Summary of the first i-SMILE workshop

The first i-SMILE workshop was successfully held online on 11th May 2021! The topic of this workshop was “The challenges of today for sustainable last mile deliveries in cities”. Participants included researchers (Hanken School of Economics, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute [VTI], Institute of Transport Economics [TOI], Copenhagen Business School), company representatives (DHL, PostNord, Schenker, Burd Delivery, Amedia Distribution, A2B, Coreorient, Kauppahalli24, MoveByBike) and city officials (Norwegian Public Roads Administration, City of Helsinki) from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

The workshop began with a brief introduction by Anna Aminoff from Hanken and Niklas Arvidsson from VTI, followed by four presentations. First, DHL Gothenburg (Sweden) shared their experience in the adoption of light electric freight vehicles (LEFVs) for city distribution. An operating model comprised of a city hub and electric cargo bikes were tested by DHL in Gothenburg and the initial results were very positive. Amedia Distribution (Norway) then presented their interesting story in scaling with Paxsters in last mile distribution in Norway. The transformation from traditional newspaper delivery to parcel and grocery delivery is made more sustainable with the scaling of Paxsters. Amedia Distribution also shared their operating model Nextstep, including the location choice and facility design for their consolidation hub. Next, Niklas Arvidsson from VTI (Sweden) presented a Nordic case study on the performance of LEFVs in the last mile. The results indicate that LEFVs can be much more efficient than traditional diesel vans, conditional to for example the size of the shipment. Finally, Anna Aminoff from Hanken (Finland) introduced the concept of business models and environmental value propositions. To implement sustainable business models, companies need to consider not only the economic impact, but also environmental and social impact of their activities. The concept of “handprint”, which refers to the positive environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle, needs to be taken into account.

The workshop continued with break-out group discussions, focusing on three main topics: productivity measurement and communication of performance of LEFVs, stakeholder involvement in innovative sustainability initiatives, and experience with the use of LEFVs in comparison with more traditional freight vehicles. Four break-out groups presented their discussion results in the plenary discussion session. Group 1 commented on the reluctancy towards EV experienced by some companies, and issues related to Nordic weather, regulation, and communication challenges with the municipalities in terms of city hubs. Group 2 discussed company relationships with municipalities, local communities, suppliers and competitors to achieve a “coopetitive” advantage. Group 3 shared their discussion on cargo bike efficiency, weather issue, courier recruitment, and location choice of city hubs. Group 4 commented on the important role of municipalities, challenges in aligning KPIs with large customers, and the need for a quantified and standardised performance measurement matrix for LEFVs.

The workshop concluded with a summary by Professor Britta Gammelgaard from Copenhagen Business School. The next steps including conducting focus group studies are also introduced to the participants.

We wish to thank all the participants for joining the first i-SMILE workshop and making it a success!

i-SMILE Project