Posted on: 28 Nov 2013
Today (28 November), government announced that Local Enterprise Zones are pushing the UK ahead of global competitors after attracting overseas investment from Swedish automotive safety systems manufacturer, Haldex.
Haldex makes a host of commercial vehicle products from safe trailer-coupling and load transfer technologies to brake disc and tyre pressure monitoring systems. The company is set to create its new European Technical Centre at the MIRA Enterprise Zone, consolidating its European R&D operations in the UK.
The state of the art 25,000 sq ft facility will bring an initial 44 high tech jobs to the area, developing a new generation of safety systems.
Five Enterprise Zones are firmly behind innovation in the UK’s automotive industry. They are part of government’s Automotive Industrial Strategy, which aims to secure the long term future of the sector and grow the UK’s share of it, using research and development to stay at the cutting edge of change.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said, “We have acted fast to tackle the deficit. We are now focused on backing the industries of the future, growing the private sector and making Britain a great place to do business.
“When international companies like Haldex invest here it shows we have got our offer right. Every 20 seconds a car, van, bus or truck rolls off a UK production line and Enterprise Zones like MIRA Technology Park are magnets for the global motor industry with the best international businesses choosing them as their home.”
This latest development adds to the host of other automotive companies that already base key parts of their global businesses as the MIRA site. Ashok Leyland, Bosch, and Lockheed Martin are already using the UK to develop the transport technology of the future, including the next generation of electric cars, braking systems, intelligent transport systems and unmanned vehicle systems. Government is investing £7.4m in loans to fund infrastructure investment to help MIRA expand.
Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable said, “The British car industry is a big national success story. This year it has attracted more than £2.5 billion of investment and created 5,000 new jobs. Haldex’s decision to base its European Technical Centre at MIRA shows we are an attractive place for international companies to do business.
“The Government’s industrial strategy is clearly working and giving business the confidence to invest and create more high skilled, long term jobs in the UK. We have launched the £3 million Automotive Investment Organisation – a specialist team dedicated to winning overseas investment in the UK car industry. We have also committed more than £1 billion over the next 10 years to ensure the UK maintains its leading position on researching and developing greener car technology.”
Bo Annvik, President and CEO at Haldex, said, “The relocation of our European R&D Centre to MIRA Technology Park will allow us to expand our Engineering capabilities and benefit from integrating at one site our world class design and development resources with the multiple test track facilities at MIRA. We look forward to be a part of the MIRA community, and we believe that this initiative will be a keystrategic step in supporting our development that will benefit both Haldex and our customers.”
Enterprise Zones are generating new long term investment , laying the foundations for future industries and helping to rebalance the economy. Since they were launched in April 2012, England’s 24 Enterprise Zones have attracted 212 businesses, secured half a billion pounds of private sector investment and created over 4,600 jobs.
Today’s announcement is further proof that Enterprise Zones are attracting international companies, building centres of excellence in key sectors such as automotive, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy, and delivering the infrastructure and training that will ensure that Britain continues to be competitive and successful on the global stage. They are delivering government’s industrial strategy by investing in technology, boosting skills, strengthening supply chains and maintaining the UK’s business competitiveness.
Over 35 top automotive companies, including Toyota, Cosworth and Pirelli, are already in Enterprise Zones in the UK. On top of that over 15 automotive businesses have moved to or plan to move to the Zones since 2012, including Ashok Leyland, Bloodhound, Bosch Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, Lockheed Martin, Norgren and Triumph.
The Zones are working with local areas and schools to inspire the next generation of automotive workers and will create apprenticeships to train local people. By 2020, around 200 new apprenticeships and graduate training places will be required on MIRA. There is also an employment and skills work programme to support skills for businesses locating there.
Posted on: 27 Nov 2013
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) and national cycling charity CTC have aired their thoughts ahead of the cycling safety inquiry.
These responses come days before the House of Commons Transport Committee begins its inquiry into the recent spate of cyclist deaths on the roads, with many calls, including from CTC, for trucks to be banned from the roads during peak hours.
The FTA has repeated its belief that more should be done to improve cyclists safety, without affecting how businesses operate.
Christopher Snelling, Head of Urban Logisitcs and Regional Policy, said, “The impact of such a ban would be to substantially increase the cost of living in cities, decrease economic activity, and to increase pollution and congestion.
“Given that the London Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner has said that a rush hour lorry ban would only have affected two of the 14 fatalities in London this year, it does not appear to be the simple solution to all of our problems.”
