New van market declines -5.9% in July

06 August 2018

  • New light commercial vehicle market declines -5.9% July with 23,309 vans and pick-ups registered.
  • Double-digit growth in pick-up popularity, with demand up 13.9%, as all other segments decline.
  • Year-to-date demand down -2.7% compared with 2017, but market remains strong.

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The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market declined -5.9% in July, with 23,309 vans and pick-ups registered, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

While pick-ups enjoyed a particularly popular month, with a 13.9% uplift in registrations, demand for small, medium and large vans fell by -2.8%, -28.0% and -3.8% respectively. Year-to-date registrations are down -2.7%, with 204,005 new LCVs joining British roads since January, a result of fluctuating fleet buying cycles coupled with ongoing low business confidence.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

While variations in buying cycles are a natural feature of the light commercials sector and demand is still at high levels, the overall trend is one of decline. Ongoing uncertainty and low business confidence are undoubtedly having an effect; therefore government must address these concerns and create the conditions necessary for the market to prosper.

Stagecoach to trial driverless bus

07 August 2018

Multi-regional operator Stagecoach is set to become the first travel operator in the UK to trial self-driving buses.

The firm is to produce a single decker which is capable of operating without someone behind the wheel, in partnership with bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited and tech company Fusion Processing.

Sam Greer, bus engineering director for Stagecoach UK, said: “Stagecoach has long been at the heart of innovation within the bus industry and this is an exciting trial that will deliver the UK’s first fully autonomous single deck bus.

“We look forward to working with our partners on this project which we believe could, in time, help improve safety and efficiency within our depots, and over the longer term, help transform bus travel in the future.”

The bus will be used in driverless format inside the company’s depots initially, as current legislation will prevent it from being used on the road. However, it will be used for manoeuvres such as parking, refuelling and washing to demonstrate the capability of the technology.

Stagecoach said sensors in place to enable driverless journeys will also help improve safety when a driver is behind the wheel, by warning of cyclists or pedestrians in blind spots or anyone or anything that is unexpectedly close to the bus.

The system uses several sensors – including radar, laser, camera and ultrasound – along with satellite navigation to detect and avoid objects and plan routes.

Ocado takes delivery of hydrogen-hybrid Sprinter

07 August 2018

A leading online supermarket has taken delivery of its first hydrogen-powered van, courtesy of hydrogen technology company ULEMCo.

The hydrogen-fuelled Mercedes Sprinter is fitted with a hybrid system that allows it to run on diesel as well, and will go into service with fresh produce home delivery company Ocado.

It is operating from Ocado’s West Drayton site and will refuel at public hydrogen refilling stations.

ULEMCo says the Sprinter conversion should give the retailer a tailpipe CO2 saving of around 40% versus their standard vans, while also meeting the latest air quality requirements

“Deployment of this first dual-fuel van represents an important step in developing our plans for cleaner, more efficient fleet operation,” says Graham Thomas, fleet services manager at Ocado.

“We’re particularly interested in ways to ensure we guarantee customer service and achieve the vehicle use levels we currently experience with our conventional vans. Hydrogen dual-fuel looks like an option that can deliver both, and we’re excited to see how it performs in our world.”

Feature: How Leyland Trucks is helping to address the UK’s skills shortage

07 August 2018

Britain’s biggest truck maker is marking the first anniversary for employees who completed an innovative programme it developed to harness and develop skills of workers below the age of 30 – a move that it sees as critical to address a skills shortage in UK manufacturing.

The Leyland Trucks Employee Career Pathway (ECP) scheme was first introduced at the company’s manufacturing facility in Leyland, Lancashire, in 2015, offering employees full-time training across a broad range of roles, to improve their skills and widen their career options. The plant is home to the DAF LF, CF and XF models and is one of the most productive truck plants in Europe, manufacturing around 18,000 trucks per year.

The scheme initially focussed on engineering but is now expanding to provide opportunities in other business areas.

