Expert insight: Driving towards sustainable transport


It is hard to dispute the proposition that transport should be as sustainable as possible but, as athletes are aware, achieving what is possible can depend on tuning up performance at the most detailed level. 

The main environmental benefits of Samskip's sustainable transport policy accrue in shortsea, inland waterway and rail transport modes, where unitized loads are moved off the road. However, the company's commitment to sustainability is also tangible over the road: between 2012 and 2017, the CO2 emitted by Samskip trucks has fallen by around 11%, from 834 g/Km in 2012 to 743.5 g/Km today.

Samskip Fleet Management Supervisor Gerwin Winters oversees a fleet of 200 new Mercedes trucks, all on short-term lease and equipped with the latest high-efficiency, low emissions Euro 6 engines. The fleet covers an estimated 17 million kilometres per year.

The company keeps close control over these state-of-the-art assets, using the advantages of scale economies to minimise fuel costs and optimise efficiency. Samskip has a strategic agreement for its drivers to use discount cards to ‘fill up' at Shell petrol stations all over Europe, for example, while it undertakes tyre pressure/tread checks to minimise blow-outs and ensure peak truck performance.

Greener trucking

However, since January 2016, Winters has also been overseeing a new monitoring and coaching programme to promote fuel efficient and safe driving among 260 drivers employed through Samskip Riga, taking the group's sustainable ethos to a new level. Supported by Ilze Zaula, Managing Director Samskip Riga, two FleetBoard technology consultants and a Mercedes-Benz representative, the scheme seeks to optimise the ‘human element' performance on which the road part of Samskip's multimodal business relies. 

Using technology to analyse driver actions in real life, the programme offers follow-up mentoring to coach bad habits out at the individual level, and prizes to incentivise best practices. Over and above generalised ‘tips and tricks', FleetBoard monitoring technology means trainers can zoom in on the details of performance, such as gear, brake and accelerator operation, but also the number of stops, idling periods and opportunities to use cruise control.

In just under two years, Winters says, the new approach has achieved 6% less fuel consumption per L/100kms, a 6% reduction in CO2 emissions per g/km, and a 10% reduction in truck damages as compared to 2015. The results have also been acknowledged in a top five placing in the Netherlands section of the 2017 FleetBoard Drivers League, a competition gauging fuel efficiency which attracted 80 Dutch transport companies. “We scored 9.63 out of a possible 10,” says Winters with clear pride.

"At Samskip we say, ‘We aim to build a better future', and I think the fuel efficient and safe driving programme delivers the actions to match the words.”

Road to a better future

Winters says that training drivers to trust in cruise control has, perhaps, had the most significant impact as far as emissions are concerned. Here, predictive powertrain control technology ‘recognises' locations and adjusts power consumption to take account of inclines, or acceleration to return to cruising speed in the ‘greenest' way after a stop at traffic lights.  Parking up rather than keeping engines idling beyond five minutes has also brought significant savings; when the engine is turned off in cold weather, residual heat is comfortably enough to allow a wait of up to an hour. 

Major new sustainability initiatives for the Samskip truck fleet include a Swedish trial for five trucks testing environmentally-friendly HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) as a fuel, supplied via Preem. “HVO generates 80% less CO2 than conventional diesel fuel, 46% less particulates and 14% lower NOx emissions,” says Winters. Meanwhile, Samskip is also part of the Dutch working group exploring options for a future ‘electric' truck.

However, for the moment, he prefers to emphasise the fact that sustainable transport is most persuasive when its viability is measurable and documented. “I'm proud to work here because of the amount of attention we pay to our impact on the outside world, and the evidence we collect to support our work. At Samskip we say, ‘Together we make things happen' and that ‘We ‘aim to build a better future', and I think the fuel efficient and safe driving programme delivers with the actions to match the words.”

You can learn more about our dedication for a sustainable future here and more about the FleetBoard Drivers League here.

Last Expert Insight:
Elbert van de Bos, Facility Manager at Samskip, Building a better future.

Next Expert Insight:
Eelco de Vaal, Creative Director at Okapion, User experience for the multimodal generation.


Back to archive