CV production continues to struggle, but the outlook is optimistic

Posted on: September 25, 2014

UK commercial vehicle manufacturing experienced a challenging August, with 2,130 units produced in total throughout the month, leaving the sector down 43.5% on August 2013.

CV exports fell by 61.8% compared to the same month last year while output for the home market was also down by 13.2%.

This sees the overall CV manufacturing sector down 24.6% over the first eight months of this year compared to the same period in 2013, while the export and home markets remain behind by 27.6% and 21% respectively.

However, there is positivity to be seen, with SMMT attributing the slump to a number of plants retooling for a fresh model offensive.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said, “UK commercial vehicle production fell 43.5% in August – traditionally the year’s quietest month – as some plants took additional shutdown to retool for new models.

“We expect the recent decline to level off in the next few months as newly introduced models reach full production and the rising demand across the EU takes hold.”

One further positive sign has been the rise in demand for commercial vehicles in Europe, with registrations in the region increasing by 10.3% in June.

Truck cabin redesign could save hundreds of lives says Loughborough Uni

Posted on: September 25, 2014

Revamped truck cabin design could save hundreds of lives by improving visibility, the University of Loughborough’s Design School has said.

Its research project, comissioned by Transport and Environment, and Transport for London, has shown that an 80cm longer cab with a rounded nose, smaller dashboard, larger windows and a lower driving position, could drastically reduce driver blindspots.

The Design School, an authority in the area of direct vision, said its ‘Direct Vision’ truck cabin concept could increase the driver’s front and side field of view by more than 50%.

Dr Steve Summerskill, Direct Vision Project Leader at Loughborough Design School, said, “Blind spots can be a significant factor in fatal accidents with lorries. The study shows that the size of these blind spots can be minimised through improved cabin design, the reduction of cab height and the addition of extra windows.”

The report highlights the outdated box design of current truck cabs as the main reason for the high number of fatalities caused by heavy goods vehicles. According to the European Transport Safety Council, there are more than 4,200 fatal accidents involving HGVs each year, with more than 1,000 resulting in the deaths of pedestrians and cyclists.

It adds that European legislation needs to be more robust to prevent HGV-related fatalities, as currentrules only focus on visibility from indirect devices such as mirrors.

Current weight and dimensions rules have also been blamed for creating large blind spots. It accepts that the EU is proposing changes to lorry design, which includes complying with additional safety measures, but it feels more still needs to be done.

William Todts, Senior Policy Officer of Transport and Environment, said, “Not only drivers, but politicians too need vision. It’s incomprehensible that we allow huge 40 tonne mammoths on our roads without making sure the people behind the wheel actually see what’s going on. After decades of tinkering with mirrors, we need to take this once-in-a-generation opportunity and make direct vision compulsory for new lorry designs.”

Cartwright to build new garage and parts distribution network

Posted on: September 25, 2014

Cartwright Fleet Service (CFS) has kick-started its repair and servicing programme by opening its first workshop in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

The opening of this new state-of-the-art garage and refurbishment facility is the beginning of CFS’ plan to set-up similar facilities throughout the UK, supported by a fleet of 22 mobile vans.

Lawrence Todd, Fleet Director of CFS, said, “We are now definitely at the cutting edge in this area and continuing to invest in order to stay ahead of the competition.

“Our growing portfolio of national customers now enjoys the benefits of our provision of dedicated services for planning and compliance, maintenance scheduling, Vendor of Record management and e-compliance through a dedicated web portal.”

The site in Wythenshawe will open with 20 employees: maintenance technicians, double decker trailer specialists, bodywork repairers and vehicle re-sprayers.

The workshop, formerly used for storing trailers, has six bays for servicing and repair, a dedicated paint booth able to accommodate up to double decker trailers, with CFS able to offer MOTs, deck and lifting equipment services and preventative maintenance inspections.

It will also be supported by a 142-strong third-party network, including 35 repairers experienced with dealing with double decker trailers after undergoing training at Cartwright’s manufacturing facility in Altrincham.

