What Innovations will 2018 bring?

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Future Trends at Hellmann Road & Rail, Germany.

A quick glance at our internal trend radar shows that the logistics industry is undergoing a great change. New delivery concepts as well as the topic of “Green Logistics” are, in addition to digitization, on top of the list of major future topics for our industry. In our German Road & Rail division, Dr. Dustin Schöder, Manager In-House Consulting and CIP, heads a small team and are currently working with universities and various other cooperation partners on concrete, future-oriented logistics concepts. In 2018, crucial projects are to be put back on track.

In logistics, sustainable and alternative transport models are repeatedly discussed, of which only a few actually find their way into daily business. A good example is the EuroCombi (German: Lang-Lkw), which has not got beyond the test for years due to political disputes. At Hellmann, we want to break this cycle and position ourselves as one of the industry pioneers in 2018 with real innovations. This is how we want to (actively) shape the future of logistics.

Practical tests e-mobility

When it comes to future-oriented drive technologies, the topic of electro-mobility cannot be ignored. At Hellmann Road & Rail, the use of alternative drive concepts is also very popular. However, the technologies, some of which are still immature, must be put through rigorous tests. Such a test under real conditions has been running in Augsburg, Bavaria since August 2017 with the field trial of the hybrid-powered FUSO Canter Eco Hybrid. The first findings half a year later are as follows:

  • Since the start of the test operation, the FUSO Canter Eco Hybrid has traveled almost 40,000 km and consumed an average of 15.21 liters of diesel per 100 km.
  • Compared to a conventional diesel vehicle, around 720 liters of diesel and about 2.3 tons of CO2 have been saved and it should be noted that the vehicle was frequently used on long-haul routes and not in urban areas as planned. In the future, the hybrid truck should, therefore, increasingly drive in the city, which means that consumption and, thus, also CO2 emissions should be significantly reduced again.

Electrically powered axle ©BPW

In cooperation with BPW Bergische Achsen KG, the next comprehensive test is scheduled for the summer. Starting July 1, 2018, Hellmann will be testing a 7.5-tonne truck equipped with a purely electrically powered axle. According to the manufacturer, the drive works fully electric, recovers braking energy, and improves the maneuverability of the transporter by actively supporting the steering behavior via the rear axle. BPW estimates the range to be up to 100 kilometers at a maximum speed of 90 km/h. The two electric motors deliver an output of 2 x 75 kW (200 hp) – enough power for urban traffic. The axle can also be retrofitted to the existing fleet, keeping acquisition costs manageable and eliminating the need for new vehicles. The test vehicle of BPW is to be used alternately for the groupage transport of our branches Bielefeld, Bremen, Osnabrück and Lehrte. With the e-truck, Hellmann wants to gather insights into the performance of purely electric transporters under real conditions such as on which routes can such vehicles be used in the best possible way? Which charge quantities can be sensibly moved? How and when is the best way to load? These are the questions that need to be answered in order to determine the effects or changes that can be expected in our existing transport processes when using electric trucks.

Urban-BRE – concept for the “last mile”

In addition to alternative propulsion technologies, new concepts for the famous “last mile” can be found among future-oriented innovations, especially for urban groupage transport. Under the project title “Urban-BRE”, Hellmann and other project partners developed a concept for electro mobile city logistics in Bremen and submitted a grant application to the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, which is currently being examined. The core idea of the concept is to supply Bremen city center with general cargo through the intelligent linking of the various modes of transport as well as passenger and freight transport and this purely by electric means. This will reduce pollutant and noise emissions, boost logistical performance for the end customer, and increase the competitiveness of the companies involved. As part of the prototype implementation, it is planned to first control Hellmann’s consignment volumes destined for inner city areas and bundle them with the volumes of other associated partners in Bremen’s freight village. These goods are then transported using the existing public passenger transport to a distribution point in the city center. Specifically, electric buses with passenger/cargo trailers drive the shipments to the city center. From a (mobile) distribution point, the shipments, with the use of electric cargo bikes of Rytle GmbH, are then finally delivered. This will reduce the burden on inner-city traffic and deliver consignments with low emissions – a pilot project with a real model character that is unique in Germany.

In particular, Kai Hasenpusch, CCO Road & Rail Germany, in cooperation with Hans-August Kurse, Chairman of the Executive Board of “Bremen kommt e.V.”, has succeeded in gaining high-performance strategic partners for the project in the Bremen network. Apart from Hellmann, the logistics partners include Bremer Straßenbahn AG and Rytle GmbH. The research partners are the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research Bremen and the RWTH Aachen University.

Research at Hellmann – How does this work?

But how does research work at Hellmann – being a full-service logistics specialist, and not primarily meant for research work? Cooperation with renowned universities, colleges, and external research institutions plays a major role here. Among them are the University of Osnabrück, the Technical University of Berlin, and the University of St. Gallen. Together, course contents, for example, are developed and integrated into the semester plans. As part of their thesis, students work on topics and issues that deal with the logistics industry in general and with Hellmann – more or less as a “research object” – in particular.

RIO-Share – the way towards digital fleet management

Locating vehicles via RIO Share app

A very concrete tool for digitization has been in the test phase since December 2017. With the help of RIO Share technology, which is being developed by MAN Truck & Bus, digitization is to find its way into fleet management. The software transfers Car-Sharing approaches to commercial traffic and should generate considerable time savings and, thus, also cost reductions in fleet management. In concrete terms, this means that vehicles can be located and opened, for example, by using a smartphone app, which should save time on a daily “on-the-go” test. In addition, the app offers the possibility to create bookings like assigning driving rights to a driver for a specific period of time and for a specific vehicle. In addition, damage reports for each vehicle can be created and viewed. Currently, the technology in Osnabrück is being tested on two vehicles by three drivers. However, the test software is still in the beta phase, so the full range of functions is not yet available and the “teething problems” of the app still need to be eliminated.  Thus, the first interim conclusion of Martin Teepe, who is in charge of the test phase as a team leader in the Osnabrücker fleet, is duly critical. “Mr. RIO”, as he is now called by the colleagues, is not yet fully convinced of the beta version though.” The use of the app within our capabilities is currently running smoothly. Nevertheless, for a real increase in efficiency within the fleet management, an extended range of functions would be helpful. It will take a while yet until all the teething problems have been eliminated and the app is fully available”, he said.

Using the knowledge of today to influence the actions of tomorrow

The topics presented here exemplify part of Hellmann’s activities in the field of innovative and sustainable future technologies. However, they do reflect a range of changing framework conditions and requirements for sustainable logistics. Through cooperation with universities and colleges, participation in research projects, and the testing of new technologies, Hellmann is making its way towards the future. Our stated goal is to courageously lead the way as an innovation leader and to actively shape future developments for the benefit of future generations. Against this background, other activities such as in the areas of “big data” and “machine learning”, there are further untapped potentials to steadily improve the quality of our logistical services. The testing of new technologies, as we currently do in many places, leads to the design of more efficient processes and sustainable logistics concepts. Ultimately, the continuous engagement with what tomorrow might hold already enables us to have an advanced knowledge that needs to be harnessed. This is how we set the course for a successful future. Stay tuned!

By Henrik Schütte, Editor Hellmann Partner  

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