Tuesday, December 19, 2017

PostNL - 60 vans for 60 bikes, trikes or LEVS

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 Dutch Post Office, PostNL, have begin systematically testing last-mile delivery vehicles. Naturally this includes cargo bikes, but they are also trying out Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs), such as the Stint. I met Nanette Wielenga, Bicycle Network Project Manager for PostNL, to find out more. We met at a depot on the western edge of Amsterdam at around 6pm and discussed the project as PostNL delivery riders, known Stadsbezorgers, returned from their evening rounds on various bikes, trikes and LEVs.

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
What is interesting about the project is the manner in which PostNL have chosen to evaluate the options available to them; it is thorough and evidence-based. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are being employed, and a combination of the two will inform the decisions that are eventually made.

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
PostNL are taking the qualitative side just as seriously and it is here that the Stadsbezorgers (who were all previously doing the same tasks, but in a van) are heavily involved. Taking part in the program was optional, the idea being that those involved would be open-minded and invested in making it a success. Each Stadsbezorger tries out every bike, trike and LEV, then feedback is gathered in a series of interviews from the people actually using them.

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
Secondly, an engaged workforce that knows it is being listened to can provide myriad advantages in terms of labour relations. Stadsbezorgers feel like they are being listened to, because they really are.

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
Another important aspect of the project is that of the relationships that PostNL has with the manufacturers of the bikes, trikes and LEVs being tested. The process has allowed PostNL to give manufacturers feedback on design changes that would make the bikes, trikes or LEVs more suitable for the job. Naturally, all of the manufacturers are keen to ensure that their bike, trike or LEV is chosen by PostNL, so both parties have an interest in making it work.

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
I ask Nanette if there are any early indications as to what they will decide: “No, but what I can tell you is that we’re never going back to the vans. We don’t want it and neither do our Stadsbezorgers. The most popular amongst them is the Stint - it’s cool and they enjoy the attention.” Cargo bike manufacturers, take note!

We’ve covered Post Offices shifting to the bike before, see RIPPL #24 to read about how the Croatian Post Office did it.

Organisation: PostNL
City: Amsterdam
Country: The Netherlands
Bike Manufacturer(s): Babboe, Urban Arrow, Johnny Loco
Basis: Pilot

Tom Parr: Interview with PostNL Bicycle Network Project Manager, Nanette Wielenga, Nov 2017
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Marleen Kookt - Meals on Two Wheels

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #38 

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
The fleet. Note the hanging charging cables; not for the e-assist batteries,
but for the phones. Photo credit: Marleen Kookt
Marleen Kookt is an Amsterdam-based meal delivery business founded in 2012 by Marleen Jansen and Joris Keijzer. Following a 6 month sabbatical spent in Majorca, during which Marleen experimented with various recipe ideas, they returned to Amsterdam. Finding that they did not want to return to their office jobs (both have backgrounds in large-scale retail) they started Marleen Kookt (Dutch for 'Marleen Cooks').

For the first six months, the operation was small scale; Marleen did all of the cooking herself and Joris the deliveries, delivering only to their postcode. After this, they started to recruit delivery riders (Bezorgers) and the delivery radius grew. As demand increased over time, Marleen recruited help in the kitchen, Joris began spending less time in the saddle and more time in the office, and more Bezorgers were enrolled. Today, Marleen herself is still to be found with her sleeves rolled up in the kitchen, whilst Joris takes care of operations.
A Marleen Kookt Bezorger in action. Photo credit: Marleen Kookt
The service is aimed squarely at busy, convenience-seeking yet health conscious city dwellers. The menu changes each day, with three dishes on offer, plus soup, dessert and children’s options. The meals are delivered cold, in porcelain dishes and are accompanied by simple heating instructions. The porcelain is simply collected when the customer orders next.

The company currently has a fleet of 23 cargo bikes. They are mostly Urban Arrow Cargo L’s, with a few larger Cargo XL’s. The fleet is always growing and new bikes will all be XLs; this is because in some areas of the city there are higher concentrations of customers. A bike with more capacity is more efficient and the Bezorgers are now experienced enough to ride these longer bikes.

