Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Low Impact City Logistics; Introducing the 'Net-Neutral' e-Trailer

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #41
The Low Impact City Logistics e-trailer in London traffic. Photo credit: G Fonne
Low Impact City Logistics is a collaborative project that has developed an innovative ‘net-neutral load’ electric powered trailer. To the rider, the e-trailer feels ‘weightless’; meaning high payloads can be carried with relative ease. The e-trailer can carry a payload of 200kg and also has a walking mode so that it can, if required, be de-coupled from the bike and walked, still using e-assist, closer to the loading/unloading point.

How the e-trailer achieves this ‘weightlessness’ is down to its ability to regulate speed so that, when on the move, it is always going at the same speed as the bike. It does this by using its motor to either add or remove energy from the wheels, based on feedback from a coupling which constantly senses the distance between the bike and e-trailer.
The coupling senses the speed of the bike and feeds this back to the motor.
Photo still from Skotkonung video: "UPS Low Impact City Logistics Trial".
The e-trailer is also designed to be as energy-efficient as possible. When it slows down, rather than simply dissipating energy as heat from friction, the energy is fed back into the battery. This is achieved by reversing the motor. Robin Haycock, Director at Fernhay, the company which developed the e-trailer, puts it like this: “Basically you have a battery full of energy, this energy is used to accelerate a mass (the e-trailer and parcels). If I want to decelerate that mass, then I want to save that energy back to the battery. In conventional freight bikes or pedelecs there is no function or capability to do this and the energy is converted into heat and lost via the disc brakes.”

Low Impact City Logistics as a project however, is not just about development of innovative bike-trailer technology. The aim is to design a complete system which will provide more efficient ways to provide door to door delivery services to cities, with a particular focus on the last mile. The project is also looking at methods by which packages can be loaded at depots (to get rid, for example, of double handling) all directed by innovative distribution software. A trial period of the systems involved ran in Camden, London, in November and December 2017, further details from which will be available later on this year.
A UPS liveried e-trailer is recharged. Photo credit: G Fonne
The project, part-funded by government agency Innovate UK, has several partners besides Fernhay, all of whom fulfil different roles. Technology company Skotkonung wrote optimisation algorithms which allow routing efficiency to be continuously improved using a GPS tracker in the e-trailer. The University of Huddersfield provided some of the expertise with which the e-trailer was developed. Cambridge-based cycle logistics operator Outspoken! Delivery conducted initial testing on the e-trailer. UPS, as the lead logistics partner on the project, operated the trailer in London and it was their packages that were being delivered in London during the trial.
Testing under way at Outspoken! Delivery. Photo credit: Outspoken! Delivery

Project: Low Impact City Logistics
Organisations: Fernhay, Outspoken! Delivery, Skotkonung, UPS and Huddersfield University.
City: London
Country: UK
Basis: Pilot

Sources:
London Evening Standard: “Parcel delivery firm UPS trials environmentally-friendly bike trailers to replace diesel trucks in central London”
UPS: “Innovative ‘depot-to-door’ system reduces traffic congestion and carbon emissions”
Post & Parcel: “Electric-powered delivery trailers to be trialled in London”
That’s Cambridge: “A New Form Of Cargo Transport” (Video)
Skotkonung: "UPS Low Impact City Logistics Trial" (Video)
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

RIPPL: Our Top-5 Trends and What’s Next

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #40

The RIPPL project has been running for a year now; so what better time to look back and reflect upon what we’ve discovered? We’ve picked out our top 5 most interesting trends so far.

Firstly though, our thanks go not only to you, our readers, for reading, but also to the 39 initiatives we’ve featured so far for sharing their valuable ideas and experiences with us. Later in this article we’ll also give you a taste of what is coming up for the RIPPL project.

Trend 1: Heavy Duty Components
When it comes to making multiple deliveries, a fully loaded bike is an efficient bike. With many delivery vans now not carrying more than 150kg, it has become more and more common for us to ask bikes and trikes to carry heavier loads. The problem; standard bike components aren’t designed to cope with such heavy loads. Logistics operators and manufacturers alike are responding to this design challenge.
Click here to read more

Trend 2: Containerisation
In the mid 20th century, containerisation revolutionised the global shipping industry. As cycle logistics becomes more and more popular, the possibilities offered by containerisation are being considered by operators and manufacturers alike. In October, we wrote a feature about the possibility that standard sizes of container will emerge, and how that could play out.
Click here to read our feature on standardisation in containerisation

Trend 3: Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
In July we featured Pedal Me, an impressive London-based startup. Taking on the likes of UBER, they are using cargo bikes to provide an efficient and competitive app-based taxi service in central London. In 2018, expect to see expansion from Pedal Me and more initiatives like this popping up elsewhere.
Click here to read our feature on Pedal Me

Trend 4: Sharing
Bike share for personal mobility is now mainstream; around a thousand cities worldwide have a system. Parallel to this, more and more cargo bike sharing services are popping up. They’re especially popular in Germany and Switzerland, where they’ve been shown to break down barriers to participation; users who have tried a shared cargo bike are more likely to buy one for themselves.
Click here to read about TINK, a bike sharing initiative in two German cities

Trend 5: Food
There’s more to the combination of food and cycle logistics than Deliveroo, Foodora, UBER Eats and the like. We’ve written about sustainable home delivery food businesses making healthy food, whose model is based on use of cargo bikes for delivery. There are also many social initiatives doing great work; with food which would otherwise have been wasted, or by ensuring that food waste does not unnecessarily end up in landfill.
Click here to read RIPPL articles about food businesses and initiatives

It is safe to say that at the beginning of 2018, there is a lot going on in cycle logistics. Honourable mentions for fascinating trends that didn’t make our top five go to Disaster Relief, Government Intervention and Multi-modality.

Looking Ahead: What's Next?
As well as looking back, we’ve also been looking forwards and are very pleased to announce that our partnership with smart sustainable mobility network Connekt will continue for another 6 months. This allows us to continue writing independent articles about innovation and best practices in cycle logistics. Our overall aims remain the same, to share knowledge and inspire those thinking about using cycle logistics as part of an initiative of their own, so many thanks go to Connekt for their continued support.

We have also been considering the above trends and have decided that our posts for the next six months will mostly focus on those trends that, in our opinion, will have the greatest impact on cycle logistics in the near future; namely Containerisation and Heavy Duty Componentry. As ever, if you have a suggestion about a concept or initiative you think we should cover, please get in touch.

In other news, we will also shortly be launching a dedicated RIPPL website. Watch this space for an announcement in the near future.

Last but not least, don’t forget that the International Cargo Bike Festival will be held in April. This year, for the first time, it is moving to Berlin and will run concurrently with VELOBerlin on the Tempelhof airfield. Festival dates are 14th and 15th April and you can read more about the programme here. We’ll see you there!



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