Last mile efficiency: delivery fleets versus city authorities
Logistics and transport companies face a growing number of obstacles and barriers at a time when demand for e-commerce deliveries is rocketing.
Two of the most significant trends in the 21st century are on a collision course in Europe’s cities, and only technological solutions can avoid a crash.
Coming from one direction is the massive growth in online shopping that is fuelling a dramatic increase in demand for delivery services.
A new report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) reveals that more than half of the European Union population made an online purchase in 2018, with the figure even higher in large economies such as Germany, where 77% of people bought something from the internet last year, the Netherlands, where the percentage rose to 80%, and the UK, where the figure soared to 83%.
By 2022, annual retail e-commerce sales are forecast to exceed €350 billion, about the size of the Austrian economy, with no sign of slowing.
Cities increasingly demanding
Heading in the other direction are a suite of tougher measures introduced by urban authorities to combat local air pollution, cut congestion and improve city life. The diesel exhaust fumes of delivery vans are in the crosshairs of their sights, prompting major cities to impose congestion charges, create low emission zones and even close roads temporarily to traffic when local air quality becomes too polluted.
Pressure for these traffic-control actions will increase and intensify as urbanisation accelerates. Currently, over 50% of the world’s population lives in an urban environment, a percentage forecast to reach two-thirds by 2050.
Any answers to these challenges will have to be transformational, not modest, to cope with the vast scale of change required. New services and solutions will have to mine colossal amounts of data from different sources to maximise the efficient use of roadspace.
Some logistics fleets are doing this already, using state-of-the-art mapping, vehicle tracking and live and historic traffic data to create predictive models that help to ensure their deliveries are smooth and swift, and that urban streets keep moving and city life continues.
Mrs Leen Balcaen, Senior Director Industry Solutions at HERE Technologies, said: “As local governments impose even more stringent emissions standards, fleets can cut both costs and idling through smart routing technology and real-time dispatching of drivers.”