£25 million funding to help UK develop biofuels

Posted on: December 11, 2014

The UK is set to lead the development of advanced biofuels, as government launches a competition for technology to aid the process.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is giving firms across the UK a chance to bid for £25 million to build three biofuel development plants.

Commercial vehicle manufacturers have been put under pressure from government to introduce models that reliably run on biofuel, which can be made either wholly or partly from organic matter. However, an intermittent supply and a lack of a universally agreed quality standard has often deterred fleet managers from converting.

Funding will be made available over the next three years with the deadline for initial applications falling on 13 February 2015. Full proposals should be submitted by June 2015.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer says the competition will be run in two stages and expects the plants to be operational by December 2018 and producing at least one million litres of fuel a year.

“Advanced biofuels will play an increasingly important role in lowering carbon emissions from transport and these fuel plants will help ensure the UK is leading the way in building our capacity,” she said.

“This is a major step forward for the UK. According to the feasibility study, gains from the domestic supply of converting low value waste to high value transport fuel could be worth up to £130 million gross value added to the UK by 2030, and potentially up to £500 million per year including exports.” Successful competition applicants will need to prove that the chosen technology produces 60% less greenhouse emissions than petrol or diesel.

Earlier in the year, a report from the US government found that many so-called ‘first-generation’ biofuels, developed to power heavy trucks and agricultural machinery, actually produced 7% more CO2 than conventional diesel – and had the unintended consequence of raising food prices as a large amount of land was needed to grow crops for fuel.

Kramer adds that unlike first generation biofuels, the advanced versions could deliver greater CO2 savings without causing the same concerns over food security and land use as the current generation.

Autonomous vehicles operating in the logistics sector is on its way

Posted on: December 11, 2014

Self-driving vehicles in the logistics sector could be here sooner than we think, according to a new report for DHL, a week after the government announced it would be holding driverless car trials in selected cities in the UK.

The trend report analyses the possibility of autonomous technology in the logistics sector.

Dr Markus Kückelhaus, Director of DHL Trend Research, said, “Some warehouse operations have been using self-driving vehicles to some extent for years, but making driving more and more autonomous will change the logistics sector dramatically.

“Moving onto public roads is the next evolutionary step. With its history in deploying self-driving solutions in controlled environments, the logistics industry is in a prime position to shape the future of self-driving vehicles.”

The report suggests that self-driving vehicles could be useful, with convoy and driver-assisted technologies the most likely to be introduced in the near future.

Assisted trucks will still give a driver the ability to control the vehicle but it will be capable of driving unaided on motorways, ensuring the vehicle stays in lane and remains within the speed limit and the requisite distance from the vehicle in front.

The last stage of delivery was also explored in the trend report. This suggests that although autonomous vehicles could be used, the issue for the logistics industry is whether the vehicle could learn the environment and react appropriately to it. There is a suggestion that these vehicles could be used to support postal and parcel deliveries in multi-drop areas by driving alongside the person making the deliveries or to move drop-off locations closer to the recipient.

Even though there are still numerous challenges to overcome, DHL’s report indicates that it is no longer a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’ autonomous vehicles will enter the logistics industry, as there is appetite across the commercial vehicle market to develop this technology.

Wholesale van market on the verge of returning to ‘normality’

Posted on: December 10, 2014

The wholesale van market is showing signs of returning to normality, says vehicle auction specialist Manheim.

Its auction figures for November indicate that an influx of ex-fleet vehicles entered the wholesale market last month, 32% higher than November 2013. Manheim says this increase is a welcome sight for the industry as it signifies a return to the traditional ex-fleet season that has been absent over the last couple of years.

James Davis, Director of Commercial Vehicles at Manheim, said that the company had predicted this upturn for the CV market, and added that despite the significant increase in ex-fleet vehicles entering the wholesale market year-on-year, the average price of vans remained strong at £4,552.

“It is heartening to see typical seasonal de-fleet pattern returning this year. Supply continues to track behind demand, so it promises a stable end to the year and a fantastic kick start to 2015, just as we predicted earlier in the year,” he adds.

“Traditionally, the plate changes act as a catalyst for new vehicle purchasing, leading to an increase of ex-fleet vehicles coming to market as they are replaced. With cars, this tends to be more significant and happens very quickly, but with vans there is usually a six to eight week lag, during which commissioning and decommissioning occurs.”

Despite the van market experiencing a strong November, it also saw a rise of older vehicles entering the wholesale market, which affected residual values for small and large panel vans.

Compared to October, the average sale price of a large panel van dropped by 13.7% to £4,871, with vehicles’ average age exceeding seven years. In the small panel sector, more than half of the vans sold had been registered for eight years.

