Increased electric vehicle adoption means rising need for safety features

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freight industry recognised for commitment to quiet deliveries at John Connell Awards

The freight industry was recognised for its commitment to reducing noise pollution during the 16th annual John Connell Awards in London this week.

Dubbed the ‘noise Oscars’, the awards champion advances in reducing the negative impact of unnecessary noise on the general public.

Winner of the John Connell Quiet Logistics Award was a partnership between forklift manufacturer Hiab and retailer Pets at Home.

Deliveries to Pets at Home’s 1,400 UK stores in the evening and at night were generating complaints from residents, mostly concerning noise emitted from diesel-powered forklift trucks.

To continue its efficient out-of-hours delivery movements, Pets at Home had to find a solution that came in the form of Hiab’s first all-electric truck-mounted forklift with a lift capacity of 2,000kg, which was completely silent.

Gloria Elliott, Noise Abatement Society chief executive, said:”‘NAS applauds Hiab and Pets at Home’s investment in quiet delivery technology which will benefit residents and colleagues alike.”

Highly commended in the same category was Whitbread, which owns popular food and hotel outlets such as Costa Coffee and Premier Inn.

Whitbread was recognised for its high standard of quiet delivery and servicing operations, which had brought efficiency gains into the business from responsible retiming.

Elliott said: “Whitbread is to be congratulated as a great example of showing care to the communities in which it operates by exercising quiet policies and investing in low-noise technology.”

Scooping the Innovation Award was Brigade Electronics for its work on developing a ‘Quiet Vehicle Sounder’ to put the noise back into near-silent electric vehicles to enable them to be heard by pedestrians and cyclists when in close proximity.

The noise reacts to the ambient background, is not invasive, and dissipates quickly.

Also Highly Commended for innovation was Aecom for working closely with TfL to create a visual matrix of ‘Quiet equipment and vehicles: making the right choice’, using case studies to demonstrate their benefits.

The matrix is now published on the FORS website to help operators stay well informed about the positive benefits of quiet technologies in their supply chains.

Highly commended in the Soundscape Award was operator Martin Brower.

An early adopter of quiet technology and staff training in its delivery to McDonald’s restaurants, the operator was commended for its understanding of the “holistic spirit of soundscape principles” shown through a variety of sustained best practices to enable efficient servicing without causing noise disturbance.



Wilcox ENERGYA concrete mixer set to electrify Freight in the City Expo 2017

Wilcox Commercial Vehicles is set to cause a stir at Freight in the City Expo 2017 with the ENERGYA series truck concrete mixer that cuts fuel use, noise and emissions.

Unlike traditional truck mixers where drum movement is generated by a hydraulic system, Cifa’s ENERGYA truck mixer is powered from its own rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which are independent to the chassis engine.

ENERGYA truck mixers are equipped with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), which allows energy recovery during vehicle deceleration. The batteries can also be charged from both the power grid and through a generator powered by the diesel engine on the truck, allowing the truck mixer to be fully operational, even if the batteries are dead.

Jamie Boyce, Wilcox area sales manager, said this makes the mixer particularly suited to congested areas with high traffic levels.

“Concrete mixers need to be kept rotating to keep the concrete mixed while on route to the delivery site,” he said. “With the mixer being independent to the chassis engine, when in congestion or waiting to discharge, the driver can cut the engine without affecting the mixer or the load being carried.”

A recent trial run by Cifa showed a saving of 3,600 litres of fuel and more than 9,500kg of Co2 with the ENERGYA mixer creating no Co2 emissions and less than 10db of noise when in operation.

Boyce added: “The batteries can be recharged in around three hours from a power source, but they also recharge through the KERS from the braking system of the chassis.

“By just operating in traffic with frequent stopping and starting, the mixer can stay recharged for a whole day through the KERS system.”

Freight in the City Expo takes place on 7 November at London’s Alexandra Palace. It is free to attend, so why not register for a pass today!


