9 Dec 19

7 solutions for your last-mile deliveries

Fancy cutting costs by 25 to 55% for your parcel deliveries? These solutions can help you achieve that, while reducing tailpipe emissions at the same time.

Urban consolidation centres, night deliveries, EVs, load-pooling, parcel lockers and AGV lockers – those are the solutions that can reduce tailpipe emissions by up to 30% and cut costs per parcel by 25 to 55%, according to a survey by McKinsey (An integrated perspective on the future of mobility, part 2: Transforming urban delivery). We added cargo bikes to this list, a relatively low-tech solution that’s already being put to good use in many places.

1. Urban consolidation centres

Typically, urban consolidation centres are located on the outskirts of cities, where deliveries are brought, sorted and dispatched into fewer shipments, because loads and vehicle sizes can be optimised.

Many urban consolidation centres rely on subsidies because they are unable to reach financial sustainability. Nevertheless, in cities with heavy congestion and with strict rules limiting what kind of vehicles are allowed on its roads, they could have a brighter future.

2. Night deliveries

Night deliveries shift traffic to off-peak hours, reducing congestion during the day. McKinsey estimates they could achieve cost cuts of up to 50%, but noise concerns can limit their potential. Once EVs are more wildly used, they should become quieter.

3. EVs

They have been a long time coming but electric LCVs are finally entering the market. A number of OEMs have even unveiled refrigerated variants. Nevertheless, range and charging times are still an issue for many use cases and incentives for wider adoption should be considered.

4. Load pooling

Load pooling requires an online system that matches commercial vehicles with spare capacity with customers who need delivery space. The goal is to maximise vehicle load utilisation and reduce the number of vehicles that need to be on the roads. Think of it as a virtual urban consolidation centre.

Load pooling can be useful for both B2B and B2C deliveries. Shippers benefit from using their fleet more intensively and from increasing their drop density. At full potential, McKinsey believes load pooling in urban areas can reduce delivery costs by up to 25%.

5. Parcel lockers

Parcel lockers can often be found in or near railway stations, supermarkets, office buildings, shopping centres or other locations with heavy foot traffic.

When placing their order, customers can select which location they prefer for their delivery. They benefit from 24/7 access and shippers benefit from fewer delivery locations and fewer failed delivery attempts.

6. Autonomous ground vehicles

Autonomous ground vehicle lockers (AGVs) are what their name suggests: self-driving parcel lockers. They can be used to make door-to-door deliveries or they can park in a central location where customers can collect their parcels. There’s a caveat, though: they don’t exist yet.

Renault’s EZ-Pro concept gives a sneak peek at what’s to come. In Renault’s vision, self-driving electric vehicles can connect to each other and form a train of robo-pods that follow each other or they can move independently.

If you dictate your policy by what is possible today, you can go for smaller autonomous parcel delivery vehicles that carry orders for one customer. Such solutions are already being tested in multiple places across the world.

7. Cargo bikes

In their essence, cargo bikes have been around for more than 100 years. Modern, electrically assisted variants make them more useful than ever before, particularly in urban areas with strict emissions regulations and with access restrictions. They can be useful for parcel delivery companies but also for service technicians working in city centres.

Parcel delivery and last-mile solutions at the Connected Fleets Conference

The second session of the Connected Fleets Conference, on 28 and 29 January 2019 in Brussels, focuses on the many challenges parcel delivery companies face in terms of fleet management optimisation, last-mile deliveries and telematics.

The Connected Fleets Conference will host a wide variety of experts from vehicle manufacturers and connectivity providers, making it the ideal event where parcel delivery companies, postal services, online retailers and all other fleets that have to deal with last-mile challenges and connectivity, will meet, share experiences and learn from each other and from the experts.

Speakers include Peter Fuss, Senior Advisory Partner Automotive at Ernst & Young, Michiel Alferink, Vice President International Commerce & Sales at Athon Car Lease and Koen Kennis, Vice Mayor for Finances, Mobility and Tourism in the City of Antwerp.

Image: Renault envisions a connected future with self-driving electric vans that can follow each other in a platoon or drive independently.

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck