Composites and the future of package delivery

Germany-based CIKONI combined carbon fiber, aluminum and sandwich-based materials to create lightweight, modular shelving for the Vision Van, developed by Mercedes-Benz Vans. Video included.

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CIKONI's carbon fiber racking system in the new Vision Van from Mercedes-Benz Vans.

The Vision Van of Mercedes-Benz Vans, that was recently revealed at the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2016 and at CES Las Vegas, combines groundbreaking design with innovative technical solutions and rethinks the process of parcel delivery. The core of the concept study is represented by the automated cargo space management system, which reportedly boosts efficiency at the distribution center and the delivery of the shipment. The van also features two package-delivery drones, which are stored on the van's room and loaded from below via trap doors in the ceiling (see video below).

One-shot loading saves operator time and costs during loading: the fully equipped shelves are pushed into the Vision Van in one action. At the destination, the parcels are picked fully automatically to reduce duration of delivery and significantly increase the output of each vehicle.

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The unitzed, modular racking system can be easily loaded into and unload from the van relatively easily.


The lightweight shelves developed by CIKONI (Stuttgart, Germany) play an essential role for the overall system and satisfy numerous functional requirements from tie-down and release of the load carriers up to easy loading mechanisms via integrated functional elements. The available cargo space is used in an optimum manner, because volume and weight directly affect the efficiency of the overall system.

CIKONI says it stepped in with its expertise for multimaterial lightweight solutions from conceptual design, numerical optimization and dimensioning, detailed engineering and finite element simulation, up to the final delivery of the assembled shelves and carriers ready to be pushed into the Vision Van.

The innovative solution from CIKONI fulfills high optical as well as technical requirements by using bionic design principles, structural optimization and functional integration. An intelligent material mix of carbon fiber, aluminum and sandwich materials is said to guarantee high stability during brake application at minimum operating weight. Integral manufactured supports for load carriers with functional surfaces to minimize friction enable a flexible loading concept without additional joining steps.

Mercedes-Benz Vans video explains the vehicle's features.