Paragon opens doors to new routing and scheduling demonstration centre for fleet operators

Paragon Software Systems has opened a new facility that enables fleet operators to learn how routing and scheduling optimisation can bring ‘real-world’ benefits to their operations.

Located at Paragon’s HQ in Dorking, Surrey, the new technology centre is split into different zones designed for demonstrations, testing, one-to-one training and business reviews.

Tracking and telematics software, as well as Paragon’s electronic point of delivery software fleXipod, are available to view on a wide range of handheld devices.

The centre enables existing or potential customers to explore ways of improving how they use their existing technology, or finding out how new Paragon functionality like Arrivals Boards or CANBus data integration works.

“We are delighted to be opening the doors on this new customer facility,” said William Salter, MD, Paragon Software Systems.  “With more and more customers wanting to integrate our routing and optimisation software with telematics and tracking, we can use the technology centre to show how everything links up in real-time and delivers real-world benefits.”

The company said it continues to invest one-third of its turnover in product development and research. Its technology centre will enable Paragon to show customers how the growing functionality of its software can meet their evolving routing and scheduling requirements, whether it is to enhance their planning process, reduce fuel costs, improve driver utilisation to counter the driver shortage, or meet the challenge of home delivery services.


Retrofitted larger windows and safer routes for construction HGVs proposed for London

HGV fleets operating in London may need to be retrofitted with bigger windows in their cab doors if proposals announced this week by mayor Boris Johnson get the green light.

Following the launch of the Safer Lorry Scheme earlier this week, which requires the majority of HGVs to be fitted with sideguards and close-proximity mirrors to help protect vulnerable road users, the mayor said further tightening of the scheme is being explored.

Proposals include the requirement for all HGVs entering the capital to be retrofitted with larger side windows to eliminate blind spots and give the driver better all-round visibility.

The mayor said these can be fitted to the majority of lorries and will cost around £1,000.

A consultation will take place in January on the principle of the proposal and the best way to enforce the new windows, while work will take place with freight operators, cycling groups and vehicle manufacturers to develop a technical “direct vision standard” – necessary to make the windows legally enforceable.

This is expected to be complete by March or April.

In the meantime, the mayor’s office said “as soon as the work can be physically completed”, it will become mandatory for vehicles working on Transport for London, Crossrail or Greater London Authority schemes to be fitted with larger windows.

An additional proposal will also seek to ensure major construction schemes in the capital provide mandatory routes for HGVs to follow to site, which will minimise left turns and remove them from roads heavily used by cyclists.

Discussions with the London Boroughs and the construction industry are already underway.

Finally, existing trials taking place at the Transport Research Laboratory of cycle-protection equipment, such as electronic sensors, may lead to additional mandatory requirements for HGVs if significant and consistent benefits are found.

The existing Safer Lorry Scheme introduced this week, covers every road in Greater London, except motorways, and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will be enforced by the police, the DVSA and the joint TfL and DfT-funded Industrial HGV Taskforce (IHTF). The maximum fine for each breach of the ban will be £1,000. Repeat offenders may also be referred to the relevant Traffic Commissioner for investigation.

Registration now live for free-of-charge Freight in the City Expo in October

Registration is now live for this autumn’s free-to-attend Freight in the City Expo at London’s Alexandra Palace on Tuesday 27 October.

The event comprises a full seminar programme split into three core zones – Clean; Safe; and Quiet & Efficient – as well as a major exhibition area complete with guided tours.

A top line-up of vehicle manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz / FUSO Canter, Daf, Volvo, IsuzuIveco and Dennis Eagle will be showcasing their latest urban vehicle designs, while technology and trailer firms such as Transdek, Paragon and Route Monkey will demonstrate how to enhance existing fleet operations.

Seminars will focus on highlighting best practice examples of getting goods into city centres in a clean, quiet and safe manner, with an impressive line-up of industry experts and academic leaders on hand to highlight successful initiatives taking place across Europe.

The expo is organised by Motor Transport publisher Road Transport Media, which last year hosted the successful Quiet Cities Global Summit at Twickenham Stadium.

