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
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: (German) / (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) “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) “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: and
Facebook: and
Contact: Johan Erlandsson, Velove co-founder and CEO.

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