left or right turn. Schedules can be planned to the nearest second and metre. The company said the software is ideal for improving routing and optimising schedules in dense urban transport operations, such as those found in the home delivery sector.

Average Road Speed Data improves the precision of routing and scheduling with a truer reflection of real travel times. It provides a calculated average speed in each direction on all road links for which there is sufficient speed data, based on analysis of billions of road speed observations.

Paragon Truck Attribute Data can help prevent detours and reduce mileage by taking into account height, weight, width and length restrictions, including the calculation of plans that avoid low bridges when using high vehicles.

The routing firm said its customers using these services have found that the number of vehicles can be reduced while still making the same number of deliveries, driver shifts per day are decreased, and hours on duty can be reduced. “By reducing mileage and providing more accurate plans, drivers find that the transport plans created with these modules are much more achievable, and allow them to more readily meet their customer service goals,” added Salter.

  • Paragon will be exhibiting at this month’s Freight in the City Expo at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday 27 October. Book your free place at this exciting event dedicated to making your urban logistics operation more sustainable.


West London Boroughs collaborate to create new sustainable freight strategy

Development of a new freight strategy to improve the safety, efficiency and sustainability of goods movements across west London is underway.

The West London Freight Strategy is being devised by transport consultancy Aecom on behalf of the WestTrans Partnership, which is formed of the six west London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow.

The purpose of the freight strategy is to create a series of measures to boost efficiency and drive down freight miles across the boroughs by tackling key challenges:

  • Improve air quality
  • Improve road safety
  • Reduce congestion
  • Support economic growth, but manage freight transport demand
  • Improve vehicle energy efficiency
  • Increase business efficiency

A series of workshops have been held to bring together the boroughs, businesses and freight operators to discuss the challenges.

The latest was held last month at Palletline’s Perivale depot, which enabled all parties to experience a tour of a logistics depot and hear about the issues affecting operators in the local area.

Workshop attendees also learned about a number of efficiency measures that could be implemented into their freight operations, such as computerised routing and scheduling, driver training, alternative modes to road transport, aerodynamics, telematics and retiming deliveries.

An emphasis was also placed on how zero-emission vehicle technology could be used in urban areas to improve air quality, with final-mile specialist Gnewt Cargo demonstrating how electric vans and cargo trikes could be used to make cleaner deliveries to residents and businesses in city centres.

Paul Davison, principal consultant for sustainable freight and logistics, Aecom, said the event received a very positive reaction and provided a good insight into how cleaner technology and more efficient practices could be incorporated into logistics operations.

It also opened up discussions on how local authorities could provide incentives to encourage uptake of new technology and helped break down misconceptions over range, vehicle reliability and charging points.

One final workshop will take place at the end of this month/early November, with any interested businesses or freight operators encouraged to take part. The completed strategy is expected to be delivered by the end of this year. For more information please contact Tim Forrester on

WestTrans Partnership is also carrying out a range of projects across the six boroughs, including the use of Delivery and Service Plans to slash congestion and an Air Quality Cluster Group to develop mapping routes.

  • Aecom’s Paul Davison will be speaking about the important role that freight quality partnerships can play in bringing together local authorities and operators to make goods movements more sustainable at the Freight in the City Expo this month. Book your free place today!


Local authorities and freight firms can join forces and tap into £10m funding pot for end-to-end journey schemes

A £10m funding pot is available for collaborative R&D projects that will help drive down congestion by improving the end-to-end journey of freight and people.

The competition, launched by Innovate UK, is looking at proposals that enable a user to select a complete journey, whether for goods or as a passenger, from one starting point to a final end point and be offered transport options with different profiles, costs and schedules.

Innovate said transport plays a pivotal role in the country’s economy, however, network congestion and overcrowding are indicators that saturation point has been reached.

Traffic congestion, of which 40% of this gridlock is in London, is predicted to cost the UK economy £300bn over the next 16 years. It is believed that a 5% reduction is businesses’ travel on the roads alone could generate around £2.5bn of cost savings.

The UK’s increasing population is also leading to higher demand for goods entering the logistics chain. A key priority for the UK is intermodality and interoperability within freight and logistics, whereby goods can be transferred seamlessly between modes due to simple processes and the use of standard loading units, such as swap bodies.

To improve the UK’s existing transport systems, Innovate UK is focusing on two broad themes: optimisation and increasing useable capacity; and demand reduction. The ‘Enhancing the end-to-end journey’ competition will focus on optimisation.

