Blogs, topical advice, and thoughts from experienced logistics industry advisers

Delegates at FTA’s series of Transport Manager conferences have been given food for thought by Martin Flach, Product Director of the events’ headline sponsor Iveco, when he claimed that running an HGV on natural gas could save them up to 40 per cent in fuel costs.

Revealing that 40 per cent of the total cost of fleet ownership is fuel and AdBlue, Flach said, “Everybody worries about purchasing and financing but really you should be worrying about fuel and AdBlue.”

He argued that the annual average fuel costs for a truck to cover 100,000 miles is £44,000, based on the assumption of nine miles per gallon and a contract price of 87 pence per litre for diesel. Flach said, “If you can save one per cent on fuel that’s £440. If the fuel price goes up that’s fuel savings of £500 a year.”

Iveco has spent a lot of time and effort on saving fuel. This includes reducing friction in the engine, low viscosity oils and anti-idling functions. Other features include an alternator, air compressor and steering pump that only run when they need to.

Together with smart EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) for improved combustion, Flach claimed that all of these modifications can give you anything up to a 5.4 per cent saving on fuel.

Iveco has also installed a predictive driving system called High Cruise, linking GPS to cruise control. Flach said smaller engines working harder could achieve much faster rear axle ratios to keep the engine revs down, while on tyres the key point was to fit quality.

With all the technology they had, Flach maintained that with the right operation, you can save 10 per cent on your fuel, worth around £4,400.

Fuelling change
Taking delegates through a history of fuel, from wood in the 1700s to diesel in the 1930, Flach said, “In more recent years, natural gas is a fuel which has become available for commercial vehicles, and now we’re looking at not just natural gas but biomethane as well.”

Arguing that the replacement fuel has to be something that is as good as diesel, Flach said Iveco has examined all the alternatives: hybrids, hydrogen, CNG, biodiesel, ethanol and electric.

Fuel efficiency? It’s a gas
The one that really works for Iveco is natural gas, partly because of its diverse applications. “We can use it in urban environments, regional environments, light off road, and with Liquid Natural Gas long-haul,” Flach said.

While not new technology, Flach said the beauty of natural gas as a fuel is not only cost, but its air quality benefits too. He said, “NOx particulates are way better than diesel and CO2 emissions using fossil natural gas are about 10 per cent better than diesel. If you use a biomethane then you’re getting up to 80-90 per cent better.”

Iveco offers a nine-litre natural gas engine with 400 horsepower, the same power and torque that you get with a diesel engine. Flach said, “We’ve optimised the layout to get as much gas on as possible so you get the longest range possible. We can do LNG we can do CNG, we can do a mixture of the two where that works.”

The other advantage with natural gas is the simplicity of the technology, which Flach contrasted favourably with “the huge chemistry set” of a Euro VI diesel engine. He said, “The argument is natural gas, no EGR, no SCR, no AdBlue, no particulate filter, no post injection, really simple technology. It gives a very clean solution, a very economic solution and a very safe solution.”

And the cost savings? Assuming the contract price of a litre of diesel is 87 pence and the price of a kilo of natural gas is 64 pence, you achieve a 25 per cent saving on a kilo of gas compared to a litre of diesel, and you save about 15 per cent in kilos against litres. Flach concluded, “You end up with something in the region of 30-40 per cent of fuel saving costs against the diesel vehicle.”
Read more insights from Matt Harrington, Editor of our monthly magazine, Freight & Logistics. The magazine is free to FTA members or available to purchase via subscription to non-members.

Posted: 09/01/2017 13:45:21 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

Keep Santa's sleigh moving

It occurred to me that not many freight businesses, be they on land, sea or air, would have a great deal of use for leaping lords or piping pipers and that large numbers of swans a-swimming could actually be a hazard to water traffic. On that basis I decided to compile my own personal selection of twelve festive gifts for the transport and logistics sector:

1. From future historians, a description of how, in 2017, Britain inaugurated its first fully integrated national transport policy since the Romans.

2. From the CBI, an instruction to members to make sure delivery drivers are treated like human beings and given access to toilet, washing and cafe facilities on their premises.