Davis concluded by adding that the signs in the market look good for the wholesale market and expects it to continue into 2015. “We believe 2015 will be the year of transition, leading to a return to true normality for the van market in 2016. The market has stayed strong in recent weeks, despite the volume increases, and I predict that it will continue to remain robust into the New Year.”

Interview: Paul Avery, Schmitz Cargobull

Posted on: December 11, 2014

The name of Schmitz Cargobull is one of the best known in the industry for trailers, and now the firm is hoping to gain similar presence in the tipper body market.

Although the market for tipper bodies is mature in the UK, Schmitz Cargobull’s UK Managing Director, Paul Avery suggests that there is room for everybody. “It’s fairly small for us in the UK at the moment, probably around 5% of what we’re doing – but we recognise it as one of the largest growth areas.

Avery admits that when the first tippers were launched two years ago in the UK, it was very much to ‘test the water’ – but following market research and a positive reception at exhibitions like the CV Show, the decision was taken to offer a range of products.

“Our tipper product range could service around 70% of the market,” he says. “While there are lots of sectors, the one that we have identified is the shorter range. For example, we offer a 7.2m tipper which has gained a lot of attention in the road building industry as the customer can use a smaller tipper truck, rather than the traditional eight-wheeler. We have also developed a grain body which has proved popular in East Anglia”. Avery adds that the requirements of British buyers are different to those on the Continent, so the designs and options offered locally are peculiar to the UK.

According to Avery, another interesting point about selling tippers in Britain is that fleet managers often make purchasing decisions based on word of mouth. “A good example is that we sold one unit to a customer in Scotland – and from this we got five more orders from people he knew. It is a close knit industry,” he says.

Gaining Whole Vehicle Type Approval can put off new entrants to the bodybuilding arena. However, the firm already had a whole department in Germany dedicated to doing nothing apart from WVTA admin, so putting together a line-up of tippers for the UK was relatively straightforward.

Another expanding area is the sale of secondhand trailers. The only restriction on this, according to Avery, is the supply of stock, which is extremely limited. “A lot of our reefers will be sold before they even reach our yard,” he explains. “In the past we have shipped most of them overseas, but in the last year we have sold more domestically than ever before. There is a call for secondhand kit – but it is hard to come by. Either people are holding onto it, or they are extending leases for longer so we have been struggling for stock.”

Interestingly, aerodynamic extras such as side-skirts, popular with customers that order new stock, are often not required by people buying used. Avery puts this down in part to the suspension being adjusted for a lower ride height in central Europe, where a good number of the trailers end up.

Demand for Euroliner trailers that carry the newer XL certification is particularly strong as it seems everyone in Europe wants a bargain. However, Avery reports that while the typical length of a lease used to be five years, fleet managers would now routinely hold onto rolling stock for seven or eight years – and in one instance even longer. “One of the larger supermarkets has asked if they can keep their Schmitz products for 10 years,” he says. “It is good news for us, of course we would rather sell them more trailers, but it is good that our products are doing the job for them and lasting well.”

There is every chance that the trailers will last well too, as the firm has recently introduced a new roll-forming process that greatly reduces the number of welds required on each trailer. Crucially, the new production method also saves time. “Where we would previously have to make it in multi stages, now we have one facility that produces a pair of beams in seven minutes,” explains Avery. “We’ve always controlled our welding by using robots and ultra-sonic testing where necessary, but welding is an art and it’s best to eliminate it where possible.”

With newer production methods and an ever-expanding range, it looks like Schmitz Cargobull will remain a formidable force on the road for many years to come.

Direct Line says that many van drivers are unaware of telematic systems

Posted on: December 9, 2014

Research from Direct Line for Business reveals that 42% van drivers are unfamiliar with the concept of telematics and how it works.

The research reveals that around 90,400 van drivers are using telematics in their vehicles. This means a majority of the 3.35 million light CV drivers are missing out on the benefits of potentially lower insurance premiums and beneficial feedback from the technology on how to improve their driving behaviours.

More than half, 55%, of van drivers say that one of the reasons they are not using telematics is because their insurer has not offered it to them. However, once they are made aware of it, they are more open to using the system.

Jazz Gakhal, Head of Direct Line for Business, said, “Whether plumbers, bakers or road trippers, we understand that running a van can be an expensive operation. Telematics provides a great opportunity for van drivers to save money on insurance and maintenance costs through promoting responsible driving.

“More than half of van drivers in our research stated that they would be more likely to try telematics if they could make a saving on their insurance.”

Fferm Ffactor winner drives away in brand new Isuzu D-Max pickup

Posted on: December 9, 2014

News from Isuzu: After weeks of challenging tests of his farming skills and know-how, dairy farmer Roy Edwardsthis week drove away triumphant from the Fferm Ffactor barn in a brand-new Isuzu D-Max.

