Smart Trucks Platform Panel meeting

Fundamental changes are required in the ways goods are transported and in the vehicles and energy sources we use to come close to 1.5-2˚ C scenario agreed under the Paris Climate Agreement. The solutions to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions from road freight transport are known. First, we can use cleaner and more efficient vehicles and fuel, equip vehicles with fuel-saving technologies such as aerodynamics devices, and introduce maintenance and fuel management programs. Second, we can improve the efficiency of freight movement through better driving behavior, smart logistics planning, and load optimization and consolidation. And finally, we can optimize the use of trucks in a multi-modal freight system. However, road freight carriers cannot make the changes alone, especially as the market is fragmented and includes many small carriers. Dedicated programs and initiatives can help carriers to become, together with their customers, real Smart Freight Leaders.

Smart Trucks Platform Panel meeting

SFC’s Smart Trucks Platform aims to create an action perspective for road freight carriers by helping them to find the right technologies and solutions for trucks and fleet operations that are proven to work and reduce emissions. This is done in three ways: knowledge products on technologies and measures, training (‘Smart Transport Managers Training’) and networking & events. A key element is that we make use of and build on what already exists, and take this to markets for local implementation – such as China – where initiatives are still developing. For this reason, SFC established a “STP Panel” consisting of about 10 leading experts from trucking efficiency initiatives in different countries to guide the Smart Trucks Platform and provide input into its products.

The STP panel meeting in Amsterdam was a first step towards networking and scaling successes globally on smart truck initiatives. Participating leading initiatives included: Trucking Efficiency from the US (hosted by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and Carbon War Room), Green Trucking Partnership from Australia, Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership from the UK, Centre of Sustainable Road Freight from the UK, ObjectifCO2 from France, and the Sustainable Logistics Center from Argentina. The International Road Transportation Union (IRU) and China Federation for Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) also participated. During a two-day meeting we exchanged ideas, successes and challenges.

Different approaches that work

  • Participants realized that approaches are different between countries depending on the stakeholders involved and market characteristics, but also have a lot in common. Most importantly, all initiatives are successful in their own way and able to show results.
  • All initiatives try to address market barriers to adopt fuel technologies by showing best practice examples and by reaching out to carriers in collaboration with others.
  • All initiatives also share the focus on providing information on technologies that includes more than fuel savings but also includes other information, such as expected maintenance costs, a list of suppliers, scenarios for different road conditions and best practice examples.
  • Having industry‘s trust and respect is critical to achieve technology adoption. Mike Roeth from Trucking Efficiency stated that  research among members indicates that carriers rely mostly on their own research for decision making, followed by third party organizations and fleet events. Surprisingly, the least influential are manufacturers and OEMS.
  • NACFE’s Trucking Efficiency is quite successful in reaching carriers by using their own network of transport experts who are able to show the business value to carriers to reduce fuel consumption.
  • Gerald Lalevee (France) presented the ObjectifCO2 program that is aimed at continuous improvement as well, but uses a very different approach to move the market. ObjectifCO2 asks their members to sign a charter of commitment on CO2 emission reduction and recognizes their efforts with a performance label.
  • Another view was shown by Mark Gjerek from Australian Green Trucking Partnership who is producing real-world trials and case studies which are published on the government website and in newsletters to get carriers to see that fuel-saving technologies work in practice.
  • Brian Robinson presented his Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (partially funded by government) and is producing track-based tests of vehicles and technologies to increase confidence of both carriers and suppliers to invest in them.
  • Jorge Tesler, who is a member of the Smart Freight Centre Advisory Council and founder of the Sustainable Logistics Centre in Argentina pointed to the need for an analysis of each market to work out the best approaches. Fleet compositions, fuel and labor costs locally and types of transport influence the feasibility of fuel-saving technologies and the routes to scale. There can also be similarities, for example, Australia’s carrier composition where 90% of carriers have 1 or 2 trucks, is more similar to Argentina and China that one would imagine.

Next steps in the Smart Trucks Platform

The panel provided input to the draft Smart Transport Managers Training, and welcomed this as a service that likely addresses a need in developed and developing countries. The main recommendation on the development of a platform in China was to focus on technologies already available and involve OEMs in their uptake by carriers.

Next steps are to

  • Tailor and test the Smart Transport Managers Training course in China during 2017, for roll out through existing institutions from 2018 onwards, while in parallel building a network of trained fleet managers. The blueprint course can also be used in other markets, through the global STP.
  • Develop fact sheets, case studies and other knowledge products on an expanding set of technologies and measures, moving from proven to emerging/innovative technologies and measures
  • Hold STP Panel meetings at least twice per year to increase collaboration between them and obtain information and experience to feed into STP products and services.

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