Cycling charity CTC maintains that HGVs are the problem and removing them from the roads during peak times is the only way forward. It has urged its members and supporters to voice their views for a ban during rush hour, while the charity’s Chief Executive Gordon Seabright also suggesting that the leaders of haulage firms should be expected to explain themselves after every cyclist killed by a HGV.
The Chair of the Committee Louise Ellman, said that the debate has to be had over banning HGVs from city centres at peak time, and she accepts that any decision will have some consequences for businesses.
The inquiry is set to begin on Monday 2 December, with the Transport Committee still accepting views on its Twitter account.
Posted on: 26 Nov 2013
The Truck of the Future is the topic for debate at the annual Transport Policy Event of European manufacturers’ association ACEA in early December.
The high-ranking event in Brussels will discuss how greater freedom, creativity and technology in truck design and infrastructure can help to improve fuel efficiency and safety.
New vehicle technologies can have a dramatic impact on both spheres in operation, as can driver training, intelligent logistics, improved infrastructure and alternative fuels, all of which will be the subject of speeches and panel debate.
Proposals for new rules on combination length should also give manufacturers more scope in cabin design which could have significant benefits for economy and safety.
“The aim of this event is to open up a debate between industry, policy makers and other stakeholders on how to ensure that the truck of the future continues to serve society in the best way possible – with maximum safety and minimum impact on our environment.”
Wolfgang Bernhard, Chairman of ACEA’s Commercial Vehicle Board and CEO of Daimler Trucks, will give a keynote address, and Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Change, will also make a speech.
Bernhard will also join Jos Delbeke, Director General for Climate Action at the European Commission, Corien Wortmann-Kool, Member of European Parliament, Dominique Ristori, Director General Joint Research Centre, and Cindy Miller, President UPS Europe, on the panel whose topic for discussion is how to get the truck of the future on the road.
The debate can be followed, and contributed to, online, but if you want to attend in person the event is taking place at the Cinquantenaire Museum of Art and History, Brussels between 14:00 and 18:00 on Thursday 5 December. For more information, and to register, visit Acea’s website for the event.
Posted on: 28 Nov 2013
Tyne and Wear councillors have set out revolutionary new plans to take public control of local bus services, claiming the changes would mean better and more affordable services.
Transport News Brief listens to the other side of the argument from operators such as Stagecoach, Arriva and Go North.
Stagecoach reckons a Quality Contract Scheme in Tyne and Wear would be used to fill funding shortfalls and leave taxpayers footing the bill. It says it would cost millions to put in place and push fares up, not keep them capped. It’s not alone.
“Tyne and Wear already has one of the best bus systems in the country, a fact confirmed earlier this year by the nationwide Passenger Focus survey,” says Go North East Managing Director, Kevin Carr. “We are concerned that the desire for a QCS isn’t being driven by a need to make things better for passengers but by a need for the ITA to balance its books.”
“The ITA’s bus contracting plans would have a hugely damaging impact on the living standards of some of the poorest and most-vulnerable people in the North East,” says Stagecoach North East Managing Director, Phil Medlicott.
“Families struggling to make ends meet on housing estates across Sunderland and South Shields would be hit with massive fare hikes overnight,” he asserts. “These are people who have the least scope to make savings elsewhere and it could make bus travel financially inaccessible for them.”
Arriva agrees, saying, “Creating a QCS would require significant new investment to both set up and run in the years ahead. Establishing it would take at least three years and be both controversial and disruptive.”
Stagecoach has even set up a website dedicated to opposing a QCS and has posted a video on YouTube following the same theme.
Suggestions that the pensions of their members could be under threat have clearly struck a chord with bus trade union leaders, too. Early in November, Medlicott, GMB Union Branch Secretary Matthew Laws and a troop of concerned bus passengers arrived at the Nexus headquarters in Newcastle upon Tyne with a petition signed by over 7,000 people calling for the QCS plan to be dropped.
“We have real concerns about pay and conditions, our pensions and long-term job stability,” says Laws. “In an area where unemployment is high it is a real worry for our members.”
Not surprisingly, the ITA and Nexus reject Stagecoach’s claims. “Our proposals represent an opportunity to provide better bus services while saving the taxpayer £70m over the next 10 years,” states Nexus Deputy Director General, Tobyn Hughes.
Fleets in the area have proposed an alternative to the ITA in the shape of a partnership scheme put forward on their behalf by the North East Bus Operators’ Association. It is an offer the ITA has declined to pursue, however, says NEBOA Secretary Tom Dodds who expressed disappointment over the authority’s stance.