Since the beginning, Marleen Kookt have had a close relationship with Urban Arrow, who are also based in Amsterdam. The two are in regular contact, passing solutions and real-life feedback back and forth. A result of this symbiotic relationship is the numerous modifications to the bikes, one example being a internal shelf in the box, hinged like a trapdoor. This allows two layers of meals to be loaded. Another is a custom tamper-proof, handlebar mounted phone holder, which allows hands-free navigation on the move and avoids theft whilst Bezorgers have their backs turned.
Marleen Kookt and Urban Arrow have a close relationship, allowing
UA to innovate and MK to benefit. Photo credit: Marleen Kookt
The company occupies a deceptively large premises in a typically dense residential area on the edge of the city centre. It’s a series of ex-printing, bookbinding and sewing workshops which have been knocked through into a single complex, consisting of a large kitchen, adjacent bike garage, office space. There is also, importantly, a large table around which staff eat together; Bezorgers receive a warm meal for each shift they work. According to Keijzer, there is room for the operation to double in size on this site, but: “It’s not about growing for growing’s sake. Quality always comes first for us. We see an opportunity to improve quality and grow at the same time”.

There are currently around 50 Bezorgers working for Marleen Kookt. They are mainly students and young people with flexible schedules, working for a minimum of two days a week. A typical delivery run is 30km in length and lasts 2½ hours, in shifts running between 16:00 and 20:00. More experienced riders are given runs of up to 40 to 50km. In return, they are paid a decent hourly wage. Friendly contact with customers is a really important aspect of the business, so Bezorgers are given a taste of the day’s menu before each delivery run, so that they can evangelise to customers on the doorsteps.
The area covered by Marleen Kookt now covers most of the city.
Image credit: Marleen Kookt
After six months the operation was beginning to get quite complex, so the company had a custom, bike-friendly app made for them by Workwaze. On the handlebar mounted phones order information and routing for bikes is clearly shown - everything a Bezorger needs to carry out their deliveries. The back end of the system is more complex; a combination of factors is fed into the software, including bike capacity, the ½ hour delivery window chosen by each customer, order size, Bezorger working hours and Bezorger speeds. The slower average speed of less experienced riders is taken into account, as is the local knowledge of more seasoned Bezorgers, who tend to know shortcuts and routes to avoid. Following a manual check and some adjustments, the system creates packing lists and routes for each bike. These are ready by midday, in time for the kitchen to begin loading orders onto the bikes.

Marleen Kookt has a lot in common with another business we featured in RIPPL #16. Vienna-based Rita Bringt’s also use a significant fleet of cargo bikes to deliver healthy, hand cooked ready meals to customers’ homes. Both are figureheaded by a local woman who is passionate about healthy food. Both have built up a team of fairly-treated delivery riders. For all their similarities, there are differences; whilst Rita Bringt’s is also in the business of catering, Marleen Kookt have chosen to focus solely on home delivery. And while Marleen Kookt always offers a vegetarian option, Rita Bringt’s is fully vegetarian.
Where the magic happens: a sneak peek in the kitchen.
Photo credit: Marleen Kookt
So, why did Marleen Kookt choose to use cargo bikes? There’s a straightforward answer; practicality. “It just makes sense. They meet our needs.” says Keijzer “Using cars in Amsterdam is expensive and frustrating. We looked at mopeds, but they didn’t have the capacity. So we considered our needs and made a conscious, practical decision to use 2-wheeled cargo bikes; they are manoeuvrable and stable, parking is easy and they have the capacity.”

Another aspect is that the business is able to take advantage of Amsterdam’s cycling infrastructure. But even here, using cargo bikes is a way of future-proofing. “Amsterdam is getting clogged up. In 10 years I feel that cars will not reign the city like they do now”, predicts Keijzer. Why invest in anything else, if that’s the way you see things going?
Another gratuitous photo of lots of cargo bikes in a row.
Photo credit: Marleen Kookt
I point out that an equivalent business in, say, the UK would be seen as remarkable for using so many cargo bikes as a central part of their operation. For Marleen Kookt, whilst cargo bike delivery is clearly an important part of the overall image of the company, there is also a sense that they don’t make too much fuss about the fact. Again, Keijzer is characteristically pragmatic “The green credentials are a ‘nice to have’. But the real reasons for choosing to use bikes were all business driven.”

