By Steen Frederiksen, CEO, SpaceInvader.

There’s good news on the climate front! End 2018, EU’s respective Ministers of Climate agreed for the first time to lower the CO2 emissions from trucks, which currently account for 6% of EU’s total CO2 emissions, and one fourth of the transportation industry collectively. That is why reductions in the heavy transport sector are crucial for our climate. The ministers plan to make the goals binding, with a CO2 reduction of 30% in 2030. Already by 2025, they want to see a 15% reduction.

The million-dollar question remains: where should such reductions come from? Optimisation of existing transport capacity, or optimization of the energy efficiency from truck engines? Or perhaps from somewhere else?

The solution is found someplace between better planning, better technology and the will to try out new tools and overcoming the force of logistical habits.

According to Danish Climate Minister, Lars Christian Lilleholt, this is the first time EU imposes demands on tCO2 emissions from trucks, meaning the new trucks that will crowd Europe’s highways in the future must emit less CO2. He says the EU initiative is an important first step – even though he admits that he would have liked an even more ambitious benchmark.

 

Where should the transport industry concentrate its efforts? Are there any low-hanging fruit? 

Let me give you a rundown of the options. What immediately comes to mind is having a look at engine- and fuel technology. Meaning, can you incorporate greener fuel types, and more fuel efficient engines in some parts of transportation. There is already a lot on offer in this regard, and technology is luckily evolving at a great pace. Today, you have the opportunity to fill your truck with biogas, both the liquid form (LNG) for long haul, or the condensed form (CNG) for short deliveries, for example sanitation vehicles or busses.

You also have other liquid biofuels, like biodiesel, where some types are more sustainable than others. Like most biofuels, it has its pros and cons, and it is important to consider these fuels in a perspective of their entire life cycle, where you both keep the direct and indirect effects on the climate in mind. For example, it would be prudent to consider whether it is wise to cut down rainforests in South East Asia to make room for palm trees whose palm oil go into manufacturing biodiesel.

Finally, you have electric trucks, where you have several exciting additions on the way from both Tesla and other manufacturers. Here, the driving range has until now been the primary concern, but also here technology is thankfully making great strides. As long as the electricity used to power electric vehicles is produced from sustainable sources, electrically-powered vehicles remain both an environmental- and emissions-friendly option.

However, other and cheaper solutions exist, and it is here we are most likely to come across the desired low-hanging fruit. Still, it might not be the solution that immediately springs to mind when one contemplates our climate challenges. Because what if you could optimise your transport, and cut down the large number of trucks driving around with half-empty holds? Would  that not mean a significant cut in emissions?

 

 Too many trucks go out half-empty

As much as 85% of all trucks go out half-empty. It compares to most of us driving alone on the highway in each our own car. Luckily, carpooling is becoming more popular. Already 30 years ago in California, you were only allowed in the fast lane if you had multiple people in the car. A law that gave rise to car sharing and carpooling. The reasoning behind it was a little loss of personal freedom was to be preferred over sitting in traffic. The environment and climate won and congestion eased.

Imagine if you could optimise the transportation industry so that all trucks were filled as much as weight limit and safety regulation would allow. This would demand the logistics industry improve their ability to “optimise their packing”, as well as plan and fill trucks, so that every time a truck left the depot, it would be packed and filled the best possible way. And safely, of course.

 

Cargotetris is part of the solution

Keeping that sense of optimisation in mind, I wonder why so many trucks drive around with a half-empty hold and plenty of empty air? One reason is the difficulty of stacking cargo high if time is of the essence and the load needs to be stabilised. That is why the vast majority of pallets are stacked to a maximum height of 140-180 cm, so they do not tip over during transit. In reality, they could easily be packed to height of 240 cm. But that would require stable double stacking.

And where does the climate and environment figure in all of this? Consider how many trucks we could take off our roads, if they were better packed and their cargo optimised? And let us not forget recent years’ price hikes in the transportation industry due to growing capacity issues caused by lack of drivers and the growth of e-commerce, to name just a few. It does not make it any easier for the industry. And now you can add EU’s latest climate demands to the list. Reduce your emissions. And do it quick.


Double stacking is part of the solution

The good news is that there is a solution for double stacking. It is a simple transport system, which consists of two lightweight pallet racks, that make it easy to stack two loaded pallets on top of each other. It is easy to handle, ergonomic, and it reduces the amount of cargo breakage considerably. The system was developed by Danish company SpaceInvader.

