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12/11/2018
Zero emissions in the city

Bright prospects for emissions- and traffic-plagued city centers: For the first time, DACHSER has established a zero-emissions delivery area in Stuttgart. This pilot project builds on new electromobility concepts and adapts city logistics processes to tomorrow’s needs.
DACHSER-velocarrier
Zero emissions to the very last mile

It was a small revolution. In 1953, Europe’s first pedestrian street opened in Rotterdam, and the craze soon swept across the continent. Stuttgart’s Schulstrasse shopping street was pedestrianized that same year, giving retailers and their customers a wholly new urban shopping experience. And the pleasure of carefree strolls through city centers along traffic-free, pollution-free shopping streets has been with us ever since.

More recently, however, it seems there is a growing need for another “revolution.” It is increasingly the case that city centers, and in particular Stuttgart, find themselves trapped under a dome of haze emitted by ever-growing traffic volumes that poses a risk to health. This has led to temporary driving bans for diesel-powered vehicles that meet the Euro 4 standard or lower; starting in 2019, Stuttgart will impose bans on days with elevated concentrations of particulates. This would have no impact on the modern fleet of vehicles that DACHSER and its subcontractors operate, should it come to bans on delivery traffic, but still the company wants to be prepared now for whatever might come in the future.

Riding a cargo bike through the pedestrian zone

One possible solution is the zero-emissions delivery area for goods that are larger than a standard parcel that DACHSER has set up—“ DACHSER Emission-Free Delivery”—covering an area of some four square kilometers around the main shopping streets of Baden-Württemberg’s capital. The most visible aspect of this innovative city logistics concept is the cargo bike with its big yellow and blue DACHSER cargo box. This morning, the bike is heading for a branch of The Body Shop, a cosmetics store in Schulstrasse, where the store manager is already waiting for her delivery of boxes full of cosmetics and beauty products.

The cargo bike is one in a fleet of ten pedelecs built by cargo bike specialist veloCARRIER, a DACHSER partner in the Stuttgart pilot project. The electrically supported cargo bikes were specially designed to carry palleted groupage shipments and can transport a euro pallet with a load of 250 kilograms. “Anyone looking to shape the city deliveries of tomorrow must couple tried-and-true logistics systems with new ideas,” says Michael Schilling, COO Road Logistics at DACHSER. “We liaise closely with universities, research institutes, business associations, and start-ups to spot innovations early on and implement them quickly.”

Getting the vehicle mix right is essential

DACHSER’s project in Stuttgart shows how a zero-emissions groupage delivery area can be designed. “Getting the vehicle mix right is essential,” says Thomas Schmalz, Head of Production Management at DACHSER. His unit in the Kempten Head Office is responsible for vehicle procurement. It works closely with the Kornwestheim branch, with Stefan Hohm, Corporate Director Corporate Solutions, Research & Development, and with City Distribution project manager Hella Abidi. The concept sees highly maneuverable cargo bikes serving the last mile but also addresses heavier-duty work, which is done by a compact, all-electric FUSO eCanter 7.5-ton truck. This will soon be joined by Daimler’s eActros, an all-electric 18-ton truck, which DACHSER will integrate into the existing test operations as soon as it has been delivered.

Large and heavy shipments will be delivered directly using the electric truck, when traffic permits. The eActros will also bring deliveries to the microhub in the Heslach district of Stuttgart. Until recently, this small warehouse served as a stable for a brewery’s horses. Arrangements are being made for the more maneuverable eCanter to have a parking space and charge point in the city center. From there, it will be able to deliver to shopping centers, malls, and retailers’ branches. The cargo bike riders will manage deliveries from the microhub to areas of the city where traffic is restricted.

A promising start

Experience of handling the latest generation of vehicles in daily logistics operations will help DACHSER find the right mix of vehicles for city centers. Test operations are underway not only in Stuttgart but also in Berlin, Tübingen, Freiburg, Paris, and Málaga. “The DACHSER Emission-Free Delivery concept in Stuttgart marks a promising start for us in city logistics. But we still have a long way to go,” says Hohm. The logistics provider is not looking to take a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, it wants to come up with a range of solutions, each of them focused on optimizing deliveries, routes, and times.

However, the scale of DACHSER’s research and development work in this field makes it clear that sustainable city logistics will not come for free. “We are investing today to ensure our customers benefit from pioneering zero-emissions supply chains. It will take a great deal of effort to get the technology and the processes right, and logistics companies will have to factor in these additional costs in the future,” says COO Road Logistics Michael Schilling.

Customers are definitely keen on having a zero-emissions supply chain in Stuttgart. “It’s in line with our efforts to make The Body Shop’s supply chain even more sustainable,” explains Jeremy Dixon-Wright, EMEA Supply Chain Director at The Body Shop. “We look forward to taking more new approaches like these in the future.”

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Anita Whiteside
Public Relations USA