UPS retrofits vans with new hybrid drivetrain

Posted on: September 28, 2015

Parcel carrier UPS says it plans to repower a considerable number of its van fleet with a locally-developed hybrid driveline as part of its global strategy to lower its carbon footprint.

Designed and developed by engineering consultancy Revolve Technologies, the hybrid driveline also serves to extend the useful service life of the company’s Mercedes-Benz Vario vans which are no longer in production.

Revolve Technologies used the Cenex 2015 Low Carbon event at Millbrook to present the hybrid drivetrain installed in a UPS Mercedes-Benz Vario van.

The hybrid system employs a Ford Focus diesel engine to act as a generator, which runs at one of three fixed speeds depending on demand. It is optimised for emissions and consumption at 1,300, 2,200 and 3,200rpm. The battery/power management system and P180 electric traction motor, which drives the rear wheels directly, are Magtec units made in Sheffield. During braking the traction motor becomes a generator, recovering energy by producing electricity which is stored in the batteries.

The new drivetrains will be installed in the vans by Tevva Motors of Hutton. The additional weight of the hybrid components is offset to a degree by using a lighter diesel engine, and the drivetrain has no significant effect on the vans’ payload.

Commercial vehicle registrations continue to increase across Europe

Posted on: September 25, 2015

Demand for new commercial vehicles increased in the EU for the eighth consecutive month in August, according to new numbers published by ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association) this week.

Overall registrations were up 8.7% year-on-year in August, with Spain and Italy posting the biggest gains. The UK also saw strong growth, as reported by the SMMT earlier this month. France was stable and Germany saw a decline compared to the same month last year.

In year-to-date numbers, the overall EU market is up 11.8% on 2014 registrations to the end of August. Again, Spain reported the strongest growth, ahead of the UK and Italy.

In terms of individual market segments, the results were all positive. Bus and coach registrations posted the strongest growth, up 23.1% over the same month last year and 16.5% year-to-date. The UK market led the way, recording a 117.5% increase over August 2014 numbers.

Heavy commercial vehicles over 16 tonnes recorded a 19.0% increase year-on-year for August, and currently runs 20.7% ahead of 2014 numbers year-to-date.

Medium and heavy vehicle over 3.5 tonnes recorded a 14.7% increase in registrations compared to last August, which means the year-to-date registrations are 16.6% ahead of last year’s numbers.

The largest segment, light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, saw a 7.0% increase year-on-year for August, and year-to-date numbers are currently 10.8% ahead of 2014.

Dearman looks to zero-emissions refrigerated transport

Posted on: October 1, 2015

Dearman Engines of Croydon is progressing development of its innovative zero-emission engine aimed at replacing diesel refrigeration systems.

The company has developed a single-cylinder engine fuelled by liquid nitrogen. Heat exchange fluid is released into the cylinder, filling it almost to capacity before liquid nitrogen is injected. On contact with the heat exchange fluid, it transforms rapidly into a gaseous state. The explosive transition to gas generates significant pressure to drive the piston’s power stroke. The subsequent exhaust stroke expels the fluid, which is then recovered, reheated and reused, while the nitrogen or air is expelled to the atmosphere.

The system is currently undergoing on-vehicle trials at the MIRA testing facility in Nuneaton. Commercial field trials are scheduled to commence later this year and extended field trials are scheduled to begin in a number of markets in early 2016.

In the past few months, Dearman has announced the receipt of £2m of investment funding from the Coast to Coast enterprise partnership, as well as grant funding from Innovate UK to develop a wider range of applications for its engine design. The company is also developing multi-cylinder engines which can be used as vehicle drive units, and expects to make further announcements in coming months.

Highways England invests £1.8bn in Midlands’ roads

Posted on: October 1, 2015

Highways England has met with suppliers to set out plans for a £1.8 billion investment to improve roads in the Midlands.

As part of the government’s ‘Road Investment Strategy’ to triple spending levels on roads by the end of the decade, the plan includes:

Improvements planned for M42 junction 6
New smart motorway around the M42/M40 interchange
Development of a new link road connecting M54, M6 and the M6 Toll
New, bigger M6 junction 10
Plans to replace roundabouts at A50 Uttoxeter
Widening of the A500 at Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent
New smart motorway between M6 junctions 13 and 15
Improvements planned for A46 junctions
A new smart motorway between junctions 2 and 4 of the M6
Improvement for the A38 Derby junctions
Widening of the A5 Dodwells to Longshoot
A new smart motorway between junction 23a and 25 of the M1

Highways England Regional Director Tim Harbot said, “These new schemes will bring huge improvements to journeys around the Midlands.

“The government has committed record funding to specific transport projects here so the Midlands can act as a transport hub for the entire country. We’re delivering that investment to help unlock billions for the economy by increasing road capacity, improving traffic flow and improving safety and accessibility for all road users.”

Bibby Distribution innovates to reduce carbon footprint

Posted on: September 30, 2015

Logistics provider Bibby Distribution has developed a new milk collection vehicle that features significantly reduced fuel usage and carbon emissions, as well as improved operating conditions for drivers.

