|Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #39
The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
|A row of PostNL Urban Arrows. Photo credit: Tom Parr
The overarching idea behind the project is to replace the PostNL’s city-based delivery vehicles with a cleaner, more agile alternative. It’s an ongoing project - so far based in 8 locations across Amsterdam, although this may be expanded. During this phase, the aim is to replace 60 of PostNL’s conventional delivery vehicles with 60 bikes, trikes or LEVs. If successful, it will be scaled up.
|PostNL cargo trikes in storage, waiting to be tested. Photo credit: Tom Parr
As you would expect from any project being conducted by a large organisation, a lot of data is being gathered for analysis. This includes things like financial costs, but also productivity figures, for example comparisons of the time taken to do the same tasks using a van, versus each different model being tested. Some of the bikes, trikes and LEVs are GPS tagged, meaning all sorts of data can be collected and analysed. According to Nanette, the bikes, trikes and LEVs tested so far are much faster at the job than the vehicles they replaced: “you see the difference in the data”. GPS tagging also plays another role: security. The system allows PostNL to keep track of where each bike, trike or LEV is, and only allows a locked box to be opened by a Stadsbezorger who is actually using it.
|PostNL branded Urban Arrow Tenders. Photo credit: Urban Arrow
This qualitative side of the process is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it provides context for findings that come up from the data. For example; imagine a situation where a particular trike is taking longer to do a postal run than the other models being tested. The first thing PostNL would do in this situation would be to ask their Stadsbezorgers what was going on. More often than not, the answer would be forthcoming.
|A Stint, recharging at the depot. Photo credit: Tom Parr
Thirdly, it has allowed PostNL to develop and test new processes so that the bikes, trikes or LEVs are managed in the most efficient way possible. Management of a fleet of cargo bikes can be a very different thing to managing a fleet of vans; keys, batteries and maintenance routines must all be handled in different ways. This test phase is allowing PostNL to iron out any issues before scaling up.
|Stadsbezorgers loading and unloading. Photo credit: Tom Parr
Nanette makes it clear that PostNL are keen to let the process run it’s course before making any decisions about which solution will work for them. In fact, they are open to choosing different solutions for different cities; after all, the medieval streets of central Utrecht, post-war boulevards of Rotterdam and, say the suburban outskirts of Eindhoven are all very different environments in which to operate. Delivery runs, where you know in advance how much you are carrying, may require a smaller capacity than collections, where a few full postboxes could mean a time-costly return to the depot to offload before heading out again to complete the run. This would suggest that designs with larger and smaller capacities might both have a place at PostNL.
|Each manufacturer involved has branded their bike, trike or LEV in
Post NL Livery. Photo credit: Tom Parr
We’ve covered Post Offices shifting to the bike before, see RIPPL #24 to read about how the Croatian Post Office did it.
Country: The Netherlands
Bike Manufacturer(s): Babboe, Urban Arrow, Johnny Loco
Tom Parr: Interview with PostNL Bicycle Network Project Manager, Nanette Wielenga, Nov 2017