‘Noise Oscars’ looking for freight sector best practice in quiet deliveries

This year’s ‘Noise Oscars’ are open for entry and looking for organisations, projects and technology that can demonstrate proven steps in reducing noise pollution.

Organised by the Noise Abatement Society (NAS), the John Connell Awards will take place on 31 October at the Palace of Westminster.

The NAS works closely with local authorities and the freight sector to encourage quieter working based on low-noise vehicles and best-practice methods that enable anytime deliveries without noise disturbance.

Last year’s winners include TfL’s Retiming Deliveries Consortium, created in 2013 to encourage retiming without noise disturbance through guidance tools, engagement and collaboration, and food chain Pret A Manger for its commitment to quiet delivery technology on its fleet.

Now in their 16th year, the John Connell Awards have three categories relevant to those in the road transport sector:

  • The Silent Approach Award recognises advances in industry awareness and best practice to reduce noise from operations and logistics. This award is for organisations that have developed proven noise-reduction programmes, whether through the adoption of quiet(er) transport modes, low-noise ancillary-equipment, staff training or other pro-active noise-awareness initiatives.
  • The Enterprise in Quiet Logistics Award recognises advances in low-noise technology, equipment and operations to facilitate safe, quiet(er) and efficient urban distribution services. This award is for operators, vehicle manufacturers, trailer-makers, bodybuilders and ancillary equipment suppliers who’ve created quiet(er)/low-noise products, services and programmes with reduced noise impact.
  • The Innovation Award recognises original thinking to successfully resolve a particularly challenging commercial noise issue. This award is for organisations including those distribution companies, logistics providers, retailers, local authorities and other key community-stakeholders who have successfully
    tackled noise disturbance through proactive noise reduction programmes, technology and design.

The awards are free to enter, with full submission criteria available online. Deadline for entries is Friday 22 September.



Proposals to modernise London Lorry Control Scheme given go-ahead

Proposals to revamp the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) have been given the go-ahead by London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee (TEC).

The LLCS controls the routes that HGVs over 18 tonnes can use at night and at weekends and has been in place since 1985 to help reduce noise pollution in residential areas during the night.

However, the freight sector has long been calling for a review of the 32-year-old scheme to take into account modern, quieter HGV technology and the challenges operators face in delivering during limited hours.

A full-scale review began late last year, with a series of recommendations drawn up to modernise the scheme, which were approved last week (15 June) at a TEC hearing.

These include exploring the development of a noise standard for lorries, special permission for the “quietest fleets” to deliver overnight, and a review of the operational hours and routes (see box below for key recommendations).

London Councils’ TEC chairman Julian Bell said: “The London Lorry Control Scheme has played an important role in reducing the impact of freight movements on the lives of Londoners for over 30 years.

“The review’s findings will help us ensure the freight industry can meet the challenges it faces while continuing to help Londoners get a good nights’ sleep.”

The FTA has welcomed the acceptance of the proposals as a “positive sign” the scheme is to be modernised for the first time in three decades.

Natalie Chapman, head of policy for London, South-East and East of England, acknowledged the “massive amount of work” undertaken by London Councils during the review process.

However, she’d like to see significant proposals, such as route reviews and pilots for amended operational hours, addressed sooner than planned by London Councils.

Major changes to the LLCS would likely need further public consultations and changes to traffic management orders in boroughs.

“It is frustrating, but it is the political reality,” said Chapman. “We will continue to meet quarterly to work with London Councils to make sure all the things in the document do happen.

“Some of it may take a while, but we’re not taking our foot off the gas.”

The RHA criticised the review for failing to address the freight sector’s challenges.

RHA deputy policy director Duncan Buchanan said: “It is not acceptable that the hours of operation of the scheme and the extent of the core network that is available for use have been put in the long grass by this report.

