With a heritage dating back some 150 years, Nottingham-based Hardstaff Group is today recognised as one of the principal providers of leading edge technology and innovative services to both the global and UK road transport industry. It is the UK market leader in developing and operating the technology that allows heavy goods vehicles to run on diesel and natural gas or ‘dual fuel’.
What they do
Traditionally a haulage company, Hardstaff’s pioneered the development and use of dual fuel in heavy goods vehicles over ten years ago. The use of natural gas as a vehicle fuel gives lower operational costs and reduced emissions. Gas combustion is much cleaner than both diesel and petrol but its high auto ignition temperature meant that it was previously suitable only for use in engines with spark ignition.
To overcome this and make natural gas functional as a fuel used by heavy goods vehicles, the Hardstaff Group has developed its own Oil-Ignition-Gas-Injection (OIGI®) technology, which replaces the diesel injected into an engine by an equivalent amount of natural gas. By substituting 60-70% of diesel with natural gas, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by up to 18%, carbon monoxide by 98%, with at least 30% reductions in harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx), smoke and particulate emissions.
Significantly, the use of this system does not mean any reduction in driving performance and brings financial savings of approximately 28% on traditional fuel costs. This patented technology also works with sustainably produced bio-methane, which can double the savings in carbon dioxide emissions, and thus there is a wider opportunity to use bio-methane gas derived from waste re-cycling to further reduce the environmental impact of truck operation by as much as 40%.
Following years of successful self-funded research and development of its unique dual fuel system using its own fleet of vehicles, Hardstaff’s needed support to turn its new low carbon technology into a commercial product that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) could implement in both new vehicles and for converting existing fleets.
Hardstaff’s approached the Transport iNet through its long standing collaboration with Loughborough University. Following meetings with Transport iNet Advisor David Pickering, they successfully applied for matched innovation support worth £13,500. The financial assistance helped Hardstaff’s to complete the electrical and mechanical development of its dual fuel system and to make it acceptable to the market and its OEM customers, and to bring in new systems of internal control for production operation, thus enabling the product launch.
Since receiving support, advice and a route to funding from the Transport iNet, Hardstaff’s has been able to offer for the first time a commercial product using a dual fuel system as an accepted OEM fitment and existing vehicle adaption. The system is to be offered as an approved aftermarket conversion via the Mercedes-Benz distributor network for its Axor and Actros long haul truck applications and the company has subsequently won a major national award for low carbon technology innovation.
The innovation support grant allowed the project to progress quickly and was vital in Hardstaff’s securing its first order. The success created five jobs at their head office in Kingston as well as generating further interest from other European truck makers looking at fitting the system. As a result, Hardstaff’s is set to establish a Scandinavian subsidiary company to supply and fit its technology, and the turnover of the Group is forecast to double within the next five years. The company has also subsequently won a major national award for technology innovation from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, as well as the prestigious Lord Stafford Award for Innovation.
Tony King of Hardstaff Group, said: “the innovation support received from the Transport iNet played a key role in helping us get to market swiftly, capitalising on the interest from Mercedes-Benz. We have no doubt that without it we would not be as far down the line.”
“Hardstaff’s dual fuel system was a huge commercial success and the innovation support received from the Transport iNet played a key role in helping us get to market swiftly”
Tony King, Hardstaff Group