Local authorities to receive £64m funding boost for sustainable transport projects

Posted on: July 17, 2014

A number of local authorities will share more than £64 million from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has chosen to grant funding to a further 44 transport schemes across the country in an aim to encourage investment in sustainable travel choices.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said funding these schemes are designed to make people’s lives easier as there will be more transport choices available.

“We want more people to choose to travel in a way that cuts congestion and carbon emissions, delivering economic and environmental benefits,” she said.

Of the schemes receiving funding, £5 million will be spent by Transport of Greater Manchester (TFGM) as a part of its £18 million ‘Let’s get to work’ project, which aims to improve the cycling network throughout Manchester and to encourage local businesses to develop green and sustainable travel provisions for its employees.

Chair of the TFGM Committee, Councillor Andrew Fender, said, “Receiving the largest amount of funding out of any of the cities or regions that submitted a bid demonstrates the success of the schemes we’ve already introduced, and will allow us to build on that great work.”

The Black Country is also set to benefit from a £3 million cash injection from DfT to help it carry out is £24 million project called ‘Smart Network, Smart Choices’, which will be looking to boost economic growth and to cut carbon emissions in the area.

The project has a number of focuses, including organising HGV and bus driver training focused on sharing the roads with vulnerable road users and to increase the number of public transport trips made each year by more than 5.5 million.

Judith Rowley, Centro’s Lead Member for Fair, Accessible and Sustainable Transport, said, “This new funding will allow us to continue these schemes which reduce congestion costing our region more than £2 billion a year, as well as making sure our residents are well connected to jobs, education and training.”

From the £64.5 million funding being distributed by the DfT, a number of projects will be given a grant in excess of £1 million, with Birmingham City Council, Yorkshire and Humber, Newcastle City Council and Durham County Council each receiving around £3 million to put towards their various transport projects.

This latest wave of finance will see the government helping 44 projects, which will see more than £440 million invested into green transport schemes over 2015 and 2016.

The Local Sustainable Transport Fund investment is in addition to the £3 billion available for transport schemes through the Local Growth Fund, which includes £600 million set aside to support sustainable travel projects and £700 million for schemes to benefit all road users.

New technology is key to reducing accidents involving buses and HGVs, says TfL

Posted on: July 15, 2014

Transport for London’s (TfL) latest strategy to reduce serious and fatal accidents on the road has identified new technology and training for buses, heavy goods vehicles and their drivers as essential.

The first Pedestrian Safety Action Plan outlines how TfL aims to protect all vulnerable road users – cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. It also explains how it has devised six commitments designed to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on London’s roads by 40%, by 2020.

The plan follows a consultation held lastspring to reduce the number of deaths and serious injury caused by HGVs, buses and coaches, which are considered to be disproportionately high compared to other forms of transport.

The newest initiative is the introduction of a digital speed limit map for London, to encourage the development of next generation in-vehicle technology designed to limit speed which, TfL believes, will become a benefit for commercial vehicle fleets.

This scheme will tie into the Intelligent Speed Adaptation trial planned for London’s buses in 2015 prompting the bus driver to adhere to speed limits across London.

Another trial earmarked for this summer is the inclusion of collision detection devices on buses, with similar systems being trialled by Transdev in York and FirstBus in Bristol, as TfL looks to understand how optical- and radar-led technologies can reduce the number of collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, said, “This plan enshrines the raft of actions that are being taken to improve pedestrian safety in the capital. With buses kitted out with the latest gizmos to reduce collisions, this is all about prioritising the safety of the most vulnerable road users.

“The publication of a speed limit map for London is also a great example of how the capital is leading the way in helping vehicle technology to move forward and encouraging innovation in the digital sphere.”

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, added, “London has been at the forefront of many technical innovations and it is right that we continue to find new ways of making our roads safer.”

TfL and London Boroughs will be enforcing some of the recommendations made in the Safer Lorry Scheme, including ensuring all drivers are adequately trained to use Class VI mirrors, and are using all the safety measures deemed as essential.

Sir Peter Hendy, Transport Commissioner, added, “Although we are taking the lead to make roads safer, we cannot achieve these commitments alone. 95% of London’s streets are the responsibility of boroughs and there are many other partners involved which we rely on to realise our shared ambitions for a safer city.”

The plan will see TfL and the Mayor of London continuing to push the European Commission to mandate design changes to truck cabs, to improve visibility, and the installation of collision prevention devices on all commercial vehicles.

