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“The forklift on wheels”: solving one of the biggest lines on a logistics firm’s P&L

Delivery Mates Innovation Lead Ercilio De Oliveira tells Zag how adding RYTLE’s cargo bikes to its London fleet could cut labour costs by as much as 40%

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To date, Delivery Mates has delivered parcels for businesses including Amazon, Just Eat and Laundryheap while operating in five countries across Europe and completing more than 100,000 drops a day.

The business employs more than 3,000 riders and its current fleet of carbon-free cargo vehicles totals 3,500. That fleet is growing all the time, most recently with the addition of sustainable cargo manufacturer RYTLE’s latest MovR3 vehicles, specifically for Delivery Mates London operation. 

The decision to partner with RYTLE followed a rigorous trial process that saw Delivery Mates test 50 different cargo bikes.

MovR3 and its swap box

The MovR3 is the third iteration of a cargo bike concept that was initially developed by RYTLE in 2010. First used at scale by the Deutsche Post in Germany, the latest version is capable of travelling up to 25 km/h, has an entry and exit on both sides, possesses a reversing function and has been tested extensively for safety, comfort and reliability.

Most importantly though, it can carry a 370 kg payload. 

The interchangeable transport box can hold up to 180 kg of this, and it can be loaded and unloaded at the roadside using the mechanical lift located at the back of the vehicle.

“It operates like a forklift on wheels,” Delivery Mates Chief Innovation Lead Ercilio de Oliveira tells Zag Daily.

“We have been completing deliveries for Laundryheap using the MovR3 for six months in Paris and Amsterdam and it has cut costs by 40%.

“Usually it’s a slow process for the rider to load a vehicle, but now the laundry staff can fill the box with the clean clothes and the rider simply has to transfer the pre-loaded box onto the vehicle.”

Delivery efficiency

Due to the ease with which cargo can be loaded and unloaded, last mile providers like Delivery Mates can save time both in the warehouse setting, and while out on deliveries. De Oliveira calculates that by operating the MovR3, the firm can save one hour by loading using the cargo box and a further 30 minutes on each ride.

He elaborates: “Because we will be able to load packages into the boxes directly and then transfer those boxes onto the cargo bikes, rider shifts will be shorter and more efficient. Labour is one of the biggest lines on a logistics firm’s P&L and the MovR3 can help mitigate that.”

Currently, Delivery Mates has 12 microhubs in London but due to the ability of the MovR3 to exchange a cargo box roadside, the logistics firm will be able to operate more flexibly.

“Often a big barrier to using cargo bikes is finding the right real estate to sort and store these vehicles,” he says. 

“We want to remove the number of steps involved and the reliance of micromobility hubs and fulfilment centres.”

London expansion

Mapping out the collaboration in London, De Oliveira explains that Delivery Mates will introduce 60 new vehicles before Christmas, before adding a further 70 vehicles in January. This will increase the 41,000 daily drops it completes by another 17,000, equating to an increase of 6.3 million deliveries per year. 

Looking ahead to the end of next year, the logistics provider plans to expand its fleet to 600 cargo bikes with an annual capacity of 39 million parcels. Based on the success of trials with Laundryheap and Amazon, Delivery Mates is also adding MovR3 fleets in Rotterdam, Lyon, Dublin and New York.

As part of this expansion, it is also looking into the possibility of cross-docking, which incorporates other modes of transport into the delivery process.

“We currently have waterway corridor proposals in Bremen, Germany, and have made a proposal to run a pilot with Transport for London too,” he explains.

“This idea is in its infancy but could open up a lot of potential efficiencies and cost savings.”

On the vehicle performance side, Delivery Mates delivers feedback to all of the cargo bike manufacturers that it works with on a daily basis. 

“We understand that this process does not have 100 years of history like a car.

“The best way to help the manufacturers is to provide honest feedback that they can then use to solve real world problems.”

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