Off-peak deliveries trial at Stockholm using ‘silent’ trucks resulted in a significant uptake in efficiency.
A trial at Stockholm, Sweden, brought to the fore two distinct benefits of off-peak deliveries _ operational efficiency and environmental benefits. In many European cities, including Stockholm and London, deliveries are prohibited at night to reduce the noise impact in residential areas. For the off-peak, or out-of-hours deliveries trial, carried out by Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, two trucks were adapted for the tasks such that they were given nocturnal exemptions. Both the trucks that participated in the trial were fitted with noise-reduction equipment, such as silent roll cages, and noise sensor technology. Volvo supplied a diesel-electric hybrid FE truck, fitted with a device that enabled it to automatically switch from diesel power to electric power when entering a restricted urban zone, keeping noise and emissions to a minimum. The ‘silent’ truck was used by supermarket chain Lidl to deliver to three city centre stores between 22:00 and 06:00 hrs. It was observed that the Volvo FE hybrid ‘silent’ truck was able to complete three drops, significantly elevating efficiency.
Before the ‘silent’ truck came around, Lidl operated at peak morning times. It needed three conventional trucks to serve its city centre stores. Off-peak deliveries carried out by one ‘silent’ truck ensured that there was no need for two other trucks to operate. The two other trucks could be simply removed from the road, elevating efficiency. In addition, the ‘silent’ truck was also able to travel over 30 per cent faster than the trucks that operated during the rush hour. Said Anna Pernestål Brenden, a researcher at KTH’s Integrated Transport Research Laboratory, that morning commuters are spared having to share the road with three heavy duty trucks. With one truck doing the work of three, there is a big jump in efficiency. The second truck used for the trial was a biogas-fuelled Scania R480. It was used to transport fresh goods to a number of city centre hotels and restaurants for temperature-controlled distributor Martin and Servera. The truck’s driving speed was 59 per cent higher than in the afternoon peak. Off-peak deliveries meant routes could be planned more efficiently and did not have to factor in congestion.
With one of the main reasons of conducting the trial being the effect of the noise of the vehicle on residents during off-peak hours, the trial had the drivers follow special rules to ensure the quietest of night-time deliveries. The trucks would not have a reversing alarm, and there would be no talking on the mobile phone outside the vehicles. It was observed that trucks unloading within city centre environments were not noticeable to residents. Only those in one quieter, outer suburb experienced minimal noise disruption. Averred Brenden, that the noise people complained about was of unloading the truck, and not of driving it.