New truck research project to focus on empty runs

Work has begun on a new collaborative research project focused on tackling the transport inefficiencies of trucks either running empty or with only a partial load.

Co-funded by Innovate UK, the 30-month FreightShareLab project aims to show how strategic data and asset sharing between multiple road/rail carriers and shippers can reduce the under-utilisation of freight vehicles.  In particular, it hopes to provide “real-world validation” for a World Business Council for Sustainable Development study, conducted in 2016, which estimated that asset sharing could reduce fleet CO₂ emissions from road freight transport by as much as 20%.

Consortium partners Route Monkey, Transport Systems Catapult, Heriot Watt and DVV Media will develop an open data software platform to integrate job and vehicle data from shippers, fleets and carriers.  FSL will use modelling and consultation to address the technical and commercial complexities and a live demonstration of data and asset sharing.  It is looking for UK-based operators to take part in the demonstration stage.

“Unlocking the spare capacity inherent within the logistics sector will deliver substantial efficiency savings to commercial vehicle users, shippers and the British economy,” said Colin Ferguson, the Managing Director of Fleet & Optimisation for Trakm8, which owns Route Monkey.  “Through the application of advanced optimisation algorithms, FSL will allow freight companies to collaborate and share their spare vehicle capacity.  We have a number of logistics companies on board to work with the consortium.  It is a very exciting project with enormous potential.”

Andrew Traill, Principal Technologist, Freight & Logistics, at Transport Systems Catapult, added:  “The transport industry is being swept by a technological revolution and the freight sector, which often operates on fine margins, can gain a great deal from capitalising on the innovation this is bringing.

“FSL is an excellent example of this: by developing a unique collaborative model, sharing assets to deliver the optimal logistics solution, this project aims to maximise use of logistics capacity and bring efficiency savings to the sector and its customers whilst bringing significant environmental benefits.”

It is estimated that over 30% of all truck journeys in the UK are made when trucks are empty.