Pick n Pay’s Tuk-Tuk delivery system reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Wednesday, February 25, 2015

<p>Pick n Pay’s fleet of Tuk-Tuks provide a cost effective and more carbon efficient mode of transport for their online deliveries (Image Source: Pick n Pay)</p>

Pick n Pay’s fleet of Tuk-Tuks provide a cost effective and more carbon efficient mode of transport for their online deliveries (Image Source: Pick n Pay)

Pick n Pay has implemented an innovative method to transport their online deliveries that saves on fuel and carbon emissions. Their range of Tuk-Tuks, an unconventional method of transport in South Africa, is used to transport online deliveries which has resulted in fuel savings of 16% despite a 30% increase in kilometres driven and a 27% increase in orders, says Andre Nel, Sustainable Development Manager at Pick n Pay.

Hub and spoke delivery model

Pick n Pay uses a hub and spoke delivery model for their online deliveries in suburbs with the Tuk-Tuks providing the short local suburban delivery leg. “The Tuk-Tuks are well suited to local delivery (short trips) in suburban areas as they can’t speed, we typically have a total journey distance of 7km maximum for the Tuk-Tuks,”explains Nel.

When compared to your conventional delivery truck, Nel says that the Tuk-Tuks use about a third of the diesel that trucks do per 100kms, and that this has resulted in a reduction in fuel consumption by 16% despite the increase in orders and kilometres driven. “The Tuk Tuk’s will drive 3.5 times further per litre of fuel,  so not only are we using less fuel, they also help us in lowering our carbon footprint,” adds Nel.

Adopting an unconventional method of transport

Tuk-Tuks are not a conventional method of transport in South Africa especially for delivery purposes. Commenting on some of the benefits of using Tuk-Tuks Nel explains that they are well suited for shorter journeys, require low maintenance, are easy to drive (they only require a bike license), and are very light on fuel. In addition he states that Tuk-Tuks are commonly used in other parts of the world, especially in Asia, and have proven to be robust enough to operate in tough environments. He adds that in South Africa they have probably been overlooked as a solution given the distances involved in South Africa as they are more suited to shorter journeys. “However we are seeing more and more of them on the roads as people see them as a viable alternative for short, point to point trips. The holdup seems to have been related to them being licensed as passenger carrying vehicles (rather than freight),” he further explains.

The Tuk-Tuk fleet has been officially operating since April 2013, but a nine month trial period was conducted with a small fleet prior to the official launch. The drivers of the fleet only require a motorbike license to drive the Tuk-Tuks and are trained on the job.  The Mahindra Tuk-Tuks were imported from India along with spare parts for local maintenance. Nel adds that one of the challenges they faced was adapting this mode of transport to suit the South African context and ensuring that the fleet could be maintained, “We made some slight safety modifications to suit local conditions – and also had to setup an entire support and maintenance team as nothing existed in South Africa for Tuk-Tuks. However that has ensured we have a strong preventative maintenance programme and our fleet has been very reliable,” he explains.

Feedback from consumers and road users

Nel highlights that they have had an “overwhelmingly positive response” from the drivers of the Tuk-Tuks, other road users, and the public. “By using Tuk-Tuks we have been able to provide an innovative service in a cost effective way, and have been able to create increased awareness of the online shopping service that we offer.” Pick n Pay have also used innovative campaigns where they have modified the Tuk-Tuk vehicles in line with a theme, which has also had a positive response from the public, “We have had Easter Bunny, Wine Case, Women’s Walk – Pink Drive, Reindeer and Santa Tuk Tuks thus far, with competitions involving sending in pictures when seeing one of our decorated Tuk Tuks,” says Nel. 

Pick n Pay’s Christmas campaign involved decorating the Tuk Tuks as reindeer and running a competition for the public to send in pictures of the decorated Tuk-Tuks when seeing them on the road (Image Source: Pick n Pay)

Pick n Pay’s carbon emissions reductions

In addition to the Tuk-Tuk initiative Pick n Pay has implemented a number of other innovative strategies, especially in the energy sector, in order to reduce its carbon emissions, and have exceeded their carbon emissions reduction target that was set in 2010. Some of their successful strategies have included improving staff awareness and behaviour in stores, implementing energy efficient lighting, and improving refrigeration plant control. “In 2010, Pick n Pay set a target to reduce carbon emissions by 15% by 2015. We have met and exceeded this goal ahead of our target date.  Measured against our 2010 baseline of stores, our emissions have already been cut by 19.4%,” says David North, Group Strategy and Corporate Affairs Director at Pick n Pay.

To keep updated with sustainability news subscribe to the fortnightly Urban Earth Newsletter.


Amanda Botes