Bibby Distribution collects milk from First Milk farms in Scotland, Cumbria and Wales to supply to the retail, food service and milk markets. The company’s fleet of 50 vehicles collects 2.5 million litres of milk daily.

Bibby has developed its new collection vehicle in conjunction with Sayers Road Tankers and Crossland Tankers. It is based on a Scania Euro-6 32-tonne 8×2 rigid with several innovative features to improve the efficiency of pumping operations. So far seven vehicles have been completed and put into use, with the entire fleet of 50 trucks eventually expected to be replaced or converted.

The New Generation Farm Collection Vehicle incorporates an improved hydraulic pump drive and a Gardner Denver Optiload engine management system to ensure the engine only runs when pumping, reducing both fuel usage and wear and tear.

Changes to the pipework layout are claimed to make cleaning and maintenance easier by improving access to components. This has reduced in-service requirements from three system services annually to just one, bringing down vehicle downtime. The cabinet area is also heated to prevent the pump freezing in cold weather, making life easier for drivers and improving efficiency.

The new vehicles also incorporate Scania C200 on-board telematics to monitor driver performance and further improve overall efficiency.

The company claims that the new vehicles use 53% less fuel than conventional vehicles, and that converting its entire fleet will save more than 1,700 tonnes of CO2 during the next five years.

Tyre pressure safety programme extended

Posted on: September 29, 2015

A pilot road safety service which allows car, van, lorry and caravan drivers to quickly check tyre pressures at motorway services has been extended until the end of the year.

The programme, co-ordinated by Highways England in conjunction with motorway services operator Welcome Break and drive-over tyre technology developers WheelRight, is running at the motorway services on the southbound M6 at Keele in Staffordshire.

The project aims to make drivers aware of any tyre issues before they return to the motorway, reducing the risk of tyre-related incidents. Across England, there are 3,600 wheel or tyre-related incidents on motorways and major A roads every month.

Under the scheme, drivers can drive their vehicle through one of two dedicated sensor stations which instantly assess each vehicle’s tyre pressures. The sensors then provide the driver with a print-out of the results.

The process takes just 30 seconds, with WheelRight ambassadors on hand to offer help and advice. Inflation facilities are available so drivers can take immediate action to rectify a poor tyre pressure reading.

Highways England’s Incident Prevention Manager John Walford said, “The primary cause of commercial vehicle tyre failure is underinflation. Tyre problems are a major factor behind routine breakdowns and more serious incidents on our motorways and major A roads – leading to congestion, injuries and in some cases fatalities.

“This project is tackling the issue head-on by alerting drivers to tyre issues and allows them to sort them out before leaving the services to resume motorway journeys.”

Government figures suggest one in 12 HGV tyres is dangerously underinflated, with the figure one in eight for cars. Many drivers do not know the correct PSI for their vehicles, although they can also get advice on that at the pilot sensor stations.

Many commercial drivers also leave tyre maintenance to their depots and do not check pressures themselves with hard-to-reach tyres, such as those on the inside of axles.

Highways England’s incident prevention team is also investigating ways of quickly scanning vehicles, especially lorries, for other issues such as tyre tread depth, overheating brakes or axles which can cause lorries to break down suddenly, leading to congestion.

Feature: The importance of maintaining diesel particulate filters

Posted on: October 1, 2015

Euro-6 emissions regulations have meant a rapid increase in the number of trucks on the road fitted with diesel particulate filters (DPFs) – an essential part of Euro-6, which prevent particulate matter and other emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

DPFs are an essential maintenance item for operators to factor into their vehicle schedules, which must be cleaned or replaced at regular intervals. With filters for commercial vehicles costing between £1,200-£4,000, replacing items damaged through clogging or mishandling is an expensive business.

Slough-based emissions specialist Ceramex has developed new processes for cleaning and inspecting DPFs, as well as an exchange filter programme for a number of vehicle manufacturers.

Marcus Beament, Account Manager for Ceramex, explains why proper handling and cleaning is important. “The DPF is a key part of the emissions system. It reacts adversely and eventually fails if ash accumulates inside and not cleaned out.”

Ceramex has developed a process called Xpurge which uses purified water and an air pulse to return the DPF to “good-as-new” levels, according to Beament. Once the filter has been cleansed, Ceramex inspects it to check for small holes and cracks, comparing the cleaned filter’s efficiency with that of a new filter.

The largely automated process takes about two hours from the filter arriving at Ceramex’s Slough facility to completion for dispatch back to a dealership.

The company’s filter exchange programme means that when a clogged DPF is taken off a truck in a dealer’s workshop it can immediately be replaced by a cleaned one off the shelf in the parts department.

Some service departments have caused damage to filters by attempting to blow out the accumulated particulate matter using a workshop airline. Unfortunately the damage can render the filter too damaged to be swapped. This approach is also only likely to clear about 30% of any blockage in the filter, as well as blowing carcinogenic material out into the air.