It is a must-attend event for anyone involved in procuring, delivering or receiving freight in an urban location.

Registration is free of charge and you can also sign up to receive fortnightly alerts of the latest urban logistics news.

A full list of exhibitors is available to view, along with a floorplan of the event.

Major cities must help freight industry adopt retimed deliveries as congestion levels soar

Major cities must take the lead in helping freight operators adopt retimed deliveries as congestion levels continue to surge.

Following data announced yesterday by INRIX that showed London topped a 25-strong European poll of the most gridlocked cities, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said it was essential for regional cities to ensure freight was able to flow freely.

Malcom Bingham, head of policy, strategic road network, said congestion was a significant and costly issue for the freight sector, particularly in London. The FTA has calculated that for every minute the largest HGVs are stuck in traffic can cost an operator around £1.

Drivers in London spent an average 96 hours stuck in traffic jams in the capital last year, up 17% on the previous year and racing past second-placed Brussels with an average 74 hours of delays. Those in Greater Manchester wasted 52 hours, while Merseyside and Greater Belfast experienced 37 hours of delays.

Bingham told Freight in the City that regional urban areas must help introduce a package of measures that will allow freight movements to flow freely, such as priority routes and out-of-hours deliveries, which were proven to work successfully during the London 2012 Olympics.

“London’s had the experience and seen the benefits to retiming deliveries, but there are other cities waking up to the fact that this can be an option,” he said. Large cities such as Leeds and Manchester, for example, will be exploring such opportunities.

Buy-in from the entire logistics supply chain is essential to get retiming initiatives up and running, as operators often face a challenge in getting their customers to participate and understand the benefits, as well as operational requirements of ensuring staff are available to receive goods at alternative times.

“The Olympics was a good example,” said Bingham. “Customers realised they would have a problem with their deliveries and were open to change. That’s half the problem, getting customers on board.”

He added it was important for city councils, planners and Local Enterprise Partnerships to assist freight operators by helping to educate their customers. The devolution of transport powers to city regions will also provide an impetus to get new freight initiatives up and running outside of the capital.

“Keeping freight traffic moving is good for the economy and good for the environment,” said Bingham.

The INRIX National Traffic Scorecard Report put the UK in fifth place in the country congestion poll, in which Belgium scooped the top spot, followed by the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg.

Congestion levels rose in more than half (53%) of European cities, which correlated with each country’s economic growth as they began to recover from recession.

A recent study carried out by INRIX and the Centre for Economic Business Research (CEBR) estimated that betwwen 2013 and 2030, the total cumulative cost of congestion to the UK economy would be £307bn, with the annual cost of congestion set to rise by 63% to £21.4bn over the same period.


Sign up online today for Freight in the City expo news

Make sure you sign-up today to receive the latest news and information about the inaugural Freight in the City expo this autumn.

Online expressions of interest are flooding in daily from representatives at local authorities, freight operators, retailers and academic institutions looking to attend the one-day exhibition and seminar programme at London’s Alexandra Palace on 27 October.

A top line-up of vehicle manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Daf, Volvo, IsuzuIveco and Dennis Eagle will be showcasing their latest urban vehicle designs, while equipment makers such as Brigade Electronics, Tachodisc and Route Monkey will demonstrate how to enhance existing fleet operations.

Seminars will focus on highlighting best practice examples of getting goods into city centres in a clean, quiet and safe manner, with an impressive line-up of industry experts and academic leaders on hand to highlight successful initiatives taking place across Europe.

The expo is organised by Motor Transport publisher Road Transport Media, which last year hosted the successful Quiet Cities Global Summit at Twickenham Stadium.

Andy Salter, MD at Road Transport Media, said: “For all those involved in this sector, whether as a policy maker, consignor or commercial vehicle operator, it is essential everyone is aware of the implications and future requirements for urban logistics. Freight in the City is a forum to bring all the key stakeholders together to share ideas, information and solutions.”

Nottingham launches consultation on cycle superhighway infrastructure

Nottingham City Council has launched a consultation into a major infrastructure project that will see the creation of a new, segregated cycle superhighway to improve access into and through the city centre.