The D-Max has been coveted by every evictee throughout the series of the hugely-popular Welsh-speaking S4C television show, which culminated this week in a series finale set in the heart of rural Wales. Fferm Ffactor aims to find the best farming talent, and over the course of 10 weeks each contestant had to complete a series of daunting challenges which tested their practical skills, farming expertise and business acumen. The 2014 series saw new presenter, Ifan Jones Evans, guide contestants as they battled for the top prize.

The Isuzu D-Max has been the Fferm Ffactor grand prize ever since the vehicle’s launch in the summer of 2012, showcasing its credentials as a hard-working farm vehicle that is equally adept at transporting active families.

Edwardswill be heading back to his farm in Llangynderyn, south-west Waleswith his new Isuzu D-Max Yukon double-cab pick-up, adding,”I wasn’t really convinced that I would win, and I fully expected that someone else would take the title. It was a complete surprise – and a good one. The children are over the moon. I’d come home after completing a task and the youngest children would ask ‘Dad, are you bringing home the Isuzu today?’”

William Brown, General Manager at Isuzu UK, commented, “Farming is the lifeblood of Wales and the diversification of the industry means that farmers must be experts in a growing number of subject matters. That’s why Fferm Ffactor is the perfect test for the modern day worker and I’m delighted that the judges have found a more than capable winner in Roy. He is a very worthy recipient of our prestigious pick-up prize.”

The D-Max is available in three body styles – single, extended and double cab – with prices starting from £14,749 for the entry-level single cab 4×2 rising to £25,995 for the special edition Isuzu D-Max Blade Auto. The Isuzu D-Max is fitted with a super-efficient 2.5-litre twin-turbo diesel engine, producing 163 PS and 400 Nm of torque and able to tow a class-leading 3.5-tonnes (braked), which can be mated to a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

200,000th UK-registered Volvo truck prompts generous donations to Cancer Research

Posted on: December 9, 2014

News from Volvo: The 200,000th Volvo to be registered in the UK has been purchased by Scotland’s premier logistics company Malcolm Group.

This special FH16-750 6×2 push-axle tractor, celebrates Volvo Trucks UK history and – in terms of the high level of equipment and options included in the specification – the company’s constant drive for progress. Progress that is exemplified by the highest levels of efficiency, economy, driver comfort, emissions and safety offered since the company was founded in 1967.

In an extravagant handover ceremony, Malcolm Group Chief Executive Officer Andrew Malcolm officially took delivery of the FH16-750 tractor unit at London’s premier charity fundraising event – The Emeralds & Ivy Ball. The event was held at Supernova in The Victoria Embankment Gardens, London WC2.

Even in these memorable surroundings, and despite rubbing shoulders with showbiz stars and VIPs from the worlds of entertainment and sport, the top spec 200,000th Volvo was the star of the show. Because, as it turned out, to the amazement of the glamorous guests, the truck was there for a very good reason.

To mark the historic occasion, Andrew Malcolm and Volvo Trucks President Claes Nilsson joined The Emeralds & Ivy Ball founder Ronan Keating on stage, where they handed over a cheque for a joint £100,000 donation to Cancer Research. Volvo Trucks and Malcolm Group each contributed £50,000 to this generous charitable donation.

On presenting the cheque, Andrew Malcolm explained why his company had made such a significant donation, “I am delighted to have not only purchased this historic Volvo truck, but also to have the opportunity, on behalf of both Malcolm Group and Volvo Trucks, to present this donation of £100,000 to Cancer Research and The Marie Keating Foundation. The fight against cancer is being helped enormously by the funding for the mobile information units. They work in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, to help people learn how to prevent and detect cancer at an early stage, where there is a greater chance of success in its treatment. I am very proud to stand here with Volvo Trucks, who my family have worked in close partnership with for many years, to hand this donation to Ronan on behalf of our two companies.”

The decision to hand over the keys to the 200,000th Volvo to be registered in the UK, at The Emeralds & Ivy Ball, was facilitated by Andrew Malcolm, who has campaigned for many years to raise funds for a variety of charities, including Cancer Research.

Speaking at the event, Volvo Trucks President Claes Nilsson emphasised the close working relationship the company has enjoyed with Malcolm Group for over 40 years.

“We were very pleased when Andrew Malcolm approached us with the idea of not only purchasing the 200,000th Volvo truck to be registered in the UK, but also using this as a fantastic opportunity for both our companies to make a significant donation to such a worthy, high profile charity.”

Volvo Trucks UK Managing Director Arne Knaben, added, “In line with Volvo’s Scottish roots in the UK, it is fitting that the 200,000th truck has been supplied to Malcolm Group, Scotland’s largest transport operator. We are humbled to be chosen by Andrew to take part in helping Cancer Research and The Marie Keating Foundation. Cancer is a disease that affects so many people and we know that our joint donation will be put to good use helping in its prevention and early detection.”

