• The Reimagine Team

How Electrification Is Opening The Path To Decarbonized Supply Chains

Updated: Jan 27

As public pressure to take effective action against climate change continues to intensify, we are set to experience fundamental changes in the way we consume energy. From powering our homes to driving our cars, electrification is rapidly emerging as one of the major contributors towards reducing carbon emissions and combatting global warming.

When it comes to supply chains, there is clearly opportunity to make electrification part of any strategy to forge a climate friendly, low-carbon future. With his in mind, we asked Massimo D'Alessandro, Director of Sustainability & Innovation at HAVI Supply Chain, about how the business is already helping to open the pathway to electrification.

Supply Chain Reimagined (SCR): Can you start by giving us an idea of where electrification fits into HAVI's overall strategy and whether you think it offers a sustainable and viable operational alternative?

Massimo: Electrification is an absolutely key part of our overall sustainability strategy, specifically when it come to meeting our commitments on climate action and science-based targets. Long-term, it is certainly one of the most effective carbon-cutting tools we have, right up there with increasing our use of renewable fuels such as hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO). By combining these two solutions, we can reduce the levels of CO2 that our distribution fleet produces by 95%.

As well as cutting our carbon footprint, another reason to embrace electrification is that a growing number of city authorities are introducing regulations that reduce our delivery windows and limit the type of delivery vehicles we can use.

SCR: Can you point us towards any examples of HAVI’s commitment to electrification in action?

Massimo: We started our electrification journey in 2019 in Sweden as part of the EU’s Civitas Eccentric initiative, which focuses on making logistics in urban and suburban areas kinder to the environment. Alongside HAVI, the other participants include the City of Stockholm, Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology, McDonald’s, and Scania, our strategic partner. Since then we have upgraded the Swedish vehicle to later technology and introduced a new truck in the Netherlands. Watch this space for more to follow.

SCR: The Swedish pilot sounds like a good example of the public and private sectors joining forces for the good of the planet. Can you talk us through what the pilot originally involved?

Massimo: The pilot was introduced after the City of Stockholm imposed a general ban on all heavy truck traffic between 10pm and 6am to help residents get a good night's sleep. Briefly, it involved using chargeable, hybrid Scania vehicles to make silent, night-time deliveries from HAVI's distribution centre 22 miles outside Stockholm to McDonald’s restaurants in the city center.

One of the most interesting aspects of the pilot is the way it used a combination of advanced technologies. For example, on the longest stretch of its 22-mile journey from our distribution center to the city centre, the delivery vehicle runs on its internal combustion engine using HVO, which reduces carbon emissions by up to 90%. As soon as it enters the environmentally sensitive city center, the vehicle automatically switches to electric power triggered by Scania’s location-based geo-fencing platform, Scania Zone. In turn, the battery is charged by external power sources and by regeneration. This means that the truck’s movement is turned into electricity each time the driver applies the brakes.

SCR: Are there any results you can share of the work done in the pilot?

Massimo: Yes, I am certainly happy to share the findings. The Lots Group evaluated our performance over an eight-month period and the results were very encouraging. The Euro 5 and Euro 6 reference trucks were fueled with renewable HVO, and as I have explained, HVO reduces carbon emissions by 90% compared to conventional fossil diesel.

But during off-peak deliveries, the plug-in hybrid vehicle still performed on average 44% lower than the reference vehicles mainly due to the use of electric power. What's more, the hybrid vehicle reduced particulate matter (PM10) emissions by 28% while cutting nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 80%.

We believe that this positive performance is partly due to the inclusion of the Euro 5 truck as the reference vehicle but also because the drivers spent less time driving or queuing because they were making deliveries during the night and parking was much easier.

SCR: That's a good result. What else is unique about the plug-in hybrid vehicle?

Massimo: Besides the truck's performance and its positive impact on the environment, we are also very encouraged at HAVI by the human factor. The feedback from HAVI drivers has been very good. They like the fact that noise levels are lower and there is less congestion on the roads - which means fewer delays and less stress. They also like the geo-fencing technology and the fact that they can give restaurant crews more accurate arrival times.

On average, they were able to complete their night-time deliveries 30% more quickly than their daytime equivalents. That's because during off-peak hours, there is less congestion, easier parking and more green lights at intersections.

Less engine noise also means that customers and local municipalities are happy to accept more flexible delivery windows. In turn, this greater flexibility translates into higher truck usage levels, allowing us to increase the number of routes we cover every day.

SCR: So, what's next along the journey towards electrification for the HAVI team?

Massimo: The journey towards a fully electrified supply chain and logistics industry is still in its early stages and there will be challenges ahead. At HAVI we are clearly opening up the pathway to decarbonizing the supply chain to drive our electrification strategy forward in other countries. I look forward to sharing more in the near future.

WATCH: Night Time Delivery In Action below; or read the results of the pilot at Scania.com

About Eccentric Stockholm: Eccentric Stockholm is a part of Civitas Eccentric, an EU project that focuses on sustainable mobility in suburban districts and innovative urban freight logistics. Stockholm is participating in the project along with Madrid, Munich, Ruse and Turku. The cities demonstrate and test the potential of sustainable planning and emerging technologies. Clean vehicles and fuels are being tested, new regulations and services formulated, and consolidation solutions developed in close partnerships with other cities, the research and private sectors.
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