SMMT plans to cut government red tape on Type Approval

Posted on: July 15, 2014

DAF LF 200 Euro 6 with bespoke body and craneMore than £10 million a year could be saved across the UK bodybuilding and conversion industry, due to a new and streamlined Type Approval process developed jointly by the Department for Transport (DfT) and The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The industry body has spent the past six months working with the DfT and Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) on an alternative National Small Series process that would make a 15-fold reduction in the complexity of approving vehicles for use.

“The new Type Approval process, designed by SMMT’s technical experts, could save the vehicle conversion and bodybuilding industry more than £10 million a year,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. “By streamlining the hugely complicated and fragmented approval process, bureaucracy can be cut significantly, easing the pressure on over-stretched IVA centres.”

More than 55,000 multi-stage-built commercial vehicles are registered in the UK every year and each could now be approved through the alternative National Small Series Type Approval process. The new system enables vehicles of the same category and number of axles to be approved under one type, reducing the current 60+ possible heavy commercial vehicle types that currently exist to just four. The Society says that costs associated with Type Approval could be reduced by up to 70%.

Under present requirements, a bodybuilder has to create a new ‘type’ for each different base chassis that is used. A bodybuilder could be required to have more than 60 different approvals – a major financial and administrative burden.

In such cases, the only practical option would be for the bodybuilder to use the DVSA Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) scheme. SMMT is working with ministers, government departments and agencies to ease the approval traffic jam at IVA centres, so removing the need for hundreds of UK bodybuilders to obtain an IVA can only ease the pressure on agencies and businesses.

Refrigerated trailers: Keeping cool with the rules

Posted on: July 17, 2014

Ever thought about the impact that the combination of a blazing hot summer’s day and being stuck in a seemingly-endless motorway traffic jam is likely to have on the contents of a refrigerated semi-trailer? Supermarket chain Morrisons clearly has.

In order to guarantee the integrity of the cargo in such difficult circumstances all the semi-trailers in the latest batch it has sourced from Fraserburgh-based Gray & Adams come with Carrier Transicold Vector 1950 fridge units with dual-discharge slim-line evaporators rather than a single-temperature system with fans. “We’ve purchased the trailers for operation in the south of England where there is more traffic congestion, which means that loads are likely to be on the vehicles for longer periods,” says Morrisons Head of Engineering, John Ward.

The new semi-trailers have something else in common; they have all been built to the new 15.65m length that is the subject of a long-term nationwide trial involving a number of operators and backed by the Department for Transport. Semi-trailers at 14.6m are involved in the national trial too.

Morrisons will have over 100 15.65m semi-trailers in service by the autumn, says Ward. “They offer tremendous cost-savings,” he reports. This is because they are capable of carrying 30 pallets – four more than a standard 13.6m single-deck trailer, translating to a 15% increase in productivity.

Ward believes that the 15.65m trailer is also to be preferred to a 13.6m with a lifting deck. “We’ve just ordered another clutch of 13.6m lifting-deck trailers, each of which can carry up to 40 pallets, from Gray & Adams,” he observes. “They’re excellent pieces of equipment but they’re significantly more expensive than a 15.65m single-decker, from our viewpoint that is the best solution for the majority of our deliveries.”

With four manufacturing sites in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Gray & Adams boasts an annual turnover of around £100m and the order from Morrisons is but one example of the extent to which demand for refrigerated semi-trailers is rising.

“So far as we’re concerned, orders are close to where they were pre-recession,” says Schmitz Cargobull (UK) Managing Director, Paul Avery. “The market is improving.

“Customers are not only buying, they’re buying in bigger numbers than they have in recent years,” he continues. “We’ve received orders for 95 from Tesco and 113 from Asda.”

The used market is looking healthy too, he adds. “Operators are after second-hand dual-temperature trailers in particular and there’s a definite shortage of them,” Avery says.

Steve McCue, UK and Australia Sales Manager for French manufacturer Chereau concurs. “Last year was the best we’d had in Britain for fridge trailers since 2007,” he noted. “Things are going well this year too. We’ve sold 155 so far and I think we could reach 250 to 300.”

Nor is it solely the supermarket chains that are generating business although they do wield significant marketplace influence. Last December saw Arla Foods acquire a dozen Insuliner trailers built by Peterborough-based Lawrence David and fitted with Carrier Transicold Vector 1550 equipment. Designed to operate at between 2°C and 8°C with an optimum temperature of 5°C, they are based at one of the world’s largest fresh milk dairies at Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

“While the big supermarkets tend to account for 800 to 900 fridge trailers annually in a total market that typically varies from 2,500 to 3,500, not one out of the 155 I’ve referred to has gone to them,” says McCue.