Organisation: Marleen Kookt
Sector: Commercial
City: Amsterdam
Country: The Netherlands
Bike Manufacturer: Urban Arrow
Basis: Permanent
Website: www.marleenkookt.nl
Facebook: Marleen Kookt Facebook
Instagram: Marleen Kookt Instagram
Contact: marleen@marleenkookt.nl

Tom Parr: Interview with Joris Keijzer, Nov 2017
Volkskrant: “Uitgekookt” (2012)(Dutch)
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Friday, November 10, 2017

Vert Chez Vous - Lessons from a Parisian Boat-Bike Initiative

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #37

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
Vert Chez Vous' e-trikes and Volkoli. Photo credit: Vert Chez Vous
Paris has suffered unprecedented levels of air pollution in recent years. In response, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has declared war on the car and aims to reduce their number by half. Swathes of the city will be pedestrianised. Regular, city-wide car free days are now held. Diesel vehicles will be banned from the city by 2020, much earlier than in comparable European capitals such as London.

It was against this backdrop that sustainable Paris-based logistics operator Vert Chez Vous began operating in 2012. The company used a multi-modal logistics chain delivering to the centre of Paris without using motorised vehicles. Instead, a barge delivered packages to moorings along the Seine, from where e-trikes carried out last-mile deliveries.
Packages and trikes alike were loaded and unloaded by crane using a suspended cage (see video below). At the start of the day the barge, named “Volkoli”, was loaded at a dock at the edge of the city centre, making several scheduled stops at points along the river. Each trike met the barge 3 or 4 times per day, not necessarily at the same point, to pick up or drop off packages. The system was reversed for collections. The trikes were also stored on board Volkoli.
An onboard crane transferred trikes, packages and people
between the dock and boat. Photo credit: Vert Chez Vous
You’ll notice this is written in past tense. This is because, unfortunately, Vert Chez Vous stopped using the boat in September 2014. The company is still a cycle-logistics operator in Paris, Toulouse and Aix-en-Provence; without boats. Jean François Mounic, CEO of parent company Labatut, cited economic reasons for the discontinuation of the boat-bike initiative - it was not profitable: “We are still looking for the business model. But I know that it exists and we are five years behind Germany.” Unfortunate, and as with any similar situation, the full picture explaining exact reasons behind the non-profitability is not immediately available.
Loading and sorting space on board Volkoli. Photo credit: Vert Chez Vous
That leaves us with speculation. It’s possible that for Paris, the boat-bike model was tested too early. Often, it is not enough to provide a carrot - a reward. In this case the carrot is a sustainable method of delivering goods around the city. Perhaps the initiative would have worked had the carrot been accompanied by a stick; a disincentive.

It’s possible that disincentivising use of the unsustainable alternatives being used instead of Vert Chez Vous; for the most part diesel-fuelled delivery vans, may have tipped the balance so that the boat-bike initiative became financially viable. The stick could be a financial disincentive such as a road congestion charge, or an outright ban on fossil-fuelled vehicles, or something else. Anyhow, a situation in which deliveries to the centre in diesel vans became undesirable would mean that alternatives would become more desirable. More demand would allow initiatives to upscale. Upscaling would allow operators to make significant savings using economies of scale. These savings could then in turn be passed onto customers, making the service competitive.
The boat-bike concept. Image credit: Vert Chez Vous
What is clear is that we will never really know what would have happened had things been different. However, it is still possible to learn from what happened. Governments and Municipalities have a big role to play, and whilst the carrots they offer often do have positive impacts, sticks are often also necessary to make the situation work. A balance must be struck.

Logistics often occupies a lower priority level in the minds of those in charge of urban planning policy than personal mobility, but in reality, the fate of both are tied up in the policies and infrastructure chosen by a city. Logistics is both affected by and profoundly affects the cityscape. The good news in the case of Paris, of course, is that disincentives are in the pipeline. It will be interesting to follow developments in the city as the 2020 diesel ban approaches and organisations in the city realise that change is coming.
E-trikes were parked on board overnight. Photo credit: Vert Chez Vous
We’ve covered boat-bike combinations before in RIPPL; click here to read about DHL’s multi-modal logistics chain in Amsterdam. Using often under-used waterways in dense, historic cities allows operators to reduce or even eliminate use of full size vehicles on congested urban road networks. In this way, the boat-bike combination can form the basis of smart, powerful solutions to perennial issues of congestion and pollution, allowing public space to be given over to projects that make cities more liveable.

