Ford uses Virtual Reality to get LGV drivers on their bikes

27 November 2018

Ford Motor Company’s Transport Operations team, which is responsible for the movement of vehicles and parts, has partnered with the London Cycling campaign to bring to life a Virtual Reality experience that allows truck drivers and cyclists to swap places.

The company’s ‘WheelSwap’ VR experience is part of Ford’s ‘Share The Road’ campaign and allows drivers to experience a journey from a cyclist’s perspective, and vice versa.

Nationally, 16 percent of cyclist road deaths involve Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs). While 75 percent of LGV mileage is on non-built up roads, over the past three years trucks have been involved in 70 percent of cyclist fatalities in London, despite making up only four percent of the capital’s road miles.

Tom Bogdanowicz, Senior Policy and Development Officer at the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), swapped perspectives with three drivers and driver trainers from the Ford Transport Operations team. In the LGV, the conversation focused on the vision of the driver – and situations where a cyclist is and is not visible to the driver, keeping the appropriate two-metre distance when passing a cyclist and ensuring LGV drivers do not enter ‘bike boxes’.

When cycling, the focus turned to road position, and understanding why cyclists may be riding centrally in the road to avoid potholes or car doors, particularly on narrow streets.

“Having a change of perspectives was certainly insightful “said Andrew Main, driver trainer at Ford Transport Operations team and DVSA instructor. “A greater understanding of the reasons behind cyclists’ actions is very helpful for an LGV driver as we decide on how to approach certain situations.”

Ford and its Transport Operations team will be taking these messages into local schools during Road Safety Week with the WheelSwap VR experience and a static LGV activity.

“Empathising with and understanding the actions of other road users is extremely important to increase road safety,” said John Oldham, European Ford Transport Operations Manager. “The WheelSwap activity certainly helps to achieve that and I think we’ve taken positive lessons away from it.”

Volvo Trucks appoints new Managing Director

27 November 2018

Robert Grozdanovski has been appointed Managing Director of Volvo Trucks UK and Ireland, following the promotion of Arne Knaben to the role of the company’s Vice President for the Middle East, East and North Africa.

Currently, Robert holds the position of Vice President of Volvo Group Trucks Central East Europe and will take up his new position in the UK on January 1st2019, where he will be based at Volvo Group UK and Ireland’s headquarters in Warwick.

Commenting on the move, Roger Alm, Senior Vice President of Volvo Trucks Europe, said: “With his leadership and business drive, and the ability to develop strong customer relationships and teamwork, Robert Grozdanovski will be great in the role of leading our operations in UK and Ireland. His understanding of the business and experience from retail operations, together with an extensive network at the Sweden headquarters, will be further assets when Volvo Trucks takes the next step in developing the UK market.”

Robert was born in Gothenburg, Sweden and graduated from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg with Master of Science degree in Engineering. He began his Volvo career in 1997 with Volvo Bus, but has since held various positions in senior management roles within the Central and Eastern European region of Volvo Trucks.

Robert said: “I look very much forward to the move and to start working together with my new colleagues, dealers and customers in both the UK and Ireland. I can see the solid development of Volvo Trucks’ position in both countries under Arne Knaben’s leadership and I’m eager to learn and continue developing our presence and support in both markets to make our customers in [the] UK and Ireland even more successful in the future.”

Creed Foodservice opts for engineless cooling systems

27 November 2018

Gloucestershire-based Creed Foodservice, which also has distribution depots in Derbyshire and Buckinghamshire, has ordered its first Carrier Transicold ICELAND TWINCOOL engineless refrigeration systems for 12 new DAF LF rigid trucks.

The company chose the ICELAND undermount units because of their ability to run on power derived from the truck’s Euro VI diesel engine via Carrier Transicold’s ECO-DRIVE power module, which uses a hydraulic pump connected to the truck engine’s power take-off. The variable displacement pump drives a generator, which delivers electrical power to the unit and provides 100 per cent refrigeration capacity even at standard idle speed.

