Finnish postal company Posti was crowned winner of the IPC Driving Challenge 2015, which tested teams from seven European posts on their ability to safely maneuver a van on ice and drive efficiently along a 13km (8 mile) ‘eco’ route.
Second place was awarded to Ireland’s An Post, while Spain’s Correos came third despite never having driven in snow and ice before. Bpost, CTT Correios, Posten Norge and PostNord also took part. Each team was made up of a driver and a manager who took turns to complete each part of the driving course. A mentor was also assigned to each team to guide them through the process and give tips on how to drive efficiently.
The event, held in Lapland on March 1-4 with driving taking place on March 2-3, was comprised of four challenges aimed at highlighting the importance of safe and efficient driving in the postal industry. The participants undertook a theory test; a driver check, which involved checking the vehicle was safe to use in winter conditions; an agility course; and the eco drive and customer delivery experience exercise.
Speaking at the awards ceremony on March 3, Päivi Blom, delivery manager at Posti, commented, “It feels amazing to win this prize because I have never delivered post, but Heikki [Toikkanen, Blom’s partner in the driving challenge] is a real professional. He gave me orders all day, so I drove as he commanded and it paid off.
“I have learned a lot from this event and will now be able to give orders to my drivers about how to use the cars more efficiently because I now understand it myself. We drive 18,000km [11,000 miles] every day and in January we drove 360,000km [223,000 miles]. I have 350 employees and 206 cars, so it is very important to ensure we are driving efficiently and economically to save money, and this event will help me to continue to do this. We may have had an unfair advantage as we are used to driving on snow and ice, but I am so proud of the Spanish team for coming third!”
The agility test took part on a frozen lake at the ‘White Hell’ Nokian Tires testing center in Ivalo and comprised 14 challenges including a reverse slalom, a tight turning circle and parking. Points were deducted for hitting cones or failing to judge the right distance between the vehicle and objects on the course, with a maximum 140 points available, which accounted for 30% of the overall score.
For the eco-driving test, drivers and managers were asked to drive a 13km (8 mile) course on open road with a number of delivery exercises. Each team member was required to deliver two envelopes marked with a number between 1 and 4 to the corresponding mailbox on the route, with points deducted for not matching the correct numbers. They also had to deliver a parcel to the correct recipient, with failure to check the addressee’s identification also resulting in point deductions. Handheld devices with instructions only in Finnish were used, adding to the difficulty of the task – except for the home team.
A Panther monitoring device was fitted to each vehicle to measure total fuel, idling consumption, braking energy and energy lost. As the most important part of the driving challenge, the eco route accounted for 50% of the overall score. The theory test and driver’s check accounted for 10% each.
The four-day event was hosted jointly by IPC and Posti, with a focus on environmental sustainability and industry engagement. IPC is made up of 24 members from postal organizations in Europe, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, representing 80% of the world’s mail volume. In 2008 IPC launched its Environmental Measuring and Monitoring System (EMMS), which consists of two parts – management proficiency and carbon emissions.
“When we launched the program in 2008, our management proficiency was 56% [calculated from a multiple choice questionnaire]and we have grown from 76% in 2012 to 79% in 2013,” explained Pieter Reitsma, sustainability manager at IPC. “We are going faster than we need to go to get to our target of 90% by 2020. However, it’s usually easier to lower emissions in the first few years – the further on we go the more difficult it becomes, although four posts have already scored 90%. When we started in 2008 we also asked our members’ clients (such as banks) how they would score, and they scored 70% so we as posts were not as good as our clients and that was not good. If you’re a service provider you should be at least as good as your clients otherwise you are a liability.
“Looking at carbon emissions, we set ourselves a target in 2008 of 20% reduction by 2020. We are already at 19%, so we are doing very well, although last year was a little difficult owing to severe weather in the USA,” Reitsma continued. “If we calculate how much diesel we did not use between 2008 and 2013, we saved 399 million liters, which equates to €316m (US$352m). That is simply extra profit because it is not a cost. We have saved 4.6TWh of electricity as well, which amounts to €340m (US$379m). So in total we saved over €650m (US$725m), which is great for our wallets!
“The aim of the IPC Driving Challenge is to highlight the importance of safe and efficient driving in order to reduce carbon emissions and reach our 20% reduction target by 2020.”
Heikki Malinen, CEO of Posti, added, “This event is important for three reasons. First of all the theme itself – responsible driving – which is very important to us in Finland. The conditions weather-wise are very demanding because half of the year is very dark and the other half is very light. It also rains a lot and snows a lot, and it is pretty windy, so responsible driving is critical. Second, we very much believe in benchmarking and sharing best practices, and this event is a good way for drivers to do that. The third reason for hosting this event is that we are proud of being Finns and we’re proud of our country and want to share some of the best parts with our peers.”
This was the third IPC Driving Challenge, with previous events taking place at the Mondello Park racing track in Dublin, Ireland, in 2013 and at the Goodyear Proving Ground in Miréval, Montpellier, France, in 2012.
To view a video of the agility test, please click here.
March 4, 2015