Supply chain

Night deliveries: how to manage noise pollution?

  • 10/03/23
  • 4 min

Now the norm for urban mini-markets and food businesses, night deliveries free up the streets during the day. Driving during the night with low-traffic helps with emissions pollution, but in these quieter hours then noise pollution becomes more noticeable. There are several measures that can reduce this noise pollution.


Noise pollution, a pitfall to overcome

Night-time delivery is sometimes a local regulatory requirement as a way to solve daytime parking and traffic difficulties. Although this must be done as quietly as possible, it is not always easy to limit the possible noise pollution it may cause. Mainly noises related to driving, the engine, and aerodynamic effects, their impacts on the quality of life are negative and numerous. Since 1999, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been raising awareness of the impact of noise on sleep and health in general. It recommends a night-time noise exposure limit of 40dB, based on 8 hours of exposure; a threshold that is difficult to respect given that a street with traffic can quickly reach 80dB. The problem is such that the European Parliament stepped in with Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise.


Exactly what sounds are we talking about?

When referring to night-time noises made by vehicles during delivery, we can identify two essential vectors.

When the vehicle is in motion, its noise comes from three sources: road noise, the engine, and aerodynamic effects. The latter can be ignored given that driving speeds are reduced in urban areas. On the other hand, driving noise cannot. This increases with speed, especially on cobblestones. Whereas engine noise is audible even when stationary, then add to this the noise created by the refrigeration unit.

During the actual delivery, it is noises caused by handling that can be the most bothersome, such as the opening of lorry doors, the raising of tail lifts, and the movement of trolleys or pallet trucks, which produce shocks and grating noises when pushed along the removable metal ramps used to cross steps and pavements for example. As each noise has an identifiable origin, it can be dealt with accordingly.


Reducing noise

Fortunately, there are several levers to play with to reduce noise. To reduce the noise pollution of its deliveries, a carrier can take action on its equipment and how it is used, but also on the training of its staff.

The engine noise depends on the type of engine used. The quietest is obviously electric, while natural gas (NGV) is quieter than diesel. Note that the manufacturer DAF offers a silent version of its diesel trucks in order to limit noise in urban areas. The hauling of a refrigeration unit is noisy if done so by a combustion engine. It may therefore be preferable to use an electric or cryogenic unit.

Handling noise is partly dependent on equipment maintenance. A tail lift will squeak if not maintained. The floor of the lorry and the tail lift platform can be covered with sound-absorbing surfaces. Trolleys and pallet trucks can also be fitted with silent wheels.

The nature of the goods obviously plays a role. The same level of discretion cannot really be expected from bottles in crates as from linen in bundles. Deliberately limiting speed to 30 km/h between deliveries significantly reduces driving noise. Lastly, raising awareness among drivers is crucial.

It should be noted that a carrier’s efforts to limit noise must be valued and highlighted by labels such as Certibruit or Piek. Issued in France by Cemafroid, the Piek label ensures that equipment complies with the 60-dB(A) noise threshold. In addition to these measures that can be taken by carriers, local authorities can reduce noise in cities, or rather absorb it, by increasing green spaces in the urban environment, and using porous asphalt concrete for road surfaces, which significantly reduces road noise. Finally iIt is to be kept in mind that many cities in Europe also set their own noise limits, which ensure quieter nights for residents.

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