The Western Corridor is a new cycle route that will run from Colwick in the east to University Boulevard and beyond in the west. Existing cycle routes along the route will be upgraded, while the new cycle superhighway will be installed from Castle Boulevard through Abbey Bridge to Dunkirk, which the council said will be speedy, direct and segregated.

To fund the works, Nottingham secured £6.1m from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)  to invest in and kickstart an overhaul of the city’s cycle facilities. The funding is for two years from April 2015 through to March 2017.

Councillor Nick McDonald, portfolio holder for jobs, growth and transport at Nottingham City Council, said: “ The Western Corridor is the centrepiece of the proposals; improving access to and through the city centre, making it more likely that bikes will be chosen ahead of cars to complete short cross-city journeys.

“In the last five years the number of cycle journeys being made in Nottingham has increased by 31%. Our cycling ambition is to make cycling people’s preferred mode of transport.”

Businesses and residents located along the route are encouraged to take part in the consultation and look at proposed plans on an interactive map.

Image: Shutterstock

Local authorities’ collaboration with freight partnership promotes sustainable urban deliveries in the North East

Interview: Freight in the City met with the North East Freight Partnership to find out how its role is helping its regional cities adopt more sustainable working practices for the essential movement of goods.

The North East Freight Partnership works with local government, businesses and operators to encourage sustainable movement of goods throughout the region.

Now in its 11th year, the partnership represents freight interests across seven local authorities: Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

FreightintheCity spoke to Paul Davison (pictured), principal consultant for sustainable freight and logistics at Aecom, which operates the scheme on behalf of the North East Combined Authority, about its achievements to date and future goals.

“We usuallyPaul-Davison---Aecom aim to undertake around 10 to 12 initiatives each year that encourage the sustainable movement of freight in the North East of England,” he says. “The whole partnership is geared towards efficiency and effectiveness of moving goods.”

Cycling Ambition

Newcastle, like other major cities, is preparing itself for a rapid increase in the number of bicycles on its roads. It is one of the government’s Cycle Action Cities, and following an initial £5.7m from the Cycle City Ambition Fund has been allocated a further £10.6m in government funding to improve its infrastructure to support the rise in cyclist numbers.

While fatalities involving HGVs and cyclists in the North East are still comparatively rare compared with London, the partnership is keen to address the challenge of shared road space before it becomes an issue.

Free-of-charge vulnerable road user training courses have been made available for operators, which comprise part-classroom and part on-road bike riding for HGV drivers to raise awareness of the difficulties cyclists face navigating busy roads and junctions.

In addition, the partnership is keeping a close watch on the impact any infrastructure changes will have on freight deliveries, such as the introduction of red routes on key roads into the city, with segregation where feasible for cyclists.

“There are changes taking place, but we don’t yet know what the implications will be for loading/unloading and access to the city generally. But the partnership is the perfect vehicle to address any issues if they do arise,” says Davison.

“Any loading and unloading challenges would be most pronounced in Sunderland and Newcastle city centres. But we haven’t got a sense yet that there is an issue. We’re keeping an eye on it.”

The partnership has already taken part in consultations with the engineers carrying out the infrastructure works to listen to the needs of freight deliveries.

Adopting Fors

When Transport for London announced it would be placing the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (Fors) into private management to drive its reach outside of London and across the UK, the North East had a head start with adopting the initiative.

“The North East was a vanguard for the national expansion of Fors,” explains Davison.

Following an exercise back in 2012 looking at the different types of accreditation scheme available for the freight sector, the partnership opted for Fors and began to promote its benefits to local authorities and major contractors across the region.

“We have seen membership rise significantly since then, despite the fact we are not a logistics hub on the scale of somewhere like the East Midlands or London. With the support of the partnership, we’ve been able to encourage uptake,” Davison explains.

Discussions have already taken place with all the local authorities about writing the Fors standards into their contracts. “This is an aspiration we wish to address with authority procurement teams.”

