Sunday 22nd September 2019

Doing good by delivering goods the environment-friendly way

Published on August 27th, 2018

UK-based Farmdrop is an ethical grocer, supplying local and sustainably produced food via an online grocery platform and mobile app. Edward Kulperger, VP, Geotab Europe, explains how it adopted telematics to extend its responsible, ethical approach to deliveries.

The Farmdrop fleet has been equipped with Geotab GO devices since March 2018, primarily to monitor drivers’ behavior plus the location and charge level of its electric delivery ‘Vanimals’ – see picture. Mike Pearson, head of growth at Farmdrop, explains, “Farmdrop’s mission is to fix the food chain, so reducing emissions from food delivery is important to us. That’s why we use 100% electric delivery vehicles wherever possible. Geotab’s technology lets us know where our vans are, and how they are driven, saving us both time and money.”

However, the company’s fleet of fully electric Nissan NV and Renault Kangoo electric vans introduced some operational challenges:

  • The newness of electric vehicle technology means there is a lack of real-world information associated to their use and in some cases discrepancies between manufacturer-stated and actual capabilities.
  • Running out of battery power is a major deal (unlike a petrol vehicle, which can be refuelled quickly by roadside service or a trek to the nearest petrol station for a jerry can). Pearson says, “With an electric vehicle, it’s pretty much game over. So you have to be very, very confident that the vehicle is able to do the deliveries that it’s intending to do.”
  • Confirming that the targeted delivery area can be serviced as promised.

Once the vehicles were equipped with the Geotab GO devices, the fleet manager could quickly see a wealth of information and drivers (Farmdroppers) can view their performance. Pearson says, “We’ve not been given a one-size-fits-all product.”

Telematics insights for a green fleet

One reason Farmdrop chose Geotab was that it developed a way to capture the data and generate reports from the vans’ electric power plants whereas another supplier the company considered could not read the information the vans provided.

Edward Kulperger

Although the implementation went smoothly from a technical perspective, there was some initial pushback from drivers. Pearson used The Driver Challenge gamification solution from the Geotab Marketplace to gamify the driver’s experience, which has led to high engagement and acceptance from the drivers. Farmdrop measured drivers’ performance based on speeding, seat belt use, harsh braking, acceleration and cornering.

“The majority of drivers who’ve picked it up in a positive way want to beat their own score and want to beat their peers’ scores on a monthly basis. And so actually it becomes an interactive solution and they get enjoyment out of seeing their scores improve,” says Pearson. The insights into driving trends is also a useful tool for the management team.

Electrifying benefits

The high engagement rate from drivers has already had impressive results. The primary goal of improving drivers’ driver behaviour has been achieved: in four months, there has been a 33% reduction in instances of poor driving. This had another benefit too as drivers are using
27% less power in their vehicles.

“We thought that a 33% reduction in poor driving incidents meant we were safer out there on the road, safer for cyclists, and safer for other road users. We hadn’t understood the impact [of] if you drive a vehicle far more smoothly, you save fuel, which obviously is what you’d hoped,” says Pearson. “There was no other change in our operation or our management at the same time as that trend.”

In future, Pearson hopes to integrate Geotab’s functionality into its customer service operation to alert customers about delays in their orders and to give exact estimated time of arrivals. He also hopes to integrate the company’s route planning software with Geotab to monitor and measure drivers’ downtime.

The relationship between Farmdrop and the Geotab Reseller is reciprocal. Both companies are learning and benefiting. “There’s a bit of a collaborative relationship in that we’re learning about how the Geotab GO works, and they’re really learning how a company that’s dedicated to electric delivery vehicles seeks to operate.”

Farmdrop shows how businesses — and fleets — can be safe, productive, ethical and successful all at the same time.

The author of this blog is Edward Kulperger, VP, Geotab Europe.

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