Picnic is an online lowest-price supermarket that makes all customer deliveries free of charge. Picnic started in 2015 in Amersfoort in the Netherlands, with just four delivery vehicles. The company is now the fastest-growing in the country, with a fleet of over 800 vehicles across 70 locations nationwide.

Picnic makes all deliveries in small electric-powered vehicles (EPVs) with clear environmental advantages. Furthermore, their compactness enables them to get physically close to delivery addresses, which minimizes the time taken for the last few meters in congested cities. EPVs are also an excellent fit to Picnic’s logistics model: a central warehouse distributing to small local warehouses with short journeys to end customers.

Fast, smooth logistics are vital, which presents a challenge: the electric vehicles are sensitive to changes in weight distribution during loading, and they have no built-in automatic lifts. “That is where we come in,” says Brian Heuving from MTH Lifttechniek B.V. “Picnic uses lift tables to move their deliveries from the ground to the EPV’s load height. They used our lift tables alongside equipment from other companies. Unfortunately, the other equipment had quality issues that were frustrating and expensive. The system just was not working.”

Picnic and MTH Lifttechniek got together to discuss the problems. “Picnic briefed us to come up with a solution that was functional, safe, and efficient,” says Brian. “And with the consistent quality and reliability they were seeking. We started out by analyzing the problem with VPG.”

For Niklas Persson, Business Engineer Manager at VPG, it was a fascinating project: “We analyzed the total solution with Brian, all the way from a trolley arriving at the EPV to the deliveries being positioned inside. We also identified a number of other critical issues, such as enabling the EPV to enter the loading platform quickly and safely.” VPG and MTH Lifttechniek came up with a long list of improvements, including:

  • Loading flaps that allow trolleys to enter the EPV without causing vibrations that might destabilize it
  • Guards that prevent loads falling from the platform during lifting, improving safety for personnel and goods
  • Simple but effective stops to aid reversing, saving time and labor

It all amounted to a total solution for Picnic, improving safety and increasing efficiency by as much as 60%. “The pilot was a success,” says Brian. “It brought huge savings for Picnic, whose whole business concept is built on efficient logistics.” The first six tables are being shipped currently, with another ten solutions in production and 60 on order.

“Picnic are now expanding beyond the Netherlands. Their first destination is Germany, and they are glad that we have a supportive presence there as well as across the rest of Europe,” says Niklas.

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