July 25 2019

Follow the green rail road

FluidIT is the development partner working with HiveLOGIC, Interways Ltd and Beta Technology to deliver a brand new logistics app that's like Uber for rail freight. The project is funded by Innovate UK and the Department for Transport SBRI.

Today in the UK, 95% of all freight moves through our seaports. That’s 482 million tonnes of freight, the equivalent of a small lorry load for every man, woman and child in the UK. With most of this freight clogging up our road network, road congestion is at an all time high and getting worse with every single day.

Congestion and its threat to the environment is a major hurdle for the UK, risking legal consequences of failing to meet Climate Change targets. If you’ve ever sat in congested traffic on the M1, M6 or M25, while choking on fumes and thought there has to be a better way? Surely we can’t keep going down this same old road?

It’s against this background that the UK’s Innovation Agency, Innovate UK and the Department for Transport’s SBRI have awarded funding to HiveLOGIC Limited to provide a digital solution to help swap some of the burgeoning demand for road freight to rail freight. Fewer lorries – more trains. It will create a modern future in which Road Freight and Rail Freight will work together more closely. And as hydrogen powered trains become more widely available the shift becomes even more compelling.

The key objectives of the funded project are summarised in 4 Cs:

Capacity growth in rail freight – real-time access will drive demand in rail container volume

Carbon reduction – 76% less CO2 emissions than the equivalent HGV journeys

Customer service – improvement will deliver exceptional value and service to customers

Cost reduction – rail freight will become a cost-effective alternative to road

Innovate UK and The Department for Transport will work with HiveLOGIC and their key partners to develop an App to transform the UK Freight and Logistics landscape through a cost-effective, 24/7 platform akin to transformational apps we love today; be it ride sharing, food ordering or e-bikes.

The app is being developed using the Mendix low-code platform. This platform simplifies the manual aspects of developing and deploying apps, allowing users to rapidly develop apps up to 10x faster than traditional coding methods, and with up to 70% fewer resources. This will enable us to rapidly prototype the app and then refine it based on user feedback, something which is essential when innovating new products and services.

Margaret Adams, Chair of HiveLOGIC said “We’ll transform the UK freight sector with our app. It’ll provide a greener, cheaper, faster and less congested alternative for freight. We’re at the start of a very important journey to reduce traffic on our roads while improving our environment and air quality – what’s not to like about that.

“With Innovate UK and The Department for Transport support, we’ll deliver incredible value to the UK economy, protect our environment and build a new market to appeal to the investment community. We’re looking forward to taking this onto the global stage. The eco benefits are hugely important to me and my team.”

HiveLOGIC are working with a small group of partners (Beta Technology Ltd, FluidIT Consulting, Inter-Ways Ltd, T Riley Transport Ltd) to deliver the solution to iPort Rail, a leader in the UK’s Rail Freight Industry. A recent winner of the ‘Major Project of the Year Award’ at the 2019 Rail Industry Innovation Awards, iPort Rail has seen substantial growth over the last twelve months at their state-of-the-art facility in Doncaster which has capacity to host the UK’s longest trains offering storage space for up to 1,500 TEUs.

“So many people have worked incredibly hard to bring iPort Rail to this award-winning stage” said Steve Freeman, Managing Director of iPort Rail. “We’re expecting iPort Rail to become even more popular as we develop eco-friendly freight solutions whilst minimising road congestion. Working with HiveLOGIC to design and build a transformational app by March 2020 will help us deliver our business plans. Freight transport in the UK is set to move into a green rail and road network.”