Delivery traffic is constantly on the increase in German inner cities, not least as a result of the boom in online trading. In 2016 alone, around three billion packages were delivered across Germany – that’s more than 10 million parcels every single working day. And it’s a growing trend. As can be read in the Federal Government’s Freight Transport and Logistics action plan, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is assisting German states and municipalities to identify good examples for the development of innovative logistics concepts and solutions for “the last mile” of freight transport. In addition, support has also been pledged for the more widespread introduction of electric delivery vehicles and cargo bikes as well as corresponding adaptation of urban logistics concepts including improved municipal traffic planning.
And so, KoMoDo was born: five large companies are currently testing out the delivery of parcels via micro-depots and cargo bikes. The full name describes the project’s aim to a tee: “Kooperative Nutzung von Mikro-Depots durch die Kurier-, Express-, Paket-Branche für den nachhaltigen Einsatz von Lastenrädern in Berlin”. (Cooperative use of micro-depots by courier, express delivery and parcel delivery services for the sustainable deployment of cargo bikes in Berlin). Initially, the five companies were set to employ a total of 12 cargo bikes. The neutral operator of the central depot with eight shipping containers is the senate-owned company BEHALA.
Klaus-Günter Lichtfuß, Head of Logistics at BEHALA, said: “With us as the neutral operator of micro-depots, there is the option of assigning sections of a depot to multiple parcel delivery services without any discrimination, thereby also allowing climate-neutral and sustainable delivery from one central location. There is therefore no need for each company to set up its own micro-depot. These bundling effects can be employed to achieve optimal use of the available space.”
Dr. Menge, the KoMoDo project is now in its second year. Are you happy with the progress?
We’ve made a good start. The greatest challenge by far was certainly getting all the players to agree. However, we finally managed to satisfy everybody. As the neutral operator of the site, BEHALA has made a substantial contribution to the project running as smoothly as it has so far. All decisions concerning safety and security for example were implemented very well.
Despite the positive results, the principle of micro-depots with cargo bikes still has a long road ahead of it. Do you see realistic chances for the KoMoDo concept beyond the initial project term?
There will definitely be data and experiences gathered during the project which will contribute to rendering delivery traffic in urban areas more sustainable afterwards. At any rate, the logistics companies want to continue the project after the official funding ends and launch another three to five sites by next year. As BEHALA takes care of the infrastructure as a neutral party, no competitor is at a disadvantage – that is an important factor in the success of the micro-depots. As such, I am convinced that the project was merely a first step in the right direction. There is still the complex task of finding innovative logistics concepts right up to small solutions for the “last mile” of freight transport.