Innovations: Boat-Bike, multi-modality

Organisation: Vert Chez Vous
Sector: Commerical
City: Paris
Country: France
Website: www.vertchezvous.com
Facebook: Vert Chez Vous Facebook
Twitter: Vert Chez Vous Twitter

C. A. Brebbia: “Urban Transport XX” p287 (WIT Press 2014)
La Tribune: “En logistique urbaine la vertu est hors de prix” (November 2014)(French) 
Logicities: “Trop d’initiatives de logistique urbaine s’arrêtent. Pourquoi?” (French)
The Guardian: “Paris mayor unveils plan ​to restrict traffic and pedestrianise city centre”
Sustainable Food In Urban Communities Blog: “Vert Chez Vous”
femininbio: “Faites livrer vos colis sans émission de Gaz à effet de serre” (May 2014)(French)
The Economist: “Driverless Paris? Bicycles and bans are reshaping the city”
Forbes: “Paris Can't Breathe: Worst Pollution In A Decade Has City Gasping For Solutions”
Fluvialnet: “La péniche parisienne "Vokoli" débarque ses triporteurs pour livrer "propre"” (May 2012)(French)
Isabelle et le Velo: “Vert chez vous, le livreur qui s'adapte à votre ville” (November 2012)(French)
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Boat-Bike: DHL's multimodal Amsterdam logistics chain

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #36

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
Photo credit: Tom Parr
Send a DHL package to the centre of Amsterdam and there is a good chance it will take an unconventional multimodal journey. Bikes, with their ability to navigate the last mile in the narrow, busy streets of Amsterdam’s old centre, act as the last link in an unconvential logistics chain.

Here’s the chain in full:
Step 1: Plane
Packages arrive at Amsterdam Schipol airport by plane and are sent to a nearby DHL sorting centre. So far, so normal.
Step 2: Electric Vehicle
At the sorting centre, electric vans collect the packages and take them to a dock on the northwestern edge of the city centre. This involves a road journey of around 22km, much of which necessarily takes place through urban areas, so electric vans are used to avoid emissions.
Steps 1 and 2 - electric vehicles at DHL's Amsterdam Schipol Airport depot. Photo credit: DHL
Step 3: Boat
At the dock, packages are transferred onto a specially adapted boat. Dubbed the “DHL Express Floating Service Centre”, it travels down Amsterdam’s iconic canals to a pre-arranged city centre mooring.
Photo credit: DHL
Step 4: Bike
Packages are then transferred onto bikes and taken to their final destinations.
DHL cargo bikes loading up at Hollands Glorie. Photo credit: Tom Parr
Arguably the most unusual part of this journey is the boat-bike combination. ‘Hollands Glorie’, built in 1947 as a pleasure cruiser, was converted and is now a multi-functional space; part delivery vehicle, part container, part sorting office. The bikes are also stored onboard at night - which involves a slightly awkward lifting process from dock to boat. DHL began using the boat to deliver to the centre of Amsterdam in 1997, complimented by a fleet of 6 bikes, a number which has now grown to 9. The scheme was made permanent following a successful 18-month trial.

Switching to the boat/bike combination allowed DHL to reduce their city centre vehicle fleet from 10 to 2 at the time. This amounted to 150,000km less travelled per annum, saving 12,000 litres of fuel. All whilst the agility of the boat-bike combination allowed overall capacity to grow. To this day however, DHL does still deliver larger packages to the centre with vans, some of which are also served by the boat and some of which are not. Some of these vans are electric and some diesel.
At night Hollands Glorie acts as secure bike storage. Photo credit: Tom Parr
The Floating Service Center at the dock on the edge of the city centre. In this
photo, a bike has come to meet the boat there as well. Photo credit: Tom Parr
This multimodal chain is also reversed for collections - with bikes taking on the first mile and the boat meeting the electric vans again at the dock, before a return journey to Schipol... and then the world. DHL themselves seem to think it’s a model worth singing about, anyhow...

