Logistics firms respond to calls to make haulage greener

By Anne Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

DHL has invested in greener teardrop trailers
DHL has invested in greener teardrop trailers
Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are gearing up for tougher restrictions on diesel and petrol vehicles on Britain’s roads.

The big obstacle at the moment is that no electric battery is capable of effectively running a heavy goods vehicle (HGV), according to experts. But greener self-guided lorries are being evaluated.

With the government announcing in July that all petrol and diesel cars would be banned from 2040, the development of greener transport is now high on the logistic sector’s agenda.

The government has announced that a £8.1M trial of self-guided lorries will start in 2018, following successful trials in Europe and America.

£8.1M trial of self-guided lorries 

Under the pilot project, a ‘platoon’ of two or three HGVs will travel in convoy, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle. All lorries will have a driver on standby.

The idea is that the front truck pushes air out of the way, making the convoy more efficient, thereby lowering emissions and improving air quality.

Platooning has been described as “high hanging fruit, with high hurdles on safety”​, by Christopher Snelling, head of national and regional policy and public affairs at the Freight Transport Association. Whether it would provide the scale of benefits required in the UK has yet to be determined, he added.

In the meantime, a lot could be done about the size and shape of HGVs and their loads, so that they can carry more per vehicle, but this is currently hindered by EU regulations restricting size and weight, said Snelling.

Running a pilot using electric vehicles

The Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF) is running a pilot using electric vehicles in Kent this month.

This is partly in response to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s new transport strategy for the capital, which will focus on the less polluting vehicles, said the FSDF’s chief executive Chris Sturman.

Over the past few years, 3PL DHL has also invested in electric vehicles, and aerodynamic teardrop trailers, which use less fuel and emit less carbon.

By 2025, DHL’s aim is to operate 20% of its own first and last mile services with clean pick-up and delivery systems, it claimed.

Related topics: Supply Chain, Skills Gap

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