Giving freight traffic on busy logistic roads priority to improve traffic flow and road safety, consume less fuel and thus emit less CO2. That is the idea behind Connected Transport (CT)*, a nationwide initiative being rolled out regionally.
Janneke Nijsing is a ‘quartermaster’ attached to the Amsterdam Logistics and Connected Transport programme: a ‘connector between the public and private sectors’, as she describes it herself. She can tell us more about CT Amsterdam Westside, a key logistics area including Schiphol Airport and Royal FloraHolland Aalsmeer.
Getting the green light
How exactly does Connected Driving work? “Certain key routes for freight traffic, including the N201, N231 and N232, are being equipped with smart traffic lights, also known as iVRIs,” she explains. “These turn green as soon as a connected truck approaches and the traffic situation allows, thus giving it an advantage over other traffic. For the truck driver, this means a shorter journey time, because his vehicle has to brake and accelerate less. In addition, it saves on costs because less fuel is consumed, and it also provides environmental benefits because it emits less CO2.”
Thinking in terms of data
That sounds like a nice system. However, it was not that simple to get it implemented, says Janneke. “That was a good 2 or 3 years of slogging. Previously, there were all kinds of apps for drivers in this area, but we saw that individual apps alone did not allow for upscaling. By 2021, we started thinking in a radically different way: not in terms of services, but data. Drivers get a single integrated solution in their trucks, supplied by existing in-truck systems. Currently, nine IT vendors have enabled this connection. For the system to work properly, the IT supplier has to start sharing data so the smart traffic lights can communicate with the vehicles. So the IT supplier plays a crucial role in the whole thing.”
Making traffic safer
Connected Driving offers other benefits besides time savings and environmental gains, especially in terms of road safety. Drivers receive real-time traffic information about an accident, a stationary vehicle, a red cross, or a road closure, for example. This can be done using icons or speech. This way, drivers don’t miss anything and can concentrate more on driving instead of having to keep an eye on all kinds of apps.
Road authorities such as provinces and municipalities also have an important role to play in Connected Driving. Janneke: “They have to decide what weighting to give different road users. On which roads do trucks get priority and on which roads do cyclists get priority? What should the maximum waiting time be for other traffic? Freight traffic only gets a green light when the situation allows. There is still a lot of work to be done to answer those questions.”
Although that will still take quite some time, the expert is optimistic about the possibilities. “The technology is very promising for the future. More and more applications are possible. For example, adding school zones, or environmental or emission zones, or height sensor alerts. The strength lies in creating a connection between the world of mobility and logistics. We will soon be able to do an awful lot with it; opportunities abound. It is up to IT vendors which applications they want to offer their customers.”
Initial results positive: drivers return more rested
For about six months, hauliers have been able to test the Connected Driving technology with an incentive payment. It concerns a one-off compensation of €70 per truck. The initial results have been positive.
“That’s really good to see,” says Janneke enthusiastically. “Hauliers are satisfied. We hear from drivers that they like to be informed of incidents in good time. When you see how many parties are still using separate apps now, with drivers still sometimes afraid of missing that one breakdown or red cross… I think: we are working on that! This system provides reassurance, because the driver receives an additional alert. And of course the business case is important, but when I hear from hauliers that their drivers come home more rested, that’s already a huge win, right?”
New registrations welcome
The aim is to have 200 vehicles Connected by the end of the year. That number will enable a proper evaluation. We are not there yet, so new registrations are still welcome. It doesn’t matter whether you have a small or large business. You can register with just one vehicle. Are you a supplier or haulier in the Aalsmeer area and are you interested? The registration form is available at [email protected].
For more information, please visit Amsterdam Logistics or contact Janneke Nijsing at [email protected].
*Connected Transport is an initiative of the central government, provinces, metropolitan and transport regions, and companies. The partnership utilises the opportunities offered by digitisation to make logistics more sustainable, safer and more efficient. Royal FloraHolland makes an active contribution to this, so that we keep our locations accessible and make transport more sustainable.
Source: Royal FloraHolland