“Our partnership offering had specific benefits for bus passengers, including cheaper tickets for the thousands of people who uses the buses of more than one company but don’t use the Metro,” he states.
“Partnerships are being signed all round the country, including in Tees Valley and in the West Midlands,” he continues. “At the moment it is only Tyne and Wear’s councillors who want to risk a QCS.
“The bus network up here is in good shape and could do even better with a partnership.”
The QCS consultation process closed on 22 November and the ITA will vote on whether to go ahead next March.
Amid all this furore, bus and coach registrations are now rising after a slow start to the year, according to figures compiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. October saw their third consecutive month of growth says SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes.
“While registrations for 2013 are still down 11% overall we are encouraged by the recovery rate and the ongoing uptake of cleaner and more efficient vehicles,” he says.
Uncertainty over QCS may, of course, prompt fleets to postpone their investment until the issues are fully resolved, and that will certainly not benefit bus makers.
There’s a lot at stake, not just for bus manufacturers, so next ITA’s spring vote is being watched with eager anticipation.
Posted on: 28 Nov 2013
News from Paragon: Bed experts Dreams has boosted the efficiency of its home deliveries with Paragon’s Home Delivery System (HDS).
With more than 6,000 deliveries a week, Dreams uses Paragon HDS to plan all its nationwide routes and schedules from its head office. The system provides a selection of optimised delivery days and customers choose the one that suits them at the point of sale or when they make an online purchase.
“When a Dreams customer buys a bed our Microsoft Dynamics NAV system will calculate the earliest availability for the product. This information feeds through to Paragon HDS, which then works out the available delivery dates to offer the customer. The information is presented graphically to our sales staff in red, amber and green, with green being the most efficient delivery,” said Ian Clarke, Change Controller at Dreams.
“We have much more flexibility to move deliveries around if we need to and we can close off routes earlier. In fact, with the
latest version of the software we can also shut off a depot early and we can pause specific routes, if necessary to maximise efficiency.”
To cover the whole of the UK, Dreams currently operates eight home delivery depots, with its ninth depot opening soon. The new depot will be in Scotland. The deliveries are made using the company’s fleet of 100 x 3.5 tonne Mercedes Sprinter vans.
Clarke added, “Paragon HDS completely eliminates all manual elements from our delivery planning. It gives us much tighter control of how many vans we need and the number of driver shifts required to achieve the plan. Together with our
stock availability system, we have a much clearer view of our supply chain as we can plan when goods need to be in the depots and we’re now running some as stockless, having just the items they need to deliver within the next 48 hours.”
Seamless integration with the GPS vehicle-tracking units in the vans using Paragon Fleet Controller allows the system to monitor delivery progress in real-time. This provides a live report feed, which is published on the Dreams intranet to show how deliveries are progressing and allows customer services to keep customers updated with ETAs. They can see the exact status of each delivery, whether the van is at the customer’s home or has completed the delivery and is on its way to the next drop.
Posted on: 28 Nov 2013
News from Nissan: British Gas is piloting 28 Nissan e-NV200 vans throughout winter to determine the future viability of 100% electric vehicle technology as part of its 13,000 home service vans fleet. A collaboration with Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions and Gateshead College, the pilot will see the four strategic partners working together during this testing period.
Nissan has been globally piloting the e-NV200 for two years ahead of the van going on sale to the public next year. As the UK’s largest ever electric commercial vehicle evaluation to date, the winter test underlines the importance of the relationship between Nissan and British Gas to be involved in this important phase of zero-emission vehicle testing.
The pilot of the Nissan e-NV200s is being conducted nationwide to assess how the vans perform in winter conditions during typical British Gas home services daily usage patterns.
As part of a long-standing contract to manage the entire fleet for Centrica, British Gas’ parent company, Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions’ dedicated British Gas team has been involved with extensive testing to prove the concept and played a key role in rolling out to engineers and then providing on-going 24 hour support.
Hitachi Capital has also undertaken IMI training to a high level in conjunction with Gateshead College and will be involved in generating accurate total cost of ownership modelling to compare this technology with conventional the internal combustion engine drivetrain.
Gateshead College has delivered all of the training to the British Gas drivers to ensure they are fully briefed in how to drive and live with the 100% electric Nissan e-NV200. Local to Nissan’s Sunderland Plant, Gateshead College is Europe’s leading facility for training in LCV development and will ensure drivers are fully able to exploit the Nissan e-NV200.
