In 2020, Bakker Barendrecht investigated the usage of electric trucks for transporting fresh fruit and vegetables to the distribution centres of our customers. Although we learned a lot from the project, it soon became clear that the electric trucks that are on the market today cannot be used for the long distances we are covering in the Netherlands.
The project did make us aware there are definitely opportunities for shorter distances. The situation at Bakker Belgium is entirely different, as we only need to cover a relatively small distance (about 30km) from our own distribution centre to that of our customer. So when one of our trucks was due for replacement, we decided to go for a fully electric vehicle.
Buying an electric truck to replace one that runs on diesel may sound like a pretty straightforward exercise, but in reality it is not. There are many technical and practical challenges to overcome. You need to think about many new things: what is the range of the truck and what is the impact on delivery schedules including loading times for the battery? What happens if the driver gets stuck in traffic? How can we use smart charging?
We started building a charging station on our own site and our customer agreed to do the same at their distribution centre. The stations need to be close to the loading dock, so the truck can be charged while it is being loaded and unloaded. We hope to have the new truck on the road by the end of the year, depending on the delivery time at the manufacturer.
This may sound like a lot of effort for replacing just one truck, but we really see it as a learning experience and an investment in the future. Transport and cooling represent about half of the carbon emissions that generate directly from our operations. Every effort we make in this domain has a significant impact. We will also be sharing these experiences with our suppliers and our external transport partners, so they can follow our example in the future.