New PM promises bus improvements

07 August 2019

The new Prime Minister has promised to transform local bus services as ‘a matter of urgency’.

Boris Johnson said he would use provisions in the Bus Services Act 2017 to bring about change and drive improvements.

Giving a speech at Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, he said the £3.6bn Towns’ Fund could be accessed to fund ‘London-style bus systems’ in other metropolitan areas.

“I will begin, as a matter of urgency, the transformation of local bus services starting in Manchester,” the Prime Minister said.

“I will work with the Mayor on his plans to deliver a London-style bus system in the area under the powers which we gave him under the Bus Services Act 2017.

“These service changes will include: higher frequency with low and zero-emission buses and more bus priority corridors and networks that ‘are easier to understand and use.”

He added, “I want local partnerships between the private sector that operate them and a public body that coordinates them. In London, where we have all those things, passenger journeys have risen by 97% in 25 years. In other metropolitan areas, where they don’t, ridership has fallen by 34% over the same period.

“You can see first results here in Manchester within a few months, and I want the same for any other part of the country where local leaders want to do it.”

FEATURE: UK start-up launches new last-mile solution

08 August 2019

The global clamour to address the demands of a shifting logistics landscape while reducing emissions and urban congestion has been seen far and wide. The phenomenon has however inspired the creation of dozens of original and exciting last-mile delivery concepts.

One such solution, the eBike – a cross between a van and a bicycle – is increasingly being seen as part of the future fleet mix and is already being trialled by a number of distribution companies. Electric Assisted Vehicles, an Oxfordshire-based start-up behind the idea, is convinced that the secret to lies in starting the design process by taking a van and introducing elements of bike, rather than the other way around.

In this way, fleets enjoy all the benefits of pedal power – silent emission-free, fuel- short distances distribution – without losing all the features they’ve come to know and expect from the traditional van.

This unique approach to R&D has led to the company’s EAVan that launched to an enthusiastic audience at the Oxford EV Summit recently.

Adam Barmby, Technical Director and Founder of EAV, explained the company’s thinking.

“We wanted the EAVan to be as usable as possible by anyone”, he said.

“Getting people out of vans and onto eCargo bikes isn’t easy if they think it’s going to be an awful experience. Being exposed to the elements or being low to surrounding traffic isn’t going to appeal to anyone.

“So, we started with the idea of the outer body of a light commercial van and we added the electric pedal-assist propulsion system.”

He added, “We’ve used all the electric assistance which the regulations permit including a thumb throttle, which we call an ‘e-nertia’ switch, which accelerates the EAVan up to about 3mph. After that, simply turning the pedals provides enough power to move up to 120kgs of payload in the cargo area up to a maximum assisted speed of 25kmh.

“The amount of assistance can be adjusted, and we have our own gearbox so using the EAVan is very easy indeed. We regenerate power into the batteries under braking and free-wheeling to maximise the efficiency of the EAVan which has a range of up to 60 miles or further if you piggyback more batteries.”

“It’s simple, yet elegant and really enjoyable to use. And infrastructure is not an issue. We use a standard household plug to charge our interchangeable batteries so the EAVan is an immediate solution and incredibly cost effective.”

EAVan is built on a unique ‘Cloudframe’ chassis design, which allows it to be fully modular and flexible and makes it suitable for an extremely wide range of uses.

“We travel much slower than we think, especially in towns and cities,” commented Nigel Gordon- Stewart, Chairman and Executive Director of EAV. “There’s no impact on business efficiency using EAVans. They’re highly efficient so it’s mainly a culture change that’s needed and EAVans and EAVehicles are really fun to use and a much healthier solution for people as a whole.”

Unipart plays it cool with new trailers

07 August 2019

Unipart Logistics has introduced a new fleet of temperature managed trailers as part of its logistics contract with NHS Supply Chain.

The new fleet enhances temperature-controlled collection services from NHS Supply Chain suppliers nationwide, as well as onward delivery to NHS Supply Chain distribution centres.

The trailers support a 200-strong final-mile fleet delivering to NHS trusts in temperature managed conditions in line with the requirements of the EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR).

The new fleet comprises 25 Gray & Adams Temperature Controlled box trailers supplied by Close Brothers Vehicle Hire and including 26 pallet configuration with extended internal height, Thermo King refrigeration units and live temperature tracking.

Trailer temperatures will be recorded and monitored via live tracking from the Unipart Logistics transport consolidation centre, based at Unipart’s Coventry site.

Frank Burns, Managing Director at Unipart Logistics said, “The new trailer fleet is an important investment in our distribution network supporting the NHS Supply Chain, enabling us to monitor temperatures in transit and maintain our absolute commitment to quality and performance.”

ASCO adds Range Ts to Renault dominated fleet

07 August 2019

Leading logistics and materials management provider, ASCO Group, has added 15 new Renault Trucks to its 60-strong fleet.

The Range T 460 6×2 models will be used to provide waste, fuels and cargo transportation for the gas and oil industry.