Over two years, the scheme allows employees to dedicate 100% of their time to learning, leaving their current role, and embarking on structured rotations in assembly engineering, supplier quality assurance and design engineering. In addition, participants are encouraged to complete further education in engineering related courses, to expand the applied learning gained on each rotation.

The first employees to complete the scheme (in July 2017) are now one year into their new roles, and are keen to promote the opportunities the scheme has presented.

Josh Little, 30, from Preston, started work at Leyland Trucks as an apprentice 11 years ago, and is now a Commodity Manager in purchasing. He said, “My background was electrical engineering, and I had worked on different production and manufacturing engineering functions. I saw the ECP route as a way to progress these skills further, but I didn’t realise just how much I would learn.

“The scheme exposes you to departments you wouldn’t usually see, for example manufacturing wouldn’t have day to day contact with the supply base, where I now work. It has certainly broadened my exposure to the wider company and without a doubt helped me progress and better achieve in my new role.”

Sean Winstanley, 27, from Chorley has also just completed his first year as a Design Engineer after completing the ECP, designing chassis and suspension systems. Sean stared work at Leyland eight years ago as a prototype fabrication apprentice, spending four years as an apprentice and one year as full fabricator. He said, “I am quite an academic person, and knew that engineering was what I wanted to do. I met suppliers during my Supply Quality Assurance rotation, and gained a much deeper understanding of their processes, which helps the design process.”

The ECP encourages participants to look to further education, with day release for university an option. Josh is about to start his final year of a Mechanical and Production Engineering degree at Lancaster University, and Sean is completing his final year of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Central Lancashire. Josh said, “The ECP made me re-evaluate my role and think about what I could do as my career develops. If friends and family ask me what the company is like, I always mention the ECP and the opportunities it has given me.”

Leyland Trucks created the programme in 2015 to make sure the talent fostered in its apprentice scheme was fully nurtured, and to give its locally-based workforce additional opportunities to further their professional education. Now in its fourth year, there are currently five employees on rotation in engineering, with a new Finance Career Pathway set up in 2017, on the strength of the engineering route.

HR Director, Ivan Shearer at Leyland Trucks said: “The scheme aims to build upon base knowledge and supplement with learned experience in other technical departments. It helps the business develop the skills and knowledge required for the future.

“Taking people out of their current roles and putting them into full-time training represents a significant investment for us, but we are fortunate to have a bank of talented and committed people employed at Leyland.”

The company is also looking at the next generation of ECP candidates, with an intake of 43 apprentices joining the company in 2018, many of whom will be working outside of the manufacturing environment seen as traditional for apprenticeships.

“The apprenticeship programme has always been an important element of Leyland’s employment and retention strategy,” added Shearer. “While apprentices continue to be offered opportunities within our assembly areas, roles have now been expanded to include placements in the business, design engineering, fabrication, IT and maintenance departments.”

Apprenticeships at Leyland offer a mixture of on-the-job training in conjunction with formal learning via partner colleges. On joining the company, every apprentice is given a structured plan for their development which includes a clear and logical sequence of rotations between departments as they move from one learning area to the next.

For 21 year-old first-year apprentice Ian Aspinwall, the chance to complete an apprenticeship helped answer his desire to further the skills learnt at A-Level while earning a living. Ian, an automotive engineering apprentice, lives in Southport, Merseyside, commuting to the Leyland site. He said: “I did work experience here during High School, and then after doing my A-Levels I realised Uni wasn’t for me, so decided to apply.

“I am really enjoying it, we rotate across the whole manufacturing facility, so we understand exactly how the process works and I’m finding I am far more engaged in the college work, as I can see its use in the workplace.

Ian added: “A lot of apprenticeship programmes don’t offer the chance of a long-term job or career plan, but that isn’t the case at Leyland, and this is something which really appealed to me.”

