Truck empty-running the target of new collaborative research initiative

Work has started on FreightShare Lab (FSL), a new collaborative research project focused on tackling the transport inefficiencies associated with empty and partially laden truck-running. UK Government statistics, released in October, indicate that over 30% of all truck journeys are made when trucks are empty (i.e. without a load being carried).

FSL, a project co-funded by the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK, aims to demonstrate how strategic data and asset sharing between multiple road/rail carriers and shippers can reduce empty running and under-utilisation of freight vehicles. The 30-month project aims to provide real-world validation of a feasibility study conducted by World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in 2016, called the Road Freight Lab.

According to the International Transport Forum (ITF), 7% of global CO2 emissions come from trade-related international freight. By 2050, global freight demand is expected to increase by more than 290%. As countries seek to reduce CO2 emissions as part of their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, companies are looking for ways to eliminate inefficiency and reduce emissions. The WBCSD study estimated that asset sharing could deliver a 20% reduction in fleet CO₂ emissions from road freight transport.

FSL consortium partners Route Monkey, Transport Systems Catapult, Heriot Watt and DVV Media will develop an open data software platform for the optimisation and co-ordination of shared assets. The platform will act as a strategic planning tool; integrating job and vehicle data from shippers, fleets and carriers.

Through modelling and consultation, the project will tackle the technical and commercial complexities associated with multiple organisations seeking operational excellence whilst retaining competitive advantage. It will also undertake a live demonstration of data and asset sharing.

"Unlocking the spare capacity inherent within the logistics sector will deliver substantial efficiency savings to commercial vehicle users, shippers and the British economy," explains Colin Ferguson, Managing Director of Fleet and Optimisation for Trakm8, which owns Route Monkey. "Through the application of advanced optimisation algorithms, FreightShareLab 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, is a very exciting project with enormous potential both in the UK and the rest of the world."

"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," said Andrew Traill, Principal Technologist, Freight and Logistics at Transport Systems Catapult.

"FreightShareLab 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. TSC is extremely excited to be a part of it."

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