Consortia comprising local authorities and service providers are expected to work together to cover at least one of the three key challenges:

  • Network and data connectivity within modes and to users – for example, economic incentives for a collaborative culture across the transport industry to promote industry-to-industry engagement and business models.
  • Infrastructure – for example, working with freight operators to find new ways to move a larger range of freight more swiftly using national and international services, including ways to address rise in e-commerce deliveries and novel approaches to freight sharing.
  • Customer interaction and experience – for example, development of personalised and profiled mobility planning, including a network focus optimised by load balancing.

Projects lasting between one and three years must be collaborative and led by a business, with small companies potentially receiving up to 70% of their eligible project costs, medium firms up to 60% and large ones up to 50%. Costs are expected to range from £250,000 up to £3m.

The deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 18 November. The second stage deadline for invited applications is noon on 21 January 2016. Applications are assessed by an independent pane of experts.

Further information and Guidance for Applicants is available online.

Transdek to showcase its latest urban double-deck trailer for Eddie Stobart at Freight in the City

Transdek UK is exhibiting its latest urban double deck trailer for Eddie Stobart at the Freight in the City Expo next month at London’s Alexandra Palace.

The company said the trailer can carry 100% more load than conventional forms of urban freight transport and offers the capability to cut delivery frequencies in half, reducing congestion, noise and pollution.

Freight in the City is a free-to-attend one-day expo that will bring together local authorities, suppliers and freight transport operators to explore ways to make goods deliveries in urban centres as clean, safe and quiet as possible.

Transdek has recognised a growing economic, as well as environmental, pressure to incorporate new strategies to reduce congestion on the roads.

This was highlighted in a recent whitepaper published by INRIX and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) suggests that, in comparison to the USA, Germany and France, by 2030, the UK will see the highest annual rise in the cost of congestion (at 66%), with a cost to the country of over £21bn a year. London is expected to have the fastest growing levels of congestion out of all cities included in the study.

Transdek’s range of urban double-deck trailers carry up to 54 roll cages or 30 pallets, twice that of a typical 18-tonne or 26-tonne rigid, which the company said can create the opportunity to slash emissions and congestion by a much as 50%.

This additional volumetric capacity is achieved within the same height profile, or lower, as a standard single-deck trailer, while the company said the unit’s standard external length of 10.6m is more manoeuvrable than equivalent rigid trucks. It has also developed rear door and tail-lift designs specifically adapted for the urban environment, which offer a safer, quieter and more secure operation.

Tony Sturgess, head of trailer design at Transdek UK, said the urban double-decker is ideal for retail outlets that do not have the capacity to take a full trailer delivery as it provides the ability for efficient multi-drop deliveries. The potential for this to increase efficiencies on collaborative projects between groups of retailers operating out of urban consolidation centres is also “really exciting”, he added.

“Most operators think that loads should be consolidated out of town, with onward deliveries in small trucks and vans. This is an effective way of increasing vehicle fill and reducing the number of vehicles on urban roads, but will still leave a growing number of low-volume freight vehicles on the streets. However quiet and green these vehicles are, this will not help the issue of congestion,” explained Sturgess.

“Transdek’s approach is different. We believe that volume is the core component to increasing overall logistics efficiency and reducing congestion. If each urban double-deck trailer on the roads is able to remove one rigid, or several smaller trucks, this opens up the potential to really tackle future congestion issues.”

  • Book your free place today at Freight in the City and join hundreds of your industry peers at Alexandra Palace, London, on Tuesday 27 October.

Route Monkey helps local authorities assess electric vehicle viability on fleets

Route Monkey is successfully working with local authorities to analyse their fleets’ potential for incorporating electric vehicles.

The optimisation specialist is working in conjunction with the Energy Saving Trust as a partner on Transport Scotland’s Switched on Fleets initiative, which aims to encourage public sector fleets to reduce harmful emissions from their transport activities through increased uptake of electric vehicles.

Route Monkey will work with all 32 Scottish Community Planning Partnerships to identify those areas of their fleet operations that may benefit from a switch to electric vehicles and those that won’t be suitable – which it said is just as important to analyse.

Both commercial vehicle fleets and pool car fleets are being assessed in the scheme.

Colin Ferguson, CEO at Route Monkey, said: “We can say to councils, this is what is happening today and this is what you could be doing next year and the year after. It is a good example of where we use algorithms and technology to inform procurement choices and identify how electric vehicles, or other alternative fuels, could benefit. It is using evidence-based analysis to encourage the uptake of low-carbon vehicles.”

