Why new technology is vital for delivery fleets to survive
New hi-tech systems are allowing delivery companies of all sizes to compete with major international logistics operators.
Stick a pin in a map of Europe and the chances are it will spike a city with a common set of problems. From Cardiff to Copenhagen, Cologne, and Paris, congestion is bringing urban roads to a standstill.
Unpredictable traffic conditions pose a particular issue for logistics fleets, under pressure from business clients to make deliveries more quickly, more efficiently and at a lower cost. McKinsey & Company has calculated that the last mile frequently accounts for at least half the total cost of parcel delivery.
At the same time, consumer expectations for next day and even same day deliveries are rising, with narrow time windows for delivery now a regular service.
Huge expansion of e-commerce
The stress of these factors bring is only going to intensify with the massive growth in e-commerce. The Centre for Economics and Business Research reports that more than 50% of people in the European Union made an online purchase in 2018, with the figure as high as 77% in Germany and 83% in the UK.
To meet these challenges, forward-thinking delivery fleets are investing in cutting edge technology that was once only available only to major international logistics firms with vast financial resources. The democratisation of both hardware and software means the most sophisticated route planning solutions are now available to thousands of smaller logistics companies.
Smarter route planning
By combining state-of-the-art mapping, vehicle tracking systems and live and historic traffic data, fleets can create predictive models that will transform their route planning and ensure their deliveries are swift and reliable.
Mrs Leen Balcaen, Senior Director Industry Solutions at HERE Technologies, said: “Fleets can cut both costs and idling through smart routing technology and real-time dispatching of drivers.”
Cutting edge vehicle tracking
HERE has developed a suite of transportation and logistics solutions which can revolutionise the efficiency, performance and cost of delivery operators. HERE Tracking, for example, enables fleets to track vehicles and consignments even when they are indoors in a warehouse, so there’s no danger of skyscrapers blocking GPS signals, and no need to switch between communication channels such as WiFi and BLE.
Armed with uninterruptible data, logistics companies know in real-time the status and location of every shipment, rather than simply where it was last scanned.
Erminio Di Paola, head of Tracking, HERE, said: “Real-time tracking quickly signposts delays and provides insight into shipping inefficiencies. Imagine a vehicle or a connecting shipping container that knows it’s headed toward a storm before it even leaves port. By combining real-time location, optimal routes, sensor data, historical data and predictive modelling, HERE Tracking provides managers with the information that enables them to rapidly re-plan the supply chain before problems materialise. This optimises asset utilisation and reduces waste of time and effort – and does so while things are still in motion.”
And for fleets that already have their own management systems, HERE’s Fleet Telematics APIs can introduce much higher levels of functionality across the logistics spectrum. The APIs collect real-time data on the fleet’s vehicles, its pick-up and delivery locations, business hours and predicted traffic volumes. This information can then be converted into an optimised route plan that allocates deliveries to available vehicles.
The future of tracking and logistics
Looking ahead, HERE is in the process of integrating machine learning into its transportation and logistics solutions, so that its systems learn from millions of kilometres of real deliveries to forecast the most efficient routes. Because, in this fast-changing, multi-connected world, there are still some certainties – the pressure to deliver on time, while saving effort, money and resources is only ever going to rise.