Calor goes electric for London deliveries

Calor may be the UK’s best known supplier of bottled gas, but it has chosen electric power to deliver propane and butane products in central London. It is now operating a FUSO eCanter out of its Wandsworth depot to service an area which includes London’s ULEZ.

The 7.5-tonner, which features a safety rail-equipped body from SB Components, which gives it a typical payload of 2,370kg. As its duty cycle involves exchanging full bottles for empties, its payload remains high throughout. Its range of over 62 miles is more than enough for its daily 30-mile schedule, before recharging back at the depot.

The Calor vehicle is now one of 16 eCanters operating in the UK. Support is through the full Mercedes-Benz Trucks network. Manufacturer Daimler claims running cost savings equate to around £145 per 1,000 miles compared with the diesel Canter.

Alan Harrison, Calor’s national vehicle engineering manager said: “At Calor we like to move quickly to adopt any new technology that can help our business. The FUSO eCanter is a perfect example – it reduces the impact of our operations on the environment, while also making sound financial sense.”

Alexandru Nechita, one of the truck’s two drivers, added “The eCanter is so smooth. The pick-up from a standing start is really strong and it pulls away easily. The lack of noise or vibration in the cab is noticeable too, and makes for a much more relaxing drive. The truck’s size and manoeuvrability mean it’s easy to negotiate city-centre traffic or access particularly tight locations.”

#TruckingBritainOutOfCovid19: Empty streets boost productivity

Telematics provider Microlise has confirmed what we may already have suspected, that road transport would be more efficient if it weren’t for all those other road users. Its Data Science & Operational Research team has compared data from baseline figures recorded in the first week of February with each subsequent week.

The key results include fuel economy improved by 6 or 7%, and over-speeding and harsh braking events both reduced by up to 37%. The peak reduction in over-speeding was seen during the week beginning 13 April, since when the reduction has stabilised at around 31%. The harsh breaking improvement peaked during the previous week, now settled at 29%. The fuel economy improvement has remained fairly constant throughout.

Total mileage began to fall from 23 March, reaching its lowest level during the week beginning 6 April, down 27%, since when it has returned to about 16%.

The CEO of Microlise, Nazeem Raza, said “Travel movement for those hauliers who have been able to continue to trade, seems to have improved during lockdown – drivers are performing more safely and are travelling more efficiently between depots and delivery end-points, perhaps due to lighter traffic conditions and the fact that night-time delivery restrictions were relaxed.”

Looking ahead, Raza wondered “Could HGV-only lanes and more flexibility around delivery windows support a more agile supply chain into the future? What is certain is that the Coronavirus pandemic has thrown our global supply chain into sharper focus in a way that is likely to transform our logistics landscape into the future with data continuing to play a key role in supporting our sector as it returns to a new normal - a sector that yet again, has proved in a time of crisis - to be a bedrock within our economy.”

More detailed analysis of Abbey Logistics' fleet has shown significant increases in both average speeds and fuel efficiency since the lockdown.

Steve Granite, CEO of Abbey Logistics, said: “We have all been trading in incredibly challenging circumstances, but as a result of quieter roads, we have seen an improvement to customer service and savings in repair and maintenance and an increase in MPG as well as nearly 6% increase in the average speed of our fleet. This means the fleet is doing more with less and our assets are much more productive and require less repair and maintenance thanks to more consistent driving.

“To get a better understanding of these benefits, how they could be sustained and what it could mean to Abbey and other operators when traffic and congestion increases, we began a project with Microlise to analyse the data to share with the sector, which will hopefully help all hauliers as we come out of the crisis and potentially also help influence decisions around traffic management and congestion in the future.”

Abbey Logistics and Microlise began analysing Abbey’s journey metrics for its fleet of 550 drivers, 400 trucks and 550 bulk liquid and powder trailers with initial results covering the period 30 days prior to and 30 days post, the UK lockdown.

Key results were:
• Average speed improved group-wide by an average of 5.66% (from 36.6mph to 38.8mph)
• MPG – increased by 2.6%
• CO2 emission percentage improvement across the group of 3.97% from base point in February 2020.
• Driving behaviour and performance:
- Acceleration of more than 95% decreased from 5.61% to 4.53%
- Engine idling decreased from 2.51% to 2.04%
- Greenband driving increased from 90.39% to 91.52%
- Cruise control use increased from 45.72% to 53.15%