Fors Practitioner workshops are available free of charge through the partnership, with advice and guidance available to help operators achieve bronze entry level standards.

In terms of the fee structure introduced earlier this year, Davison says there has not been a drop-off in membership levels so far, but a clearer picture will be painted at the end of the first full year of charging.

The Construction Logistics & Cyclist Safety (Clocs) scheme is also starting to gain ground in the North East, as construction firms sign up to its standards, which align closely with the silver Fors accreditation level.

“The aspiration is that it is industry-led and we support Clocs in the same way we support Fors,” adds Davison.

Cleaner deliveries

Encouraging the take-up of low-emission goods vehicles and cleaner fuels is another aspiration for the partnership, although the lack of vehicle choice and higher upfront costs have so far not seen much penetration in the North East’s freight sector.

However, with the North East Combined Authority shortlisted to bid for a share of the government’s Ultra Low City Scheme fund, encouraging the shift to low-emission vehicles is certainly a significant priority for the region.

“As technology gets more trusted and certain, we will be exploring more alternative fuels across the partnership,” says Davison. “We’ve also supported the government’s longer semi-trailer trial. We researched into it for members and looked at the impact/benefits.”

Last-mile alternatives

One successful scheme the partnership managed was the use of cycle logistics for last-mile deliveries in Newcastle city centre, as a trial for possible wider roll-out across the region. This looked at the possibilities of cycle cargo carriers, rather than purely cycle couriers. “Very much the movement of goods rather than just parcels and letters,” explains Davison.

“If they have electric-assist on the bikes and they are geared a certain way, they can carry quite a substantial load of around a quarter of a tonne, which is usually enough for most city centre movements. It obviously won’t replace an HGV but where the air quality is at its worst is in the city centres, using more zero-emission cargo bikes over vans would certainly help,” he adds.

Last November, a workshop was held to inform businesses looking to use cycle logistics of their options and how to go about launching such an operation. A local bakery wanted to take the notion for a ride, and with the help of the partnership, procured the equipment that is now being successfully operated in Newcastle.

Consolidation is another idea popular with local authorities, however, the reality of a trial retail scheme carried out at Eldon Square in Newcastle city centre three years ago found little appetite from operators wanting to use the facility.

“The city just doesn’t have the same issues in terms of congestion that you see in London, so operators didn’t see the benefits of using it.”

It was closed within 12 months, and has discouraged further discussion on consolidation in city centres, he adds. However, if a low-emission zone or congestion charging were introduced, it might be looked at again. There is a commitment to an LEZ in the recently adopted Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan for Gateshead and Newcastle and the concept will be revisited during the lifetime of the plan.

Looking ahead

Current initiatives in the North East include a wide-scale trial of different types of cycle safety technology, including side proximity sensors and RFID tagging, which will be tested until April next year and include liaising with operators and cycling groups alike.

“It will enable us to help operators and see what type of technology is out there, what the impact has been on driver behaviour and the perception of cyclist,” adds Davison.

The partnership is also looking to work with researchers at Newcastle University on a piece of technology attached to a vehicle that enables it to take a priority route by co-ordinating with urban traffic management systems, for example, to control traffic lights. It has so far been tested on non-emergency vehicles, but will now be used on freight vehicles during the trial.

“It will be interesting to see what impact it has on the supply chain during the trial period,” says Davison. “Also the unit will tell you how long before a light turns green, for example, so you can manage acceleration and braking more efficiently to reduce fuel.”

Future plans for a brand-new truck park on the A1 are also afoot, with talks taking place with operators to find the optimum location. “We’ve had a few closures of sites recently and there have been some indiscriminate parking causing issues,” Davison explains.

Any such scheme is likely to need public funding to get underway, with a longer-term view for it to be self-funding.


Green Party: adopt French road signs that enable cyclists to ride through red lights

cycling in London

UK cities should follow Paris’s lead in allowing cyclists to travel through red lights if the way is clear on agreed routes, according to the Green Party.

The French capital will be erecting signs this summer – featuring an upside down triangle, an arrow and a picture of a bicycle – that indicate which direction cyclists can travel without stopping at a red light.