Supplied by Renault Trucks Scotland on a five-year operating lease deal, the new Range Ts are fitted with many features to enhance the driver experience including ultimate leather steering wheel with cruise and telephone control, air-suspended driver’s heated seat with adjustable lumbar support, one-touch electric windows, comfort air conditioning, remote control for all comfort functions in the bunk area and two loudspeakers and two tweeters.

Working out of ASCO’s Peterhead bases, the new Range Ts will be travelling as far as Montrose and Edzell to the south, and Peterhead to the north, as well as reaching Scrabster and Invergordon during periods of bad weather offshore. The waste vehicles in the north run as far as the North West of England and the Range T stationed in Great Yarmouth covers the South of England.

Paul Davidson, ​Transport Operations Manager, ASCO UK said, “The trucks look very professional on the road, enhancing the drivers’ satisfaction in the job they do. Their feedback has been very positive with style, comfort, and a smooth driving experience mentioned regularly. They hold the road well and our drivers are proud to drive them.”

As well as looking good on the outside, the Range Ts are fitted with some of the latest technology including sensored braking, lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control as well as Renault Trucks’ acclaimed Optidriver gearbox with automated clutch and steering wheel mounted gear selector.

Centrica joins with Ford as Blue Oval accelerates electrification

07 August 2019

Ford and Centrica are joining forces to offer new electric vehicle services in the UK and Ireland.

The planned partnership comes as Ford accelerates its electrified vehicle plans in Europe.

Under the partnership, Centrica will deliver a dedicated home charging installation service and electrified vehicle tariffs from British Gas and Bord Gáis Energy that will allow Ford customers to benefit from lower energy prices for overnight charging.

Centrica will also make its installation service available to support Ford’s dealership networks across the two markets.

“Ford is committed to delivering one of the most comprehensive line-ups of electrified vehicles for our customers, powered through the Ford home charger Wall Boxes,” said Andy Barratt, Managing Director, Ford of Britain.

“With their scale, experience and access to the electric grid, our partnership with Centrica will enable us to offer a one-stop shop for our customers as they transition to an electrified vehicle, including exciting new vehicle options, wall box, installation service and electricity tariff.”

Peloton unveils system that could double driver productivity

07 August 2019

US-based connected and automated vehicle technology company, Peloton Technology, has unveiled a new automated following system that would effectively allow a single human driver to control two trucks at once.

Peloton’s Automated Following is an advanced platooning system, using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology to enable a single driver to drive a pair of vehicles.

Launching the system at the Automated Vehicle Symposium 2019 in Orlando, Peloton Technology CEO, Josh Switkes, said, “We’ve taken a different approach to the commercial introduction of automation in class 8 vehicles.

“We see the drivers as the world’s best sensors, and we are leveraging this to enable today’s drivers to be more productive through automated following platoons.”

Platooning and Automated Following systems work by utilizing V2V communications and radar-based active braking systems, combined with vehicle control algorithms. Peloton’s proprietary technologies link pairs of heavy trucks for connected driving that improves aerodynamics, fuel economy, and safety.

Peloton’s Level 1 (Driver Assistive) system, PlatoonPro, has a driver in both the lead and follow trucks. The driver in the follow truck steers, but the system controls the powertrain and brakes to manage the following distance very precisely and to provide immediate reaction to whatever acceleration or braking the lead truck performs.

PlatoonPro has now operated with six customers and additional customer fleet trials are underway. In each case, the customer and Peloton have seen a perfect safety record. Customer trucks have shown fuel savings averaging over 7%, and have seen very high percentages of miles platooned, as high as 90%. Platooned miles per day have exceeded 700 miles per truck in some cases, resulting in projected fuel savings per truck up to $7,000-10,000 per year, according to Peloton.

UK commercial vehicle production more than halves in June

31 July 2019

  • British commercial vehicle manufacturing declined by more than half in June, as model changeovers continue to affect output.
  • Production for home market falls -44.7%, while exports decline -65.4%.
  • Half-year manufacturing down -15.8%, with 35,345 units produced – but output is expected to recover in second half of year.

UK commercial vehicle (CV) production fell by -57.2% in June, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Manufacturing for both home and overseas markets experienced declines in the month, falling -44.7% and -65.4% respectively. 3,345 vans, trucks and buses left production lines last month, as key model changeovers continued to impact output.

In the first six months, output fell -15.8% on the same period in 2018. The overall fall was driven by three months of significant decline following a strong start to the year. Home production increased by 11.1%, while exports fell -29.2%, with 19,735 units shipped abroad in the first half of the year. However, exports still account for more than half of all UK CV manufacturing, with the majority destined for the EU.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Although model changes and fluctuating fleet buying cycles are behind the recent decline, these half-year results once again demonstrate the importance of exports to UK commercial vehicle production. Exports to the EU account for a substantial part of CV output, therefore a Brexit deal that maintains frictionless trade and secures our competitiveness will be key to the future viability of this valuable UK sector.

Van honour goes to top trio

31 July 2019

Three vans have jointly won the Van of the Year title at the inaugural Company Van Today awards.

The Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo Cargo – all near-identical thanks to joint ownership by the PSA Group – also shared the Light Van of the Year category.

Meanwhile, the Medium Van of the Year honour went to Ford’s Transit Custom and the Large Van award to the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

The Volkswagen Amarok was awarded the Pick-up of the Year title, while Renault’s electric vehicle range saw it take the Green Award.

Moving away from the product, the Freight Transport Association’s mental health CALM initiative was the recipient of the CVT Innovation Award.

Company Van Today editor, Tom Webster, said, “The new Berlingo, Partner and Combo Cargo have moved things along in the light van segment, offering previously unseen levels of quality, innovation and technology as well as a good driving experience, efficient engines and good cabin quality.

“It’s great to see the quality now available to light commercial vehicle operators across all sectors, and we’re delighted to be able to highlight the best in the industry to help businesses make good choices.”

VW Commercials launches new online buying portal

31 July 2019

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Financial Services UK (VWFS) have launched a new digital platform that allows customers to lease vans on contract hire from the comfort of their home or office.

The move capitalises on the growing transition from ‘bricks to clicks’ with 80% of new vehicle customers now beginning their shopping process online.

Users will now be able to search for vehicles and configure quotes based on the desired term, mileage, deposit and maintenance package, without ever setting foot in a VW dealership.

Contract Hire Direct lets customers pick their desired model and calculate a suitable finance quote online for stock vehicles. They can then speak to a member of the Contract Hire team to place an order. Once finance is approved, the customer can select a Van Centre for collection or arrange delivery direct to their door.

Sarah Cox, head of marketing for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said, “The typical customer journey has changed and we are excited to be launching this new system via our award-winning website to keep up with the demand.

“As part of our ‘Working With You’ promise, we’re committed to evolving our services to meet the ever-changing needs and requirements of the modern-day business, and we would expect to see more direct sales options coming on line in future.”

FEATURE: Five minutes with Andrew Brown, Doncaster Sales Director, Gray and Adams

31 July 2019

Tell us a bit about Gray & Adams and your role with the company?

Gray & Adams is the UK’s leading manufacture of temperature-controlled bodywork. We have been in business for over 60 years and employ over 750 people on four manufacturing sites in the UK and turnover around £150M per year.

As Doncaster Sales Director, I have worked for the business for 30 years and manage the sales team at Doncaster as well as overseeing group sales meetings and marketing strategy. The G&A sales process is highly consultative and technical, helping our customers develop new delivery and storage concepts for their fleet.

What do you see as the big challenges for the trailer sector in the coming years?

UK Food retail is one of the most intensely competitive markets in the world and recently, we have seen their logistical and environmental challenges intensify.

Changes in lifestyle mean that many of us have stopped using the large out of town superstores that were a staple of food retail 10 years ago. Time and traffic pressures, particularly in cities, have led to a boom in home delivery and convenience store retailing.

Each of these growing services involves delivering large volumes of food into urban environments, where congestion and pollution become key factors.

The urban semitrailer and double deck trailer have become key models in this sector and the challenges are to make them as efficient, manoeuvrable and urban safe as possible, as well as developing electrical and hybrid fridge units to reduce emissions, noise and help to keep pedestrians and cyclists as safe as possible.

Similarly, with the rise of Deliveroo and Just Eat, the food service sector is set to maximise growth. The current size of the UK takeaway market is estimated at £10.6 billion and it is due to rise to £11.2 billion by 2021. This will mean similar pressures for this sector as its vehicles look to gain increasing access to cities across the UK.

And what do you see as the big opportunities for the sector?

The opportunities for this sector are massive. More and more products are coming under the temperature-controlled sector (such as pharmaceuticals) and with strict temperature regimes, companies are looking to reduce transport costs significantly.

This gives us a great deal of opportunity in the double deck trunking market, for instance.

Gray & Adams has more than 3,000 moving deck semi-trailers operating in the UK, both refrigerated and dry freight. They offer operators the ability to carry 44 pallets of goods (as opposed to 26) with the same driver and tractor unit, slashing customer costs and massively reducing CO2 emissions and their carbon footprint.

We are also looking forward to the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) normalising the 15.6m trailer length in the UK after a very long and successful trial.

What about Gray & Adams specifically. Anything exciting to tell us about?

Our very latest concept recently won the innovation award at the TCS&D Awards.

The design fully automates the loading process, which despite having been used in manufacturing for many years, is a new concept for the food industry.

With the advance of artificial intelligence and the uncertainties of Brexit, we already face a major shortage of warehouse staff in the industry. Also, the hostile environment of a cold store is not appealing to everyone.

We have helped to design an automated loading pod that holds 60 pallets at -22 degrees C, coupled with a 44-pallet double deck trailer that can be loaded in under 7 minutes, automatically. This not only ensures cold chain integrity, but also ensures a fully automated system from factory to store.

We are also trialling some zero emissions refrigeration units with several major retailers. We’re excited to see what comes next and look forward to keeping innovation, sustainability and quality at the forefront of our service.