Available on forecourts next year, the Nissan e-NV200 is a breakthrough zero emission compact van that promises an dramatic reduction in running costs while also helping the environment by bringing CO2 emissions down to zero at the point of use. As British Gas home services engineers operate within a defined zone, the Nissan e-NV200 can easily operate within a British Gas’ daily usage pattern.
Colin Marriott, General Manager Fleet at British Gas said, “We’re committed to leading the industry in reducing the amount of carbon and other harmful tail pipe emissions emitted by our 13,000 strong vehicle fleet, This trial, the largest of its kind in the UK, is a great opportunity for us to understand how the Nissan e-NV200 vans perform during the winter as we move towards our goal of having at least 10% of our fleet running on electricity by 2015.
“We have worked closely with Nissan and Hitachi Capital to ensure that the Nissan e-NV200 is ready to support our engineers during even the most demanding of winter conditions. All 28 have also been provided with a British Gas home charging point and access cards to public infrastructure to keep the vehicles charged up. I would like to thank Nissan, Hitachi Capital and Gateshead College who have all supported us to make this trial a reality.”
Jim Wright, Managing Director at Nissan Great Britain, said, “We’re proud to be providing the vehicles and services for the UK’s largest ever electric commercial vehicle pilot in conjunction with our strategic partners. Piloting such a large number of vans with British Gas in advance of the e-NV200 going on sale in 2014, underlines the closeness of our relationship and marks the final stages of the vehicle’s development.
“Our engineers will take the feedback of the British Gas drivers to ensure we launch a vehicle perfectly suited to British road and business conditions. With an expected harsh winter ahead, the 28 Nissan e-NV200s will be delivering home services around the country whatever the weather, demonstrating how strongly the 100% electric van can perform for large fleets with challenging daily routines.”
Jon Lawes, Divisional Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions, said, “We have enjoyed a long relationship with Centrica and the British Gas team, and if this pilot proves a success it could mark a tipping point in the evolution of the commercial electric vehicle market.
“After working closely with British Gas, Nissan and Gateshead College to set up the pilot we will continue to play a major part in monitoring its progress throughout the winter months before analysing the results with our strategic partners and deciding on next steps.”
Mick Brophy, Managing Director of Business, Innovation & Development at Gateshead College, said, “We are proud to be a part of this flagship development in low carbon technology. If Britain is to continue to lead the world in the development and adoption of cleaner vehicles, we must also provide top-quality training for the people who will design, build and service them.
“Our purpose built Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation – the UK’s first education center dedicated to the clean technologies sector – was perfectly equipped to deliver this type of training, which was tailored to meet the needs of British Gas and Nissan.”
Posted on: 27 Nov 2013
News from AKW Group: A logistics specialist in Manchester is driving forward with its expansion plans as it invests £694,000 in new trucks and trailers.
AKW Group, based at Trafford Park, has purchased four new Scania trucks for its transport operation AK Worthington as its plans to take its turnover to over £25million in the next four years.
“As the UK economy continues to shake off the recession our investment in the vehicle fleet is crucial as we aim to offer our new and existing customers greater flexibility to transport more of their goods,” said Jason Bradley, Operations Manager for AK Worthington.
AKW has also invested in two urban trailers, two wrap around double deck trailers and four double deck trailers, taking the total in its fleet to well over 100.
“This is a major investment however as a well-established transport firm built on quality customer service it is important to invest in the latest technology to meet our customer’s needs,” said Julian Richards, Managing Director of AK Worthington.
Posted on: 27 Nov 2013
News from Mercedes-Benz: EM Highway Services has taken delivery of the first Euro 6 compliant gritters in the UK.
Euro 6 is the new limit set for the emissions of Heavy Duty Vehicles for all vehicles registered from 1 January 2014. Euro 6 enforces a large reduction in pollutants; more than 99% reduction in Particulate Matter, more than 97% reduction in NOx and a 5% reduction in fuel and CO2 emissions making it a cleaner vehicle with less carbon output and improved air quality.
The Euro 6 standard is the most stringent standard so far and the most effective at reducing regulated emissions. Across its London contracts, EM will use the new Mercedes Benz Arocs which will utilise a number of technologies that are precisely controlled to give the lowest possible running costs.
