Heavy Pedals

"We wanted to rethink urban mobility“

FMS and Heavy Pedals have recently embarked on a partnership to improve inner-city logistics. The weekly newspaper, Verkehr, asked Alexander Ottmann (Managing Director of FMS Lebensmittelhandel GmbH) and Florian Weber (founder of Heavy Pedals) about this interesting cooperation and what their plans for the future look like.


Verkehr: Mr Ottmann, what is the main focus of your company?

Alexander Ottmann: FMS has been working in the field of last-mile cold chain logistics for 20 years now. We have cold warehouses in Vösendorf and Brunn am Gebirge and handle food delivery logistics from there. To give you an example: For one customer, we carry out about 1,500 deliveries in Vienna every week. We have 30 to 40 small trucks supplying 6,000 unloading points on a weekly basis.


And what sets heavy pedal apart, Mr Weber?

Florian Weber: We offer last-mile cycle logistic services, which cover the city of Vienna. Besides vegetable crates for the organic farm Adamah, we transport products for a bicycle parts retailer. We supply almost every bicycle shop in Vienna. Our customer delivers their parts to us on a Sprinter and we take care of the individual transport trips. We have ten cyclists (and we hope for more in the future), who carry out 100 deliveries per day and a total of 2,000 per month.


Can you tell us more about your partnership?

Ottmann: A year ago, we started thinking about using cargo bikes for cold chain logistics. One of the reasons was the terrible traffic situation in the city centre. Additionally, there is the problem of finding parking spaces. We wanted to rethink urban mobility, also in relation to CO2-free logistics. So, we sat down started thinking about a joint project. We came up with this procedure: Goods arrive at our warehouse in Brunn am Gebirge where they are prepared for their individual delivery trips. We then deliver overnight to the warehouse of Heavy Pedals, where we have installed a refrigerated warehouse. The cyclists take the boxes and deliver them. This includes milk and fruit deliveries to schools and kindergartens.


How much can you transport on a cargo bike?

Weber: A maximum payload of 250 kilos is the legal limit. We are on the road for no longer than two hours, which works out well with the cooling batteries.


And how many educational institutions can be supplied by cargo bikes?

Ottmann: That depends on the size of the institution. We are in the process of examining where it makes sense to deliver by bike and where it makes sense to delivery by van. We hope to open additional micro-hubs from which more deliveries will be made. Four to six are planned in the next two to three years. We also want to make these hubs available to other interested customers. 


Are cargo bike deliveries more expensive?

Ottmann: Not necessarily. That's exactly what we're working on. Some of our deliveries are significantly cheaper, simply because cyclists are faster. If a hub is well located, then the transport of goods by bicycle is cheaper. But there are also areas where it makes no difference and areas where motorized deliveries are cheaper. We submitted the project to the BMVIT, the current BMK (Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology), and received a three-year grant.

Weber: But we don't want to wait until the funding runs out, we want to start working efficiently now.

Ottmann: Exactly! We assume that we can deliver to one-third of the educational institutions on cargo bikes. Theoretically, we could also delivery to all private households in the city center on cargo bikes. But in practice we are not yet ready.


What do you want to accomplish by the end of the project, i.e. in three years?

Ottmann: By then, we want to have tested the economic feasibility of cycle logistics and use cargo bike for deliveries that have been carried out by trucks so far. We assume that we can cover a third of our deliveries to educational institutions with cargo bikes. This means that we will save four trucks as well as the CO2 emissions they produce. 

Weber: Good keyword. If the City of Vienna wants to achieve its self-set CO2 targets, it will have to adapt its infrastructure, especially for cycling.


Are there any other projects, apart from food logistics that you want to tackle?

Ottmann: In Vienna, pharmacies are supplied up to four or five times a day. These are usually smaller deliveries. We are in the midst of preliminary talks to get something up and running. And micro-hubs would be a topic here because we could store things there temporarily. This way, we can then create sustainable delivery alternatives that have not existed up to now.


What would you wish for from the City of Vienna?

Weber: Apart from improving the infrastructure, I would also like to see certain regulations. For example, on the issues of access or entry restrictions.

Read the original article in German here.