Todd added, “Our market leading position in our sector has been reinforced by the fact that our one stop shop at Wythenshawe links in the e-compliance provision whereby all systems, through mobile vans, through to the workshop and to head office, are all interlinked with live data. So it is all consolidated in one area, no matter what the customer puts through Cartwright.”

He also announced that CFS would be further supporting its workshop and refurbishment facility by introducing a parts distribution arm of the business in the near future.

Slippery Customers

Posted on: September 25, 2014

All fleet engineers and truck operators know that good aerodynamics will save fuel, but in the search for every last drop of efficiency, the wind tunnel is being replaced by computing power. Welcome to computational fluid dynamics, and what it is doing for you.
Mr 10%

It’s hard to imagine any heavy truck these days that doesn’t have some form of aero kit fitted. A 10% fuel saving between a naked tractor and one fitted with even simple roof and side deflectors is an accepted figure in the industry. And, of course, it’s a job that trailer makers need to attend to as well. In 2011, Daimler put a shot across the trailer makers’ bows by introducing its ‘Aero Trailer’ at the Kortrijk CV show. It was in part a call for length regulations to be relaxed, as they had proven significant gains from a rear diffuser – as in F1 – and a boat-tail design of just 40cm which was reckoned to reduce the drag of the entire vehicle by a further 10%.

Designs like that, and its predecessors, were the product of time-consuming wind tunnel testing; first with scale models, and ultimately the full-size version. The laborious and expensive process of constructing clay models, and the many junked versions of the glass fibre result, were the physical way of dealing with an issue in the physical world. Aerospace, and the exotic world of Formula One design, now uses a new way to manage airflow to best effect: Computational Fluid Dynamics, CFD.
A virtual success

The IRTE’s annual conference in September had a view into the scope and possibilities that CFD can bring to commercial vehicle design. But first, what is it?

CFD is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical methods and algorithms to solve and analyse problems that involve fluid flows. Computers are used to perform the calculations required to simulate the interaction of liquids and gases with any variety of shapes and surfaces. As the speed of computing increases – and it’s a ceaseless forward trend – so better solutions can be achieved. Software research is constantly improving the accuracy and speed of these highly complex simulations.

Rob Lewis, Managing Director of TotalSim, a CFD consultancy based in Brackley (deepest F1 territory) said that the applications for its use are almost limitless. He says, “The air or water flow over, or through an object, can be replicated, measured and manipulated in a way just not possible in a wind tunnel, or by any other method. It makes the designing of anything from wind turbine blades, to oil rig legs easier, faster, cheaper and more accurate.” With a range of the most diverse applications, the IRTE’s delegates got the point. As non-veterinarians they were not directly interested in scanning the nasal cavity of a horse, but they were attracted to the idea of redesigning a gearbox case to improve lubricant movement.

In looking at the detail that CFD can provide in comparison to the traditional wind tunnel, the advances are spectacular. It would be easy to think that those smoke trails gave a perfectly accurate representation of how air behaves flowing over a truck or bus. But a CFD simulation shows it to be far more complex.

As Lewis commented, “Drag does not go in straight lines, it’s chaos.” A truck and trailer combination has a far more ragged airflow over it than those traditional smoke trails would lead us to believe. In F1, where the fine detail of the front wing on Lewis Hamilton’s car looks like a bizarre artwork, it is the finely honed result of a CFD study. In the same way, alterations to a truck’s mirrors, or the cab’s frontal dirt deflectors, can now be much more accurately profiled, and with a deeper understanding of the implications of just a small tweak here or there. And it’s all done so quickly.

A much larger percentage of a truck and trailer’s drag is now open to scrutiny and adjustment. CFD can map the airflow through the truck chassis, around the engine and gearbox and away to the rear. Here the ‘dirty’ air (aerodynamics, not emissions) is passed to the trailer’s underside which, compared to the polished sides of the smooth box bodywork above, is a mess of angular metal structures and axles that look as if they have been specifically designed to be as un-aerodynamic as possible. It’s been very much a case of out of sight out of mind in these hidden recesses. Wind tunnels with smoke and paper strips could not investigate here, CFD can.