Norway’s biggest distributor of foodstuffs, ASKO, has begun using the SpaceInvader system, and tested it on a trial route in 2017. They reported a 20% CO2 reduction on one route alone, a roughly 500 km stretch between Trondheim and Mo i Rana.

 

Took away one entire delivery run per week

Normally, the company would make five weekly deliveries to the named destination, but with improved optimisation and double stacking ASKO has managed to take away one entire delivery run per week. Yearly, that means 52 fewer deliveries. On the bottom line, ASKO has saved more than a quarter of a million Danish kroner in addition to the mentioned 20% CO2 reduction. It is all smiles at ASKO, and they are now rolling it out in their organisation. Did I mention that ASKO aims to be carbon neutral by 2020? When it comes to reaching that goal, everything counts.

 

There is more to gain – for both the climate and the bottom line

Tænk på skaleringsmulighederne i dette scenarie. I det nævnte eksempel gik ASKO blot i gang med at bruge SpaceInvader systemet, og anvendte det ad hoc, hvor de havde paller med en højde på under 120 cm.

Consider the scaleability of the above case. Here, ASKO was just getting started with the SpaceInvader system and was using it on an ad hoc-basis with pallets no higher than 120 cm.

 They are actually able to optimise even more. ASKO can make the decision to plan with all pallets being under 120 cm. and thereby double stackable as a standard practice, as well as incorporating SpaceInvader into their logistics culture. That way they will transport even more pallets with every truck.

 They can also choose to go all in, and make SpaceInvader a part of their integrated logistics system and systematically plan by only packing pallets to a height of 120 cm. and thereby get as many double stacked pallets with every truck as possible.  

All in all, there a great savings to be made with SpaceInvader, both economically, but also in emissions.

Read more about ASKO and SpaceInvader at www.spaceinvader.com or call us at +45 70 70 72 28.

And can you make money from empty air?

Today, everybody is talking about how we need to be innovative and disruptive. It drives development and thinking – from grade school on through our educational system, whether it be academia or the trades. Both the corporate and the public sector are also gearing up on innovation, and the Danish government even has its own disruption- and innovation council. As soon as we are old enough to listen, we are  told that in order to be successful you need to be one step ahead. Meaning better, smarter, faster, and always more innovative and effective than the next person. We bring that mindset with us into adulthood. And then there’s the climate and environmental aspects. We need to be greener, more responsible and more sustainable – in short, we need to take better care of our common planet and each other. Last but not least, the solutions we come up with must ideally be cheaper than those of our competitors. All of this drives competition, and the mounting pressure from Asia underscores the necessity of this mindset. Business as usual is gone; even the undertaker has gone digital.

How does all this apply to the logistics- transport and supply chain industry? Can it keep up? Has it become more effective or even disrupted? It most likely has – to some extent – because that is good for competition. And like most other industries, there is a growing focus on where improvements can be made. Customers also have wants of their own.

Like in most industries, greater efficiency is key, and that means there is always room for improvements. The price must go down, but the quality must stay the samel, and goods must be transported in a more sustainable way. This should be seen in the context of what is already a great challenge for the logistics- and transport industry, where 85% of all trucks drive with only half-empty hold. That does not bode well for the economy, the environment or the planet.

 Low-tech with a high potential

Sometimes solutions to existing challenges come out of left field, and it need not be high-tech to be smart and innovative. Actually, it can be as low-tech as can be, and need not arise out advanced technology or complex Big Data analysis, but instead simply be a great idea. It can even be borne out of something as fundamental as gravity itself. Not the kind you’ll study when you read about Newton’s theories, but one much more tangible and down to earth.

Enter the SpaceInvader solution, because it actually does challenge the law of gravity to some extent. It was made to increase capacity in the transportation industry, and does so by making it possible to double stack  loaded euro-pallets by using a simple aluminum rack. Basically, it makes it possible to stack two loaded pallets on top of each safely and easily. Advanced technology? No – but on the other hand, it is the first solution of its kind. At least as a modular system.

Many logistics- and distribution companies have over the years tried to stack goods as high as possible, and have tried to do so in a variety of ways, hoping to load as much cargo as possible on every truck, and making the most of every available pallet space and cubic meter. Crucial to the endeavor is stacking as high as possible, and many do succeed in stacking as high as 180 cm., as long as what they are stacking is somewhat uniform, stackable and stable. But that type of cargo is the exception.

