Safer, greener transport within reach

Safer, greener transport within reach

How to reduce the transport industry’s carbon footprint, promote road (and load) safety, and keep our truck drivers happy, healthy and away from strike gatherings? In part one of this report, BLAIR BURMEISTER considers some of the transport industry’s hardware advances.

South Africa is highly dependent on road transport – 80 percent of freight in the country is moved by road, which means a lot of fuel is being burnt, with an even greater amount of gas emissions being released. Furthermore, South Africa’s roads have the dubious distinction of being regarded as killing fields. The industry therefore has two huge challenges: the environment and safety. Clearly transporters need to make use of more efficient vehicles in order to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. Secondly, the roads must be made safer. Fortunately, there are many ways in which these challenges can be tackled.

Greener transport

When it comes to the “greening” of the sector, Clinton Holcroft, MD of Serco Industries, one of South Africa’s most renowned vehicle bodybuilders, believes government intervention is necessary.

Holcroft was in Germany to attend the recent IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover. A notable feature of the show was the prevalence of Euro-6 engines, which will be mandatory in Europe once the standard comes into force during 2013.

The Euro-6 standard requires that all vehicles equipped with a diesel engine substantially reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxides. For example, emissions from cars and other vehicles intended to be used for transport will be capped at 80 mg/km – a reduction of more than 50 percent compared to the Euro-5 standard. The restrictions for combined emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from diesel vehicles will also be reduced; these vehicles will be capped at 170 mg/km.

“South African authorities have to consider introducing more incentives that will encourage transporters to replace older commercial vehicles with newer, safer and, most importantly, more environmentally friendly models,” says Holcroft. “This could be a possibility for South Africa, taking into consideration the latest technology to be released.” 

Imperial Logistics sees the introduction of green transport in South Africa as a process of trial-and-error discovery. The company is making emission-free waves locally with the newest addition to its family: the FUSO Canter Eco-Hybrid. Recently handed over by Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) to Imperial Logistics for a three-month test period, the vehicle will run as part of the fleet in normal, day-to-day applications.

Godfrey Hani, divisional manager of Freightliner, FUSO and Western Star South Africa, says: “For the FUSO stable and MBSA as a whole, this represents an advance in our quest to play a leading role in the field of green innovation, and cements our commitment to sustainable mobility solutions.”

Ramaano Ramuageli, product specialist for Mitsubishi FUSO South Africa, says the beauty of the vehicle is that there is no need to plug it into an electrical power source. “The vehicle regenerates its own power, and that’s what makes it so special,” he told SHEQ MANAGEMENT. “It falls in line with our green aspirations.”

The vehicle uses up to 30 percent less fuel, thus producing up to 30 percent fewer CO2 emissions in a stop-start city delivery environment. It combines a FUSO two-pedal Inomat automated transmission with a 23 kW electric motor. The same electric motor doubles as a generator to recharge the lithium-ion battery pack during braking; storing/recycling energy for the next
pull-off.

The “recycled energy” effect produces a significant reduction in fuel consumption, which increases the more the vehicle stops and starts. Fuel savings on long-distance routes won’t be that significant, but this truck is made for short-distance transport.

MBSA vice president Kobus van Zyl explains that the aim of the trial run is to explore how a green vehicle operates in South Africa. “Many green vehicles have been tested without success. We want to test the vehicle in a normal environment, and if we don’t have any operational issues, that will be fantastic. We are excited to do this and see it as the prelude to bringing bigger green vehicles to South Africa. We want to put pressure on the industry to do the same,” he stresses.

In part two, we explore the avenues of load safety and driver health and wellbeing.

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