Moving with the times: DMN on EV logistics challenges and solutions

Nick Chadaway, managing director at DMN Logistics, speaks to Natalie Middleton about the firm’s work to develop best practice solutions for electric vehicle logistics.

Nick Chadaway, managing director at DMN Logistics As the shift to electric vehicles continues apace, the logistics sector is also having to fast-evolve to meet the challenges for single vehicle deliveries, requiring new ways of thinking. It’s a challenge that DMN Logistics is rising up to as it reveals how the sector can adapt its processes and systems to support businesses, drivers and customers – and proactively and positively influence drivers’ EV experiences.

The business, founded in 2011 and based in Birmingham, is increasingly becoming an expert in EV deliveries – they now account for about 10% of the c.

45,000 driven vehicle deliveries it carries out each year on behalf of its customers. Clients include commercial operations, utility companies, fleet leasing operations, remarketing companies and end-user fleets; in fact, everything across the whole fleet spectrum. Managing director Nick Chadaway, who’s been with the business for the last decade, says DMN has also now received orders for “some rather large” build projects for commercial EVs, going through the whole of 2022 and increasing the EV share to about 20% of its volume.

And as the firm’s experience in EVs continues to grow, it’s published a new white paper outlining the challenges along the journey to the 2030 ICE ban and the solutions that are emerging. Key barriers to establishing a successful EV logistics plan include shorter driving ranges on a charge than a traditional petrol or diesel fuel car, longer ‘refuelling’ times and heavier vehicles thanks to the battery weight. As well as combating these, the business is also working to help provide a positive initial experience for end-users taking delivery of an electric vehicle, in particular those who are reluctant to have an EV.

Chadaway explains: “So for us, the challenge is to actually make sure there’s a network in place to charge it as part of that delivery process. And to deliver it with as full a charge as you can. Because it’s really nice to receive a brand-new company car with a full tank of fuel.

But that’s really hard when you’re driving an EV, given that the nearest charge point for it might be 25 miles away. “The charge network across the UK is getting better every day. I heard recently that there was 800 new charge points added to the government database last month alone.

Which is huge; that’s a rapid uptake. But you can’t get around range anxiety.” ‘Queue anxiety’ and infrastructure reliability also pose issues that drivers need to be prepared for.

The business is also finding that there’s an increased time element involved in EV deliveries –  from the extra time taken on them at PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) centres, to the extra time needed for charging. Chadaway explains: “So whereas a 300-mile delivery may have been achievable in one day, that might take two days now so the driver can charge the vehicle overnight. So it’s adding that piece to it there.”

But these are challenges that the firm is embracing and finding solutions for, in order to ensure it provide the best possible service to clients as they continue to switch to EVs. This includes work to train drivers up quickly on EVs. “We’ve spent a lot of time trying to upskill our guys with what to look out for, and just how to drive and how to charge an EV.

We’re still a long way away from being experts in driving EVs. But we’re getting more knowledgeable every day.” And while there has been some trepidation from its drivers, the business is working and communicating with them to help them every step of the way – from route planning tools to new ways of working.

Chadaway says: “Our drivers are on the journey with us. So we communicate quite heavily. And we’re explaining that this is the future, this is where it’s going.

So our drivers are with us on that journey. “We’ve accepted that it’s a different way of doing things. It comes at a different price point.

You have longer charging stops. And we’re thinking differently how we arrange our logistics because we don’t want to give a rushed experience to the user. If there’s a request for a handover, it can’t be, ‘There’s the keys.

Bye!’ It’s got to be quality and value-add, therefore we have to change how it’s done.” The vehicle handover is a particular focus for the business, which is working to make sure that once a vehicle is delivered to an end user, they know how to use it. “We like to do the corporate handover piece.

So if we bring you a new vehicle, it’s quite nice to show you how it works. How to link your phone, how to work the technology, how to actually use the EV. “We can help with knowledge of driving vehicles, about charging vehicles, where to look for the points of vehicles.

We’re working to develop this knowledge that we’re gaining into a training package for fleet drivers so we can offer online training to assist with that  familiarisation process ahead of, or as part of, a fleet process; a nice duty of care to be able to give somebody a training course on how to drive an EV.” This training will work on a flexible basis too, fitting around fleets’ and drivers’ timescales. Chadaway explains: “It could be online in advance of the vehicle delivery or it could be with our driver and you book an hour or two-hour time slot for that delivery to go through the whole process.

It could be post-delivery. So once you’ve driven it for a week and you have some questions; we can add that part there for it.” He adds: “Our personal piece is the fact that our drivers can drive 10 different EVs in a week, which means that the handover piece for the end-user is really very much more value-add.

“We can pass on the tips that our drivers learn. Always look for eco mode. Learn how to brake differently.

Understand that it drives very differently. And understand that when you back off the accelerator that now puts your brake lights on; which can cause road rage. We’re building up our knowledge of all of these things to pass onto end-users to make it a more enjoyable experience for the fleet customer.”

Chadaway also says that education can be even more important for new eLCV drivers. He remarks: “We find that car drivers tend to be a bit more excited about having an EV because they’ve probably ordered it themselves. The uptake on the commercial side is very much different. ‘I’m going from an ICE transit van, which is my workmate, into something with a very much shorter range?

I’m not sure about this.’ “And so the way that delivery is handled, even about things such as maximising how much charge it arrives with and making sure drivers know how to charge, is very important.” Training drivers to understand that their daily mileage is probably a lot lower than they think and explaining how the infrastructure is fast-expanding can also help remove anxieties.

“All those things make a difference in that educational piece.” And while the shift to EVs is bringing challenging times for the sector, it’s also exciting, according to Chadaway. “It’s probably the biggest change in the fleet market – and the vehicle market – for years, actually.

“The future’s so exciting. We are loving the challenge right now. We are trying to get as much knowledge as we can by talking to people.

Everyone’s got their own different war stories, but everyone’s got little nuggets of knowledge about EVs that you think, ‘That’s really useful to know.'”

To access the DMN white paper on addressing the challenges in EV logistics, click here.

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