A simple design

With the SpaceInvader’s simple design and build, consisting of two racks that are placed in either end or the sides of the pallet, and thereby both lifts and stabilises the load by leveraging the cargo’s own weight, it is now possible to safely and securely double stack to a height of 240 cm or more. And it makes plenty of sense to do so, because most trucks containers can fit cargo to a height of 270 cm. Everyone in the transportation business know that space is money. That is why it is so important to maximise capacity on every single transport.

Greener and more ergonomic

In addition to the ability to stack higher and thereby carry more with every truckload, the SpaceInvader system also proposes a number of other benefits. Like the fact that more optimally loaded and filled trucks ultimately means fewer of them on the road. In that sense it helps reduce pollution from road transports to the benefit of both the climate (fewer emissions) and the environment (reduced air pollution).

It is also worth mentioning that because the SpaceInvader rack as a standard is 120 cm tall, it also makes it easier for retailers to handle deliveries when receiving, unpacking and putting goods into storage. A significant ergonomic improvement.

That is why the SpaceInvader system is of interest to and gaining foothold with both corporate executives, who are always on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency and lower costs to improve their companies’ bottom line – and to the those who strategise and  work to optimise logistics, transportation and warehousing – and therefore are also looking for initiatives or solutions that will optimise daily operations. 

Find out more at www.spaceinvader.com and read about how Norway’s biggest foodstuff distributor saved 20% on transportation costs (400,000 NOK) and 30 tons of CO2 on a single route where they tested SpaceInvader.

 

The Transportation system ‘Spaceinvader’ reduces capacity problems in the logistics sector 

It’s all over the news, and everybody’s in the logistics industry is talking about, whether it is in the canteen or the boardroom – the industry is under pressure. Not financially, as they too ride the wave of the economic upswing. It’s something else that poses a threat: a shortage of capacity.

Simply put, there’s more cargo and more demand for moving it from A to B than there is capacity available. The situation is not getting better by the dire shortage of drivers. With this scarcity, bottle necks naturally occur and with them significant price hikes.

Add to this new legislation that makes it more difficult to maneuver the regulations for driving, rest, and parking and most recently EU regulation suggesting binding targets for CO2 reductions from heavy transport. And lest we forget, environmental concerns, not made less by a historically hot summer in 2018, as well as global warming in general. In this sense, tighter regulations and demands from the market play a big part. And it can be hard to keep up with it all.

Sustainability has become a point of competition for a lot of businesses. That is the case for both logistics operators, as well as their customers. Even for the end consumers, the fact that a product’s transport and delivery is sustainable has become more important.  

So, where for the industry to begin?

Rising transport prices

So it is getting more expensive moving goods from A to B. That makes the space every pallet takes up during transport more valuable than ever before. How do you get as much cargo as possible with every truck? Questions like these are what the industry is trying to answer.

In the fall of 2017, one of the world’s biggest transport- and logistics operators, Danish DSV, warned customers of a coming price increase of 5-7%. Another Danish operator, Blue Water Shipping, later announced an additional “Lack of Capacity”-fee of 5% to be added to all its ground transportation rates.

Global e-commerce on the rise

If you look closer, you will find other reasons for the industry’s capacity woes. Today, 11.5% of all goods being transported are ordered online, and therefore has to be brought from A to B. This number grows by 20% yearly, and retailers now also try to attract customers with offers of free delivery and overnight shipping.

Even if buying locally and sustainability are weighing on consumers’ mind, we still do not hesitate to buy online, if we can find it for cheaper at home in front of our laptop and get it delivered right at our doorstep. We probably also fail to consider that our purchases have to be sent from the other side of world. All of this adds to the increasing capacity demand.

Too few drivers

Another significant cause of the shortage is as mentioned the lack of drivers. The industry is running career marketing campaigns like never before, painting it as an interesting job with great freedom and flexibility and where two days are never the same. Be that as it may, the youth of today struggle to see the attraction in spending hours and days away from friends and family behind the wheel and sleeping at rest stops. What was once attractive to many now attracts few, and the profession’s public image has changed significantly. According to the German transport and logistics association (DSLV), Germany currently faces a shortage of at least 45,000 drivers, a reality mirrored here in Denmark, where we will soon be 2,500 drivers short. Expanding to all of Europe the number climbs to a dizzying 300,000.  

Half-empty trucks are climate no-go

Another factor that contributes to the increasing pressure on the entire logistics industry is the climate footprint. Regulation dictates how much CO2 every truck can emit in an effort to reduce collective emissions. Calls for less air pollution, a growing health concern, have also grown in volume.

