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Last mile delivery of products ordered online is a serious problem for merchants and consumers, and it is even more challenging for food retailers.

The innovative Phononic EV could drive a new solution to efficiently and sustainably deliver groceries, rivaling Amazon’s planned aerial drone package delivery system.

Phononic unveiled its electronic vehicle for permanent last mile delivery on August 31 at the Home Delivery World Show in Philadelphia. At this point, the vehicle is a functional proof of concept. It is not available in the market.

What happens next is in Sortimo’s hands. The two companies formed a partnership to fit the Ford E-Transit (Extended Edition) with reconfigurable shelving to create cold chain transport vans for grocery retailers without the risk of food spoilage on e-commerce Can go

Phononic’s new approach integrates thermoelectric-based cooling solutions into customized shelving. This partnership created the first truly sustainable cold chain grocery transport by turning an electric van into an all-electric tri-temperature vehicle.

The electric vehicle is free from environmentally harmful, artificially produced refrigerants called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

“We can see the potential for customer delivery by using EV vans equipped with Phononic technology for tri-temperature cooling in 2023,” Dana Krug, Phononic’s vice president and general manager, told TechNewsworld.

a peak inside

Phononic’s first electric vehicle is equipped with the company’s Activity Cooled Tote. Sortimo’s customized FR5 and SR5 van shelving is designed to be an optimal and efficient way to store chilled, frozen and general merchandise orders in one vehicle during grocery delivery.

With the SR5, shelves can be configured to fit any location to optimize payload and cargo capacity. As online ordering has become the preferred choice of consumers, all-electric technology can help grocers to grow their last-mile delivery fleet in a sustainable manner.

Phonetic Temperature Controlled Totes for Food Safety

image credit: phononic


According to Krug, it provides increased customer loyalty and access to same-day delivery while driving a stronger ROI with increased levels of consistency. Its technology is naturally a great mobile platform.

The delivery van uses proprietary solid-state cooling technology instead of existing compressor-based mechanical systems that can fail. Its system’s compact heat pump allows for greater capacity in a single space. Controls reduce energy requirements.

on demand heating up

Market studies show that the demand for online food purchase is increasing rapidly. Online grocery ordering and delivery is here to stay, making last mile execution even more important.

“Maintaining the right temperature for a range of food – frozen, chilled and ambient – ​​is forcing grocery retailers to rethink their entire operations,” Krug observed.

“As online ordering becomes the preferred choice for consumers, all-electric technology can help grocers grow their last mile delivery fleet in a more sustainable manner, driving a stronger ROI with improved customer loyalty and increased levels It provides access to same-day delivery and stability,” he said.

As the demand for grocery deliveries increases, the need for more vehicles to perform those deliveries will increase. Industry reports estimate the number of delivery vehicles on the road to increase by 36% by 2030.

“We give retailers the option of using electric vehicles that can be connected to our solid-state cooling technology. This reduces the total global warming potential (GWP) rather than compounding the problem with combustion-based vehicles fitted with compressor-based high GWP refrigerants,” he said.

If retailers want to remain relevant and competitive, the current grocery delivery process is not sustainable for longevity, Krug said. Today’s grocery delivery requires a new approach that is sustainable and cost-effective.

Expect Phonetic Fleet

Eric Nelson, Director of Sales Fleet Mobility Solutions at Sortimo, said the goal is to develop innovative mobility solutions that help solve issues plaguing the environment.

“Working with Phononic to fit this one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly, all-electric vehicle has allowed us to be part of designing the first wave of truly sustainable grocery delivery,” he offered.

Phononic is still testing the van to understand its impact on the vehicle’s range. But Krug expects the effect to be less.

The Tri-Temperature EV was designed to increase the route density of delivery for retailers. Its unique design allows retailers to add general merchandise and temperature controlled items in addition to groceries to optimize routing for fewer total delivery miles.

Phononic does not plan to sell the actual van, Krug said. By partnering with Sortimo, his company sees an opportunity to refit not only the Ford E-Transit but other vans.

how it works

A possible solution is Phononic’s cooling technology, which uses naturally available CO. Uses water mixed with2, Krug explained. Solid-state technology, portable freezing and refrigeration are now a reality, and the combination keeps anything cold anywhere.

Truly portable freezing and refrigeration has never been possible due to environmental challenges such as shock and vibration, weight, size and availability of power. Its DC-powered refrigeration is controlled by solid-state technology and can enable battery-powered refrigeration.

This method provides consistent, reliable cooling over a long period of time. This reality gives food traders confidence that the ingredients will be kept safely at the required temperature.

Phononic refrigerant system uses only CO2 and water

Phononic’s cooling technology is only CO. makes use of2 And water, as a refrigerant, eliminates environmentally destructive HFCs. (image credit: Phononic)


The system is monitored via Wi-Fi or cellular data to verify cold chain compliance. Solid-state cooling can respond to remote commands for complete temperature control anytime, anywhere.

An important advantage is the ability to reduce the temperature of the entire cargo container or specific compartments inside the vehicle as needed. This optimizes energy use while keeping the rest of the space at a standard temperature.

Thermoelectric technology has been around for more than a century. Until now, what was missing, according to Phononic, was integrating the engineering disciplines of pumping, moving, and controlling heat to create a new thermoelectric system that is powerful, flexible, and efficient.

About vehicle customization

Phononic started its EV delivery van project in June 2021. This vehicle is a fully functional test model, but can be adapted for other vans that require eventual cold chain delivery.

Sortimo’s FR5 shelves are foldable and designed specifically for courier, express delivery and parcel services. SR5 shelves provide the flexibility to develop the interior of the vehicle into any configuration that benefits delivery operation. Combined shelving options allow the transportation of chilled, frozen and general merchandise orders in one vehicle.

Ford’s E-Transit offers up to 487.3 cubic feet of cargo space inside the high ceiling. It has an extended wheelbase configuration and a range of about 126 miles on a single charge.

The market has seen a clear advantage for EV vehicles as compared to combustion based vehicles in distribution solutions. This is one reason you’ve seen announcements from major retailers with multiple EV companies for thousands of EV vans used for grocery delivery, Krug argued.

“Adding a tri-temperature cooling solution from Phononic gives retailers a cold chain solution that eliminates the need for dry ice or other passive cooling options, as well as the high GWP figurines used in compressor tri-temp delivery vans. ,” They said.