Innovations: multimodal, boat-bike

Organisation: DHL
Sector: Commercial
City: Amsterdam
Country: The Netherlands
Bike Manufacturer(s): Larry vs Harry/Bullitt
Basis: Permanent
Website: www.dhl.com
Facebook: DHL Facebook
Twitter: DHL NL Twitter (Dutch)

Carlos Ocampo-Martinez (2015): “Transport of Water versus Transport over Water” p421
Volkskrant: “Pakjesboot DHL mag langer door grachten” (August 1999)(Dutch)
Nieuwsblad Transport: “DHL-boot zorgt voor laag ziekteverzuim” (December 2001)(Dutch)
Reuters: “In Amsterdam, packages travel via canals, bicycles” (July 2009)
Kombuispraat Forum (Feb 2014)(Dutch)
Vereigninging ‘De Binnenvaart’: “Databank: De Binnenvaartschepen > Hollands Glorie” (Dutch)
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Keeping it clean - Hamburg street cleaners trial switch to e-trikes

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #35

 The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
Photo credit: Radio Hamburg
Stadtreinigung Hamburg (SRH), the organisation responsible for keeping Hamburg clean, have begun using cargo trikes for some of their operations. Two custom-built electric cargo trikes fitted with GPS trackers have taken on work that was previously carried out by light commercial vehicles. In total SRH will pilot ten cargo cycles as part of a research project.

As part of TrasHH, as the 3 year project is called, SRH are working together with a team from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or DLR for short, which despite the name, also has a department looking at ground-based transport). The DLR team will be analysing the switch to e-bikes and cargo e-trikes and will share the results so that other municipal authorities can follow suit according to the best practices identified.
The DLR team systematically identified which of the many operations carried out daily by SRH, an organisation with 2,600 employees and around 700 vehicles, could feasibly be carried out on e-bikes. For each task, of workers and vehicles were taken into account, as were the distances involved and what needed to be carried. For example, whilst collections of bulky waste such as furniture were deemed out of scope, street cleaning was found to be potentially suitable and was put forward for the trial phase.

The main driver for the project was to reduce emissions, but just as importantly, a need was also identified for public sector organisations to act as a role model in sustainable practices. The project is also looking for economic efficiencies.
The custom built SRH e-bike. Photo credit: DLR/V. Ehrler
The DLR team found that there were significant challenges in applying change to the organisation - especially since the culture has always involved using vehicles. Not insignificant was the challenge of convincing staff and managers that using a cargo bike for an 8 hour shift outdoors during winter was possible and desirable. Employee comfort was found to be a key motivator; because of this the the DLR team are now investigating cargo cycles with closed cabins, to help keep SRH workers warm and dry.

Another issue identified was that the distances involved mean that carrying street cleaning waste to and from SRH depots could be more efficient. In response, DLR are developing a multi-modal solution based on last-mile consolidation centres. The waste is dropped off by bike locally at on-street storage containers, from where it is later collected by a truck.
The first iteration of the e-bike. Custom elements came later in the
second iteration - see the photo above. Photo credit: Adomeit/Veleon
The scheme, funding for which comes from the National Bike Transport Plan (which also provided funding to TINK Bike, featured in RIPPL #26) runs until April 2019.

We’ve written before about a much smaller Dutch municipal waste authority switching to pedal power; click here to read about how Gemeente Waalre approached it.

Innovations: waste, emissions reduction

Organisation: SRH and DLR
Sector: Public/Government
City: Hamburg
Country: Germany
Basis: Trial
Website: DLR.de (German) / DLR.de (English)
Facebook: DLR Facebook (German) / DLR Facebook (English)
Twitter: DLR Twitter (German) / DLR Twitter (English) / SRH Twitter (German)
Contact: Dr-Ing Christian Rudolph

