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Delivery pods offer increased payloads

15 June 2020

Penso has released delivery pods specifically designed to improve the home delivery performance of vans.

Last mile logistics faces a number of key challenges such as increasing demand for home deliveries; high costs of vehicle, fuel and drivers, as well as a requirement for better environmental performance and less congestion.

In response, Penso has developed a range of longer ‘ultra-lightweight’ bodies for 3.5-tonne commercial vehicles which the firm believes ‘represent the future of last mile logistics’.

“A 3.5-tonne vehicle with a Blue Ocean Home Delivery Pod is said to be able to carry the same weight of goods in two journeys that a traditional vehicle delivers in three.”

The engineering firm has expertise in composites and has used its experience of working with carbon fibre in the automotive and aerospace sectors to make payload gains.

The Blue Ocean Home Delivery Pods can be adapted to a wide variety of applications for both temperature controlled and dry freight fleets, including supermarket delivery vehicles, white goods distributors and parcel businesses.

Blue Ocean Home Delivery Pods have the potential to increase payload by up to 50% and tote capacity by as much as 30%.

A 3.5-tonne vehicle with a Blue Ocean Home Delivery Pod is said to be able to carry the same weight of goods in two journeys that a traditional vehicle delivers in three.

Daniel Hurcombe, managing director of Penso says: “The cost-effective lightweight composite solution we have developed has been the result of more than 10 years of research and a £16.3 million investment – half from Penso and half from government matched-funding via the Advance Propulsion Centre (APC) and Innovate UK.

“A large proportion of this investment has been in developing a flexible automated robot assembly line housed in a brand new 50,000 sq ft facility in Coventry which can produce a finished body every 42 minutes.

“That’s because the panels for our carbon fibre pods – which each incorporate 5,000 recycled plastic bottles – are press formed and take just minutes to construct, making the end product a commercially viable alternative for home delivery fleets for the first time. Typically, carbon fibre panels have taken hours to manufacture in an autoclave, pricing the solution out of the fleet sector.”

Blue Ocean Home Delivery pods

The Blue Ocean Home Delivery pods have launched with two body types initially. The Blue Ocean e-Grocery Pod features a triple compartment temperature-controlled pod for grocery home deliveries, offering the ability to carry 140 totes versus an industry standard of between 110 and 120. The Blue Ocean e-Delivery Pod is an ultra-lightweight Luton van, offering 19 cu m of load space and an interior height clearance of 2.4m.

Both pods have been configured for a 3.5-tonne medium wheelbase, front-wheel drive, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Hurcombe adds: “The significant increase in payload we have achieved, combined with a truly aerodynamic design, improved functionality for drivers, compatibility with diesel, electric and hybrid chassis plus an unparalleled 10-year structural warranty offers huge cost-saving potential for home delivery fleets.”

Production is ramping up.

Hurcombe says: “We have taken an entirely fresh approach in what is typically a very traditional sector, using new materials and processes to unlock major efficiency and sustainability improvements for last mile delivery.

“Crucially, we can offer customers a clear road map to net zero emissions and dramatic improvements in total cost of ownership.

“Our new facility is designed to build up to 10,000 vehicle bodies per annum, and the plan is to ramp up production steadily over the next five years to fill that capacity.

“We’ve started volume production this month, following extensive prototype testing, and we already have an order book with household-name fleets for several hundred vehicles to be built this year. We are confident of significant further interest from supermarkets, parcel delivery firms and logistics fleets as doorstep demand continues to surge.”

With the pandemic ramping up interest in e-grocery, retailers will certainly be interested in driving efficiencies where they can.

Hurcombe explains: “Our e-Grocery Pod can deliver 2,500kg of products across two delivery cycles, versus three delivery cycles for the traditional product in this sector. By delivering this huge step-up in payload, customers can carry out more deliveries per load, while reducing stem mileage, fuel costs, labour costs, emissions and making much more efficient use of capital expenditure.”

Insulation

The structural core of Penso’s panels has been certificated by Cambridge Refrigeration Technology as meeting the insulation requirements for carrying chilled and frozen produce. Its long-term durability is key to enabling a structural warranty of 10-years on each pod, plus a three-year / 150,000-mile warranty on moving parts and components. 

At the end of each pod’s life, more than 95% of the structure can be recycled, including the carbon fibre, aluminium and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Ergonomics

The lower floor of the e-Grocery Pod also means there is no need for stepped access, ensuring even the top row of totes are within the ergonomic limits of some at 5ft 4in. This makes the e-Grocery Pod viable for the broadest demographic of drivers to unload goods comfortably from ground level.

Easy access is provided from the passenger side of the vehicle, allowing drivers to safely unload at the kerbside. This eliminates any need to unload totes in the road, maximising duty of care for drivers.

Home delivery challenges summarised

  • Increasing demand for home deliveries
  • Costs – vehicle, fuel and drivers
  • Vehicle damage
  • Driver shortages
  • Vehicle security
  • Health and Safety
  • Tighter environmental legislation
  • Need to reduce congestion

 
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