When it came to transporting livestock, farmers used to pop their heads outside to check the temperature - if it was too hot, they would leave in the night when it was cooler. But EC legislation brought in at the beginning of last year on the back of animal welfare complaints has changed this straightforward approach.
The regulation came into force on 5 January 2007. Yet how to implement the complicated changes it prescribes and how much they could change in the future is worrying the people who have already begun transforming their businesses. What if it is all about to change again?
Under the EC legislation, having sufficient ventilation and air quality and quantity is paramount if travelling over eight hours. The ventilation is required to be maintained between 5-30ºC (plus or minus five degrees) inside the vehicle when moving or stationary. Most vehicles have already been kitted out with ventilation and temperature recording equipment to comply with this.
== PUTTING IT TOGETHER ==
Sarah Long, development manager for Assured British Meat's (ABM's) transport assurance scheme, says: "The EU hasn't really confirmed standards and what to do for ventilation. With the legislation you try to put it together as best as possible, but you have to draw a line in the sand. There are difficult factors to consider with ventilation. Defra tries to give guidance on this but it is still quite confusing. There are other ways to keep animals comfortable."
New proposed research addresses these issues by undertaking the characterisation of physiological and metabolic responses of livestock to elevated thermal loads under commercial conditions in a temperature climate. The biological measurements and comprehensive welfare assessment will be correlated with complete characterisations of the thermal environment and ventilation regime, as well as animal behaviour and physiological indices of stress.
With confusing legislation, com-panies are covering every aspect of what could be necessary when transporting animals with the help of new technology. US company MadgeTech, for example, has created the TransiTempII, a splash-proof data logger, for monitoring and recording the temperature of goods in transit. The device comes equipped with three LED alarm indicators, which glow green, yellow or red to show users when the temperature is safe or not.
Jody Simanskas, marketing manager at MadgeTech, says: "The TransiTempII can help assure transporters that they are keeping their animals safely within the new temperature regulations."
But keeping within these boundaries and knowing what is needed is the problem. Although the legislation states that you need to have sufficient ventilation for 'worst case' situations -for example, when a vehicle is stationary in hot weather - the size, position and number of ventilation apertures are not specified. All that is clarified is that a portion should be adjustable for differing climatic conditions.
== TAKING TEMPERATURE ==
Peter Kettlewell, principal research scientist at environmental consultancy ADAS, says: "They say the temperature has to be between 0-35ºC but nobody really knows what temperature to use. It is hard to keep between these temperatures. The vehicle may go below 0ºC, but the animals may not be used to the temperature, depending on where they are reared.
"Some even manage better with a lower temperature. The problem is that the rules assume one size fits all.
"I was involved with transporting pigs from the north of England to Malaga to test the temperatures and how they dealt with them. We only did three runs until we were hit by foot-and-mouth, but we managed to get a bit of information. My observation, as it was a small sample size, was that when we arrived at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon in Malaga, we monitored a body temperature of 42ºC and the pigs weren't bothered. We will be doing it again and we have to get back to Defra with the results by this summer, so the outcome should be interesting."
Tracking of vehicles using the Galileo global navigation satellite is another aspect of the legislation that is under scrutiny.
Galileo is being built by the EU and European Space Agency. A 'demonstrator' spacecraft designed to test the navigation satellite has recently been launched from Kazakhstan.
The demonstrator will test the key technologies, which will eventually be built into the 30 operational platforms that form the Galileo network.
However, in the UK, a group of MPs recently issued a report that was scathing about the project's management and prospects.
Kettlewell says: "From a tracking point of view, there may be some cause for concern. They are trying to work out if they transfer all the records through Galileo back to the base or if they should keep them on a large database somewhere for all to see around Europe.
"If a British haulier got stopped in Spain, for example, and the police decided there was something wrong, they would send a report to the Spanish authorities and then they would get back to Defra and then to the haulier. But information should be accessed from the base rather than everyone being able to access it."
To help avoid infringements and keep drivers in control of their information, a new piece of equipment called the Digifob is helping to keep data simple.
The advent of digital tachograph technology has created new challenges in terms of reading and managing tachograph data. With analogue tachograph charts it is possible for the trained eye to spot problems, but with digital this is no longer an option.Digifob allows a driver or driver manager to view driver card data instantly.
Ruth Norbury, field sales account manager for the Freight Transport Association, says: "The Digifob was made for transporters with digital vehicles so they can check their last time worked, holidays and breaks. It means they can ensure they are complying with EU rules on drivers' hours."
