Professor David Cebon from Cambridge University will be presenting “Towards Sustainable Road Freight”. The lecture honours John Orr, a pioneering member of the SAIMechE and Wits University.

Date: September 13th, 2018 (Thursday) at 17h15 for 18h00

Venue: Senate Room, 2nd Floor, Solomon Mahlangu (Senate) House, University of the Witwatersrand

RSVP through the SAIMechE:

Enquiries: or (011) 717-7320

Brief Synopsis:

The amount of freight being transported by road is growing rapidly – to serve increasing consumer demands for goods. This activity currently generates about 7-8% of the Europe’s CO2 emissions. This talk will discuss the ways in which the road freight system can be made more sustainable – by improving the engineering systems that move the freight and the logistics systems that organize the movement of freight.

Many factors affect the CO2 emissions generated in the moving of freight by road.  These include a range of engineering variables that can be influenced by engineers such as: vehicle size, configuration and weight, fuel/energy source, hybridization, drivetrain performance, driver behaviour, aerodynamics, vehicle mass, etc. There are also a number of factors that can be influenced by logistics systems.  Among these are: vehicle fill, traffic congestion, delivery timing, etc.  Opportunities, such as connected and autonomous vehicles may also provide significant opportunities for decarbonisation, but their potential benefits are not currently well understood or quantified.

Some of these factors can be influenced in positive ways by technical and logistical interventions that can be implemented in the short term.  But some of the most effective interventions won’t be implemented widely for some years because of significant barriers to their adoption. These barriers may be technical, economic or social/political. Implementation of these ‘high-benefit’ measures requires focussed R&D to remove/reduce the barriers. The presentation will discuss all of these factors and strategies for deciding where to start on decarbonisation of road freight.

About Prof Cebon:

David Cebon is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering in Cambridge University and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

He is Director of the Cambridge Vehicle Dynamics Consortium and the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight and he leads Cambridge University Engineering Department’s Transport Research Group and the Department’s research theme ‘Energy, Transport and Urban Infrastructure’.  He serves on the Editorial Boards of three international journals.  Professor Cebon’s research covers the mechanical, civil, and materials aspects of road transport engineering.

He has authored or co-authored more than 150 papers on dynamic loads of heavy vehicles, road and bridge response and damage, advanced suspension design for heavy vehicles, heavy vehicle safety and mobility, heavy vehicle fuel consumption and the micromechanics of asphalt deformation and fracture.

*Attendance is free and is open to anyone interested in attending.
**CPD validation number: (to be provided shortly); 0.2 CPD credits.
***A light meal and drinks will be served from 17h15 to 18h00.

The Lecture will once again be live-streamed and some of our branches will be hosting local screenings, whereby the lecture will be projected onto a big screen, and refreshments will be served.


About John Orr:

John Orr was born in 1870 in Lanarkshire (Scotland) and in 1887 entered Glasgow University where he graduated B.Sc in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. He received further technical education at Coatbridge Mining College and the Royal Technical College, Glasgow. In 1893 he was awarded a Whitworth Medal and Exhibition, tenable at the Royal College of Science, London. He gained further practical experience in Scotland and England before coming to South Africa in 1897.

Initially he was attached to the School of Mines of the South African College in Cape Town (which later became Cape Town University), but a year later went to the Kimberly Branch of the School of Mines as the Professor of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. He retained his professorship when the School was transferred to Johannesburg in 1903 as the Transvaal Technical Institute. After several changes of name, this organization became the University of the Witwatersrand in 1922, and Orr’s chair became the de Beer’s Chair of Mechanical Engineering.

In 1952 he resigned to organise mechanical education at the Witwatersrand Technical College, where he remained until he retired in 1954. He was awarded the honorary LLD by the University in 1936. A Mechanical Engineering Chair and a wing of the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory at the University of the Witwatersrand are named after him.

He was a man of wide interests. He was President of the forerunner of the present South African Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1908/09, President of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science in 1917, he helped to establish the South African Standards Institution in 1907, and was awarded an OBE in 1919, the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935, and the Coronation Medal in 1937. He also directed technical training for the army and industry during World War 11.





Prof Cebon