DHL solar panels will save fuel and reduce C02

Published: 31 July 2018

DHL solar panels will save fuel and reduce C02
DHL’s “Mission 2050: Zero Emissions” initiatives are now underway, set to build towards a better tomorrow for the environment while working within the logistics industry. While these seemingly impossible targets to be met, DHL hope to complete the objective of disposing of logistics-related emissions entirely.

At this point in time DHL currently have a fleet of 15,000 vehicles in the country. They recognise that it will be a challenge to meet these goals as well as delivering on core business targets.

Phil Roe, managing director for Network and Transport for DHL UK & Ireland, stated that the company is facing many challenges head-on, this includes the rising expectations from their service, communities becoming more and more city-based, as well as improving the environmental performance and collaborative efficiencies that can shorten lead times and increase the rate of deliveries and speed up the whole logistics process.

 “These are things that increase cost, not reduce it” Roe said during the the Microlise conference. “Our response is to develop new IT capability.”

He went on to describe 3 projects that had been trialled with success by DHL, one of said trials will be made commercially available to other firms.

The first, connected TMS (Transport Management System), is a networking system that is able to connect DHL to their sub-contracted providers as well as customers with seamless service meaning that it is much easier to utilise and communicate through DHL’s network. This means the firm can optimise their routes and planning, being provided with real-time information and updates. There is also tracking, meaning fleets are much easier to keep in check.
Using the system, which would manage all of the transport data in one place, DHL can access further insight for their customers, which would lead to improved planning and fore-casting for journeys.
“It’s efficient planning to optimise cost and reduces empty miles and C02”, stated Roe.
The second of DHL’s initiatives focuses on adding electric vehicles, range extenders and hydrogen vehicles to their fleet. The plans are already in motion, as they have been working with Ford on the plug-in transit and with Cadent on heavy-end trucks, usually 30 tonnes or over, this is where CNG and LNG are considered the best solution.

One aspect of the plan DHL has put an emphasis on, is that they want to handle 70% of their own first and last mile services handling a clean pick-up and providing delivery solutions. This would include bicycles and electric vehicles, taking place by 2025. DHL do recognise that diesel will continue to play a significant role within their fleets for the time being, until technology has been further developed.

Thanks to this factor, DHL have also been working on a solar transport solution as part of their third initiative. Partnering with Don Bur, they have been able to develop a solution that reduces emissions and fuel spent to make vehicles more cost-efficient as well as urban-friendly.

“Trailar” is a solar mat, two millimetres tick, which is fitted to the roof of vehicles, connecting to their battery or on-board batteries. Solar energy generated is then used to power various on-board motions like tail-lifts, meaning fuel consumption is reduced.

 “It means a trailer can be self-sufficient or it could contribute to a fridge unit running” stated Roe. “It could also be used for electrical vehicles. It cuts C02 emissions, fuel use and service, maintenance and repair costs by reducing the electrical load.”

Trailar can be used by trailers and rigid vehicles. Fuel savings were achieved of up to 5.2% during trials that took place at Millbrook Proving Ground.
DHL has been using the solar panels over the last 6 months, they can be applied to vehicles in under 6 hours. (Roe said fuel savings of 4-8% during trials) and to trailers with tail-lifts in under 12 hours (fuel savings of 2-4%)

 “Ultimately, we need fewer, cleaner and quitter vehicles on UK roads” Roe continued. “This can be achieved while also helping customers reduce their transport costs. That is why we’re committed to developing new sustainable transport solutions that can be rolled out across all supply chains for benefit of the environment, the public and our customers.”

DHL is merging Trailar with all of their customer-based fleets as well as their own. The product will be available to third parties from 2019 onwards. Roe did not state any prices, but he confirmed the fleets would gain a return of investment during the first year. 

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