The new vehicles supplied through SHB Hire Ltd will help EM to carry out a more sustainable winter service across London. It is anticipated the new vehicles will be 5% more fuel efficient and achieve AdBlue savings of between 20 to 40%. This move fully supports the high standards on environmental performance which our clients quite rightly demand.
Mitesh Solanki, Local Authority Service Director for EM Highway Services, said, “EM has constantly challenged the market and highway industry to be more sustainable in its approach to service delivery. Particularly in London where we have constantly challenged ourselves to reduce the impact to air quality in collaboration with our fleet provision partner. The introduction of greener gritters further supports our aspirations and we hope the industry will follow our lead in order to support clients to deliver the challenging carbon reduction targets that is so rightly expected.”
SHB opted for the Mercedes chassis due to its longevity and reliability as well as SHB’s long-running history of using the product for winter maintenance fleets. With Mercedes at the forefront of taking orders on the Euro 6 engine, SHB was able to secure vehicles and build slots with Econ to ensure vehicles were available on site for the upcoming winter season.
Mike Street, Managing Director of SHB Hire, said, “We’re really pleased that the collaboration between SHB, EM Highway Services, Mercedes and Econ resulted in the first Euro 6 gritters coming into operation in the UK leading the way to meeting ever reducing carbon targets”.
Posted on: 27 Nov 2013
News from Volvo: One of Britain’s most technologically advanced flour millers, Whitworth Bros has taken delivery of two new Volvo FH-460, Globetrotter-cabbed 6×2 tractor units thanks to the ruck-maker’s 100% Uptime Assurance programme.
These are the Wellingborough based company’s first Volvo trucks, and will be used with curtainsider trailers, transporting palletised finished products for onward shipment to customers.
The new FHs, which were supplied by Volvo Truck and Bus Centre East Anglia, and will be maintained on Volvo’s Gold Contract at its state-of-the-art dealership located just 10 minutes’ away from Whitworth Bros iconic Victoria Mills.
An important part of the decision to choose Volvo was the Uptime Assurance that is included in the Gold Contract, said Colin Spurrier, Distribution Manager at Whitworth Bros.
“As we deliver to customers who are operating product lines,” added Spurrier, “we can’t afford unscheduled loss of vehicle availability. That’s why vehicle reliability is vitally important to us. Only Volvo offers a 100% uptime guarantee. The availability of Uptime Assurance definitely played an important part in the decision to choose Volvo.”
Established in 1886, Whitworth Bros operates a high profile fleet of over a hundred vehicles. “Our fleet content,” said Spurrier, “is entirely composed of top end, quality vehicles. The fact that the new FH is a premium range is vitally important.
Specification of the two new FHs is driver-focused and includes leather upholstery. In addition to the fact that leather looks good, it was specified for practical reasons too, added Spurrier, “Leather is easier to keep clean than velour fabric. We are now specifying leather seats in all our new vehicles. Driver retention is important to the company too and our drivers take pride in their vehicles.”
Spurrier reveals that Whitworth Bros are currently looking at Volvo’s new FM in 6×2 tractor unit configuration at Euro 6, as a possible contender for the company’s bulk tanker fleet.
Coincidentally, Whitworth Bros won the use of a new FM for a week, in a prize draw organised by the FTA at their recent Transport Manager’s conference.
Posted on: 26 Nov 2013
News from the Department for Transport: Congestion on some of Sefton’s busiest roads is set to be eased thanks to £18 million improvement works.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer has given approval for work on the A5758 Broom’s Cross road (Thornton to Switch Island Link) scheme to start.
Baroness Kramer said, “This scheme will ease congestion and cut pollution on some of Sefton’s busiest roads.
“The £14.5 million we are putting into this project shows that the coalition government is serious about investing in the infrastructure the country needs to drive economic growth both locally and nationally.”
The scheme consists of a new 2.6 mile single carriageway road between the A565 Southport Road, Thornton and the M57/M58 Switch Island junction, bypassing the local communities of Netherton and Thornton north of Liverpool.
It will improve access between the north to west motorway system and Southport, as well as to the Port of Liverpool and development sites in the area.
The A5758 Broom’s Cross Road (Thornton to Switch Island Link) scheme was one of the schemes given funding approval in 2011 as part of the Spending Review process. Work can now start on the initial elements of the scheme.
Today’s announcement grants full approval to the A5758 Broom’s Cross Road (Thornton to Switch Island Link), promoted by Sefton MBC, enabling work to begin.
Works will start in November and be complete by October 2014. The department will provide a maximum of £14.5 million towards the full scheme cost of £18.325 million.