Optimizing transport efficiency

Optimising transport efficiency - keeping wheels rolling

All the different modes of transport have to be strengthened and combined in order for society to meet increasing transport demands.

In Europe, the Volvo Group supports the work that is being done to make transport more  intermodal – to efficiently link roads, railways, ports, canals and airports in order to create a high-capacity logistics system.

Co-modality and green corridors
A so called "green corridor" is marked by a concentration of freight traffic between major hubs and by relatively long transport distances. It enables swift and simple transfer of goods between different modes of transportation.

Launched by the European Commission to drive environmentally-friendly transport innovation, the goal is to reduce the impact on the environment while increasing efficiency and safety on highways through specially adapted transport stretches for heavy freight traffic.

Extending the rig
Longer vehicle combinations are an efficient means to reduce the number of trucks on the roads. Allowing long vehicles with greater load capacity would result in lower emissions per ton-kilometre and also reduce the risk for accidents.

Already in use in parts of Europe, the European Modular System enables two trucks to carry the same amount of cargo as three.

Vehicle platooning
Efficiency can be further developed by letting vehicles drive in columns with short and precise distances between them on highways. This significantly reduces air drag and improves utilization of the highway network.

A platooning scenario typically includes a manually driven truck leading one or more guided trucks, all equipped with sophisticated sensors and communication systems.

New city distribution concepts
The concept of “green city lanes” aims at transporting both people and goods efficiently in large urban areas. It combines several means of transportation and explores how infrastructure – not least the IT parts of it – could evolve to best support efficient city logistics.

The quiet hybrid trucks and buses available on the market represent only the first step in developing vehicles perfectly adapted to urban environments. The next step could include vehicles suited for delivering goods during the night and transporting people during the rush hour.

The FreightBus is also a future concept in the area of urban transport. Instead of direct transport using big long-haul rigs delivering to city centers, the FreightBus carries both passengers and goods, thereby utilizing existing infrastructure of the public transport system.

The vehicle uses purpose-designed load modules that can be transferred to smaller delivery vehicles designed specifically for urban conditions.

How does the FreightBus concept work? At present, four vans leave a hub and deliver their goods to four separate, central destinations. In the CITYLOG system, the containers carried by a FreightBus arriving at a city centre location are transshipped to two delivery vans that distribute the goods to their final destinations.

Connecting vehicles, goods and driver
Today’s use of sensors and wireless communication in vehicles lays the foundation for tomorrow’s transport efficiency.

With vehicles communicating with each other and with the surrounding environment, logistics will step into a new paradigm:

  • congestion will be reduced since traffic can be efficiently guided
  • fuel efficiency will be improved by real-time driver assistance 
  • safety is enhanced as sensors keep an even better watch on drivers, vehicles and traffic
  • uptime is maximized using wireless diagnostics
  • precise calculation of a good’s ecological footprint becomes possible

Return of the airship
Don’t be surprised if you start seeing more airships in the sky a few years from now. The climate debate has already led to the world to re-discovering this old technology, as the airship is far more environmentally sound that traditional aircraft. It consumes little fuel, is virtually noiseless and does not require large airports.

Airships are already in use for surveillance purposes and monitoring services in many parts of the world. They have a great potential in transporting goods and people in isolated areas.