As smooth airflow is essentially a double act between truck and trailer, Daimler was seemingly working ahead of the curve in giving trailer makes food for thought at Kortrijk three years ago. With less research and development cash in the trailer industry, this could have been a concern a few years ago. But CFD will open the door to hitherto unaffordable levels of development refinement, for companies with more modest budgets.
The vanguard

But many commercial vehicle designers are already on the case. DAF’s Aerobody, designed at the Leyland plant, used CFD as part of the process, Gray & Adams is designing vortex segments on the rear sections of its trailer roofs, and the Don-Bur teardrop trailers owe their distinctive profile to CFD.

TotalSim’s Lewis made a plea for collaboration and joined-up-thinking from truck and trailer makers, but he warned that CFD was not a fix-all solution that can jump out of a computer and on to the highway. “There is still an element of experimentation needed to see what works in a range of operating conditions,” he said. But CFD holds the promise of slashing the time taken to get to a working design, and cutting the wasted resources and labour previously lost in junked prototypes. As the use of CFD balloons, it will help push the commercial vehicle industry forward in its search for efficiency.

Boughton targets Scotland with Alex Inglis

Posted on: September 24, 2014

News from Boughton: Leading hook loader and skip loader manufacturer, Boughton Engineering, has appointed Blantyre-based Alex Inglis as an equipment mounting and service support agency for Scotland. First orders for both types are currently in build, for customers in the municipal and wastes sector, north of the border.

Skan Group Sales & Marketing Director, Steve Price, says, “We have recognised the need to strengthen our presence in Scotland and to be able to do so in partnership with Alex Inglis is a win-win for both of us – and most importantly, for the customer. Alex Inglis has a long, in-depth and proven experience in the market sectors we serve, with a very special understanding of hydraulically operated equipment, such as skip loaders, hook loaders and close coupled trailers. The strategic fit of our two companies is exceptional.”

David Smith, Managing Director of Alex Inglis, says, “Our experience of this type of equipment goes back to the days of Powell Duffryn Rolonof 30 years ago and we have wanted to replace a gap in our portfolio for some time. The Boughton product is an iconic design and respected by end users for its strength, simplicity and reliability. We will effectively finish assemble and mount kits supplied to us from Boughton – and then, most importantly, offer the after-market a level of service and support which is based on the manufacturer’s own OE standards and parts.”

Alex Inglis operates from a 3.5-acre site on the A725, just a short distance from junction 5 of the M74. Its extensive workshops cover almost 15,000 sqft with three overhead cranes with lift capacities of five and ten tonnes. The facility also includes a fully equipped machine shop, with the capability for heavy duty fabrication and repairs. The Alex Inglis business was acquired in 2007 by municipal spot hire, contract hire and fleet management specialist, Noblet, which has a co-located facility on the same site.

Volkswagen announces CV model change

Posted on: September 24, 2014

News from Volkswagen: During the first eight months of this year, Volkswagen increased its worldwide deliveries of the T5 series by almost 6% to 108,000 units. In August alone, 14% more T5 vans were delivered to customers than in the same month last year.

Since the beginning of the year, customer orders have risen so fast that the brand’s main assembly plant in Hanover, where the majority of T5 units are produced, has reached the limit of its capacity. To meet demand, the plant is now working an extra night shift. The order books remain full well into the first quarter of 2015. This year will be another record year for the brand icon which started sales in 1950 and in now in its fifth generation.