Fellow apprentice Eloise Howard, 19, joined the Leyland Trucks Business apprentice programme in its parts division and is now in her second year. Eloise, who completed A-Levels in Business, History and Biology, said: “I did apply for university but felt it would just set me back, whereas an apprenticeship would help me work my way up and give me a clear path.”

Eloise completed her two-year level 4 Business Administration qualification in just over one year, and has worked in the customer service, technical service and materials departments. She is currently working towards a Chartered Manager Degree apprenticeship, part time, while working. Eloise added: “I have had so many opportunities to understand different parts of the business, and to build my knowledge and skills, I always tell people it is the best decision I ever made.”

SOE names new Chief Executive

07 August 2018

The Society of Operations Engineers (SOE), a partner company in the CV Show, has named Bruce McGill as its new chief executive officer.

McGill, who will assume the role on 3 September, succeeds Nick Jones, interim CEO for the last eight months, having been CEO in a previous spell with SOE from 2007 to 2013.

Jones said: “Bruce is the right leader at the right time for SOE. It was a great honour to be brought back to SOE and work with some fantastically talented employees and a committed Trustee Board. Under Bruce’s leadership, I fully expect this team to flourish, and continue to make significant progress in our professional sectors and the wider engineering community.

McGill most recently served as director of membership at Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and was head of marketing at Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) for almost nine years.

He said: “I am delighted to be joining the team at the SOE and helping to build on the firm foundations that have already been established by the board, volunteers and staff.

“The opportunity ahead for SOE is huge, but to take it, we must focus our efforts and continue to change to meet the needs of our members. SOE is an organisation that has a positive and meaningful impact on the careers of engineers, and I believe that there is great potential to extend and develop that value even further.”

SOE works to advance operations engineering for the benefit of everyone through education, training, study and research. Through its Professional Sectors of IRTE, IPlantE and BES, it directly influences the road transport, plant and engineer surveying sectors, developing best practice and improving compliance across the board.

Dearman launches new emissions-free nosemount unit

07 August 2018

An innovative British-developed refrigeration system is now being offered in a new format in order to try and penetrate markets outside the UK.

The Dearman Hubbard zero emission transport refrigeration unit, which uses liquid nitrogen as a power source rather than diesel, has been introduced in ‘nosemount’ format, which can be fitted to the front of a trailer rather than underslung, which is how the current Dearman refrigeration unit is fitted.

Until now, the Dearman liquid-nitrogen-powered engine has been fitted underneath the trailer on one side with the liquid nitrogen tank fitted on the other. The nosemount option allows a slimmer fit of the engine and closer integration with the refrigeration system, which is the layout most favoured by fresh produce hauliers in the USA

Like the undermount unit, the Dearman Hubbard Nosemount enables trailers to be configured as single or dual-temperature. The zero emission system runs quietly, and operating at less than 60 dB, meaning it is complaint with most urban noise limit regulations.

The enhanced range will be available to fleet operators in both Europe and North America, regions being where the company has recently appointed new Vice-Presidents to lead its sales operations.

The liquid nitrogen refrigeration unit eliminates nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions, and has so far been taken up by Sainsbury’s, Unilever and Marks & Spencer.

Coachbuilder appoints new Overseas Manager

07 August 2018

A Lancashire-based bodybuilder has made a key appointment to help develop its business overseas.

Mellor Coachcraft, which has its HQ in Rochdale, has appointed Tom Morrison as its new Overseas Sales Manager as part of the company’s international expansion plans.

Morrison brings more than 22 years’ bus industry and international experience to Mellor, which includes six years with Alexander Dennis (ADL) where he was senior product manager covering a wide range of countries and regions, including Switzerland, Mexico, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as the UK. He also ran his own business for five years which involved the sourcing of a wide range of components from overseas for the bus industry.

Commenting on his appointment, Morrison said: “It’s great to be joining Mellor at this exciting time for the company. My role is to grow the international sales business and support the distributors, while seeking opportunities with other overseas markets such as Malaysia, Singapore and Canada.