Institute of Transport Research, German Aerospace Centre (DLR): “TrasHH - Clean Transport for a Clean City. Applications of Electric Cargo Cycles in City Cleaning”, Christian Rudolph and Verena Charlotte Ehrler. Presented at the International Cycling Conference, Mannheim, 20/09/2017
DLR Institut für Verkehrsforschung: “TRASHH: Technologisch-wirtschaftliche Analyse der Einsatzmöglichkeiten von Lastenrädern in kommunalen Einrichtungen öffentlichen Rechts am Beispiel der Stadtreinigung Hamburg” (German)
Hamburg.de: “E-Bikes für die Räum-Patroullie” (German)
Stadtreinigung Hamburg: “Umweltsenator stellt Elektro-Lastenräder der SRH vor: Abgasfrei für mehr Sauberkeit (17.05.2017)” (German)
Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik - Fahrradportal: “Einsatzmöglichkeiten von Lastenrädern in kommunalen Unternehmen” (German)
ELEKTROFAHRRAD24: “TRASHH: Haumburger abfallentsorgung setzt aud e-lastenrader” (German)
electrive.net: “Hamburger Stadtreinigung nutzt Lasten-Pedelecs” (German)
Hamburgize: “Hamburg: Stadtreinigung setzt auf Cargobikes” (German)
Radio Hamburg: “Durch diese Elektro-Fahrräder wird Hamburg sauberer” (German)
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Friday, October 6, 2017

E-Bikes to the rescue in São Paulo

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #34

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
Photo credit: Henrique Boney
The road network of São Paulo is notorious for traffic congestion. According to Rede Nossa São Paulo, some motorists spend a month per year sitting in traffic. In 2012, the World Bank found that traffic jams caused by the 8.5million cars in São Paulo made it the 6th most congested city on earth and cost the Brazilian economy $17.8 billion; 1% of national GDP in 2012. Another study by Agência Brasil found that at city level the average daily length of traffic jams in 2013 was 300km, costing the metropolitan economy just under 8% of it’s GDP. In 2011, São Paulo University Faculty of Medicine found that poor air quality caused more deaths (4,655) amongst Paulistanos than traffic accidents (1556), AIDS (874) and breast cancer (1,277) combined.

Those are the statistics, but it’s important to remember the impact this must be having on the lives of São Paulo’s 20 million residents, not to mention the difficulties caused to organisations trying to function in the city. It is against this backdrop that insurance company Porto Seguro has introduced a new way of providing breakdown assistance to stranded motorists in the city; e-bike.
Yep.... E-bike to the rescue. Photo credit: Porto Seguro
Yes, you read that right; it’s strange but true - bikes are now being deployed to help keep cars on the road. Porto Seguro offers two services to their customers: Bike Socorro - call outs to roadside breakdowns, and Bike Vistoria - call outs to customers’ homes.

Porto Seguro have a fleet of 50 bikes in São Paulo, from which simple repairs such as tyre replacements, are carried out. The pedal-powered mechanics are even able to recharge car batteries using the e-bike’s battery.
A Porto Seguro mechanic recharges a car battery, from the e-bike. Photo credit: Porto Seguro
Reasons for the switch to e-bikes cited by Porto Seguro include an aim to reduce response times by 25% as well as reductions in the costs associated with running motorised vehicles, such as maintenance and fuel. Another goal is to reduce emissions as part of the organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility plan; the organisation claims that their Bike Vistoria service avoids 218 kg of CO2 / month.

In a city where traffic congestion is taking such a toll, hopefully the irony will not be lost on the stranded motorists being helped by the pedal-powered mechanics. Meanwhile, Porto Seguro hopes to roll out their e-bike services to more areas of the country in the near future.
The Porto Seguro e-bike. Photo credit: Porto Seguro
Innovations: bikes fixing cars, emissions reduction

Organisation: Porto Seguros
Sector: Commercial
City: São Paulo
Country: Brazil
Basis: Permanent

Rede Nossa São Paulo: “Dia Mundial Sem Carro” (Portugese)
World Bank: “Changing Commuters’ Choices Helps São Paulo Reduce Traffic Congestion”
Agência Brasil: “Custo de congestionamentos no Rio e em São Paulo atinge R$ 98 bilhões” (Portugese)
Globo: “Estudo aponta que poluição mata mais que o trânsito em São Paulo” (Portugese)
Mundo Eco: “Bicicleta elétrica” (Portugese)
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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Velove and Radkutsche: Towards Container Standardisation

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #33

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
A container, mid-transfer. See full video below.
Photo/Video credit: MOVEBYBiKE Stockholm

When talking about innovation in cycle logistics, the term ‘containerisation’ could refer to one of two things; use of shipping containers as flexible loading space, or the use of transferable containers to move items around using pedal power.

