Johnston Sweepers, Commercial Motor Awards 2018 Bodywork Innovation of the Year Award: Winners' Profile


Jump to: Developing the fully electric sweeper, Technical credentials, What next?.

Johnston Sweepers won Bodywork Innovation of the Year at the CM awards last year. This is the vehicle that allowed it to make a clean sweep in what was a hotly contested category.

Johnston Sweepers’ VE651 – or eVie (electric vehicle intelligent electronics) – is said to be Europe’s first fully electric truck-mounted sweeper.

“Sweeper companies are under increasing pressure to help authorities eliminate diesel and meet clean air targets” Johnston Sweeper’s awards entry

“It is against this background of seeking alternative fuels that Johnston’s design team made the strategic decision to develop what many thought was impossible – a fully electric truck-mounted sweeper.” reads the company’s awards entry.

Johnston, like a handful of other manufacturers, already offered a zero emission compact (2cu m) sweeper, but a larger fully electric truck capable of operating for a full work shift with routine overnight charging was widely considered unachievable due to the size and weight of the batteries. Undeterred, the company set about designing just such a sweeper, primarily to assess the feasibility of such a vehicle and to gauge market interest.

Developing the fully electric sweeper

Clive Offley, who heads up Johnston’s engineering team, outlines the complexity of the task. “We initially looked at electrifying just the bodywork – the sweeper – but it didn’t make sense to mount it onto a diesel chassis, or to create a hybrid. Municipals are working towards banning diesel entirely, so to remain ahead of the market we set about designing a fully electric machine.” To do so, Johnston worked in collaboration with Dutch electric vehicle specialist Emoss.

Once Johnston had sourced the battery (see below), it knew it would offset the weight of the two engines and two sets of transmission used in a standard diesel machine, meaning the overall weight and payload of the sweeper would remain the same.

“The main challenge was to position the batteries away from all the sweep gear” Clive Offley, head of engineering, Johnston Sweepers.

“A special system was developed to mount them behind the cab where the now-redundant exhaust and air cleaner are located. We also needed to develop electric drives for the suction fan, and all of the hydraulics and sweeper functions.” explains Offley. This proved to be more than a year’s work for Johnston’s R&D team.

“The project required us to find solutions for numerous highly complex technical challenges, but the outcome is that we have been able to produce a zero emission full-size sweeper with a 6-tonne payload, similar to a diesel machine, that is capable of a full sweeping shift, proving our theory,” adds Offley. “All of the automotive functions of the VE651 are electrically powered, as well as the sweeper fan, brushes and Supawash system, requiring no additional power input. And it is this aspect of the design which we believe makes the machine the first of its kind in Europe.”

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Technical credentials

The Johnston eVie makes use of a modified 16-tonne DAF LF chassis. A 200kWh lithium ion phosphate (LiFePO4) battery pack, which was chosen for its balance of weight, power density, charge rate and lower operating temperature (because it requires no liquid cooling), powers a high performance 350kW electric motor.

The truck is fitted with a pair of 22kW on-board chargers giving a charging capacity of 44kW, leaving the fastest possible charging time at four to five hours. It can be charged from various standard 415V AC 3-phase industrial sockets or from a supplied charging post. The AC charging connector is a Type 2, which can charge from any supply, such as those at motorway services and street-side chargers. The battery is good for 3,000 full charging cycles and an on-board battery management system constantly monitors and maintains the temperature and health of all battery cells. The truck’s driving range is 200km at mid-load on a single charge, meaning it operates at less than 1kWh per km.

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What next?

The Johnston eVie produces zero-exhaust and dust, and is virtually noise-free. The only sound comes from the airflow and the brushes on the road surface, making it ideal for municipal sweeping, working around pedestrians and residential streets without polluting the local environment in any way.

The machine has been put through extensive engineering development testing, and independent industry tests are under way in preparation for taking it to full production. A first production batch of machines is being built at Johnston’s manufacturing facility in Dorking, Surrey. The company says there has been “enormous interest in the sweeper from major UK cities, [elsewhere in] Europe, and worldwide”.

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  • The Commercial Motor Awards return on Thursday 28 November 2019 at The Vox Centre, Birmingham, celebrating the best in new and used commercial vehicle sales and aftersales. The awards welcomes not only dealers, but also bodybuilders, finance, rental, leasing and contract hire providers. Enter now for free and have your excellence recognised by the industry.

r2c Online, Commercial Motor Awards 2018 Workshop Innovation of the Year Award: Winners' Profile


Jump to: r2c and Cemex join forces, How r2c help Cemex stay compliant.

Construction materials supplier Cemex UK has streamlined its vehicle inspection management with an award-winning system from r2c Online.

When you have a fleet with as many moving parts as Cemex UK and you maintain as rigorous an approach to the highest standards of compliance as is possible in this industry, selecting a software supplier is a demanding process.

Sheffield-based r2c Online won the Workshop Innovation of the Year Award at the 2018 Commercial Motor Awards, backing up a win in the same category in 2017, so it comes with some pedigree. It won the two awards in part because of its work with one of the UK’s most demanding operators, Cemex UK, which included digitally managing vehicle inspections and helping it to become one of the first 20 operators in the country to obtain Earned Recognition status with the DVSA.

r2c Online’s compliance and maintenance platform supplies and connects more than 25,000 fleets and 1,100 workshops with over 11 million digital records processed and securely held online.