“Mellor offers a particularly exciting and different range of products to the market and the opportunities around the globe for the company are virtually limitless. I’m really looking forward to playing my part in taking Mellor’s international business to the next level.”

John Randerson, Managing Director for Mellor, added: “We’re delighted to have Tom on board as his combined experience of the bus industry and selling into international markets is invaluable to our business as we enter the next phase of our overseas activity.”

Tom will be attending this year’s IAA Exhibition in Hannover 20 – 27 September 2018 and he added: “I will be on stand FG M95 with our German distributors E-VADE and am looking forward to meeting up with existing and new overseas customers alike at the show.”

In 2017 Mellor established a European distributor network throughout Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and the Benelux countries.

DAF donates truck for Transaid

07 August 2018

The UK’s biggest truck manufacturer is donating a 6×2 rigid truck to members of the Transport Association to raise funds for the global transport charity, Transaid.

There are 60 haulage firms in the Transport Association, any of which is allowed to use the Transaid-liveried DAF in exchange for a contribution to the industry charity.

The Don-Bur bodied curtainsider has been liveried to promote Transaid’s work in developing countries, and is also a good way of getting DAF’s new three-axle rear-steer rigid in front of potential customers.

“This is an innovative approach to raising funds,” said Robin Easton, Managing Director at DAF Trucks, “and we hope the flexibility of the three-axle rear-steer New CF will maximise appeal to the widest range of operators, thus boosting donations.”

This is the second time DAF has used the donations-for-lease approach – a similar initiative in 2014 helped the truck maker raise £17,500 for UK charity Helen & Douglas House.

UK commercial vehicle production rises in June, as exports drive demand

31 July 2018

  • British commercial vehicle manufacturing rises 6.1% in June, with 7,769 units built.
  • Production in first six months declines -5.3% to 41,452 units.
  • Exports remain stable in first half, with nearly 70% of production destined for overseas markets.

British CV manufacturing grew 6.1% in June, with 7,769 vehicles leaving production lines, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Production for the UK rose by a moderate 3.1%, equivalent to some 91 units, alongside a more substantial 8.1% boost in export demand, with 4,713 vehicles shipped to overseas markets in the month.

In the first six months, however, output remained -5.3% behind performance for the same period in 2017. The decline was largely driven by slower UK demand, down -14.9%, as fluctuating fleet buying cycles and business uncertainty affected the market. Meanwhile, exports remained stable, up 0.2% in the year to date, to 27,873 units. Almost seven out of every 10 vans, trucks, taxis and buses built in the UK in the first half of 2018 were exported – with some 95% of those going to the EU.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

These latest results once again demonstrate the importance of exports to commercial vehicle manufacturing in the UK. Overseas demand for the high-tech, ultra low and, increasingly, zero emission vehicles we produce has been the major driver of production so far this year, and with the vast majority of exports destined for the EU, maintaining free and frictionless trade is vital for the continued success of the sector.

New President for DAF Trucks

01 August 2018

The President of truck maker, DAF, is to be replaced by the company’s European Sales Director from September 1.

Peston Feight is moving back to the USA, where he will assume a new role as Executive Vice President of DAF’s parent firm, PACCAR, which also own the American brands Kenworth and Mack Trucks.

Preston Feight has been with PACCAR for 20 years, with his most recent assignment as PACCAR Vice President and President DAF Trucks. In this new role he will have responsibility for DAF Trucks and PACCAR Parts at PACCAR’s corporate office in Seattle. Preston has held positions as Director Product Planning, Chief Engineer, Assistant General Manager Sales and Marketing, and was promoted to General Manager of Kenworth Trucks in 2015. He also served chairman of the Commercial Vehicle Board of ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

Feight will be replaced in his DAF role by the company’s European Sales Director, Harry Wolters, a 22-year veteran at the company, having previously worked as Truck Assembly Contorller, Logistics Innovations Manager, Logistics Operations Manager, Manager of the Eindhoven Truck Assembly Plant, Human Resources Director and Operations Director.