The Last Mile Delivery - on Bicycles!

“Going the Last Mile” was the theme of a DHL Express presentation held recently in Amsterdam where the world’s largest parcel and small packages enterprise presented its EU Inner City Distribution with emphasis on the  Netherlands “boat & bicycle” delivery program.

CEO DHL Netherlands Michiel Greeven – pictures: courtesy DHL
CEO DHL Netherlands Michiel Greeven – pictures: courtesy DHL

Old Amsterdam warehouse was chosen for the venue
It was no coincidence that the DHL European management decided to product portfolio in the Amrath Hotel in Amsterdam. This building was once the centre of the shipping trade in AMS in the old days. It was converted into a hotel some years ago after having been derelict for quite some time.

One would wonder why DHL Express give such priority to their boat and bike delivery service.
When looking at the traffic situation in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities, then it becomes apparent why.
DHL Express, as do other express companies, lays great value on speedy and on time delivery of packages to their customers throughout the world.
Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are important delivery points, but are also areas which are subject to heavy inner-city traffic jams.
Michiel Greeven, DHL’s Netherlands CEO, showed in his presentation that 60% of the DHL business in the Dutch inter-city areas is delivered by the DHL bicycle team.
Also a total of 10% for the total Netherlands is also transported this way.
This form of transport, which is environmentally friendly is also catching on in the EU.
Michiel explained that although the Netherlands is the largest bike delivery area, that in total DHL Express uses this system in over 80 cities in 13 EU countries.

The ‘DHL Floating Service Center’ supports the bike delivery team
The ‘DHL Floating Service Center’ supports the bike delivery team

What’s the benefit?
Speedy delivery due to greater inner-city maneuverability, zero emissions, not having to cater for long traffic jams and street blockages - these are the main advantages as well as reduced cost because of low maintenance and vehicle upkeep.
Amsterdam, which is DHL’s largest pick-up and delivery area in the Netherlands, also boasts a so called “DHL Floating Service Centre.”
This boat is positioned on the Amsterdam inner-city waterways and acts as a sorting and distribution centre for the ‘bike-squad.’ Here, almost 2,000 shipments per week are sorted and transferred to the bicycle delivery team. This says DHL, enables a much faster and more effective delivery program.
In total, there are 14 different bike routes throughout Amsterdam of which seven are served directly through the floating service boat.

The Swedish-produced new delivery bike enables greater inner-city maneuverability at zero greenhouse gas emissions
The Swedish-produced new delivery bike enables greater inner-city maneuverability at zero greenhouse gas emissions

DHL has developed a new delivery bike which is produced in Sweden, is easy to operate as the driver sits up front (see photo) and can carry many more packages in its large container which is placed behind him.
There are ten of these on order for the Dutch market and they will be equipped with up-to-date navigation, four-wheeled suspension, a highly secure slam lock and a detachable box which can easily be loaded or unloaded from the bike into a DHL truck.

Zero emission is high on the DHL management’s list and it is not only bikes which will contribute to this.
The company has already started introducing electric powered transporters in the Dutch cities.

As a small highlight to the tour; we were able to witness how a DHL bike delivery easily overtook one of its competitor’s vans which was stuck in a small street traffic jam.
So - it works!

John Person  -  photo: hs
John Person - photo: hs
Roy Hughes  -  photo: hs
Roy Hughes - photo: hs

The DHL group continues with its expansion plans
John Pearson, CEO Express Europe and Roy Hughes, EVP, European Network OPS and Aviation, gave the audience a greater insight into what DHL has achieved during the past years and their aims for the future.

The company which was founded Messrs. Dalsey, Hillblom and Lynn in San Francisco back in 1969 has come a long way in those almost fifty years.
DHL Express which claims to be the world’s most international company has offices and representations around the world.
In total, 220 countries are served which include 3 global hubs and a further 19 regional hubs. The business is handled in 1,500 DHL facilities.
On the transport side, DHL now has 250 dedicated aircraft operating for them along with over 30,000 own vehicles.
2.5 million customers account for 195 million so called “time definite shipments” annually.

A strong network which is being expanded continually states Mr Pearson.
Undoubtedly, the e-commerce business is going to play the leading role within the future DHL set-up.
The B2C portion of the company’s total volume has grown from 10% in 2013 to 20% by the first six months of this year.
Hub investments and future hubs, be they main or regional will be geared towards the e-commerce business.
This has been apparent with DHL’s largest hub in Leipzig (CargoForwarder Global reported recently) which after a further 507 million euro investment can now sort 90,000 parcels and 43,000 documents per hour.
There is apparently room for further expansion to the existing 80,000 sqm of warehouse space.
The other two main hubs, Cincinnati and Hong Kong, although somewhat smaller than their sister in Leipzig, have also had considerable sums invested in the past couple of years.

The Boat & Bike delivery program in Europe might seem very small compared to the massive volume DHL handles every year.
However, an important environmental and cost saving move which DHL hopes ensures faster delivery in such congested areas.

John Mc Donagh

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