“The report does acknowledge that the freight industry raised concerns about the road network and hours of control, but these issues have been side-lined and no action will be taken on these for at least 18 months – if ever.”

During 2015/16, 4,314 operators and 679 drivers were fined for breaching the LLCS.

Key recommendations of the LLCS review:

  • Raise awareness of the scheme’s purpose, benefits and rules among key stakeholders such as the freight industry, London boroughs, residents’ groups, businesses and international freight organisations. This will involve updating the scheme’s website and online portal, as well as exploring new technologies to make it easier for freight operators to plan and follow compliant routes.
  • Develop “noise standards” for vehicle and infrastructure design that properly reflect how existing and new technologies could improve the operation of the scheme and the restrictions that apply to vehicles.
  • Trial the use of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) enforcement to improve compliance.
  • Reassess the scheme’s restrictions, such as routes, hours of control, the weight limit, traffic signs and vehicle exemptions, particularly in line with the advancements in vehicle design and serving the needs and demands of London’s growing 24/7 economy.
  • Update online systems and processes to improve the day-to-day administration of the scheme.
  • A range of stakeholders, including those representing businesses, London residents, freight operators, London boroughs, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority, have been involved in the review and have helped to identify a number of areas for possible changes and improvements to the scheme.


Kuehne + Nagel trials hydro-electric refrigeration units in urban areas

Kuehne + Nagel (K+N) is operating two Carrier Transicold engineless refrigeration systems on its Whitbread contract to test out their environmental and performance capabilities.

The multi-temperature units are fitted to an 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz Econic and a 26-tonne Daf CF and feature low-noise, Piek-compliant technology suited to urban areas.

They run entirely on hydro-electric power generated by the trucks’ Euro-6 engines – removing the need for a separate diesel engine.

Carrier Transicold said this helps reduce environmental impact by cutting emissions and improving fuel efficiency, whilst also reducing maintenance costs.

Both units have been specified with R452A refrigerant, which has the same cooling capacity, fuel efficiency, reliability and refrigerant charge as R404A, but offers a 45% reduction in Global Warming Potential (the measurement used to show the different environmental impact of gases).

“Within the lifetime of these vehicles, fleets in major cities are going to be facing stricter rules surrounding vehicle emissions,” said Andrew Blake, K+N national distribution manager.

“After consulting with [hire firm] Petit Forestier, we felt it was the perfect time to put Carrier Transicold’s new engineless transport refrigeration technology to the test.”

Both vehicles are in daily operation in a busy urban environment, transporting a mix of ambient, chilled, and frozen produce to the Whitbread-owned Premier Inn chain.

The Daf is based in Wellingborough and delivers into Birmingham and Nottingham, both of which will include a Clean Air Zone by 2020;  the Econic – which allows the driver to sit much lower than in a conventional distribution truck – operates in London, which will enforce the country’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone by 2019.

Whitbread logistics director Brodie McMillan said: “If these units deliver the benefits we’re expecting, Kuehne + Nagel will be looking to introduce the same technology into our delivery fleet, reducing the environmental impact of our vehicles and helping to improve air quality.”


Swedish out-of-hours delivery trial removes HGVs from rush-hour

A freight trial in the Swedish city of Stockholm has identified both business and environmental benefits from the use of out-of-hours delivery patterns.

The Off Peak City Distribution trial, led by Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, saw two trucks receive an exemption to the current night-time delivery ban in place from 10pm to 6am in Stockholm.

Researchers wanted to see if lifting the ban would drive operational efficiency for hauliers and businesses receiving their goods, as well as congestion-busting and air quality benefits from removing freight vehicles from rush-hour.

The trial

Volvo supplied a parallel hybrid (diesel-electric) FE model fitted with a geofencing device that enabled the truck to switch to quiet, clean electric operation within urban areas.

This was used for dedicated deliveries for supermarket Lidl, travelling 30km between its warehouse in Roserberg and three city centre stores in Stockholm.