After going into service with the Malcolm Group fleet, the 200,000th Volvo to be registered in the UK will eventually be given a prominent position on display in the ‘Donald Malcolm Heritage Centre’ at the company’s headquarters at Linwood, Renfrewshire.

Paragon get in the festive spirit by bringing Christmas cheer to young carers

Posted on: December 9, 2014

News from Paragon: Paragon Software Systems has made a generous donation to My Time for Young Carers, which will help the organisation provide a Christmas party and gifts for the children.

My Time for Young Carers provides a meeting place for children and teenagers within the local community whose lives are adversely affected by the disability or ill-health of other family members. It offers fun group activities as well as support for those who have added caring responsibilities. Many of these youngsters were previously supported by Mid-Surrey Young Carers until it closed in 2012 due to changes in funding.

Kirsty Hudson, Paragon’s Marketing Administrator and a helper at My Time, said, “I was walking down the street a couple of years ago, thinking I’d like to do some volunteer work and wondering which charity to choose. Then someone handed me a leaflet about My Time. It was as simple as that. My Time had only one branch back then – in Ewell, and I ended up helping to establish the Dorking branch.”

My Time opened two more branches this year: one in Stoneleigh, and another in Fetcham. Together the four centres support around 50 young carers, giving them a safe place to relax, have fun, and interact with others who understand the stress that comes with the territory of being a carer.

“Our mission is to reach each and every young carer and make a difference,” says Barbara Watts, Chair of My Time for Young Carers. “Thanks to the amazing generosity of companies like Paragon Software Systems, we can afford the little extras that make such a big difference and go towards helping our young carers enjoy their Christmas just that little bit more.”

“We are delighted to be able to support such a great local organisation,”says William Salter, Managing Director of Paragon Software Systems. “My Time makes a big difference to so many young people’s lives in the local area, and we are proud to have been involved with the organisation for more than a year now.”

Freight company shows its green credentials with new Euro-6 Volvos

Posted on: December 9, 2014

News from Volvo: Two new Euro-6 compliant Volvo trucks have joined the fleet of customised logistics specialists Greencarrier Freight Services, in Ipswich. The trucks are an FH-500, 6X2 tractor and an FM-330, 6×2 rigid and are the first Euro-6 trucks in the 18-strong fleet.

According to Greencarrier Freight Services Managing Director Robert Gaunt, the arrival of the new Volvos, with their reduced emissions and high levels of safety equipment will form part of the company’s focus on sustainable logistics and reducing its eco-footprint.

“As a company we take our Corporate Social Responsibilities, safety and care for the environment very seriously,” he says. “They are part of the Greencarrier philosophy on a global basis and represent core values.

“We are investing in improving the working environment for the drivers and work very closely with Volvo Truck and Bus Centre East Anglia’s driver development Neil Hutchingson and Transport Solutions Executive Matt Sadler. The whole relationship with Volvo is a partnership.

“We are continually looking at ways we can improve sustainability and safety as well as emissions. We view this commitment very much as a partnership with our vehicle suppliers.”

Greencarrier Freight Services has been using Volvo’s Dynafleet telematics system for two and a half years, to measure fuel usage and, together with an on-going programme of driver development via Volvo Truck and Bus Centre East Anglia, help drivers get the best out of their vehicles.

Transicold UK launches training videos for its refrigeration units

Posted on: December 9, 2014

News from Transicold: Carrier Transicold UK is helping customers get the most value from its range of refrigeration units by creating a suite of training videos.

The videos are intended for operators of Carrier Transicold truck and trailer refrigeration units, including Vector, Supra and Pulsor technologies.

The short videos, which are available online, are designed to help customers follow recommended operating procedures and eliminate errors such as fuel contamination, debris in evaporators and potential unit damage, all of which can help reduce equipment-running costs and downtime, improve operational efficiency and avoid common mistakes that can compromise the integrity of perishable cargo.

“These videos will strengthen our available training tools, streamline integration of our technology into customer fleets and improve customer confidence in the proper use of the equipment,” said John Forster, Sales Director for Carrier Transicold UK. “The videos were created with our customers’ requirements in mind – each video focuses on the essential information operators need to easily set up and run their specific Carrier Transicold unit.”

Training videos are also available for Carrier Transicold’s range of Neos, Viento and Xarios units, along with specific videos for the optional rear control panels available for the Vector and Supra units. There are also specific videos on operating the variety of accessories offered by Carrier Transicold, including COLDTouch, which uses Bluetooth technology to display the temperature of the trailer on a screen in the tractor unit cab, and DataCOLD, an independent temperature recorder that works separately from the refrigeration unit, so operators know the correct temperature has been maintained over the course of a journey.

“Our expert team is always on hand to offer advice on training or unit operation, but we believe our customers will find the videos a useful tool which they can incorporate into their existing training practices and access 24/7,” added Forster.