Fewer empty kilometres thanks to collaboration

Imbalance between full goods deliveries and empty goods pickups.

Trucks that ride empty or half-empty are a problem for the environment, traffic and transportation costs. The recently founded Multimodaal.Vlaanderen joined forces with AB Inbev, Coca-cola European Partners, Delhaize and Chep to find a solution to these issues.

From an examination executed within the VIL-Project “empty logistics”, it was clear that beer producers are often confronted with an imbalance between full goods deliveries and empty goods pickups. During the periods following promotions, such as 2 + 1 crates for free, this imbalance increases. For this reason, breweries must plan extra truck journeys to pick up empty goods at times when they can’t supply full goods. These extra journeys not only weigh heavy on the environment and congestion, but also increase the brewer’s transportation costs.

Opportunities for one-way journeys

Multimodaal.Vlaanderen initiated a pilot project together with AB inBev, Coca-Cola European Partners, Delhaize and pallet pooler CHEP to minimize the empty kilometres between the different parties. Thanks to their many years of experience in transport collaboration, Chep has the necessary know-how and tools to analyze data from transport journeys.

After an examination of one-way journeys made by these different parties, the roundtrip between Chaudfountaine, Jupille and the DC of Delhaize in Ninove turned out to be the best opportunity. Coca-Cola mainly delivers recycled PET-packaging to Delhaize, while AB InBev mainly delivers glass packaging from Jupille, which is re-filled later. Both producers also use the same transportation company, transport lux, for their deliveries. This streamlined the start-up of the collaboration.

The specific collaboration

To limit the impact on the environment, traffic and costs as much as possible, a new route was created for the transporter. In the morning, a truck loaded with full bottles of water drives from Chaudfoutaine to the DC of Delhaize in Ninove. After unloading, the truck continues on its way to the empty zone, where it is loaded with pallets of empties, destined for AB InBev in Jupille. At that location, the empties are unloaded and the driver leaves again for Chaudfontaine.

The driver only needs to sign up once and combines a delivery and pickup for two customers in one journey. Of the total roundtrip of 296 km, only 10 km is driven empty, specifically the journey from Jupille back to Chaudfontaine. This collaboration allows empties to be picked up proactively, which helps to eliminate excessive empties in DC’s in the periods after promotions.

Gaining four times in terms of the environment, mobility, costs and space

Thanks to this one journey a day, 500 one-way rides are combined within 250 round-trips every year. This then translates into savings in CO2 emissions, travelled kilometres and transport costs. In addition, the retailer holds less stock and space opens up for other goods.

Depending on the degree of efficiency of these one-way trips (approach and repositioning distance), the environment and mobility advantage can reach up to 20%. The advantages in costs for the producer between one-way and round-trip assignments are a commercial matter, but it is fairly obvious that the cost advantages of the round-trip are beneficial for the contracting party as well as for the transporter.

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