The package will be shipped to Berlin with immediate effect. Deutsche Post DHL started a nationwide pilot project on Thursday. An electrically powered solar ship brings up to one ton of parcels and parcels to the western port in Moabit. Here, the four to six roll containers are each taken over and delivered by a cargo bike. The customer doesn’t notice anything.
The boat commutes between Spandau and Westhafen
The test is a small start. The “ship” is a ten meter short and 2.5 meter narrow boat that used to take day trippers across the Spree and the Landwehr Canal – many private motor yachts are significantly larger. Now the boat chartered by the Berlin company is painted postal yellow and commutes between Spandau and the largest inner-city port. In the sun, the boat can run continuously thanks to solar cells on the upper deck, and in the dark six to eight hours thanks to batteries.
“The solar ship drives in an environmentally friendly and noiseless manner,” advertises the Post – it sets off in Spandau. However, the parcel distribution center is in Börnicke near Nauen, it has neither rail nor water connection. In addition, the packages first have to be driven from Börnicke to Spandau by truck.
It is a pilot project in which we are again making a contribution to an emission-free future and are testing in Berlin how we can shift our logistics from the road to other transport routes.
Official press release, Deutsche Post DHL
In the south port they get on the boat, in the west port the up to 250 packages per trip are unloaded, temporarily with a converted crane. All of this costs additional time and personnel.
Sven Goerke, head of DHL’s Berlin branch, says openly: “It’s not yet worth it.” But DHL hopes that this type of logistics will pay off at some point. Goerke calls it a vision: Is water usable, is water efficient?” In the official press release from DHL it reads like this: “It is a pilot project in which we are once again making a contribution to an emission-free future and are testing it in Berlin, as we are shift our logistics from the road to other transport routes.”
There are many plans: loading points are to be built along the Spree. Corporate customers could pick up their parcels directly here, since the solar boat will be passing by anyway. In the coming week, DHL will speak to the state of Berlin about which plots of land are available. According to DHL, nothing works without cooperation with the city or the districts.
The Westhafen belongs to the Berliner Hafen- und Lagergesellschaft: Behala supports the DHL project. Petra Cardinal, Managing Director of Behala, said on Thursday during a drive through her port: “We welcome any traffic shift to the waterways.”
We welcome any shift in traffic to waterways.
Petra Cardinal, the executive director of Behala
If the attempt works, a second, larger ship will be used on the north-south route from the western port to Mariendorf, Neukölln and Tempelhof. Of course, not every package can come by solar boat, not every district is on the water. According to Goerke, “if the infrastructure is good”, ten to 15 percent of packages could come via the Spree and the canals. Good infrastructure means: 50 to 60 freight stations on the water.
On the rails, the “good infrastructure” has either been dismantled or not considered. None of the three parcel centers in the surrounding area has a siding, not even the “mega parcel center” in Ludwigsfelde, which opened just four months ago. The gigantic halls border directly on a railway line. However, DHL uses the neighboring railway container terminal in Ludwigsfelde, but most of the packages are still brought to Berlin by truck.
DHL delivers 250,000 parcels in Berlin every day
50,000 packages per hour can be sorted in Ludwigsfelde, and 20,000 packages per hour in the two smaller centers in Rüdersdorf and Börnicke. DHL delivers 250,000 parcels in Berlin every day, and this number increases before Christmas.
On Thursday, the first 250 parcels will arrive in the western harbor with the small postal boat, emission-free. They were then distributed in Wedding and Moabit with new electric cargo bikes from the Bremen manufacturer Rytle. The MovR3 wheels, which were only presented a few days ago, can accommodate standardized interchangeable boxes or Euro pallets.
1700 electric cargo bikes are in use
According to the group, it is “the most climate-friendly postal and parcel service provider in the capital. 1,000 electric delivery vans and 1,700 electric cargo bikes are in use.
“This means that letter and parcel shipments are delivered CO2-neutrally in almost 50 percent of Berlin’s delivery districts,” said Thomas Schneider, who as Chief Production Officer is responsible for postal and parcel operations throughout Germany. This year alone, DHL will invest 600 million euros in electromobility and innovative delivery solutions, said Schneider. “It is very important to us to make our transports more climate-friendly.”
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