First Moves

The shift towards environmental sustainability within the transportation industry has rapidly jumped from a buzz to a bellow and Mark Gjerek, Director of the transport consultancy group MOV3MENT, is making sure his voice is heard.
Mark Gjerek.

A love of all things motorised and a concern for the environment might seem like incompatible bedfellows, but Mark Gjerek doesn’t see it that way.

From OEMs and fleet managers to industry associations, Mark has forged a career helping them manage their energy and navigate the challenges of vehicle emissions in the face of new technologies, ever-changing government policy, and a general lack of real-world information.

His business offers what he calls practical, real-world advice that simplifies the sustainability problem for vehicle fleets and takes the bottom line into consideration.

“The mission is to decarbonise transport, but it’s a journey and sometimes it’s complex and messy,” Mark says.

His acceptance of that, and an understanding that most clients need a tailored strategy not a one-size-fits all approach is what sets MOV3MENT apart.

“We don’t use a cookie-cutter approach,” he says. “We take the time to understand our clients and where they are positioned, and offer advice based on that.

“Sometimes that involves challenging their understanding of the problem, which you can’t do with a template.”

He also sees a key strength in not having any physical products or software to sell, allowing his team to focus on strategic and technical advice instead of “upselling” to clients.

“We only provide information, data insights, and the guidance our clients need to make the right choices at the right time,” he says.

“For example, all the recent buzz is for electric trucks and hydrogen. We’re leaders in that area, but we also know that’s not going to work for everyone today. There is still a lot fleets can do to reduce fuel costs and emissions that most fleets aren’t doing.”

Mark got his start in the automotive industry, working for Volvo and Toyota. After more than a decade of roles involving both cars and trucks, he noticed a shift within himself.

“I’m passionate about all kinds of vehicles — cars, trucks, motorbikes,” he says. “But I started to get concerned about the environmental impact of vehicles. So I decided to be part of the solution rather than the problem.”

After a spell working in business sustainability programs, he began his consulting career 15 years ago, essentially doing what he still does today — providing advice on how to reduce vehicle fuel costs and reduce emissions.

In 2015 he founded MOV3MENT. His team provides advice to fleets, as well as government and the truck industry.

Much of this work includes keeping the lines of communication open between all the various interests. In other words, not just sharing information but connecting people and organisations as well.

“We are often introducing our clients to other clients we’ve had, simply because they are working in the same space,” he says. “Or they have had similar problems and can benefit each other, or to overcome the gap between industry and government.”

A big part of MOV3MENT’s job is staying on top of research and innovations within the industry, many of which are currently moving at lightning pace.

That includes weeding out information that isn’t relevant. Many of the technology studies and trials of electric trucks come from overseas or from laboratories, which as Mark explains, isn’t always relevant to the unique conditions presented in Australia’s road freight sector.

“A lot of the information clients might find online is from overseas and just doesn’t relate to Australian trucks or how they’re used,” he says. “This is where real world experience is critical, which allows us to steer our clients to the most relevant information or adapt and tailor it, avoiding costly mistakes based on wrong assumptions.”

Another factor that changes quickly in this area is government policy and programs, which the MOV3MENT team are close to. Mark acknowledges that it’s hard for the truck industry, particularly small and medium operators, to keep track of all the changes in policy and programs and grants across local, state, and federal governments.

“There is support available in some areas and we ensure that is included in our advice to clients,”he says.

The number of factors fleets need to consider is clearly broad and deep, including things like the resale value risk of trucks with new technology, understanding the need for recharging infrastructure, emerging changes in regulations, expectations on future fuel and energy prices, or even knowing how a company’s competitors are tackling emissions.

As a result, companies often need a customised and staged energy strategy. Mark cites an example of a recent medium-sized fleet of about 500 trucks that came to him with the goal of reducing emissions, but not fully understanding what options they had or how quickly the technology was developing.

His team provided an integrated strategy with different options for the short-medium-term and long-term, as opposed to one solution.

“We needed to show them what they could do in the interim,” Mark explains. “This could be aerodynamics, driver training, low rolling resistance tyres – all the things that can improve fuel efficiency – while their readiness for alternative fuels and electric trucks developed.”

Future Freight Energy Hub at Port of Brisbane.
Volvo FE Electric at the Future Freight Energy Hub initiative at the Port of Brisbane.

When it comes to finding savings, one area that is often overlooked by the road transport industry is using data more effectively.

“It’s not a criticism of the sector: things are busy, low-margin and it’s hustle, hustle, hustle,” he explains. “But this is an area where, as independent experts, we can come in and take that data and come up with some insights and add value from our own data and information in ways that our clients might not have the time or capability to do.”

So, is the goal to get off diesel completely? Mark says that will happen eventually, it’s just the rate of speed that’s unclear.

“In some segments we can get off diesel now, but for others we are looking at five to ten years, so we need to consider interim solutions,” says Mark, who adds it doesn’t all come down to emission rates, particularly as the sector is sensitive to higher costs.

“Cost is a major factor, but you also need to consider changes in productivity, competitive advantage, reputation effects both the positive such as new business and the negative, health and safety”, says Mark.

Highlighting his team’s connections and expertise with the latest alternative fuel tech, Mark cites a project working with freight precincts in Queensland to accelerate the shift to zero emission trucks. MOV3MENT partnered with QTLC through their Future Freight Energy Hub initiative to put on a zero emission trucks ride day at the Port of Brisbane.

Interest was massive, according to Mark, at more than double the event capacity.

“We helped plan the event and provided commercial and technical information sessions with fleet examples, suppliers, as well as the drive program,” he says. “Getting people into these trucks, bums on seats, is critical to moving this technology forward.”

While Mark is always considering the future and its possibilities, what that future will inevitably bring is anyone’s guess. Electric trucks, fuel cell hydrogen vehicles, biodiesel, renewable diesel and e-fuels are all in the running, and all being developed and improved.

“That’s true, but I don’t see a future where you’re going to have four or five different technologies or fuels all vying for a front seat position,” he says.

“There are going to be winners and losers. That’s why it’s important decision-makers have the best information available and understand the risks of picking the wrong horse in that race. I think that’s where MOV3MENT fits in the bigger picture.”

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