Dr. Eckhart Scholz, CEO of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle, said, “The T5 is our best-seller and demand remains buoyant as before. That’s why we are working extra shifts. We see the uninterrupted enthusiasm of our customers for the success model as both recognition and incentive to make the next model into a best-seller. We can already announce today that we are proud to present the T6 within the foreseeable future. It will incorporate the excellent characteristics of the

T5 and it will also feature a whole load of new technology innovations. The result will again be an outstanding, reliable, technically refined, mobile companion for our customers to pursue their trade and leisure time activities. Until then, the T5 will remain our sales hit. The high level of customer satisfaction is evidence of this.”

Over the past two years, all employees have worked hard on producing the new model. The Tristar concept vehicle presented at the IAA already gives an outlook on the various goods and passenger transportation solutions which the T6 will offer in future.

The brand is currently well positioned and sales increased slightly during the first half of 2014 to 221,000 light commercial vehicles, previously it was 220,000.

Volkswagen premieres the new Tristar at IAA

Posted on: September 24, 2014

News from Volkswagen: For this year’s IAA, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles presents a concept vehicle with the legendary name of Tristar. The beefy pick-up with extended cab, styling bar and short wheelbase has permanent four-wheel drive with mechanical rear axle differential lock and 30mm additional ground clearance.

Befitting its name, the designers have developed a high-precision, new and yet familiar design language: the sharp wrap-around lines, LED headlights and a changed architecture of the whole front give the concept vehicle a wide and purposeful appearance.

Cargo can be distributed on two separate levels: there is a spacious, dust-proof and watertight drawer under the flatbed section, where a deep-tread spare tyre is also housed.

The interior has a 20-inch tablet table and state-of-the-art video conferencing and sound systems driver and passenger seats which turn and slide, converting the Tristar into the perfect place for meetings. There’s even an espresso machine installed. The monolithic dashboard is reminiscent of earlier Transporter models offering clear and sharp lines.

Its extreme off-road capability in combination with flexible transport and storage solutions make the Tristar a mobile workshop and high-tech office. Safe, flexible and developed to the highest quality standards, the new Volkswagen Tristar is a versatile tool for every user, be it architects, film crews, landscape gardeners or even keen outdoor adventures.

Speaking at the world premiere, Dr. Eckhard Scholz, Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: ‘The Tristar shows an unprecedented combination of all the good features of the T model series. It demonstrates potential and proves it is still the benchmark. Hence the Tristar combines elements of yesterday and tomorrow. On the anniversary of the first syncro concept car, it strikingly highlights the company’s all-wheel drive expertise and demonstrates its future viability.

“We take the needs of our customers seriously and are continuing to develop our best-seller with great purpose. We are therefore redefining the benchmark of the class with each and every new model.”

Volvo says skilled drivers can save up to 10% on fuel consumption

Posted on: September 24, 2014

News from Volvo: By small means, truck drivers can make a big difference to fuel consumption and save money for their haulage company. This was demonstrated by Christian Scheiflinger from Austria who, thanks to a well-planned driving, took victory in the world finals in Volvo Trucks’ Global Drivers’ Fuel Challenge 2014, held last Friday in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“All the 23 finalists possess great skills. You have to adapt to traffic and know how to use the enormous power of a fully-loaded truck in motion. The difference is that a knowledgeable driver knows how they should use their truck’s weight to their advantage,” says Andrew Low, Driver Development Manager at Volvo Trucks.

For an average-sized haulage company, fuel costs account for just over one-third of spending. Volvo Trucks’ own figures show that a fuel-efficient driver can save up to ten per cent in reduced fuel consumption, which in the long run means big savings for a trucking company and could ultimately reduce carbon emissions in the EU by up to 20 million tonnes per year.

For Scheiflinger from Austria, who won the title ‘World’s most fuel efficient driver’ in Volvo Trucks’ Global Drivers’ Fuel Challenge Final last Friday, fuel-efficient driving has almost become something of a sport.

“It’s very important to know the system you have to know how the vehicle reacts on your input. If you have the full understanding of the vehicle, what it’s doing and how it reacts, you can improve your driving and improve the fuel efficiency,” says Scheiflinger.