“These new trucks help to future-proof our fleet and ensure we are using the latest transport refrigeration technology with a much smaller environmental footprint,” said Richard Frost, operations controller, Creed Foodservice. “When we took into account the benefits of Carrier’s multi-temp, engineless solution, it became clear that this system was perfectly suited to our fleet requirements. The results so far have been fantastic; moving forward I expect we’ll be looking to roll out the same Carrier Transicold systems to any new vehicle in our fleet.”

The new vehicles will be on the road six days a week and will cover an average of 50,000 miles a year, delivering chilled and frozen produce on multi-drop routes.

Export Award success for Optare

27 November 2018

Optare has won an award for the success of its export operations in the York Press Business Awards, which celebrate the achievements of Yorkshire-based businesses.

The award follows the delivery of 114 Metrocity buses to Tranzit Group in New Zealand in a deal worth £21m and an order for 94 Solo buses to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority in a deal valued at £18m.

Richard Butler, Chief Executive of Optare, which has its headquarters in Sherburn-in-Elmet, said: “I am delighted that Optare has been recognised for its export success. Having a strong export component to the business in 2018 has helped to mitigate UK market challenges and provide opportunities to grow the business. We continue to build on our export success in Australasia and the Middle East and explore other regions where our lightweight buses provide a unique and commercially attractive offering to government agencies and established operators.”

Further awards recognition for Optare this year included the Metrodecker EV winning the CILT (Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics) award for contribution to environment; the UK Bus Awards Silver Environment award; and reaching the finals of the technology category for the UK transport awards in October.

Škoda factory develops drone to manage container transport

20 November 2018

Car manufacturer Škoda is trialling a system that it believes could revolutionise truck deliveries to and from its main production facility in Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic.

The Volkswagen-owned brand is using robotic drones to count the number of containers at the plant and determine which ones are empty and ready for collection by the factory’s suppliers.

The drones, manufactured by Czech robotics company Robodrone, use LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to accurately identify which containers are empty and automatically count them, feeding data back to the plant’s logistics team, who can then arrange for the exact number of trucks to be brought in to collect the containers, making the operation much easier to plan and more efficient.

The drone can fly up to 20 km/h (13mph) and has the ability to carry a load of up to 5kg. A LIDAR sensor captures up to 300,000 images per second and navigates using a 3D map. The drone detects and counts the equipment containers using specially designed algorithms developed for Škoda.

If the technology continues to prove successful following the test phase, which has just completed its first six months on trial, it could then be expanded to be used in the wider logistics industry, including road freight, air and sea ports.

During the next development phase, the drone will get its own ‘nest’ and the battery-powered device will then be able to autonomously navigate to a charging station, meaning it will require no human intervention whatsoever in order to process information.

Mitsubishi reveals revamped L200

20 November 2018

Mitsubishi has pulled the wraps off its new-look L200 pick-up, which goes on sale in the UK next year.

The new L200 gets new front end styling, an enhanced 4WD system that delivers improved off-road performance and new active safety and driver assistance systems, as well as improvements in refinement and ride comfort.

It retains its ladder frame chassis, but has new driver assistance systems including Forward Collision Mitigation, which detects pedestrians and animals as well as traffic ahead. It also gets a blind spot warning system, rear cross traffic alert and a new system called Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System (UMMS), which reduces throttle input from what the ECU detects as improper use of the accelerator when moving off or reversing in car parks and other confined spaces.

Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko said: “The new Mitsubishi L200 is one of our most important global strategic models. Its success will accelerate the momentum of the company’s sustainable growth. The new model brings enhancements to the durability, reliability and comfort developed over the 40 years since the introduction of the series. I am fully confident the new Mitsubishi L200 will meet the diverse needs and wishes of our customers around the world.”

The truck will make its UK debut at the CV Show 2019, which takes place from April 30 to May 2, 2019.

Tiger Trailers appoints new Manufacturing Director

20 November 2018

Tiger Trailers has appointed Richard Else as its new Manufacturing Director ahead of its move to a new
£22 million manufacturing facility in Winsford, Cheshire.

Else has worked in automotive manufacturing for 30 years, with Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren Automotive. He joined Jaguar as a graduate trainee, and was the former manufacturing director at the company’s Castle Bromwich and Halewood production plants, before moving to McLaren Automotive to manage production in its factory.