No matter whether they are purchasing potatoes, tinned fruit, or ice cream, supermarkets drive a hard bargain, and the same is the case when they buy trucks and trailers. “As a consequence I don’t bother quoting for supermarket business,” he admits.

While extolling the virtues of their build quality, McCue cheerfully admits that Chereau’s products are not the cheapest on the market. The strengthening of the pound against the euro could be making life slightly easier for him, however.

“If the euro moves up or down by just 10c then that can equate to a difference of as much as £2,500 to £3,000 in the price,” he observes.

What makes life rather more difficult are changes in the market due to mergers and takeovers. “Ten years ago I could have named 100 end-users who ran more than 50 fridge trailers each,” says McCue. “Now I’d struggle to name 50.”

Currency movements are not the only challenges to fridge trailer makers. There are regulatory hurdles to be overcome, too, many of which also apply to dry freight trailers.

The longer trailers for Morrisons referred to earlier have to meet turning circle requirements that at 15.65m typically mean that either command- or self-steer axles have to be fitted. The latter have been specified. “They help to ensure that our long trailers are able to access a very high proportion of our 400 large stores nationwide,” says Ward.

Refrigerated trailers are also used on cross-border work and must also meet ATP (Accord Transport Perissable) requirements. This means they have passed strict standardised tests conducted by independent test houses that measure their thermal efficiency. There are several ATP categories covering everything from chilled to deep frozen.

Some trailer builders take the view the view that it makes more sense to ensure everything is ATP-compliant rather than offer two classes of product. “Everything we build is to ATP Class C,” says McCue. That means they are capable of transporting loads from 12°C down to -20°C.

Almost all temperature-control systems on trailers use refrigerants such as R-404A, which is classed as a fluorinated gas or F-Gas.

Tougher regulations governing the use of such gases are being introduced by the European Union. Although they have yet to be finalised, it is certain that the EU will seek to reduce F-Gas emissions significantly over the next few years.

As a consequence, trailer fridge unit suppliers have been casting round for alternatives. Carrier Transicold, for example, has been trialling a system in conjunction with Sainsbury’s called NaturaLINE. Initially developed for shipping containers, it uses CO2 as a refrigerant, and while R-404A has a Global Warming Potential of 3920, CO2 has a GWP of just one, Carrier Transicold points out. GWP represents how much a given mass of a chemical contributes to global warming over a given time period, compared to the same mass of CO2.

The gases used are not the only environmental concerns affecting fridge units. Noise output is a worry too, especially if deliveries to supermarkets are being made in the early morning.

Thermo King has come up with the multi-temperature SLXe Spectrum Whisper Pro, which is PIEK-certified; in other words, its sound level measures 60dB or less at a 7m radius.

Achieving this level has involved everything from the careful placing of noise-absorbent materials to re-tuning the exhaust system. The unit is even fitted with geo-fencing controllers so that it automatically switches to low-noise mode when it enters a controlled zone; and it all means that people won’t be kept awake late at night because there’s a delivery to their local supermarket.

Yaxley Coachworks scoops CV Bodyshop of the Year Award

Posted on: July 17, 2014

News from Yaxley Coachworks: Commercial Bodywork’s sister company Yaxley Coachworks has beaten off stiff competition to scoop the 2014 Commercial Vehicle Bodyshop of the Year title at the recent British Bodyshop Awards.

Peterborough-based Yaxley Coachworks has built up a solid reputation for high quality repairs, refurbishment and paintwork. Yaxley scored highly on the judges’ checklist for a whole raft of performance criteria, including prompt response times, meeting the original estimated completion date, good communications throughout the repair process and high quality repairs.

Managing Director Graham Smith said, “Winning the Commercial Body shop of The Year award 2014 was an honour and is testament to the high quality of repairs and painting that our customers have come to expect from Yaxley Coachworks. We are really proud of the fact that we achieved this accolade – not only 18 months after we took over the business, but also with all the same staff. Our attention to detail and effective communication have enabled us to provide our customers with the excellent level of service they deserve.”

Director Andrew Carver added, “We were excited to be selected as a finalist in our industry’s most prestigious national awards but winning was a euphoric experience as recognition as the Best Commercial Vehicle Body Shop is the highest accolade we could achieve! This has been an ongoing team effort which will continue to ensure our future high standards.”

Yaxley Coachworks was originally set up over 25 years ago and has grown to become one of the country’s most renowned CV bodyshops, catering to a diverse and distinct customer base. It can handle repairs, incident damage, refurbishment and painting on vehicles ranging from trucks, vans, refrigerated bodies and trailers along with specialist plant.