Many say digitalization and new, advanced and game-changing technology must be the winds of change in modernizing current transport- and supply chains. It makes sense to think this way, so one may optimise and advance planning- and capacity systems. There is a lot to be gained.

But it may be equally important to focus on more hands-on and low-tech solutions. Because there happens to be a solution already on the market that with a small investment can optimise the packing of trucks. This solution significantly optimises capacity, and simultaneously reduces transportation costs significantly.

The latest numbers from the EU show that 24% of every truck kilometer driven happens with an empty hold, and that vehicles on average only transport 57% of the goods they actually have room for. We are simply not making the most of the capacity we have at hand.

Once can easily imagine tighter regulations will be necessary and increase demands for better utilisation of truck capacity to alleviate congestions, emissions and air pollution.

 The Solution

A low-tech, yet disruption-esque solution to some of these capacity challenges is the Danish-invented transportation system SpaceInvader. As the name suggests, the system, which is based on a modular pallet rack, simply “invades” the unused cargo space and the empty space that the vast majority of trucks drive around with.

It happens through double stacking of pallets. SpaceInvader is a lightweight and simple aluminum rack that makes it possible to transport two pallets using the space of one, thereby exploiting the full height and space of the trucks’ holds and making room for more goods on every truck.

Other advantages of the SpaceInvader rack is how it facilitates a more secure and stable stacking of goods, and thereby reduces the amount of breakage during transportation. This is because goods are now stacked to a height of 120 cm., where after the second pallet is stacked on top. Another advantage is what happens when goods arrive at their destination, in retail for example, where goods can now be unpacked much easier and safer by employees, because they now unpack at a height of 120 cm. instead of today’s height of 180 cm.

In terms of efficiency, we are talking about a solution that offers to cut the existing pallet-price in half (minus the costs of renting the rack), while leading to better loaded trucks that will ultimately mean fewer trucks on the road and with that less congestion, fewer emissions and reduced air pollution.

The solution is therefore both capable of solving capacity shortage in the supply chain, but also helps solve some of society’s other great challenges.

The greater potential

According to Denmark’s bureau of statistics, Danish trucks drove 1,577 million kilometers transporting goods in 2015. That translates to 39,000 trips around the globe. Numbers from the EU tell us 24% of those kilometers are with empty holds. If we can load trucks better, the need for those empty truck lessens. That means less congestion, reduced fuel consumption and fewer emissions. [3].

[1] https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/stb/Documents/StB-Cargo-White-Paper-e-commerce.pdf

[2/3] https://universe.ida.dk/artikel/slut-med-tomme-og-halvtomme-lastbiler-paa-vejene-36372/)

Cristian Guldbrandsen, joined SpaceInvader Norway as Country Manager December 1, 2018.

SpaceInvader is now targeting Norway and establishing itself in Eastern Norway, where the company already has a foothold with its space optimization system for the logistics industry, which offers cost reductions and the CO2 footprint.

With the entry in Norway, 38-year-old Christian Gulbrandsen will be the Country Manager who will kick off the company’s growth in the Norwegian market. Danish SpaceInvader has developed, patented and launched a flexible transport system, which enables double stacking of pallets and thus increasing space utilization of the cargo space in trucks. The solution consists of a 120 cm lightweight aluminum frame, which slides into the bottom of each side of a EUR pallet, thus making it possible to stack several pallets safely on top of each other. The company already has a good grip on the Norwegian market, as Norway’s largest food distributor, ASKO, uses the solution in several of their many terminals, after a test route showed a 20% savings in transport costs and a corresponding CO2 reduction.

SpaceInvader CEO, Steen Frederiksen, sees great potential in Norway:

“ASKO has helped us open the door to the Norwegian market, and we are now ready to grow and happy to have Christian on board. As Country Manager in Norway, Christian will draw on his experience from the logistics industry.”

He continues: “We hear from the Norwegian operators that our solution is an interesting efficiency tool for achieving a better filling rate – not least due to the large distances and high tolls in Norway.”

From challenge to invention

Christian Gulbrandsen is not new to SpaceInvader and has been on the sidelines for a long time. With his background in logistics, Christian challenged his Danish brother-in-law, blacksmith and architect, Jesper Rølund, to develop a solution that could optimize the freight capacity of trucks. Jesper took on that challenge, patented and developed the SpaceInvader stand and founded the company SpaceInvader in 2015. Gulbrandsen has since been involved in developing and market testing SpaceInvader, including with ASKO and as Store Manager in the supermarket chain, KIWI.

