EROAD Fleet Day 2023

In October 2023, EROAD Fleet Day11 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 9, 2023

EROAD Fleet Day is an annual event bringing together transport industry professionals, exhibitors and experts to discuss the latest trends and challenges in fleet management and discover advances in vehicles and fleet management technology. We explore key outcomes from EROAD Fleet Day 2023 – people and partnerships, emissions and tech.

EROAD Fleet Day 2023, held in Hamilton on 26 July drew more than 800 fleet management professionals. It focused on three crucial aspects of modern fleet management: safety, efficiency and sustainability – underpinned by data and technologies.

Keynote speakers included Sir Graham Henry, who gave a talk on leadership and what it means to manage a tightly knit fleet team. “It’s about cultivating the right culture, selecting the right team members, and supporting them to perform effectively under pressure,” he said. “Technology is an enabler, but a strong, connected team that embraces the fleet’s culture is essential for long-term success.”

Josh Hedley, national fleet and plant manager at Downer New Zealand and Brian Yanko, manager, fleet service group at New Zealand Police, also spoke about the value of partnerships and relationships in fleet management. By sharing knowledge and learning from one another, fleets could uncover innovative solutions to common challenges, ultimately benefiting the entire industry, they said.

Other notable speakers included Martin Miles of ChargeNet, Kathy Schluter from Keith Andrews, Jack Gordon-Crosby from OptiFleet, Charles Dawson from AutoSense, Rob Covich from Scania New Zealand and Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand’s Dom Kalasih, among many others.

Here are some of the main messages to came out of this year’s Fleet Day.

Embracing emission reduction strategies

Transport is a key sector in New Zealand – it is also a significant contributor to our emissions footprint, with almost 17% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from transport (Waka Kotahi).

In 2022, the government launched New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan, which calls for a 41% reduction in emissions from the transport sector by 2035 from 2019 levels. Kathy Schluter, GM of sales and customer experience at Keith Andrews, stressed the importance of preparing for emissions reduction now.

“With low- and zero-emission transport rapidly gaining momentum, fleet managers must proactively assess their fleet operations and start planning how they’ll transition to low-emission vehicles,” she said.

Scania and Hyundai also discussed how the EV and hydrogen share of the heavy truck market was heading in one direction. With three in five fleet businesses already being asked to share sustainability performance during vendor selection, early adoption of green technologies was the key to staying ahead, they said.

No single solution

Rob Covich, pre-sales and logistics director for Scania New Zealand, said that when it came to reducing emissions in the transport sector, no single solution would solve the country’s problems.

“Scania’s approach is to look at energy efficiency, including ICE vehicles, driving vehicles as efficiently as possible, renewable fuels and smart and safe transport. It’s important for us to make sure our vehicles are connected; it’s important to have the data and visibility over what your vehicles are doing.

“Scania’s global target includes reducing emissions by 50% by 2025 within our operations. The thing is that for us, 90% of our emissions happen after our product leaves the factory, so we have a target to reduce our vehicle emissions by 20%. That includes the introduction of platforms such as Euro-7 and Euro-6, but also alternative fuels.”

Covich said there wasn’t a single solution that Scania felt was the right fit right now. “Scania is investing heavily in R&D with hydrogen as well, but one thing that gets lost a little with some people is that electricity has proven to be the most efficient opportunity for us to make savings as far as vehicle running. The challenge with a full-cell electric vehicle is there is a lot more energy required to create hydrogen. You have to store it, transport it and convert that hydrogen energy back into electricity.

“This is the main reason Scania has chosen to put a real big push on the battery-electric vehicle journey.”

Energy security

If New Zealand is going to change its emissions factor and enhance its energy security, changing fleets and the fuel mix we use is vital, according to Jonny Parker, CEO of EV charging consultancy Thundergrid.

“Since the closure of Marsden Point refinery earlier in the year, New Zealand now imports all petrol and diesel products,” Parker said.

“In the three months ended June 2022, the value of these imported products was $2.2 billion – our No.1 import. For the first time, we are now a net importer of coal.

“Our largest piece of energy is imported. That exposes New Zealand to vulnerabilities in regard to energy security. And our transport networks are using the majority of our energy.

“We have the opportunity to use homegrown energy through geothermal, hydro, wind and solar. We can do that and inject that into our vehicles as a transport fuel. So while moving to electric vehicles is all being pushed under the environmental banner of reducing net emissions for New Zealand, which it will, one key factor is the energy security it gives.

“By choosing electric vehicles, you are enabling energy security. We can become energy independent and we can run more efficient forms of transport.”

Distraction and fatigue

Not enough sleep is the No.1 cause of driver fatigue. Fatigue contributes to 40% of all heavy truck accidents in New Zealand.

AutoSense’s Guardian Seeing Machines use face- and gaze-tracking algorithms to measure a driver’s head position and eye closure. Audio alarms and seat vibration are immediately activated when safety parameters are exceeded.

“Through AutoSense, our goal is improving road safety through technology,” said Paul Fossi, national sales manager at AutoSense NZ.

“We have over 5000 units nationwide, and from those, we get 125 verified sleep events every single day. That’s 125 people we are waking up every day,” he said.

“And we only have 5000 units, so you can only imagine what is really happening on our roads. It is a hell of a lot of luck that there’s not more carnage up there.”

Fossi said business owners only saw the tip of the iceberg when it came to fatigue in the workplace.

“You can only control as a boss what you can see. You can help sort out the driver shift patterns and help support diet and hydration. But you need to try and explore more about what could be happening at home if there are issues there – stress, family, financial, medical, babies, gaming – all these things that can be happening,” he said.

“It’s not just the truck driver’s problem; it should be treated as a wellbeing issue. You need to be able to have those tough conversations with your drivers to say, ‘You need some help out there, are you well enough to work?’

“After the working week, you assume your drivers are all good to go the next day, but the reality is, we don’t know what they do – the assumption that your driver is okay is not enough.”

Dom Kalasih: Industry is not waiting

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand interim CEO Dom Kalasih said technology continued to evolve and contribute to potential solutions to manage our largest risks: climate, safety and commercial sustainability.

“Technology is there providing solutions to reduce emissions, improve safety, efficiency and business sustainability,” he said.

Kalasih said New Zealand’s regulatory framework needed changing to provide more agility so the country could more easily take advantage of technology.

He said the transport sector had a reputation of being a “technology taker” and was waiting for solutions.

“Our industry is not waiting. Arguably, New Zealand is leading the way; there are some awesome investments and commitment to solving these challenges. The industry is already demonstrating leadership, innovation and investment.”