General Motors’ new logistics-oriented brand, BrightDrop, has already shown two of its upcoming products: the EV600 electric delivery van and the EP1 electric pallet. While we’ve already covered the EV600 van quite extensively, the EP1 pallet hasn’t received quite as much love, so let’s take a deep dive into the EP1 and the Mobile Asset Management software that will be used to track and control it.
The EP1 is a propulsion-assisted electric pallet that designed to move goods over short distances, like from one side of a warehouse to another or from a delivery vehicle to a customer’s front door, for example. The EP1 features in-wheel hub motors that provide adjustable speed up to 3 mph, depending on the operator’s walking pace, and has space for up to 23 cubic feet of cargo – equivalent to a half wood pallet’s worth of goods. It also has a total payload capacity of around 200 pounds and a maximum interior shelf capacity of 100 pounds.
BrightDrop envisions the EP1 being used by delivery and logistics companies like FedEx to help make the job of delivery drivers easier. These delivery operators would also have a smartphone or tablet on them with the BrightDrop Mobile Asset Management software installed, which can let the drivers know where their EP1 pallets are in real-time and allow them to remotely lock, unlock and track the EP1s for which they are given permissions. This app will also allow them to check the battery and charge status of their EP1s and even rename their EP1s to easily differentiate them from one another. If an EP1 gets stolen, the app will allow them to remotely immobilize the pallet, locate it and facilitate recovery.
FedEx has already completed a pilot program with the EP1 and found that couriers were able to handle 25 percent more packages per day when they were using the electric pallet and Mobile Asset Management software. These couriers also said the EP1s were easy to maneuver and helped reduced physical strain in their day-to-day working lives. Going forward, BrightDrop hopes to introduce “a medium-distance solution,” that is capable of transporting multiple EP1s at a time. It has not said if this new solution would also benefit from the advantages offered by the Mobile Asset Management software, though it seems likely.