“We’re genuinely thrilled that Tiger Trailers has been able to attract an exceptional industry professional of the calibre of Richard Else,” said John Cartwright, Joint Managing Director, “he has an extremely impressive CV, and he demonstrates the prerequisite drive and dynamism to take the business to the next level. We’re incredibly excited by the potential of our young business, and especially now that Richard is at the helm of our manufacturing activities.”

“The opportunity to join a such a young, dynamic, family-run business on its exciting journey was simply too good to miss,” said Richard Else, “and, with a genuinely state-of-the-art manufacturing facility almost complete, the prospects for Tiger Trailers fills everyone within the company with real excitement and passion.”

“I was equally drawn by the exceptional individuals here at Tiger Trailers”, he added. “My first remit is to manage the transition to our new manufacturing facility, but, I’m already fully focused on engaging the power of the people to deliver a better, even more efficient production process to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations. I want to help position the business as an internationally recognised example of UK manufacturing at its very best.”

Feature: How scheduling software can assist future electric buses

22 November 2018

Bus timetabling has come a long way in recent times. Indeed, with the exception of London, where heavily congested routes are designed to have buses arriving within seconds of each other at peak periods – it’s a far more exact science than the majority of passengers will ever realise.

Bus operators must now use open data, which allows public access to scheduling information and live vehicle tracking, adding complexity to forecasting and managing timetables.

Reading Buses has been sharing its data since 2009. John Bickerton, Head of Engineering for the operator, explains: “We have long had a commitment to on-board audio and visual next stop announcements and have put information in our customers’ hands with the Reading Buses app, which not only shows when buses are due, but can also show the buses moving in real time on a map of the route.”

By next year, open data should be nationwide, making it much easier for bus users to plan their journeys and avoid long, uncertain waits at bus stops.

“By requiring bus operators to share their data, we can make sure that passengers have the information they need to catch the bus with ease, equipped with the right information about the time and cost,” said Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani MP. “This move will also open up opportunities for innovation within the industry, support local services where demand is falling and help increase bus usage across the country.”

Among those innovations is the rapidly growing use of electric buses in towns and cities across the UK, with public transport being identified as the biggest potential growth area for electrification, where the nature and predictability of a vehicle’s daily route makes EVs far more practical than in freight transportation.

Yet despite their obvious advantages in terms of emissions and air quality, electric buses present problems of their own. Route planning needs to factor in more than just routine maintenance, which on diesel buses is often carried out in service depots overnight to avoid vehicle downtime.

For EVs, operational planning also needs to factor in charging time, route length, battery levels and how the battery is affected by traffic conditions – an electric vehicle’s range is not hard and fast, but will vary according to congestion, speed and ambient temperature, which makes accurate scheduling a considerable issue.

Earlier this year, global public transport-scheduling company Optibus launched the first operational software aimed directly at electric bus fleets and appointed Transport for London’s (TfL) former Head of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels, to help integrate the systems into the UK.

Optibus say the software, named OnSchedule EV, will aid the rapid and efficient deployment of electric buses in major towns and cities across the world, and will assist operators in addressing the challenges of integrating electric buses into their existing fleets.

Cities introducing electric buses into their fleets face significant logistical challenges – including time and frequency of charging and range. For example, a diesel bus takes on average five minutes to refuel and can travel over 135 miles on a single fuel. An electric bus, however, takes approximately three hours to charge and may need to be charged at least twice a day to complete the same distance.

“It’s not as simple as taking a diesel bus off the road and replacing it with a shiny new electric one,” said Amos Haggiag, co-Founder and CEO of Optibus. “Cities want to run more electric buses but are unable to implement them as fast as they would like. Transit operators find themselves ill-equipped to address these new requirements as their existing planning methods are outdated and often manual.”

The software can use live data and artificial intelligence to predict battery life, taking into account the type of battery; external conditions such as the weather and traffic levels; the location of charging stations to work out which routes will benefit most;; and where they can be used operationally without inconveniencing the bus company or – critically – the passenger. This can help bus fleet managers determine which routes are suitable for EVs and which one are best kept as diesel routes, while it also has the capacity to integrate route planning and scheduling for both fuel types.

