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Off-Peak transport - a good environmental choice

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

HITS has focused on transport in cities. A focus area has been Off-peak transport. Electrification of the vehicles enables night deliveries as the noise levels go down. The carriers increase their delivery precision when they deliver the goods off peak, which is an important customer value, but if the customer does not want the goods at these times? what will be left of the customer value then? Can this be solved in a way so that both the customer and the carrier benefit from the goods arriving during the night?


Photo: Havi

Studies show that on-time transport efficiency can be reduced by up to 40 percent when a distribution truck delivers during the time of day when it is least busy - so-called off peak deliveries. For the city, there will also be positive effects in that the number of trucks that circulate and create traffic jams on the city's streets is reduced.

Night time deliveries are not for everyone

The results of the tests within HITS show that only a few recipients want deliveries at night. Storage space, personnel costs and security are some of the explanations. In addition, each delivery point has its own challenges - in terms of the physical conditions and noise, which in turn can have a big impact on whether Off Peak is suitable or not. Businesses that control the entire product chain, such as larger food chains with their own stores and stock recycling depots, it is an easy transition.

If the recipient is instead a receiving business that bought goods, has businesses that have staff on site at night, such as hotels, hospitals, it is also easier, but usually it is not up to the carriers to decide when the goods are to be delivered. This is usually regulated in the contract between the seller and the receiving party. This is usually regulated in the contract between the seller and the receiving party. The sustainability benefits that are made in transport are often unknown to those who sell the goods.

Digitization can support the transition

"Within HITS, we have studied how digitization of the supply chain can take place and which steps in this digitization create value and for whom. The aim has been to understand how the reception of goods can be done unmanned. If the reception is unmanned, new customer benefits are created on the receiving side - provided they feel they have confidence in the process" says Elisabeth Hörnfeldt, project manager for HITS, Scania Group.

In the project, Scania, HAVI and LogTrade, together with McDonalds, have worked out a concept which means that HAVI should be able to deliver goods in central Stockholm without the recipient needing to have staff on site. HAVI has a vehicle, a PlugIn hybrid truck from Scania, manned by two people who drive and deliver the goods. LogTrade has provided vehicles, goods and delivery papers with digital keys, which means that vehicles and goods are continuously tracked via GPS and send signals to the recipient that delivery is on its way. Once there, the goods are identified and that they are in the right place, at the right time and with the right supplier. Two doors are unlocked with a one-time code and once inside the goods are placed in prepared places. The staff prepared these before they left the premises.

The most important prerequisites have proven to be safety issues and quality issues. For example, that it is the right courier who delivers the right goods, that cold chains are intact and that there are smart locks. In other words, different types of verifications and receipts are needed. Another important factor that creates added value is to have control over deviation management, which can be achieved if there is a traceability and transparency in the whereabouts of the goods.

Off-peak is good for the environment - but requires community efforts

If society wants to reduce congestion in cities and allow off-peak deliveries, the issue of current regulations need to be updated and taken seriously. If a city introduces rules against night deliveries, it affects the regulatory framework far beyond its own city limits, as companies often include these requirements in their agreements, which are not local but usually apply to the entire country.

The reasons for regulations are that traditional distribution of goods at night does not meet the noise requirements. Electrification of the vehicles solves many noise problems, but not all. Roll cages, pallets and other handling equipment can also make noise and create problems for residents in the area and must be managed. The other benefits that the city receives from the fact that goods can be delivered significantly more efficiently and reduced congestion are reduced climate impact and better air quality. These are factors that should be a carrot for society to end its legal requirements and introduce relief for those who want to drive off peak with modern and quiet vehicles.

The next step involves understanding the conditions for scaling this up to more actors. Until now, the gains have been shown above all in inner-city environments, but in the next step we will explore new social values ​​it can have in suburban environments. Where it is primarily the receiving business that makes the profits from not receiving their goods during the time they have their business. Examples of this are schools, daycare centers and other care facilities.

There is also potential to connect off peak with geofencing as a technology to ensure legal compliance and protection of sensitive environments.