18 November 2019
logistics: Making bulk logistics more sustainable
The road haulage
sector, including bulk logistics, is essential to the productivity of the UK
economy. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) reports that 89 percent of all goods
transported by land in Great Britain are moved directly by road, and that road
haulage is the UK’s fifth largest employer.
that activity is bound to have an impact on the environment.
According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), transport now accounts for
approximately 25 percent of UK
greenhouse gas emissions. Haulage companies undoubtedly have a responsibility
to do what they can to limit this, and the government’s Road to Zero Strategy provides guidance on what needs to change, in
order to achieve a new industry-wide voluntary target of reducing 2015 HGV
emission levels by 15 percent by 2025. Key to this is making our transport
infrastructure itself – roads, motorways and vehicles - more sustainable.
‘Green logistics’ and
sustainability are becoming increasingly important considerations for bulk
logistics fleet managers, so how might a more sustainable transport
infrastructure impact the industry?
Clean Air Zones
More and more UK
cities are in the process of planning and developing Clean Air Zones (CAZs),
most of which include proposed levies on diesel vehicles, plus heavy charges
for HGVs – typically £100 per day. London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone already runs 24/7, 365 days a year, and access
costs a daily charge of £100 for lorries over 3.5 tonnes that do not meet Euro
The proposed CAZ
charges for HGVs are considerable, and there have been multiple concerns voiced
from the logistics sector as a result. A coalition of trade bodies, including
the RHA and the FTA, have come together to query the plans, citing financial damage to logistics SMEs and
disruption to essential supply chains and the UK economy, among other key
issues. It’s certainly true that there is currently no alternative to HGVs for
urban bulk logistics drops, and that a larger vehicle can carry the cargo of
many smaller vehicles, therefore reducing the number of vehicles on the road
and easing congestion. It remains to be seen whether local authorities will
reconsider their CAZ plans relating to HGVs, but it’s definitely something bulk
logistics fleet managers should keep on the radar.
As part of the Road to
Zero, the government’s long-term goal is to develop and deploy zero emission
HGVs. There are updates to infrastructure needed on a vast scale before this is
viable though, including:
- The establishment of depot electric vehicle
- Additional electricity generation, and
- A ramping up of zero emission HGV design and
In the meantime, gas-electric
plug-in hybrid HGVs offer a shorter-term solution, particularly those that use
hydrogen, a clean, emission-free gas that’squick to refuel. Of
course, the UK will need more hydrogen refuelling stations, but there are plans to have 65 across the country
by 2020. As the need to
adopt alternative fuels increases, bulk logistics fleet managers are likely to feel
the pressure to diversify their fleets with hybrid vehicles.
Electric road systems
infrastructure that would enable widespread use of electric HGVs is a long way
off, another scenario that’s been explored is a system of ‘electric roads’,
created through overhead conductive technology that would power electric
vehicles as they travel.
In its report into Zero Emission HGV InfrastructureRequirements, the
Committee on Climate Change weighed up the possibility of introducing electric
road systems for HGVs, including installing catenaries above motorways and
connecting them to HGVs via a pantograph, conductive rail technology built into
road surfaces that effectively charges vehicles as they drive, and inductive
wireless power transfer, which works via coils built into the road. Any of
these scenarios would revolutionise the bulk logistics industry, but would
require major investment and extensive road works and maintenance.
Boost your green logistics
credentials with bulk logistics optimisation
Whatever is around the
corner in terms of green logistics and sustainable infrastructure, the best way
for bulk logistics companies to ensure their operations are as sustainable as
possible right now is a digital optimisation system.
A system like
Touchstar’s makes it simple to track important sustainability metrics within your fleet, such as driver behaviour,
vehicle performance and load levels, so you can finetune operations until
they’re as efficient as can be. To find out more about how our optimisation
solutions can boost sustainability in your business, get in touch with us today.