Improving goods deliveries in urban areas: Renault Trucks in partnership with the Freilot Project
As a responsible manufacturer of delivery vehicles, Renault Trucks has always strived to reduce any nuisance caused by its products. In addition to offering its customers concrete solutions for reducing fuel consumption (Optifuel Solutions) and developing alternatives to diesel (Clean Tech), the company is also highly involved in research into road freight issues, particularly with respect to urban areas (under the umbrella of the Lyon Urban Truck & Bus LUTB competitive cluster). Now the manufacturer has joined Europe’s FREILOT project, which aims to show that by integrating new technologies into trucks, urban deliveries can be carried out more efficiently whilst at the same time causing far less nuisance. The three year FREILOT (urban FReight Energy efficiency pILOT) program includes 21 partners, from both the public and private sectors, and has a 140-strong fleet of vehicles involved in trials in four European cities: Bilbao (Spain), Krakow (Poland), Helmond (Holland) and Lyon (France).
Despite being an ardent supporter of goods transport by road and the professionals working in the sector, Renault Trucks nevertheless recognises its responsibilities and is keen to reduce any possible nuisance caused by its vehicles. Rather than pretending that the truck-free society is anything other than a mirage, the company has come up with a combination of three vital principles to deal with the increasing urbanisation of Europe: load consolidation (one big truck is preferable to a dozen small ones), combination of energies (diesel or other energies depending on what the vehicle is used for) and increased interaction between trucks and infrastructure to optimise logistics operations.
The FREILOT project, which, with the backing of the European Union, is being trialled in four European cities, fits in perfectly with this approach. Its aim is to physically demonstrate that by building on-board technologies into trucks, deliveries can be carried out more efficiently both in towns and suburbs, whilst at the same time reducing traffic congestion and improving safety levels. The program involves some 140 trucks and is structured around solving three key issues concerning urban deliveries, with each partner contributing to the program according to its particular field of expertise.
Tools for drivers
The FREILOT program uses trucks equipped with special technology to help cut fuel consumption, such as a speed and acceleration limiter, which automatically controls maximum acceleration and speed in certain predefined areas. Drivers also have another fuel-reduction tool at their disposal - a box that sits on the dashboard giving real time information and advice on how to drive more economically. The information provided is in the same vein as the basic principles taught by Renault Trucks in their ‘rational driving’ training courses, such as Optifuel Training. Economic driving is a way of driving as flexibly as possible so as to reduce fuel consumption and stress, resulting in increased safety on the road.
Four major European cities are also partners in the program: Bilbao (Spain), Krakow (Poland), Helmond (Holland) and Lyon (France), including both the city of Lyon and Greater Lyon. The latter three have undertaken to introduce modifications to the traffic-light systems on thoroughfares used by large numbers of delivery vehicles, with the purpose of reducing the number of stops trucks have to make. By reducing the number of times vehicles need to accelerate after stopping at traffic lights, fuel consumption and emissions of all kinds (CO2, nitrogen oxide, particles and noise) are also reduced. This can be achieved in various ways. In Lyon, for instance, a crossroads in a peri-urban zone detects approaching trucks equipped with a FREILOT device, triggering the lights to change more quickly so that they do not have to stop. Nearer the city centre, on Avenue Jean-Jaurès, the traffic-light green wave mechanism has been reprogrammed, to take into account the length of time HGVs need to get moving again and therefore avoid obligatory braking where possible. Simulations have already shown that adapting the traffic-lights in this way is in fact better for traffic as a whole.
Electronically managed delivery bays
Lastly, in Lyon and Bilbao, the program plans to set up an electronic system for managing delivery bays. Trucks will only be able to carry out deliveries if a delivery bay has been booked in advance. In this way, pre-booking of delivery bays will become an integral part of scheduling deliveries.
First launched in February 2009, the FREILOT (urban FReight Energy efficiency pILOT) project is now entering its trial phase, starting with reference data collection. Sample data will be collected to serve as a baseline reference when assessing the impact of the FREILOT mechanisms. The latter are already in place and will operate from March 2011 through to March 2012, when the program will come to an end. Backed by the European Union, the project is a joint initiative involving twenty-one partner organisations, from both the public sector (local authorities, urban communities, research centres) and the private sector (vehicle manufacturers, logistics companies, technology solutions providers), in a combined effort to improve deliveries in towns and cities.
With FREILOT, Renault Trucks is continuing to develop the transport solutions adapted to city logistics that it first began in the context of the LUTB competitive cluster, such as the FIDEUS (urban vehicle) and VIF2 (vehicle connected to infrastructure) programs in particular.
Main project partners
- Le Grand Lyon
- Renault Trucks
- Interface Transport
- Ville de Lyon
- Lyon Urban Truck and Bus
- Laboratoire d'économie des transports (LET)