While decisions made in Brussels will determine how difficult it is to track a vehicle and its times, allowing drivers to have power over their journeys will help them follow the new rules. Kettlewell says: "Tracking systems are over-complicated. The manufacturers are still trying to work out what the actual requirements are. They have already put complicated tracking systems on hauliers in the Netherlands, but we are waiting for Brussels to decide what the regulation should actually be. I think it should be made more simple so drivers know what's going on at all times."
Another concern for drivers is whether the transmission is secure. If it is not, there is a chance that animal activists will be able to get the information and the treatment of animals will be scrutinised. One of the main problems with how to deal with the data is who will get hold of it.
Barry Woof, director of haulier E George and Son, has upgraded his vehicles with 'sat nav'. Information about his fleet goes to a European centre, where it is confidential and only he can access it.
"It's all about confidentiality of the products you are looking after for the customer. Your customer's work load is private to him and we are wary of what the EU is considering."
== LORRY DESIGN ==
Truck manufacturer Houghton-Parkhouse is fully aware of the legis-lation and has produced highly specified livestock transporters which, it says, are designed to comply with the recent EC legislation.
Roger Wrapson, former secretary of the Livestock Carriers' Group, said: "Houghton-Parkhouse is doing what it thinks is good and right. It is difficult for people buying transport now to know which vehicles to choose. Even the manufacturers don't know anymore. They are changing the technology to what they think they might need, what could be required by legislation."
Houghton-Parkhouse worked in conjunction with Seven Telematics to design and develop a web-based tracking and temperature recording system specifically for animal transport applications, which can monitor the temperature in four separate decks.
MD Michael Houghton says: "We sold a highly specialised demonstration vehicle and we will eventually rebuild a new one. We want to encourage customers to use trackable vehicles that are fully controlled by this system."
The vehicle uses variable speed fan control to adjust temperatures, as well as changing the temperature individually on each compartment.
"We are trying to fit all vehicles to comply with the EC legislation and we can also utilise this in older vehicles. Eventually, the authorities will probably want drivers to put in the types and numbers of animals they are transporting. We don't cater for this at the moment however."
Temperature data is assessed through Seven Telematic's secure web service, together with pinpoint vehicle positional information. There is also an in-cab alarm to alert the driver if any temperatures fall outside the 5-30ºC band.
But it is not surprising when legislation is so grey that transporters have their doubts about how far they may eventually need to go. Peter Kettlewell, from ADAS, says: "I spoke to Michael Houghton and he is very concerned that he has spent a lot of money and what he has done is not correct. I believe he has done it correctly, but only time will tell."
Houghton adds: "Our technology probably goes further than the legislation requires and it may never need to be this advanced. The EC regulation must be seen as a step forward in ensuring the welfare of livestock during transportation.
"Our development with Seven Telematics will enable operators using Houghton-Parkhouse livestock transporters to meet the requirements simply and effectively."
== NEW TECHNOLOGY ==
With a greater emphasis on technology designed to watch livestock, rather than the driver looking over his shoulder, a number of recent equipment launches could help the industry nail the tricky EU legislation.
Trailer Vision has developed a wireless camera and monitoring system called TV2. The monitor can be used with multiple cameras, one to monitor the livestock, a camera for reversing, and even a third camera for difficult-to-see areas.
Neil Todd, a partner in Trailer Vision, says: "The Trailer Vision systems provide peace of mind when transporting livestock - no more worrying when a crash, bang or yelp is heard; no need to pull over and stop.
"Trailer Vision means that you can see exactly what's going on, therefore there's less stress for you and your cargo. The system uses wireless technology so it can be easily installed, or moved between trailers and/or locations."
== DUAL MONITORING ==
The EU is also considering linking temperature monitors to satellite navigation, so both can be recorded at the same time.
Oxloc, based on the outskirts of Oxford has already built technology enabling operators to have clear visibility of the condition and location of the entire fleet through scheduled reporting or on-demand via a secure website.
The Oxloc Asset Alert is configured to report position at pre-set intervals and has the ability to be remotely polled to report current position. Optional door, curtain side, temperature and motion sensors also allow remote condition monitoring.
Peter Kettlewell says: "In February, Defra went along to a meeting where the member states wanted to link the temperature with the satellite navigation. The Dutch already do this, but it is perfectly good as two separate systems.
"Everyone in the industry is screaming for information to come out, but when they know it, they may not necessarily like it." l