Zeljko Jeftic IRU Projects  Zeljko Jeftic IRU Projects

In January 2013 the International Road Transport Union (IRU) recently decided to establish IRU Projects. Can you explain why and what are the core activities of the new entity?

“The IRU is the global voice of bus coach taxi and truck operators worldwide from large fleets to individual owner-operators. Its mission is to facilitate and ensure the sustainable development of the road transport industry in order to drive economic growth and prosperity via the sustainable mobility of people and goods by road worldwide. The IRU was established in 1948 and is a global industry federation of national Member Associations and Associate Members in 74 countries on the 5 continents.”
“IRU Projects is a Belgian entity established to support the IRU and its members in participating in European Commission co-financed activities. Many of IRU members have been hesitant in participating in EC co-financed activities due to the amount and complexity of administration as well as lack of knowledge about opportunities for cooperation. IRU Projects is a service to all these members in making the administrative burden lighter so that the IRU and its members can focus on the strategically important work.”
Can you tell us more about the European projects you are currently focusing on? 
“We are involved in a number of important activities. ECOeffect is a project developing eco-driving courses for professional drivers as well as a training module for eco-driving trainers themselves. In this sense the project is directly supporting the IRU policy on professional training as provided by the IRU Academy as well as on Greening Road Transport and IRU’s 30-by-30 resolution – a voluntary IRU-led commitment of the road transport industry to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2007 levels. By providing train-the-trainer modules the project ensures that the best eco-driving training practices are implemented in a harmonised way across Europe. The IRU and its IRU Academy Accredited Training Institutes (in this case UNTRR CESMAD and HSF) are implementing this training initiative in Czech Republic Romania and Poland. The long term target is to offer this training even after the end of the project lifetime.” 
“Another important project is MOBINET aimed at developing a Europe wide service platform. Through this project we try to demonstrate the benefits of enabling numerous service providers to connect with each other. However we do not want to see this as yet another R&D activity but rather as a business driven platform which will continue even after the end of the project’s duration. For that we need to go beyond research thinking by involving tens or hundreds of “trial users” and integrate real added-value services into the platform which will be operating with tens of thousands of users or more. Overall we can see that far too many technologies have been developed in EC projects with far too little involvement from fleet operators and their customers.”
“The third project to highlight also has a clear target of continuing with service operation after the project end-date. Compass4D sees seven European cities implementing cooperative services for increased energy efficiency and road safety. As in MOBINET our goal in this project is to evaluate the real life benefits of the services with a large number of fleet operators. At the same time we will investigate all wide-scale deployment opportunities barriers and solutions and establish robust business models which will enable all stakeholders to commit to running the piloted services even in the future as an integral part of their traffic management operations.”
What do you think the main benefits of cooperating with other European stakeholders through European projects are? 
“The main benefit for us is to be able to work together on the development of technologies and policies. By influencing both of these at an early stage it is easier to ensure that they are aligned with the real-life end-user needs. As the latest example on how an EC supported project has contributed to policy development we should mention the TRACE (Transport Regulators Align Control Enforcement) project to which the IRU contributed.  The project description is available in all EU languages on the EUROPA website and presents the TRACE project team’s views on the application and implementation of a number of provisions of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 establishing rules on driving times breaks and rest periods of professional drivers.”
“Another positive example is the FREILOT project piloting energy efficiency services for heavy goods vehicles. One of the piloted services was implemented to provide a certain level of priority for approaching trucks at signalised intersections. The outcomes of the project were very positive. The key technology supplier PEEK proved the benefits to stakeholders (city authorities and fleet operators) and commercialised their new intersections equipment for communication with trucks. This is the first commercial product on the market in this ground-breaking field aimed at real customers (road operators in this case). At the same time Helmond is the first city in Europe which has adopted these new technologies and services to be an integral part of their traffic management solution. Even after the end of the project fleet operators continue to benefit from the ongoing operation of this new technology saving them 14% on fuel consumption along the equipped route.”
What are you hoping to achieve in the next coming 3 to 5 years?
“We aim to make the voice of commercial fleet operators more prominent in European Commission co-financed projects and to continue providing solutions to the real-life problems bus coach taxi and truck fleet operators are facing every day.” 

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Original Publication Date: Wed 20 Mar 2013