DPFs regenerate periodically under normal vehicle usage, but the burn-off process is intended to clear soot from the filter rather than ash, which will continue to accumulate. This creates back pressure in the system which can increase diesel consumption by up to 5%. If the DPF clogs up completely, the engine will eventually switch into limp-home mode and the filter will be more difficult to revive. As Beament observes, “A blocked DPF means the engine cannot breathe and will react accordingly. It will be asked to work a lot harder and will burn more fuel as a consequence.”

Cleaning frequency will depend on how the vehicle is used. Some manufacturers suggest the filters can last up to 200,000km before the first clean is required, but it will vary considerably depending on the vehicle’s workload.

“It could be once every two years or once every 12 months depending on whether the truck spends most of its time on the motorway or is on city centre delivery work,” Beament observes.

Ceramex has gained considerable experience in cleaning DPFs in recent years for vehicles fitted with filters to meet requirements of the London Low Emission Zone, with some LEZ filters having been successfully cleaned up to 10 times.

With DPFs a key part of Euro-6 emissions regulations, the company’s workload has increased already, and the imminent adoption of Euro-6 standards for vans means that is expected to continue to increase in coming years. “We’re already cleaning thousands a year and we can scale up our capacity to deal with tens of thousands more,” says Beament.

Artemis develops cost-effective hydraulic hybrid system

Posted on: September 28, 2015

Artemis Intelligent Power of Edinburgh is seeking new partners to help develop its hydraulic parallel hybrid system.

The Artemis system uses braking energy to pressurise oil in the system and move it from low pressure tanks into high pressure tanks. The stored pressure is subsequently released to assist the engine during acceleration.

Although the concept is not new, the Artemis system is based around a ‘Digital Displacement’ pump, which features 12 cylinders and solenoid valves controlled by sophisticated software for more efficient operation.

Retrofitted to an Alexander Dennis bus operated by Lothian Buses, initial testing has shown a 5.1% improvement in fuel efficiency on cross-city route 12 in Edinburgh. Independent testing at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford on a simulated bus route showed a 7.3% improvement.

Artemis believes there is scope to double these efficiency improvements in future applications. New developments in the ‘Digital Displacement’ technology could give a 3-4% improvement in the system, and the use of an automated manual gearbox instead of the torque converter unit fitted to the test vehicle would provide even more significant gains. Stop-start technology would also provide a significant economy boost, as the high torque of the pump motor could be used to restart the engine. Ultimately, Artemis claims the initial test results of 5.1% and 7.3% improvements could be improved to 20% and 27% for the same bus routes.

The hydraulic hybrid system is significantly cheaper than an electric hybrid system, according to Artemis, and is much easier to retrofit and transfer between vehicles. The main downside is a weight penalty of about 200kg, which could be reduced significantly with the use of carbon fibre oil tanks – albeit at a significant cost increase.

The company claims that the hydraulic system would be self-funding within the vehicle lifetime and without the need for funding subsidies.

Stertil Koni launches wireless agricultural lifting system

Posted on: September 30, 2015

Commercial vehicle lift supplier Stertil Koni has launched new lifting equipment for agricultural vehicles and machinery.

The new lifting system has been developed using Stertil Koni’s range of wireless mobile column lifts. It incorporates a number of special adapters and accessories to simplify maintenance, repair and servicing operations, including adjustable wheel clamps and ‘pin and ball’ tow hitches.

Depending on the size and weight of the vehicle being lifted – such as tractors, excavators, combine harvesters or trailers – multiple column lifts can be combined in any configuration to achieve the required total lifting capacity and optimum weight distribution. The operation is controlled by an engineer using seven-inch colour touchscreens mounted on each column.

The system has been designed for lifting on vehicles’ axles or tyres for flexibility and versatility, with wireless connection between each column eliminating trip hazards.

Stertil Koni General Manager Tony Edge said, “Our new agricultural vehicle lifting system means that mechanics and service engineers no longer have to rely on cranes and hoists or even lie on their backs to access the underside of vehicles and trailers. While specialist vehicle lifting equipment is now commonplace in most workshops, the agricultural industry has tended to lag behind in the use of such technology. We are confident that our new lifting system will prove to be invaluable as engineers become aware of its many advantages and benefits.”

In-vehicle cameras take the next step in fleet risk management

Posted on: September 29, 2015

Telematics company Motrak has become one of the first to add in-vehicle cameras to assist its tracking system.

The new technology will be launched by the end of the year, with the potential to produce significant savings for all types of businesses.

Paul Holdcroft, Head of Motrak at parent firm Motiva Group, said, “The popularity of in-vehicle CCTV technology has taken off in recent years, led by the need to improve safety, reduce insurance costs and enhance duty of care.

“Cameras enable companies to protect themselves if one of their vehicles is involved in an accident. They’ll provide a detailed record of what happened and can lead to cheaper insurance premiums as well as faster processing of any claims.

“Our telematics and tracking system optimises fleet operations and can help mitigate poor driving, but the addition of in-vehicle CCTV will take risk management to the next level.

“There’s quite a synergy between the two, so we see this as a natural progression that will have a number of benefits, both to businesses who operate commercial fleets and the drivers themselves.

“It will create a seamless umbrella of preventative and protective technology.”