Widely regarded as the bodyshop event of the year, the British Bodyshop Awards is an industry-driven awards ceremony held at the Battersea Evolution, London. At the event, insurers, accident management companies, vehicle manufacturers and independent networks are given an opportunity to present their awards to the best performing bodyshops within their network.

ATS Euromaster on call for British Gas van fleet

Posted on: July 17, 2014

News from British Gas: ATS Euromaster has won a new contract with British Gas to fit and service tyres across the energy provider’s fleet of 13,000 vans.

ATS Euromaster’s nationwide network coverage, detailed fleet reporting and expertise in managing B2B accounts were crucial in securing the account, and as a part of the new agreement it will be rolling-out a full Michelin tyre policy across the fleet.

The comprehensive policy, which includes monthly fleet checks carried out by ATS Euromaster’s experienced tyre inspectors using the company’s new FleetSure tool, allows British Gas’ tyres to be closely monitored. This ensures that each tyre is used to its optimum range, and any issues are spotted quickly, reducing tyre-related downtime.

Colin Marriott, General Manager of the fleet at British Gas, says, “It’s critical to British Gas that our fleet is maintained cost-effectively and to the highest degree of safety. This new contract with ATS Euromaster has helped us to meet these challenges.

“We have a rigorous tyre maintenance programme in place which requires inspections four times a year and winter tyres fitted as standard all year round, but ATS Euromaster has really stepped up to the job. They have already checked 1,100 of our vans in the last two weeks alone.”

Simon Tattersall, ATS Euromaster’s Head of National Fleets, says, “With nearly five decades of experience in the van sector, ATS Euromaster has the skills and expertise needed to keep British Gas’ vans running, so the company can concentrate on serving its customers fully.”

As part of the new agreement British Gas drivers receive a range of benefits, including access to ATS Euromaster’s network of approximately 345 service centres, more than 95% of which can accommodate for large light commercial vehicles.

In the unlikely event of a tyre failure, British Gas also has access to the same nationwide 24/7 roadside rapid response as some of the UK’s largest truck fleets, ensuring vehicles are back on the road as quickly as possible.

Used van average price continues to rise

Posted on: July 16, 2014

Average prices of used vans sold through online remarketing platform Autorola have increased for the third quarter in a row to record levels.

Used prices rose just under 10% from £9,605 in Q1 2014 to £10,513 in Q2 2014, an increase of £907 and an all time average high for the company.

The average age and mileage of stock in Q2 was 2012/26,377 miles compared with Q1 (2011/31,927 miles).

When analysing average prices between Q4 2013 and Q2 2014 values have risen by more than 30% (£7,985 to £10,513), which reinforces the used van market shows no sign of slowing down.

Each quarter Autorola sells a range of stock from rental companies, utilities, manufacturers and franchised dealers, but currently the 24-30 month old stock is making the strongest money.

“More ex-fleet stock is coming back into the used market at 5-6 years of age with higher mileages and in a tired condition. This has helped increase demand for the newer used stock on our platform,” explained Neil Frost, Autorola UK’s operations director.

“SMEs are still buying used vans typically under £10,000 as they continue to grow, but struggle to get finance to buy a new van. With the holiday season nearly upon us and with the economy continuing to thrive it will be interesting to see whether prices stabilise in Q3 2014 or continue to rise,” he added.

CV Show announces official 2014 visitor numbers

Posted on: July 15, 2014

Organisers of the Commercial Vehicle Show have announced that the independent ABC audit has confirmed a total visitor attendance in 2014 of 18,884; a 4% increase on last year’s figure. Additionally, the demographic analysis of registration data shows the significant authority and influence of visitors from across the road transport and logistics business.

The CV Show again proved to be the industry meeting place with over 450 exhibitors showcasing products and services, providing UK operators with far greater choice than at any other UK exhibition serving the sector.

Penny Randall, Operational Marketing Director at Renault Trucks UK, was particularly pleased with the result. “Renault Trucks returned to the CV Show in 2014 for the first time since 2008.

We were exhibiting our new Euro-6 range for the first time in this environment and were delighted with the attention it received. The volume and, more importantly, the quality of visitors made it an extremely worthwhile experience, with orders taken on the stand and solid leads generated that have already turned into new business for us.”

Demonstrating the wide range of exhibitors at the CV Show, positive comments were received from a number of other sectors.

Nathan Jones, Fuller Tankers’ Managing Director said, “Fuller Tankers always enjoys the Commercial Vehicle Show as it brings together a wide range of our customers, old and new.