A second HGV, a biogas-fuelled Scania R480 (pictured below), was used to transport consolidated goods for Swedish foodservice supplier Martin and Servera to a number of city centre hotels and restaurants.

Both were fitted with noise-reduction equipment, such as silent roll cages, and noise sensor technology.

Anna Pernestål Brenden, a researcher at KTH’s Integrated Transport Research Laboratory, said ordinarily the Lidl warehouse would deploy several fully-loaded trucks to make deliveries during peak morning rush hours between 6am and 8am, because it was too difficult for a single vehicle to make all the drops in such a short time window.

But in the study, a single truck delivered goods to three stores in central Stockholm between the prohibited hours of 10pm and 6am. It would return to the warehouse three times in the night to be reloaded, and then make its subsequent delivery.

Pernestål Brenden said. “That’s one truck doing the work of three, or in other words – morning commuters are spared having to share the road with three heavy duty trucks.”

The truck on the dedicated Lidl route was found to have a driving speed in off-peak around one-third faster than in the morning peak (31%).

Meanwhile, the Scania working to deliver to multiple city centre hotels and restaurants, was found to have a driving speed 59% higher than in the afternoon peak, as the routes could be planned more efficiently as they did not have to factor in congestion.

Enjoy the silence

On the noise pollution front, the trial wanted to examine whether deliveries were a nuisance to residents.
Drivers all had to follow special rules to ensure the quietest of night-time deliveries, such as no reversing alarms and no talking on mobile phones outside the vehicles.

“It turned out that the noise people complained about was caused mainly by unloading the truck, not driving,” Pernestål Brenden said.

KTH acoustics researchers created a sound recording system that placed microphones in the front and back of the truck.

The front microphones would record when the truck was getting unloaded, so that neighbourhood background noise could also be taken into account.

This allowed researchers to evaluate the mix of sound from both vehicle and environment and give a true picture of what difference the unloading of the vehicle actually made.

They found trucks unloading within city centre environments were not noticeable to residents, with only those in one quieter, outer suburb experiencing noise disruption.

Though it was a small scale study, KTH said there was a strong indication that scaling up off-peak deliveries could increase efficiency for businesses, reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and make a positive impact on traffic volume during peak hours.

Pernestål Brenden said: “By making small changes, we can improve transport efficiency, reduce congestion, and enable new business models for goods receivers.”


O’Donovan reduces noise impact of skip lorries by 20%

O’Donovan Waste Disposal is deploying noise-dampening skip chain covers across its fleet to enable quieter HGV movements in residential areas.

The London-based operator said the introduction of the new covers – made from woven canvas – has resulted in a 20% decrease in noise levels from its skip lorries.

A regular skip lorry creates, on average, noise levels reaching 85db according to O’Donovan; whereas the same vehicle with chain covers has been recorded at just 65db from two metres away.

O’Donovan delivers and retrieves skips each day as part of its services, and while it says local council restrictions pose significant challenges, aims to ensure deliveries are as unobtrusive as possible.

The skip chain cover initiative was rolled out by O’Donovan as part of its work in TfL’s Retiming Deliveries work group.

MD Jacqueline O’Donovan said: “While it’s vital that we maintain our exceptional customer service levels, respecting the local community remains a priority for us.

“We are conscious that noise levels can disrupt local communities and we believe this is a great solution for all parties,” she added.

Gloria Elliott, CEO, Noise Abatement Society, said: “Skip removal can have one of the noisiest environmental impacts on the community – so it is really heartening to see O’Donovan’s waste company introducing a measure to reduce the loud and intrusive noise of clanging metal skip chains.

The Noise Abatement Society congratulates O’Donovan’s for taking responsible measures to improve the aural environment, a shining example for other waste companies to emulate”.

O’Donovan also recently introduced a new sheeting system to improve driver visibility.