Speaking of the latter, Velove and Radkutsche, two of the most prominent manufacturers of pedal powered cycles, recently took a first small step towards container standardisation. Specifically, it is now possible to use Velove’s ‘City Container’ on a Radkutsche Musketeer. This is a significant development; it marks the first time two manufacturers have cooperated on a cycle logistics container standard.
Let’s rewind though, because it’s worth revisiting the reasons containerisation is thought by many to be of benefit. In fact, the benefits are the same as those found in the shipping industry for the standard, now ubiquitous shipping container.

Firstly, it makes reloading of goods safe and quick. Logistics operators can skip the step of reloading at depots and between modes, keeping all of the costs associated with these activities down to a minimum. The implications of this? Many logistics operators not currently operating pedal-powered last miles (perhaps under the impression that it would be complicated, inefficient, unsafe or expensive) could be encouraged to make the switch.
Multiple City Containers are transferred from trailer to LEV. Photo credit: Velove
Secondly, the concept is both multi-modal and highly scalable. Most importantly it works on a local scale; a single container can be easily be transported by pedal-power. Equally though, multiple containers can easily be carried longer distance on a single medium van, or larger vehicles such as lorries, boats or trains. In between the two, articulated pedal powered trailers could carry two or three containers if the rider had electric assistance.

The Velove-Radkutsche project, which was funded by Swedish State innovation agency Vinnova, saw the adaptation of a Radkutsche Musketeer to fit Velove’s ‘City Container’ standard, which was then tested by cycle logistics operator MOVEBYBiKE Stockholm. Johan Erlandsson and Stefan Rickmeyer, CEOs of Velove and Radkutsche respectively, discussed the project at the 2016 and 2017 editions of the International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen.
A Radkutsche Musketeer, with City Container. Photo credit: MOVEBYBiKE Stockholm
Several manufacturers, including Radkutsche themselves, are developing their own container systems. Does this mean we are heading towards a VHS vs. Betamax moment in cycle logistics containerisation; in which different standards compete until one is left? Not yet, according to Johan Erlandsson, founder and CEO of Velove, manufacturers of the Armadillo: "Velove's stance is that it’s not yet crucial to get to a point where there is one standard. What is most crucial at the moment is meeting the potential to replace vehicles. If different manufacturers have different standards that’s not a showstopper. We can come pretty far without a standard.” Erlandsson is referring to the massive potential of cycle logistics to replace traditional motorised deliveries in urban environments; a CycleLogistics study found that up to 50% of light goods could be delivered by bike. Recent moves by several European cities to ban traffic from central areas, notably Oslo, only make this closer to reality. Other cities are certain to follow as they make changes intended to make public space more liveable, and improve air quality.

Erlandsson continues: “In the end there will be one standard, but for now I’m happy that different ideas are being tested. Look at shipping containers; it took 30-40yrs until a standard was agreed upon.”
A Pling Transport City Container, with 1/4 pallet boxes. Photo credit: Velove
The ‘City Container’, originally designed to fit onto the Armadillo, is a very specific size; a europallet fits inside. However, the reason for this is not as obvious as it might first seem; this size is also perfect for carrying the quarter-pallet sized trays common in the food and catering industries.

Meanwhile, Velove are also in dialogue with other light vehicle manufacturers, for them to also begin using City Container. This process brings challenges, as manufacturers generally need to adapt their designs to the container; by definition, a standard does not conform to you, you conform to it.
Photo credit: Velove
It’s important to note, though, that the City Container is still in development. Erlandsson expects improvements to be made not only to the anchoring system, but also the box. Several adapted designs could emerge, each catering for different functions, perhaps using different materials or available at different quality levels. The ink on the ‘standard’ is still far from being dry.

Innovations: container standardisation

Organisation: Velove and Radkutsche
Sector: Private
Countries: Sweden and Germany
Bike Manufacturers: Velove and Radkutsche
Basis: Permanent
Website: http://velove.se and http://www.radkutsche.de
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Velovebikes/ and https://www.facebook.com/radkutsche/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/velovebikes
Contact: Johan Erlandsson, Velove co-founder and CEO. johan.erlandsson@velove.se

Velove: “The City Container can now be used with the Radkutsche Musketier cargo trike”
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