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Energies 2015, 8(10), 12004-12019; doi:10.3390/en81012004

Analysing Performance Characteristics of Biomass Haulage in Ireland for Bioenergy Markets with GPS, GIS and Fuel Diagnostic Tools

School of Biosystems Engineering, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland
UCD Forestry, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Robert Lundmark
Received: 20 August 2015 / Revised: 30 September 2015 / Accepted: 14 October 2015 / Published: 22 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Economics of Bioenergy 2015)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [645 KB, uploaded 22 October 2015]   |  


In Ireland, truck transport by road dominates and will remain the main transportation mode of biomass. Cost efficiency and flexibility of forest transport can be typically improved by optimising routes. It is important to know every process and attributes within the workflow of roundwood transport. This study aimed to analyse characteristics of timber trucking in Ireland, and to estimate the least-cost route for the distribution of biomass with the use of geographic information systems (GIS). Firstly, a tracking system that recorded the truck’s movements and fuel consumption was installed. A total of 152 trips were recorded, routes were chosen by the truck driver. The recorded information was used to analyse the distances and times travelled loaded and unloaded per road class, breaks, loading and unloading times as well as fuel consumption. Secondly, the routes taken by the truck where compared with routes created using Network Analyst (NA), an extension of ArcGIS. Four scenarios based on route selection criteria were selected: shortest distance (S1), shorted time (S2), and prioritising high-class roads with shortest distance (S3) and time (S4). Results from the analysis of the tracking system data showed that driving both loaded and unloaded occupied on average 69% of the driver’s working shift; with an average time driving loaded of 49%. The travel distance per trip varied from 112 km and 197 km, with the truck driver using mostly national and regional roads. An average 2% of the total distance and 11% of the total time was spent driving on forest roads. In general, the truck’s speed recorded on the different road classes was on average 30% lower than the legal maximum speed. The average fuel consumption was 0.64 L/km. In terms of the route comparison, the driving directions from the truck routes coincided with 77% of the directions of the routes based on shortest driving time (S2 and S4). All the routes chosen by the driver had 22% longer distance than the routes in S1 (shortest distance). The routes selected based on shortest distance (S1 and S3) had the longest travelling time, approximately 19% more than the ones taken by the truck and 30% more than S2 and S4. The average running cost for the truck was 0.83 €/km. Choosing the shortest distance routes (S1 and S3) not only implies reducing travelling costs but also a reduction of CO2 emissions by 12% in comparison to routes in S2 and S4. However, when selecting the routes, travel time can be a much more crucial parameter to analyse rather than distance in terms of transportation costs. Choosing the routes generated in scenario S2 over S1 implied an increase in distance by 12% but a decrease in time of 30%. Less driving time translates into better driving conditions across higher classes or roads; less wear and tear of trucks; and lesser fuel used. It also complies with local authorities preferences of having timber trucks move on higher road types in order to minimise the expenses associated with road maintenance. View Full-Text
Keywords: transportation; geographic information systems (GIS); Network Analyst (NA); biomass; bioenergy markets; optimal routes; fleet management; Ireland transportation; geographic information systems (GIS); Network Analyst (NA); biomass; bioenergy markets; optimal routes; fleet management; Ireland

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sosa, A.; McDonnell, K.; Devlin, G. Analysing Performance Characteristics of Biomass Haulage in Ireland for Bioenergy Markets with GPS, GIS and Fuel Diagnostic Tools. Energies 2015, 8, 12004-12019.

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