The appointment of London’s former bus chief to its senior management team is seen as a critical move for the integration of Optibus technology (and electric buses) in the UK.

Leon Daniels was previously TfL’s Head of Surface Transport and, during his seven-year tenure, was responsible for keeping London moving during the 2012 Olympics, and had responsibility for delivering Britain’s most ambitious cycle lane roll-out and the introduction of the capital’s cycle hire scheme.

He said: “I have always been excited about what the future holds for transportation and what the market disrupters will deliver.

“Mainstream public transport faces the increasing demand of delivering faster response times, meeting shorter deadlines, and delivering an economic return on investment. Optibus is giving new capabilities to transport operators that will enable them to become more agile and deliver significant efficiencies.”

During its research phase ahead of launching OnSchedule EV, Optibus studied eight EV bus routes in China, which has the biggest uptake of electric buses in the world, to gather what it calls ‘critical data sets’. The study revealed that EV bus batteries don’t always behave in accordance with manufacturer specifications, adding another layer of complexity to the scheduling problem, requiring the use of historical data about EV and battery performance to prepare accurate schedules.

Upgraded electric bus depot for London

20 November 2018

Bus operator RATP has announced an upgraded electric bus depot in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

The new facility will house 36 new ADL Enviro200 electric buses, which have just gone into service, along with 37 new electric charging points.

Catherine Guillouard, chairwoman and CEO of RATP Group, said: “We have been looking forward to the upgrade of this depot,which very tangibly demonstrates our commitment to clean and sustainable travel. RATP Group’s aim to switch to 100% clean buses reflects our ambition to be an innovative and trusted partner of the city of London in its journey towards being a smarter and more sustainable city.”

Laurence Batlle, CEO of RATP Dev, said: “The electric buses housed at Shepherd’s Bush depot are a major step to realising a public transit system that helps improve our environment, that is demand responsive and that maximises efficiency with new technology.

BYD and ADL worked with power supply company SSE on the infrastructure requirement, which included electricity, data cables and wiring. BYD’s Smart Charging Management System was also fitted: this features an automatic charging system, allowing all buses to be charged overnight with minimal supervision.

Frank Thorpe, BYD UK country manager, said: “This highly complex project at Shepherd’s Bush is one of the best examples so far of infrastructure installation – coupled with the input of our strategic partners such as ADL and SSE – [it] can simplify the task of getting electric bus fleets up and running in a short time.”

Arthur Whiteside, ADL’s managing director for UK sales, added: “With over 215 BYD ADL EnviroEV buses delivered or on order, and well in excess of 1.5 million electric miles clocked up in the UK, it is clear that operators appreciate not only the vehicles we supply, but also the full infrastructure support from route analysis to site surveys which can be delivered.”

Ford awards QVM approval to performance van company

20 November 2018

A company that makes a rally-bred performance version of the UK’s best-selling van has been recognised as an official converter by Ford, and will be allowed to sell its vehicles through the company’s dealer network.

MS-RT’s motorsport-bred Commercial Vehicles are hand-finished in Pontypool, South Wales, with modifications including a full front bumper and grille replacement with integrated factory fog lamps, wide body arch extensions, sills, rear diffuser and rear spoiler, along with nappa leather and suede seat facings and a rally-style steering wheel with carbon fibre inlays.

The Qualified Vehicle Modifier branding (QVM) is presented to companies that meet strict standards in manufacture and quality control, and are assessed regularly to ensure that their workmanship matches the attributes expected by Ford itself. They must also prove that their vehicles have followed Ford’s Body and Equipment Mounting Manual (BEMM), follow quality control processes and offer a warranty for the conversion that matches Ford’s own warranty terms.

MS-RT Founder and Director, Ed Davies, said: “Being awarded QVM status by Ford is a huge honour, as it is not something the company hands out lightly. The standards expected by Ford Motor Company for QVM converters are rigorous and have a major focus on quality, so only the very best companies can make the grade.

“It’s an amazing tribute to our skilled and dedicated workforce, along with the sheer talent of our engineers and designers, that we have attained this accolade, meaning that MS-RT vans can now be sold officially through Ford dealerships. We’re extremely excited by what the future may hold as a result.”