Paris’s Green deputy mayor, Christophe Najdoski, revealed the plans in April in a bid to reduce delays and improve safety for cyclists travelling across the city.

Green Party local transport councillor Caroline Russell welcomed the announcement and said it was an initiative that could be “implemented quickly” in the UK as an interim measure to encourage cycling.

She added: “This is not an alternative to redesigning our streets with safe cycle lanes, but it’s a great interim measure that can be implemented quickly and so long as everyone is considerate of others, especially those walking, it could make a real difference.

“British cities should follow suit. There are huge benefits to public health from encouraging more journeys by bike. Not only does this reduce congestion, road danger, physical inactivity and air pollution, but it also makes our cities better places to live and work.”



Scottish courier finds mid-sized electric vans a good fit for multi-drop, city centre routes

Courier and express delivery firm SGM Distribution is making significant emissions and fuel cost savings through the operation of two electric vans on multi-drop work in Aberdeen city centre.

The Forfar, Angus-based operator trialled a Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL supplied by its local dealer around 18 months ago for a two-week period.

Following a successful operation during this period and further research into the technology, the company is now the first Scottish firm to to bring two mid-sized long wheelbase E-CELLs into service on its fleet in March this year.

Averaging approximately 50 miles per day on multi-drop deliveries, company director Shaun McLean said they are “fantastic vehicles to use about the city”.

He added: “We love them. They do the work of a diesel vehicle, so we are obviously reducing the environmental impact, as well as saving on fuel costs. The drivers like driving them too, as it’s exactly the same as a normal van.”

The electric vans are leased from Mercedes-Benz UK. SGM said they cost around 25% more per month to hire than a conventional diesel van on its operation.

SGM received a grant through the Energy Saving Trust to enable it to get a Siemens charging point supplied and installed at its premises free of charge.

The vans are brought in at the end of the day, having used between 70% and 80% of their available power, and charged overnight ready for use the following morning.

McLean said the company would consider adding further electric vehicles to its 48-strong fleet, but would ideally like a larger option with a bigger payload such as a Luton-sized van. However, availability of larger electric vans remains an issue, he added.

Through the ChargePlace Scotland project, 100% grant funding is available to Scottish-based businesses for the installation of electric vehicle charge points for workplaces. The aim of this funding is to complement the national network of charge points being installed across Scotland to promote electric vehicle use.

All Scottish-based businesses meeting the appropriate criteria can apply to the scheme, which is managed by the Energy Saving Trust – once approved they can select from a list of approved suppliers.


Clean Air Better Business helps organisations slash emissions and save costs through freight management

Clean Air Better Business (CABB) has launched a practical toolkit to enable local authorities, businesses and freight operators to understand what measures they can take to reduce emissions from their freight activities in the capital.

Organisations are encouraged to assess and improve their impact on London’s air quality and develop their own delivery and servicing plans, which can reduce HGV movements, realise financial savings through consolidation of orders, and enhance road safety and air quality for all city users.

Access to a zero and low-emission supplier directory, free eco-driver training and information about existing schemes to slash emissions and improve supply chain efficiency are provided in the toolkits, alongside advice on how to incorporate actions into procurement policies.

Case studies highlight successful initiatives already explored through the CABB programme and the benefits gained. For example:

  • The Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles Business Improvement District consolidated its waste collection service for 200 businesses with a hybrid vehicle. This reduced waste collection trips by 60%, or 84,000 vehicle road km;
  • A joint procurement deal between the Natural History Museum and Science Museum for cleaning and waste services has slashed costs and reduced the number of vehicles coming to the site.
  • James McNaughton opted for an electric delivery vehicle to replace its existing diesel one, which resulted in estimated savings of £5,000 in fuel and 14 tonnes of CO2 per year.

CABB is a project run by the Cross River Partnership (CRP) – a public-private partnership that was originally formed to deliver cross-river infrastructure projects such as the Millennium Bridge, but has since diversified to deliver a range of externally-funded, multi-partner regeneration projects in the capital.

For further information contact CRP air quality champion: Uto Patrick