Operational efficiency and environmental benefits were identified as two of the key advantages of out-of-hours deliveries, following a trial in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.
Like many other European cities, including London, Stockholm has delivery bans in place during the night to reduce the noise impact in residential areas.
However the trial, operated by Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, saw two trucks that were adapted for specific tasks given nocturnal exemptions in order to carry out the study. Both trucks were fitted with noise-reduction equipment, such as silent roll cages, and noise sensor technology.
When operating at peak morning times, the operator would normally dispatch three lorries to serve its city centre stores, while under the trial the same truck was able to complete three drops, removing two vehicles from the road and increasing efficiency. It was also able to travel over 30% faster than trucks operating during the rush hour.
Anna Pernestål Brenden, a researcher at KTH’s Integrated Transport Research Laboratory, said, “That’s one truck doing the work of three, or in other words – morning commuters are spared having to share the road with three heavy duty trucks.”
The second truck was a biogas-fuelled Scania R480, used to transport fresh goods to a number of city centre hotels and restaurants for temperature-controlled distributor Martin and Servera. The truck’s driving speed was 59% higher than in the afternoon peak, as routes could be planned more efficiently and did not have to factor in congestion.
The trial also wanted to examine whether deliveries presented a noise nuisance to residents. Drivers all had to follow special rules to ensure the quietest of night-time deliveries, such as no reversing alarms and no talking on mobile phones outside the vehicles.
Researchers discovered that trucks unloading within city centre environments were not noticeable to residents, with only those in one quieter, outer suburb experiencing minimal noise disruption.
“It turned out that the noise people complained about was caused mainly by unloading the truck, not driving,” Pernestål Brenden said.