The Global Drivers’ Fuel Challenge Final, which took place in Gothenburg on September 19th, is one of many ways in which Volvo Trucks is highlighting just how much difference the driver can actually make.

Runner-up was Tomi Roimola from Finland with Aare Müil from Estonia taking third place. British interest rested with Tommy Walton who drives for Containerships UK (Ltd) out of Teesport, who won the UK final, but unfortunately finished the day just outside the top ten.

“It’s about creating an awareness of how much difference each individual driver can actually make. The Global Drivers’ Fuel Challenge is one way for us to contribute to this. Fuel-efficient driving is something that all drivers can learn, but it takes time and hard work every day,” says Arne Knaben, Managing Director for Volvo Trucks in the UK & Ireland.

“Despite recent stability in pricing levels, fuel costs remain a heavy burden for many haulage companies in the UK and Ireland. However, despite this as demonstrated in the Final, an improved driving style can result in considerable cost savings.”

AKW Group secures major fashion house contract

Posted on: September 24, 2014

AKW Group, the Manchester based logistics business, has secured a warehousing contract for Whitefield-based fashion house, SRG Apparel.

The 4,000 pallet contract was a key target for AKW Group, which operates over 500,000 sq feet of warehousing on Trafford Park in Manchester.

“This is an important contract for our business and builds further on our reputation in attracting more and more companies to use our extended range of logistics services,” said Tony Worthington, Chairman of AKW Group.

Mahesh Patel, MD of SRG, said: “We had used AKW Group to service one of our more sensitive clients for over a year prior to making the decision to switch our main warehousing contract over to them so we knew they could deliver.

“Both companies work great as a team and the transfer went remarkably smoothly considering the relatively short time lines involved and the size of the task.”

AKW Group offers warehousing, UK transport, contract packing, and air and ocean freight services to over 300 clients from its three sites on Trafford Park.

Ford and Telogis team up to deliver telematics package

Posted on: September 23, 2014

News from Telogis: Ford Motor Company and Telogis have launched Ford Telematics powered by Telogis today, providing actionable information from Ford commercial vehicles, which helps customers reduce fuel costs by up to 20%, lessen their environmental impact and increase driver safety.

Since 2011, Telogis has been the exclusive technology provider to Ford Crew Chief in North America, one of the industry’s most comprehensive and scalable telematics solutions for commercial customers. The European expansion of the Telogis-Ford partnership leverages the success of Crew Chief and will meet the demand from current and new Ford customers for visibility into day-to-day operations including vehicle/driver location, vehicle and driver performance and exclusive Ford vehicle diagnostics.

“Ford of Europe is delivering on customer demand for visibility, cost savings and safety with Ford Telematics powered by Telogis,” said Bill Frykman, Manager of Business and Product Development at Ford Motor Company. “Telogis is our trusted partner, and the success we’ve had with Ford customers in North America made them the only choice for Ford’s European platform offering.”

Making its debut at the 2014 IAA Hannover Commercial Vehicle Show, Ford Telematics will be available to fleet customers as a dealer-installed option in selected European markets, offered through Ford’s network of specialist Transit Centres, and is warranted and serviceable at Ford dealerships throughout Europe.

“The launch of Ford Telematics powered by Telogis in Europe is an extension of what has become the industry-standard in OEM telematics in North America,” said Greg Dziewit, Vice President of OEM business at Telogis. “Making this offering available to Ford’s European customers will help them run more efficient, cost-effective and safer fleets and transform the way they do business.”

Based on the real-time data, the Ford Telematics powered by Telogis software platform delivers a comprehensive range of actionable business information that enables fleet managers to operate their vehicles in the most efficient way and to help ensure drivers are following safe and economical driving practices.

“Ford Telematics is another example of Ford facilitating the delivery of smart technology to help our customers enjoy the highest quality, safest and most sustainable operation of commercial vehicles available today,” said Steve Barrow, Commercial Vehicles Service Operations Manager, Ford of Europe.