by Sibongiseni Ngamile

Dachser Logistics

Going green in the city


New emission-free logistics solutions are being pioneered by global logistics company Dachser in cities across Europe.

The pilot projects build on new electromobility concepts and adapts city logistics processes to tomorrow’s needs, offering bright prospects for emissions – and traffic-plagued city centers across the globe, including in Africa – where Dachser is building a strong network from South Africa.

Dachser’s project in Stuttgart sees highly manoeuvrable cargo bikes serving the last mile. Bright yellow branded Pedelecs built by cargo bike specialist veloCARRIER, a Dachser partner in the pilot project, are specially designed to carry palleted groupage shipments and can transport a euro pallet with a load of 250 kilograms. Heavier-duty work 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. The cargo bike riders manage deliveries from the microhub to areas of the city where traffic is restricted, while the eCanter delivers heavier loads to shopping centers, malls, and retailers’ branches.

Dachser went for the FUSO eCanter because it’s the first all-electric truck to enter full-scale production, and so it will add momentum to this entire class of commercial vehicle. Depending on its design and purpose, the all-electric light truck offers a range of some 100 kilometers and a load capacity of up to 3.5 metric tons. Its electric powertrain comprises six high-voltage lithium-ion batteries, each one with 420 V and 13.8 kWh.

Test operations are underway not only in Stuttgart but also in Berlin, Tübingen, Freiburg, Paris, and Málaga. Dachser 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.

“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.”

However, Schilling says 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.”

Based on solid learnings from Europe, other networks may be able to leapfrog developments as they grow and move quickly to applying Dachser’s modular toolbox for handling the last mile in city centers.

Dachser South Africa perfects the art of picking and packing

As a fundamental part of the supply chain, picking and packing is fast growing into a sophisticated, intelligent process. This is due to client demands that necessitate logistics companies in having detailed understanding of complex product specificities and requirements when storing and moving these goods across geographical distances.

Managing Director of Dachser South Africa, Detlev Duve, says of this trend. “Logistics companies have become an extension of the client’s operations in terms of having specialist knowledge of the product and ensuring that delivery capabilities meet the client’s supply chain requirements.

Many times, clients need tailor-made solutions which means that the logistics company’s warehousing capabilities, internal processes and technological platforms should be able to support diverse requirements. Situating staff onsite who have in-depth knowledge of the products is often a necessity, most critically with products that are sensitive to climate and movement.”

Picking and packing is a surprisingly complex task. As an example, Duve points to one of Dachser South Africa’s long-standing clients, a supplier of medical equipment. Rigorous logistics management must ensure that their products reach medical rooms, hospitals and clinics in the perfect condition, and at the right time, in both urban centres and rural areas. This includes products from basic syringes to specialist cardiopulmonary equipment and patient monitoring systems.

Dachser South Africa provides expert onsite knowledge at its warehouse where certain medical products must be correctly calibrated while in storage. In fact, says, Duve, Dachser teams’ partner with several of the medical equipment supplier’s staff who have been seconded to the Dachser warehouse.

“Having client employees operating in the warehouse illustrates how closely Dachser South Africa works with our clients. Additionally, our picking and packing is supported by a sophisticated IT system which enables the transparent coordination of complex activities as they are being coordinated on the ground. Not only does the system provide the client with transparent, real-time information on their stock, but the system has been designed to enable compatibility with the client’s own supply chain IT systems to enable a continuous and seamless flow of information and high-quality data.”

Products include high-cost, sophisticated technological equipment and error-free picking and packing is critical. In the company’s nine-year relationship with the client, stock has never once had to be written off, which is a massive achievement given that Dachser has moved millions of units of stock for the business over the years.

While the process of picking and packing ostensibly ends once the products have left the warehouse floor, Duve says that Dachser South Africa’s picking and packing forms part of a continuous process that only concludes once the product reaches its final destination. He explains: “The products are picked and packed to particular specifications that include temperature control and movement reduction. Our responsibility is to ensure that this must remain consistent in transit until the product has been handed over at the final point.”

Duve concludes, “We understand that our clients entrust us with what is fundamentally their revenue generator. As a logistics company, our business is to understand this trust and to grow it into a successful logistics partnership.”

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