Freight vehicle restrictions proposed in Oxford Street transformation vision

Freight vehicles could be removed or time-restricted from London’s Oxford Street, as plans for a major revamp of one of the world’s busiest shopping destinations take shape.

TfL has opened a consultation this week into proposals to make Oxford Street area more pedestrian-friendly and tackle air quality and safety concerns from over-crowding.

This requires a “significant increase in the amount of space provided for pedestrians and a radical reduction in the amount of traffic using Oxford Street,” according to the consultation.

As an established retail and business hub, TfL said it is “extremely important” that businesses based on Oxford Street can receive deliveries and be serviced efficiently.

“At the same time we recognise the importance of ensuring that local residents are protected from excessive noise, pollution and congestion. Any proposals must ensure that freight and servicing vehicles are able to continue to access the Oxford Street district efficiently,” the consultation added.

At present, Oxford Street is open for freight deliveries at any time, with the majority being made between 22.00 and 10.00. Some businesses on Oxford Street already have arrangements in place to make or take deliveries via nearby side roads or to loading facilities at the rear.

Possible changes

However, if the current status quo is maintained, planners say it would “greatly limit” their ability to transform the area.

They say removing access for freight entirely would increase the scope for transformation; however they acknowledge this may have implications for businesses or traffic flow in neighbouring areas.

Restricting freight vehicles during the day-time is another option, with night-time access either to the full length of Oxford Street or to certain sections of it.

This option would give pedestrians more space, however would require businesses to re-time the receiving of their goods.

“We will continue to work with businesses to find new ways of improving the efficiency of deliveries and servicing, while reducing the impact of these journeys on those visiting, living or working in the Oxford Street district,” the consultation document said.

It added that successful consolidation schemes had already reduced freight and servicing journeys in both Regent Street and Bond Street,

If freight vehicles were banned from Oxford Street, planners would consider the potential for designated crossing points to enable vehicles to head north to south and vice versa.


TfL said air quality in Oxford Street is a “serious and pressing” issue, regularly exceeding legal limits, despite a boost in low-emissions buses and taxis and existing freight consolidation and re-timing work.

Road safety is also a “significant concern”, with around 60 collisions a year on Oxford Street resulting in personal injury.

Options for restricting or rerouting buses, taxis and cyclists are also included in the early proposals.

TfL is keen to hear industry views on the project and the consultation will be open until 18 June.


Last-mile autonomous shuttle goes on trial in urban environment

The UK has taken its latest step in developing autonomous last-mile mobility, with the launch  (5 April) of a driverless shuttle trial in an urban environment.

Gateway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) researchers want to learn how the prototype pod reacts alongside people in a natural environment.

The shuttle will navigate a two-kilometre route around the Greenwich Peninsula, using sensors and autonomy software to detect and avoid obstacles whilst carrying members of the public participating in the study.

It will also explore people’s preconceptions of driverless vehicles and barriers to acceptance through detailed interviews with participants before and after they ride in the shuttle.

Following this passenger-focused trial, the project will explore the potential for driverless pods to carry last-mile urban deliveries.

The Gateway Project is a research programme led by Transport Research Labortatory (TRL) and funded by government and industry. It aims to demonstrate the use of automated vehicles for last-mile mobility, seamlessly connecting existing transport hubs with residential and commercial areas using a zero-emission, low-noise transport system.

Research findings from the project will guide the wider roll out of automated vehicle technology in all forms of surface transport, including cars, lorries and buses.

The prototype shuttle, dubbed ‘Harry’, uses an autonomy software system called Selenium, which enables real-time, robust navigation, planning and perception in dynamic environments.

Whilst the vehicle is designed to operate without a human driver, a safety steward will remain onboard at all times, complying with the UK’s code of practice on automated vehicle testing.

TRL academy director Nick Reed said: “This research is another milestone in the UK’s journey towards driverless vehicles and a vital step towards delivering safer, cleaner and more effective transport in our cities.”