This was our first year as the sole UK agent for Van Hool and, following the Show, we secured our first order for three GP Tankers.”

Components of all types were very much in evidence at the Show and Aspoeck UK had a successful three days. “Aspoeck UK was delighted to exhibit at this year’s Commercial Vehicle Show. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate to visitors our new and exciting range of lighting products, which attracted much interest and enquiries from a broad spectrum of visitors,” said Lee Rush, Managing Director.

Omnia (CS), bodywork specialists also had a positive time, as Janki Johri, Purchasing Manager reported. “CV Show 2014 was a triumph with the full Omnia range attracting visitors who found the lightweight material a suitable and flexible option for a range of applications from BMX ramps to specialist armoured vehicles. Overall, the reaction generated from the Show confirmed that Omnia has sourced and selected the right materials for the UK commercial vehicle market.”

Next year’s Show is now open for space bookings and prospective exhibitors are encouraged to get their application in quickly. The 2015 Commercial Vehicle Show will be held at Birmingham’s NEC and run from 14-16 April.

Reliable Actros is the perfect tonic for Global Brands

Posted on: July 14, 2014

News from Mercedes-Benz: Drinks manufacturer, Global Brands, has added another vehicle to its fleet of Mercedes-Benz delivery trucks, in the shape of its first New Actros tractor unit.

Working from Global Brands’ main distribution hub in Burton-Upon-Trent, the 6×2 New Actros 2545 has a flat-floored BigSpace cab and arrived via Mertrux, Derby.

Global Brands supplies its range of alcoholic drinks to customers across the country, including wholesale outlets and brewery distribution centres.

“We’ve been a Mercedes-Benz customer for 15 years now,” says Transport Manager Kevin Hopkinson. “Its trucks have proved over that time to be very well engineered and extremely reliable, while they also have excellent cabs and are well-liked by our drivers.”

The Mercedes-Benz New Actros was voted ‘Fleet Truck of the Year’ at the Motor Transport Awards 2014. Powered by a 449 hp six-cylinder engine, driving through a Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmission, Global Brands’ new vehicle wears an eye-catching livery that promotes the company’s award winning VK ready to drink beverages.

It is the subject of a CharterWay contract hire package from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services which includes full repair and maintenance cover – Mertrux also services the operator’s other vehicles under Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contracts.

The Dealer’s workshop team conduct inspections and maintenance on Global Brands’ trucks, outside the operator’s normal business hours. “We typically drop off a vehicle on a Friday afternoon and pick it up again at 5.30am on Monday, so we rarely suffer any downtime,” says Mr Hopkinson. “We enjoy an excellent relationship with Mertrux, who are always very accommodating if we need a job doing at short notice.”

Purchasing Manager Catherine Roddis adds, “When choosing the supplier of our fleet trucks it’s imperative we secure a great service as well as the best price. Mertrux and Mercedes-Benz have proved themselves to offer excellent value for money year on year.”

Global Brands was formed in 1997 and now exports to over 30 countries around the world including Germany, Spain and Africa. The company is currently expanding both its workforce and beverage portfolio.

Barry Atherton appointed Director of Operations at Cartwright

Posted on: July 14, 2014

News from Cartwright: Manchester-based Cartwright Group has appointed Barry Atherton as Director of Operations of its manufacturing facility.

Barry AthertonIn his new role, Atherton is responsible for ensuring the company’s consistently high standards of quality, efficiency and service within its manufacturing operation are maintained and its operations policy and procedures are adhered to.

The appointment marks the latest step up the ladder for Atherton who first joined Cartwright as a coachbuilder 24 years ago.

Over the years he has continued to rise through the ranks.

He highlights his responsibility in overseeing the successful completion of a major order, which saw Cartwright design and build more than 400 dedicated custodial cell vehicles to a tight schedule, among his achievements.

Working closely with Cartwright Group Managing Director Mark Cartwright, Atherton said reviewing operations and efficiencies are among his immediate priorities.

He added, “I am delighted to have been offered this promotion in the midst of exciting times at Cartwright.

“For the past six years I had been General Manager with total responsibility for the shop floor – from the training and health and safety of staff, through to recruitment.

“Much of this is still included as part of my new role but with more of a strategic focus across the operations. It brings about an exciting challenge which will allow me to continue playing an important part in the future success of Cartwright.”

Mark Cartwright added, “We are delighted to appoint Barry to this key new position.

“With almost a quarter of a century of service behind him Barry has Cartwright blood running though his veins.

“The appointment will give him every chance to build on the invaluable contribution he has already made to our company and to play a vital role in our continued success.”