Centre for Sustainable Road Freight projects are on track 24 April 2014

The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight (CSRF), based at Cambridge University – the £6m UK initiative to minimise the short, medium and long term environmental impact of road freight transport – is just over a year old, and, according to director Professor David Cebon, is on track, currently running 10 projects.

Cebon cites: work on smarter logistics and collaboration between operators; reducing aerodynamic drag through interventions both over and under trailers; weight saving measures through novel use of composite materials; and an investigation of the environmental and commercial performance of dual fuel vehicles.

"This is the first time that a team has come together combining both academic and industrial expertise in logistics, heavy vehicle engineering, human factors and sustainability," explains Cebon.

"The only way to achieve deep reductions in CO2 emissions from the road freight sector is to combine highly-focussed engineering with systematic improvements to distribution and logistics. So we have the right team for the job."

CSRF is a collaborative programme between Cambridge and Heriot Watt Universities and the freight transport industry, with a goal of developing innovative technical and operational solutions to make road freight economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Research subjects include: collaboration between operators; measuring and modelling traffic congestion; development of decarbonisation guides; low rolling-resistance tyres; aerodynamics; alternative fuels; urban delivery vehicles; and human factors.

Consortium freight operators include Coca Cola, Denby Transport, DHL, John Lewis, Laing O'Rourke, Tesco, Warburtons and Wincanton, as well as the FTA. Vehicle industry partners also include Goodyear, Haldex, SDC Trailers, Optrak and Volvo Trucks, along with an advisory committee with members from DfT, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, SMMT, Transport for London, the RHA, as well as experts from other universities.

"The most obvious route to better fuel efficiency is to run the most productive vehicles for each freight task, fully laden and to avoid empty-running," comments Cebon.

"That means having a strong focus on vehicle engineering, weights and dimensions – to make the vehicles as efficient as possible – as well as optimising the logistical systems," he continues.

"For its success, we need to consider sustainability in the round – focusing on people, planet and profit. If low carbon interventions that are good for the planet are not financially viable, they won't be taken-up. If the general public and politicians are not on-board with changes, they will never be implemented," he explains.

Centre chairman Dave Rowlands, technical services director of Wincanton, adds: "Reducing fuel consumption and meeting sustainability targets are key priorities for road transport, so companies in our industry are keen to be involved in the work of the Centre.

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Cambridge Vehicle Dynamics Consortium
Goodyear Dunlop Tyres UK Ltd
Haldex Ltd
SDC Trailers Ltd
Suite 6 The Maltings
Volvo Group UK Ltd

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