Last-mile delivery of products ordered online is a persistent problem for merchants and consumers, and is even more challenging for food retailers.
The innovative Phononic EV could be powering a new solution for efficiently and sustainably delivering groceries while competing with Amazon’s planned aerial drone package delivery system.
Phononic introduced its electronic vehicle for sustainable last-mile delivery at the Home Delivery World Show in Philadelphia on August 31. At this point, the vehicle is a functional proof of concept. It is not available on the market.
What happens next is up to Sortimo. The two companies have formed a partnership to equip the Ford E-Transit (extended version) with reconfigurable shelving to create a cold chain transport van for grocery retailers to deliver in e-commerce without the risk of food spoilage.
Phononic’s new approach integrates thermoelectric cooling solutions into custom racking. The partnership created the first truly sustainable cold chain grocery transport by transforming an electric van into an all-electric tri-temperature vehicle.
The electric vehicle is free of the synthetically produced, environmentally harmful refrigerant called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.
“We could see capacity for customer deliveries using EV trucks equipped with Phononic technology for tri-temperature cooling probably in 2023,” Dana Krug, Phononic’s vice president and general manager, told TechNewsWorld.
a peak inside
Phononic’s first electric vehicle is equipped with the company’s Actively Cooled bag. Sortimo’s custom FR5 and SR5 van racks are integrated to create an optimal and efficient way to store refrigerated, frozen and general merchandise orders all in one vehicle during grocery delivery.
With the SR5, the racks can be configured to fit any space to optimize payload and load capacity. As online ordering becomes the preferred option for consumers, all-electric technology can help supermarkets sustainably improve their last-mile delivery fleet.
Image Credit: Phononic
According to Krug, this offers access to same-day delivery while driving strong ROI with increased customer loyalty and higher levels of sustainability. His technology is inherently a great mobile platform.
The delivery van uses proprietary solid-state refrigeration technology instead of existing compressor-based mechanical systems that can fail. Your system’s compact heat pump allows for more capacity in the same space. Controls reduce power requirements.
Market research shows that the demand for online food shopping is growing rapidly. Online grocery ordering and delivery is here to stay, making last-mile execution even more critical.
“Maintaining the perfect temperature for a variety of foods—frozen, chilled, and room temperature—is forcing grocery retailers to rethink their entire operations,” observed Krug.
“As online ordering becomes the preferred option for consumers, all-electric technology can help supermarkets improve their last-mile delivery fleet in a much more sustainable way, offering access to same-day delivery. while generating solid ROI with increased customer loyalty and higher levels. of sustainability,” he added.
As the demand for grocery delivery increases, the need for more vehicles to make those deliveries will increase. Industry reports predict that by 2030 the number of delivery vehicles on the road will increase by 36%.
“We offer retailers the option of using electric vehicles that can be equipped with our solid-state refrigeration technology. This reduces the total global warming potential (GWP) rather than increasing the problem of combustion vehicles equipped with compressor-based, high-GWP refrigerants,” he noted.
The current grocery delivery process is not sustainable for longevity if retailers want to remain relevant and competitive, Krug added. Today’s grocery delivery needs demand a new approach that is sustainable and cost-effective.
Expect phononic fleets
The goal is to develop innovative mobility solutions that help solve problems affecting the environment, said Erik Nelson, director of fleet mobility solutions sales at Sortimo.
“Working alongside Phononic to improve this one-of-a-kind, environmentally friendly, all-electric vehicle allows us to be part of designing the first wave of truly sustainable grocery delivery,” he offered.
Phononic is still testing the truck to understand the impact on the vehicle’s range. But Krug expects the effect to be low.
The tri-temperature EV was designed to increase delivery routing density for retailers. Its unique design allows retailers to add general merchandise and temperature-controlled items, in addition to groceries, to optimize delivery routing and reduce total delivery miles.
Phononic does not plan to sell the actual truck, Krug said. By partnering with Sortimo, his company sees an opportunity to refurbish not just a Ford E-Transit, but other vans as well.
How does it work
The potential solution is Phononic’s cooling technology, which uses only water mixed with naturally available CO.twoKrug explained. Solid state technology, portable freezing and refrigeration are now a reality, and the combination keeps anything precisely cold anywhere.
Truly portable freezing and cooling have never been possible due to environmental challenges such as shock and vibration, weight, size, and power availability. Its DC-powered cooling is controlled by solid-state technology and can enable battery-powered cooling.
This method offers constant and reliable cooling over an extended period of time. That reality gives food retailers confidence that contents will be safely held at the required temperature.
Phononic’s cooling technology uses only COtwo and water as a refrigerant, eliminating environmentally destructive HFCs. (Image credit: Phononic)
The system is monitored via Wi-Fi or mobile data to verify compliance with the cold chain. Solid-state cooling can respond to remote commands for complete temperature control anywhere, anytime.
A key benefit is the ability to lower the temperature of specific compartments within a cargo container or entire vehicle as needed. This optimizes energy use while keeping the rest of the space at a standard temperature.
Thermoelectric technology has been around for more than a century. Until now, what was missing was integrating the engineering disciplines of pumping, movement and heat control to create a new thermoelectric system that is powerful, flexible and efficient, according to Phononic.
About Vehicle Adaptation
Phononic started its EV delivery van project in June 2021. This vehicle is a fully functional test model, but can be retrofitted to other vans that need a last cold chain delivery.
Sortimo’s FR5 shelves fold up and are designed specifically for courier, express delivery and parcel services. SR5 racks offer the flexibility to develop the interior of the vehicle in any configuration that benefits the delivery operation. Combined, the racking options allow refrigerated, frozen and general merchandise orders to be transported in a single vehicle.
The Ford E-Transit offers up to 487.3 cubic feet of cargo space inside the high roof. It has an extended wheelbase configuration and a range of about 126 miles on a single charge.
The market has seen clear benefits for electric vehicles over combustion vehicles in delivery solutions. This is one of the reasons you’ve seen ads from major retailers with multiple electric vehicle companies for thousands of electric vans to be used for grocery delivery, Krug reasoned.
“Adding triple temperature cooling solutions from Phononic gives retailers a cold chain solution that eliminates the need for dry ice or other passive cooling options, as well as the high GWP helpers used in delivery vans. triple temperature with compressor”, he said.