"The collaborative features for defect management, planned and unplanned scheduling and inspection data entry have helped build an efficient supply chain network." Nick Walls, MD, r2c Online

Paul Clarke, logistics fleet engineering manager at Cemex UK, says the company’s six-weekly fleet maintenance programme is challenging, given that its vehicle parc (including trailers) is more than 400 pieces of equipment. That leaves Cemex handling up to 40 planned maintenance events a week; on the afternoon we visited, it had handled 16 jobs, with 26 on the previous day.

At the outset of its search for a suitable software supplier, Clarke set up a working party comprising himself, a fleet administrator, and members of the audit team, its internal IT team and the operations team, so they could map out what the business wanted to achieve through the tender.

“We saw circa six providers,” says Clarke. “Some did not have the web portal that r2c had, so they were struck off pretty quickly. Then it came down to a normal tender with costs, but there were add-ons that r2c could provide.”


r2c and Cemex join forces

The tender was carried out at the back end of 2016 and r2c was selected as it gave Cemex the best option to get inspection sheets from dealers into a database accessible via a web browser, while providing a level of monitoring of vehicle maintenance that would allow it to apply for Earned Recognition. The operator ran a trial of the r2c system in late 2017 and went live in February last year, with staff training taking place in both Rugby (Cemex’s UK home) and Sheffield.

Automating the inspection sheet process has allowed Cemex to streamline its inspection records processes. For one thing, this has meant that instead of dragging and dropping ‑ les into a database, a digital inspection sheet is automatically added to the system upon job sign-off, eradicating the use of paper. The new system also flags late or missing inspection sheets automatically, so paper documents don’t have to be continually chased.

"At the outset we did it to ease the process we had in place. We wanted to make the reporting automated." Paul Clarke, logistics fleet engineering manager, Cemex UK
"We didn’t want to go chasing, which could potentially have led to missed services. And for our green OCRS, we did not want that to happen. The bonus was we did it automatically and reported on a weekly basis, and if you look on the dashboard you can see it on a daily basis,” says Clarke.

A big bonus within the r2c offer was the system’s automatic mapping capabilities. These allow it to take the inspection sheet from a manufacturer’s dealership, look up the vehicle registration, check what is on top of the inspection sheet and close off the job that was allocated. It also updates the MoT dates and highlights any upcoming work.

A key consideration, naturally, was the system’s interaction with those of Cemex’s main truck suppliers, which are DAF, MAN, Renault and Volvo.

“DAF was easy,” says Clarke of this process. “MAN had some different descriptions, so we had to get that mapping right. It wasn’t a major issue and we’ve resolved it now. There is still the odd vendor out there [that doesn’t comply with the system]. But Renault is on r2c and our main tank maintenance provider in Rugby is on r2c as well.”

Even though cement tanks are not part of a six-weekly DVSA inspection, these have their own inspections as pressure vessels and are tested every two years. These inspection sheets are also handled through r2c with the majority coming through Midland Commercials, Clugstons and TIP Trailer Services.

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How r2c help Cemex stay compliant

“We are using tanker operator workshops to maintain the tank element to the right level,” says Clarke. “We have to make sure the pressure vessel is always up to standard so any cracks or cuts are dealt with, and make sure all the pipework is checked. Main manufacturers’ dealerships don’t have that experience on tanks and the pressure vessel is quite bespoke.”

With the compliance on the pressure vessels being handled through r2c, a report can be produced covering MoTs, tachograph inspections, LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) requirements and tank inspections.

Clarke says r2c has made managing compliance easier for Cemex.

“It alerts us to problems of missed inspections and MoTs, due to automatic reporting, and allows us to challenge the operation in a timely manner" Paul Clarke, logistics fleet engineering manager, Cemex UK

“Under the old system – even two years ago – it could have been two or three days as we were having paperwork sent through the post. And there are still one or two instances out there where we have decided to change the supplier because they haven’t adopted the r2c system”.

Being one of the 20 pilot operators for Earned Recognition has been a vital benefit of adopting r2c. Cemex, says Clarke, prides itself on its green OCRS, so the next stage of implementing r2c was to look for Earned Recognition. This saw Cemex audited by the DVSA and Clarke says that without an r2c-type system, “you would not get Earned Recognition status”. Cemex passed an audit of its records (both pre- and post-r2c implementation) and was granted Earned Recognition status at the 2018 CV Show.

Walls of r2c Online says the company has helped dozens of operators join the Earned Recognition scheme with a “complete compliance software package”. His plan for the future of the Commercial Motor Awards winner, he adds, is “to promote and support the digital compliance movement further through our ambitious customer care and software development plans”.

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The Workshop Innovation Award at the Commercial Motor Awards 2018 was sponsored by Hexagon Leasing

  • The Commercial Motor Awards return on Thursday 28 November 2019 at The Vox Centre, Birmingham, celebrating the best in new and used commercial vehicle sales and aftersales. The awards welcomes not only dealers, but also bodybuilders, finance, rental, leasing and contract hire providers. Enter now for free and have your excellence recognised by the industry.