Working towards future freight internationally

By: Kim Hassall

Forty countries descended on Poland for cutting-edge vehicle research and new international professional development strategies

Working towards future freight internationally
Kim Hassall


The recent Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s (CILT’s) international conference was convened in Wroclaw, Poland. The Venice of the North, it’s Poland’s third largest city and has 117 bridges and lots of waterways.

The 2018 CILT International Convention was hosted by the Wroclaw International University of Logistics and Transport, and what a show it was. Poland is one of the latest countries to become a member of the CILT International’s 35-nation family; a family that will celebrate its 100th anniversary in Manchester next year. The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in Australia (CILTA) also has a long pedigree, having been established way back – 82 years ago – in 1936.

The convention hosted four streams: Young professionals, Women in Logistics and Transport (WILAT), new strategic directions for continuing professional education, and an exemplary research stream.

The Australian delegation was only seven in number, but left its mark in all categories. International Young Professional runner-up was Western Australia’s Urszula Kelly, whose owner- driver e-freight market portal has been successful in WA and interstate. The model goes far beyond even the full recommendations of the then proposed Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

Australia was recognised as a world leader by CILT. Read more, here

CILTA’s WILAT group has worked closely with the two major women’s freight groups, Women in Transport and Women in Supply Chain (WISC), recommending collaboration and not attempted a dominance arrangement, which has emerged in some nations. This development was internationally encouraged.

The research stream had several speakers. Three spoke specifically on zero-carbon truck options, the autonomous evolution, and the emergence of the two long-term high-productivity vehicles in Australia and options for urban operations.

Freight vehicle electrification 

Professor David Cebon for Cambridge University spoke about options that were under investigation by the new Centre for Sustainable Road Freight to create a zero-carbon freight environment. CILT is a partner in this initiative.

Even though Australia’s PBS trials got a plug as being a step in the right direction, the biggest eventual zero-emissions freight option was the electrification of line-haul operations. This may not eventuate, but neither will biodiesel as a fuel – as we would not be able to create enough of it. Battery power-driven vehicles will emerge in urban areas but not for line-haul, despite speculation in this area.

Autonomous vehicles

The evolution of the autonomous vehicle and their future was presented by Canalys chief analyst Chris Jones. Jones explained that there are five levels of autonomy in vehicles, established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), ranging from Levels 0 to 5.

Level 0 systems issue warnings and can momentarily intervene, but have no sustained vehicle control, while Level 1 or ‘hands on’ systems share control of the vehicle with the driver – for example, adaptive cruise control or parking assistance.

Level 2 or ‘hands off’ systems can take full control of the vehicle, including accelerating, braking, and steering, although the driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene at any time. Levels 3 to 5, or ‘eyes off’, ‘mind off’, and ‘steering wheel optional’ feature systems that allow the driver to turn their attention away from driving under certain conditions.

Level 3 vehicles will handle situations that call for an immediate response, like emergency braking, though the driver must still be prepared to intervene within a limited period of time.

At Level 4, this requirement is removed, and no driver attention is ever required for safety. However, self-driving is supported only in limited spatial areas (such as those geofenced), or under special circumstances like traffic jams. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, i.e. park the car, if the driver does not retake control.

At Level 5, the final few limitations are removed. Level 5 vehicles will potentially have no steering wheel, no pedals, and no human driving needed – they can drive anywhere with no-one in them. That’s the ultimate, but that is many years out.

"At the moment, we are at Level 2," Jones explains. "It’s a very small part of the market today, but car companies like BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, and others, Tesla of course, have Level 2 autonomy features in some of their premium cars. Over time, this will filter through into more mainstream cars."

Back to freight

Australia’s two longest high-productivity vehicle trials got a plug by CILTA’s associate professor Kim Hassall. The 30-year adoption of B-doubles (our regulated HPV before its time) commenced the search for greater road freight productivity, which began in the mid-1980s. B-doubles are now the workhorse of the Australian trucking fleet, and not surprisingly there is a strong correlation, along with other researched factors, that the articulated truck fatality trend line is inversely proportional to B-double growth.

The next 20-year trial was through the emergence of the performance-based standards (PBS) framework. Although PBS trials started in 1999, full productivity has a long way to go before reaching its zenith, as even the safest PBS combinations are yet to get access to our largest trafficked national highway.

However, the benefits gained, even thus far, have been staggering. What Europe can adopt in the immediate term are combinations such as the Dutch mini B-triple, rigid trucks with four-axle dog trailers, urban B-doubles, and just wait for some of the low-profile urban rigids to emerge. PBS is not scary.

A noted freight transport expert, Dr Kim Hassall is CILTA chair of professional development


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