3. From everyone involved in the sector, large or small, a firm and clear list of priorities for the Brexit talks to make sure the right decisions are made to enable this vital part of the economy to flourish.

4. From the National Infrastructure Commission, to give its backing to the GB Freight Route scheme, allowing lorries to carry goods all over the country on drive-on, drive-off trains, if The Grinch doesn't hike access charges of course.

5. For employers, unions, Department for Transport, Department for Education and the Department for Employment and Learning to work together to promote careers in the freight industry before the recruitment time bomb goes off in everyone’s face.

6. From all UK airports, to put forward their schemes for expansion and promote them through local planning processes so we get the right runways in the right places rather than waiting decades for development at Heathrow.

7. From the Department of Transport, to think again about All Lane Running and to consider Smart Motorways as a more effective option which doesn’t put motorists, and recovery drivers in particular, at serious avoidable risk.

8. From the Brexit ministers, a guarantee that the EU Port Services Regulation will never be enshrined in UK law. Not enacting it at all will save the time-consuming heartache of waiting for it to be incorporated into Mrs May’s Great Repeal Bill.

9. From the motor industry the resurrection of the wonderful and long-missed Bedford truck, the vehicle still unsurpassed in so many ways, into a 21st century model.

10. From the Department of Transport (and I know I’ve already asked for stuff from them but they do hold the key to most of the really good gifts), a genuine commitment to promoting Britain’s shockingly under-exploited inland waterways and coastal waters for the movement of goods.

11. From Transport for London, an admission that squeezing HGVs into smaller and smaller areas of road to make room for cycles is contributing to the capital’s gridlock and pollution and impacting any attempts to be pro-freight.

12. From Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, recognition that freight represents a massive 5% of GDP, that all industries and communities depend on it for their daily needs and that he really ought to bear its importance in mind when he takes crucial decisions.

None of these things will bother Santa one bit as the Master of Magical Logistics, but if he can stuff one or two of them into the appropriate stockings, I'm sure we’ll all have a happier New Year.
(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 22/12/2016 14:11:38 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

One of the big challenges facing operators is planning annual tests when the fleet is close to 100 per cent utilisation. Christmas is just such a time. Indeed, if you operate a large fleet, you will be very familiar with the need to schedule these in at this time of year in such a way as to cause the minimum disruption to deliveries.

As we hit the seasonal peak, it becomes more and more challenging to take vehicles off the road and into the workshop for pre-MOT preparation, not to mention the annual test itself. For food and drink distribution and, it’s fair to say retailers generally, this peak is generated by pre-Christmas deliveries and with every asset being ‘sweated’ to the max.

This seasonally induced pressure on capacity means that achieving the maximum possible first-time pass rate has never been more important for hard-pressed logistics companies at this time of year.

Fortunately, Volvo has a fantastic suite of uptime solutions to help operators who are working flat out to maintain the highest levels of customer service they deliver year round. In addition to the top level customer experience offered by the Volvo ‘Gold’ Repair and Maintenance contract, our ‘connected’ trucks can help ensure that uptime isn’t compromised by unscheduled downtime. What’s more, our user-friendly Volvo Service Point Online software manages service schedules, MOT prep appointments and daily defect reporting. Crucially, many operators juggling vehicle availability for time critical schedules in the run up to Christmas have found these solutions from the Volvo dealer network to be of major assistance in keeping their fleet moving and earning its keep.

The good news is that, thanks to a great deal of hard work and investment by our dealers, Volvo has a fantastic MOT first-time pass rate of 96.9 per cent. In addition to state-of-the-art workshops and the top technicians in the business, many of our dealers also have their own ATF lane. That means there is usually less distance to travel for the annual test, especially if the vehicle or trailer is maintained by the Volvo dealer. I like to think of the brilliant solutions from our dealers which I have focused on in this blog as a great example of ‘joined up’ thinking, where our customers are always the winners – whatever the time of year.
(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association).

