CV Focus episode 8 – Daniel Hurcombe

Here’s a challenge: How do you make home deliveries greener and more economical?

One answer is lightweighting the vehicle and increasing its capacity – both in payload and space terms – so that it can do more deliveries before returning to base, have lower running costs and be easy for drivers to use.

That’s not a new challenge, but thanks to the clever use of new technology, Penso Group’s ‘Blue Ocean Pods’ is delivering a solution that works.

Daniel Hurcombe, MD of the long-established Coventry-based manufacturer chats with Matt Eisenegger to explain why it’s getting into supermarket delivery vehicles and what’s so radical about the project, which already has Asda signed up as a customer.

He explains how, with its background in automotive and aerospace projects – clients include Jaguar Land-Rover, Mercedes-Benz’ London Taxi, Boeing, Airbus, BAE Systems – it’s been able to refine carbon-fibre technology to make it cheaper and more suitable for mass-market production.

Although Penso uses high-value manufacturing, thanks to a clever business model the vehicles have roughly the same monthly cost as traditional solutions, we learn. And they do more miles-per-gallon.

We discover how the ‘pods’ are the result of a project started three years ago with Mercedes-Benz to work on the supermarket home-delivery sector.

The challenge is to get right amount of payload and best economics for daily operation.

As experts in lightweighting and vehicle integration, Penso was well-placed to step up to the challenge.

It also dealt with the conundrum of how to insulate the vehicle, and make it green. Part of the solution comes in the use of 5,500 recycled plastic bottles in every van it builds.

We discover that the savings – of up to 500kg on a 3.5T van – are used not only to create extra payload, but also extra space, of up to 140 totes (the trays shopping is delivered in) from a maximum of 120 (although often lower) in conventional designs.

With Penso’s experience in ‘vehicle packaging’, it has also produced a design that means it’s as easy for women to use as men – especially in the crucial area of easily-reaching the top totes.

We also learn about where this technology could go; if you’re thinking 7.5T trucks and overnight freight, then listen on…

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