How Lidl is making the switch
How Lidl is making the switch
The tightening regulations for heavy-duty vehicles in urban environments are prompting businesses to adapt their freight transport in cities. Lidl Sweden has already started making the switch to intelligent electric freight, choosing to ship with Einride on some of its Stockholm routes. Anna Pärsdotter, Head of Logistics at Lidl Sweden, shares her view of the transformation and explains how it has impacted daily operations.
Freight transport has become increasingly important as urbanization continues to rise around the world. This has led to increased traffic congestion in cities, which contributes to air and noise pollution. The societal impact of such pollution has led to several cities introducing a range of bans and regulations for heavy-duty vehicles to create a healthier and more attractive urban environment.
These regulations put pressure on businesses to transform their urban freight transportation in order to ensure business continuance. Key to this is knowing how to navigate the path to sustainable and cost-effective urban transportation operations.
One company that has already started the transformation to sustainable and cost-effective transport is Lidl Sweden. In fact, it’s six years into this journey as the partnership between Lidl and Einride commenced in 2017. And since 2020, Lidl has been operating Einride connected electric trucks in and around Stockholm. Today, goods are being transported using electric trucks to over 40% of Lidl’s stores in Stockholm.
Lidl: A retail-industry pioneer in electric freight
Lidl is Europe’s largest grocery retailer with 12 thousand stores across 31 countries. Sustainability is a key focus across the company and throughout its supply chain. In fact, Lidl is a retail-industry pioneer when it comes to freight transport, having made early moves to embrace electric shipping.
In Sweden, Lidl has the ambition to become one of the industry’s most sustainable grocery retailers. To get there, Lidl has set a number of key targets, such as reducing plastic usage by 20% and reducing food waste by 50%. Then there’s another important target.
“Our ambition and goal is to drive completely fossil-free transport from our warehouses to our stores by 2025,” says Anna Pärsdotter, Head of Logistics at Lidl Sweden. “Sustainability is very important to us. We are at the forefront of developing the logistics of the future and our electric transformation is an important step in realizing this.”
Anna Pärsdotter, Head of Logistics at Lidl Sweden.
From diesel to electric: The transformation
For Lidl, the transformation from diesel towards electric has been a journey filled with valuable insights and learnings. A journey that has been made easier by having a knowledgeable partner guiding them at every step of the way, according to Anna.
“The switch to electric transport has entailed lots of new things to think about, especially in terms of route planning, where we need to take new factors into account such as reach and charging time. However, now we have landed in it and have successfully integrated it into our daily operations. I’m proud of how far we’ve come with electric transport, and I – along with many others – see battery electric vehicles as one of the future alternatives for sustainable transportation,” says Anna. “This is also the consensus coming to light in public debates and discussions, and the evolution is happening rapidly in society, both for commercial and personal use.”
Since the start of their partnership in 2017, Lidl and Einride have had the joint ambition to electrify and automate deliveries to Lidl locations in Sweden. Since operations got underway, the partnership has saved 460 tonnes of CO2e, with a delivery precision of 99.4%.
“Having Einride as our partner in the electric transformation has been a huge advantage for us, and we have learnt a lot together and from each other. It has been, and still is, valuable to have a partner – one that brings much expertise – riding with us along this journey,” says Anna.
Navigating urban transport: Rules and regulations
Like most businesses, Lidl is well aware that cities around the world are introducing various bans and regulations for heavy-duty vehicles, in order to create a more sustainable urban environment. These regulations include emission standards, diesel bans, low-emission and zero-emission zones, and noise limits. To Lidl, these types of regulations are ultimately a step in the right direction, as they will help create more livable cities.
“We are positive towards these regulations. They will truly improve the environment for the people living in urban areas. I feel confident that we at Lidl are on the right track to comply with these regulations in both cities and other densely populated areas,” says Anna.
“We have chosen to be at the forefront of this transformation and we’ve had our goal of driving fossil-free freight transport by 2025 since 2017. However, freight transport in urban areas already comes with a lot of challenges and new regulations will of course add to the complexity, both for us and other businesses.”
“With more congestion, less space, a lot of traffic – in terms of vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles – city deliveries are more complex. Additionally, our city stores are located in shared properties that lack the same logistic possibilities as stores outside the cities, making it even more challenging. Due to these complexities and current regulations, we have adapted our transport logistics for city deliveries.”
Night deliveries: Bringing fresh produce to Lidl’s customers
Lidl’s standard approach for store deliveries is to conduct them at night to avoid challenges such as high volumes of traffic and other movement. This results in more consistent transport planning and increased delivery efficiency. Another significant advantage of this approach is that the delivery of goods doesn’t interfere with daily store operations, as the goods are already delivered when the sales personnel arrive at the store.
“This way of working is aligned with our warehouse processes and allows for the handling of fresh goods with short lead times. For example, fruits and vegetables are delivered to the warehouse in the morning, handled in the afternoon, and then delivered to the stores during night, ensuring that consumers can enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables in the morning,” says Anna.
When it comes to electric shipping, high utilization of assets is essential for unlocking efficient and cost-effective operations. Being able to ship goods around the clock increases hardware utilization, in turn, reducing costs.
“High utilization of the hardware provides us with an economic advantage. We often talk about the cost per pallet, and driving a truck around the clock lowers the cost per pallet,” says Anna.
“Whisper logistics”: New opportunities for urban transport
Night deliveries with heavy-duty vehicles in cities are often banned due to the operations exceeding noise-level restrictions. But when making the switch to intelligent electric freight, new opportunities arise. Operating a fleet of electric trucks enables businesses to execute urban deliveries without breaching noise-level restrictions.
In Stockholm, heavy-duty vehicles are banned between 10 pm and 6 am, limiting the possibility of delivering goods during the night. However, the City of Stockholm has launched a project for testing various types of “silent off-peak transport”, also called “whisper logistics”. As part of this project, Lidl and Einride have received a permit to deliver goods using electric trucks to one of Lidl’s stores at night.
“The city ban for heavy-duty vehicles at night brings challenges for us, as we prefer to deliver goods during the night. Getting this permit to perform silent deliveries at night is a good step in making urban night-time deliveries happen,” says Anna. “Being part of this project is also a way that we – together with Einride – can support innovation and make the transportation industry more effective.”
Experience sustainable and efficient transport with Einride's electric fleet. Avoiding penalties from diesel restrictions, enabling night-time deliveries, and reducing CO2e emissions – all while unlocking more efficient inner-city retail operations.
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