A group of experts in the freight industry is urging transport planners to implement here-and-now technology and not wait for autonomous vehicles to help solve problems sometime in the future.
Attending a fringe meeting at the Industry 4.0 Summit in Manchester, ITS (UK)’s Freight Interest Group members suggested that logistics efficiency could be vastly improved by better communication with light goods vehicle drivers who often have little support when they are out on the road. They also agreed that using signal timing technology to reduce the number of stops HGVs have to make in town and city centres would reduce congestion and emissions, and has already worked well with lorries carrying wings for Airbus planes.
While they agreed that autonomous vehicles and platooning may have a part to play in the future, they feared that talk of that technology may be diverting attention away from solutions which could be helping in the short-to-medium term.
At the summit they heard how new ways of working will mean production of some goods is changing so they are finished and packaged locally in an added value logistics centre and then taken the final few miles for delivery. Rather than take it on a lorry and park it outside as happens now, the logistics industry will be looking for other delivery methods in order to make cities more liveable.
Group Honorary Secretary Geoff Clarke of AECOM said, “It was heartening to hear many interesting ideas for using technology to assist logistics in the future. Many of those solutions exist today in the passenger transport industry and could easily be used by and for freight companies as well. The event we were at showcased the way factories will operate in the future, and it is clear that the freight industry will have to embrace more technology too in order to keep up.”
ITS (UK) Secretary General Jennie Martin added, “The Industry 4.0 Summit showed a lot about how the Internet of Things and blockchain will revolutionise manufacturing, and with logistics part of the supply chain, there are many opportunities for technology to play its part in the delivery of those goods as well, and ITS (UK)’s range of expertise can help facilitate those solutions.”