“In Norway, it is important to optimize the freight in every truck to keep costs down. We can see that the highest possible filling degree in each transport is given high priority. If you succeed in this, you can reduce transport costs significantly, and at the same time reduce the number of trucks on the roads, which naturally leads to less wear and tear on roads and equipment, lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions. Norwegians really prioritize green solutions,” says Frederiksen.

Hits the ground in full speed

SpaceInvader’s new Country Manager in Norway looks forward to getting started:

“I very much look forward to getting started here in Norway, where the market is very positive. I almost hit the ground running, as we already have many trial programs with  both carriers and transport customers. Thousands of kilometers are driven on the Norwegian roads, so the potential is big, and we are very interested in the SpaceInvader solution ”, says Christian Guldbrandsen.

SpaceInvader establishes its new Norwegian office in Eastern Norway. This central location is a good starting point for being able to reach and service customers throughout Norway.

About Christian Gulbrandsen

Christian has a long career in logistics, where he has worked in procurement,  sales and management. He has experience from most of the supply chain and has experience from both the retail, wholesale and distribution sectors, especially in the food and grocery sector. Christian most recently comes from a position as sales manager at Scandza AS. He is 38 years old, married and has 3 children. Before joining the logistics industry, Guldbrandsen attended the aviation school.

Reach Christian: E: cg@spaceinvader.com or M: +47 9266 4786

In September 2018, SpacenInvader secured a US patent for their innovative logistics system.

Developed in Denmark, the SpaceInvader transport system has now secured its patent in the USA. The system which makes it possible to double stack pallets and thereby increase cargo capacity through better utilization of the truck container’s height, is now ready to enter the vast American market. The SpaceInvader system has by many been described as the new standard for double stacking pallets. 

For example, in the article SpaceInvader, en ny standard for dobbeltstabling (in Danish), the magazine InPak writes:

Until now, it has been difficult if not impossible to double stack pallets. As a consequence, many simply pack pallets as high as possible to optimally utilize the available space in a truck. But there is a solution, and that is double stacking via the SpaceInvader transport system. A Danish invention that might become the standard for how double stacking of pallets is done.”

The man behind the SpaceInvader invention and patent application is architect and blacksmith Jesper Rølund, who in 2013 was contacted by Scandinavia’s biggest foodstuffs distributor ASKO, an entity of Norgesgruppen, who were looking for ways to improve their transport efficiency. Jesper was asked to develop a concept, which would enable ASKO to optimize the cargo capacity of every truck.

With his background in design, architecture and craftsmanship, Jesper built the first SpaceInvader prototype and later joined forces with Steen Frederiksen and Mads Klie-Holde through the start-up milieu at DTU Scion. Together they founded SpaceInvader in 2015. Today, SpaceInvader has launched a game-changing and patented concept that can help a transport industry struggling with capacity issues. And now the door is open to the gigantic American transport- and logistics market as well.

“We are proud that our invention is now also patented in the US. Our ambition is to become the standard for double stacking, and with our foot now in the door to the US, this patent opens up a world of possibilities. The transport industry is struggling these days to meet capacity needs, and there are different reasons for that. We are here to help solve them. The industry has been missing a simple and affordable low-tech solution that can improve cargo capacity. And that solution is needed, because as we all know, 85% of all trucks driving on our roads are half-empty. That is not sustainable. Not for the economy, nor for our climate and the environment.”

SpaceInvader reduces both warehouse and transport costs and optimizes planning and loading of trucks and warehouses. The solution therefore improves efficiency throughout the supply chain, has an immediate effect of the bottom line, and reduces CO2 emissions.

SpaceInvader is awaiting its European patent (EPO) and has already been patented in Denmark, China, Eurasia and now also the US. It is estimated that two billion pallets are in circulation in the US. To compare, there’s roughly 500 million EURO-pallets in circulation globally.

SpaceInvader is a Danish company founded in 2015. We have developed a unique, patented and modular transport system, the pallet rack ‘SpaceInvader, which can help solve capacity problems in the transport industry. The SpaceInvader system makes it possible to securely double stack goods by optimally utilizing the height of the truck during transportation. The system creates value throughout the supply chain, as it reduces both warehouse and transport costs and helps optimize planning and loading of trucks and warehouses. It is SpaceInvader’s ambition to make pallet transport and storage more effective – pallet by pallet, and make the logistics industry more sustainable to the benefit of customers, transporters, society and the environment.