The algorithms used in Route Monkey’s technology don’t just assess optimum vehicle routes, but also take into account essential factors such as driver shift patterns, rest break requirements, infrastructure, congestion, vehicle payload and, in the case of electric vehicles, suitable recharging points.

Prior to its work with Transport Scotland, Route Monkey was also the analytical partner on the Plugged In Fleets initiative in England, which applied to both public sector and private fleets, such as those run by major retailers like Morrisons and Boots.

Route Monkey is now planning to expand its optimisation technology both geographically, through new offices in both Amsterdam and Hong Kong due to open by the end of the year, and via the move to a new online platform.

Ferguson explained: “We are launching a national scheduling platform. Rather than make it an individual tool for companies, we are actually putting this technology online and centralising it so anyone can access it.”

The online launch is scheduled to be live by Q3 next year, and Route Monkey will be taking part at next month’s Freight in the City Expo looking to engage with fleets wanting to participate in free trials of the software during pilot stages.

Freight in the City is afree-to-attend one-day expo about sustainable urban logistics. It will be held on Tuesday 27 October at London’s Alexandra Palace. Book you place now!

Making more use of Northern ports could shave up to 156 million HGV miles off UK road network

Many suppliers are considering relocating their operations to cities in the North of England in order to be closer to their customer base, delegates were told at a policy seminar in Westminster yesterday.

According to Frank Rogers, deputy chief executive and director of integrated transport services at Merseytravel, an organisation that provides transport advice to the Liverpool city region, some 91% of imports from India enter the UK through the South East, despite 61% of these goods being used north of the Midlands.

“This gives us the opportunity to do some rebalancing on the networks,” Rogers said at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum freight policy seminar this week.  “If we can rebalance the freight that comes into the UK and maximise the use of the Northern ports, there is the potential to take up to 156 million HGV miles a year off the UK road network [and] increase GDP.”

He said the organisation is identifying key sites for development in the Liverpool region as demand to move north increases.

“There is a very clear pattern now where suppliers are moving to the North to be closer to their client base, to be able to meet the requirements of just-in-time deliveries and so on.

“It’s becoming fiction that the golden triangle of previous years is located around the East Midlands. But when you look at warehouse densities, it’s actually somewhere around Hull,” Rogers added.

Paul Strang, senior strategy and planning manager (freight and fleet) at TfL, said London is also seeing a shift in where its warehouses are located for cost reasons. But this increases the strain on the city’s road network.

“As property prices in urban areas increase, warehouses are moving further and further away, which means there is more congestion [going into the city] and the negative stuff associated with that,” said Strang.

Transport for London explores options to boost road capacity through more strategic freight journeys

Transport for London (TfL) hopes to increase capacity on London’s road network by encouraging the use of freight consolidation centres and urging the retiming of deliveries to commercial and domestic premises.

Paul Strang, TfL’s senior strategy and planning manager (freight and fleet), told delegates at this week’s Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum UK freight policy seminar that TfL is looking at ways of reducing the freight sector’s demand for the road network as the city’s population grows.

Strang said 90% of goods being moved in the capital are done so using the road network, with few operators taking advantage of rail and water.

“Almost a third, 29%, of central London morning traffic relates to goods vehicles, so HGVs or vans, which disproportionally peaks in the morning when the roads are perhaps least able to cope with it,” he said. “When you look at the whole day [freight’s share of the traffic] becomes around 16- 17%.”

Like most cities across the UK, London has seen an increase in the number of vans on its roads and Strang expects this to continue over the next decade. HGV numbers, however, are not expected to grow.

Strang suggested there was an opportunity to better utilise the rail and river networks, but said reducing the “frustration” of missed deliveries was at the other end of the spectrum.

He added: “Maybe the solution is specifying larger sizes of letterboxes and retiming deliveries to domestic premises.

“It’s not about reducing the amount of stuff we buy, but how we can get that same amount of stuff delivered in fewer road kilometres.”

Strang added that the capital’s existing consolidation centres had been a success in taking goods vehicle traffic off the road. However, he questioned how TfL would be able to develop enough of them to take the necessary amount of road trips out of the network.

He said: “London’s a rapidly growing city…it will grow by a further 1.7m people by 2030. In terms of scale, that’s equivalent to adding cities the size of Birmingham and Leeds to what is already London’s biggest population.

“We want our freight strategy to balance these two things off. We need to look at how we get goods and services delivered in the city at a fair cost to consumers.”