Posted: 28/10/2016 14:39:42 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

A baby grand piano descends through the air against the backdrop of an ominous grey sky. Two male boxers square up to one another inside the ring of a dimly lit studio gym. Two rams prepare to dual at the cliff edge of a snowy mountain top as the title credit reads: Things you shouldn’t get caught between.

This is the opening sequence to the new THINK! cycle safety campaign. But what does a piano, boxing and rams have to do with cycle safety you might ask? Well, nothing really. It’s what they represent that’s important: the moment before impact, being caught between two things – a place you don’t want to be.

This is the simple idea behind our cycle safety campaign. We want to remind cyclists of the dangers of getting between a lorry and a left hand turn – the area where one third of collisions between cyclists and lorries happen. Our advice to cyclists is ‘Don’t get between a lorry and a left hand turn. Hang back’.

In the last 5 years, 104 cyclists have been killed in accidents involving an HGV. Startlingly, this accounts for nearly 20% of all cycling fatalities – revealing that HGVs present one of the largest dangers to cyclists on the road. Better mirrors, proximity sensors and blind spot cameras are making driving safer, but technology improvements will never replace the judgement and expertise of you – the driver – behind the wheel.

Taking a proactive approach to improving the safety of everyone on the roads – beyond regulation requirements – is high on the agenda for the freight and haulage industry. Safe driving practices are an integral part of your professional development. Looking out for vulnerable road users is second nature to you. You might be ‘tyred’ (pun intended) of the hearing the same message, but THINK! is all about encouraging each and every one of us to think about our behaviour on the roads.

You know the drill. You know to check your vehicle before you set off. You know what to look out for in your mirrors. You know that you should never overtake a cyclist on the approach to a junction. You know to pull up behind cyclists at a junction rather than alongside them. And you know to give them space when you overtake. But knowing and doing – each and every single time – are two very different things.

So next time you’re out on the road and you see a junction approaching, take extra time to look out for cyclists. Being attuned (get it?!) to the risk of pianos falling from the sky is not something that drivers need to be aware of, but as the number of cyclists on the road increase, being vigilant to the movements of riders at junctions is the only way to avoid the potential devastating consequences of a collision. THINK! Take extra time to look out for cyclists.

(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 26/09/2016 14:27:55 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

Reducing the total cost of ownership is the main aim for many fleet operators. Are there any simple tips for fleet operators to get the most out of their truck tyre investment?

Like all investments, truck tyres must be carefully selected and managed. For any fleet to get the most from its tyres there are clear actions that must be taken.

Choosing the right tyre for the job is essential. This means selecting those suited to the vehicle’s type of operation and ensuring that they are the correct size and rating for that vehicle and the work it will do. For example, trucks in regional service will benefit the best from high mileage tyres such as Goodyear KMAX and long haul trucks will benefit from fuel efficient tyres such as Goodyear FUELMAX.

Using truck tyres that offer high mileage and low fuel consumption is essential to minimise fleet operating costs. However, it is vital that both tyres and vehicles are regularly maintained to ensure that those benefits continue. For example, incorrect tyre pressures cause excessive tyre wear and affect fuel consumption. Weight distribution of the cargo is also a factor that affects the loading on individual tyres and thus their rate of wear.

An important aspect of good truck tyre management is regrooving and retreading. A quality truck tyre that has been properly maintained is suitable for retreading, which means even lower costs and greater environmental benefits. For example, Goodyear TreadMax retreaded products offer similar performance to that of new tyres. With this approach fleets can benefit from the high performance of these truck tyres over the complete life cycle.

The final factor and indeed often the largest variable is driving technique. Fleets that put their drivers through regular training say that this is the single most important factor in reducing fuel bills. It also helps tyres last longer.

The combination of the most efficient truck tyres in terms of mileage and fuel economy, proper tyre management, regular vehicle maintenance, correct loading and driver training all combine to reduce fleet operating costs and improve efficiency. This means optimising the total cost of ownership. Getting the most out of truck tyres is possible, fleets need to always keep it in mind.

For more information on Goodyear’s range, visit

Posted: 07/09/2016 14:23:11 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments