11 avr 23

How new technology is transforming last mile fleets

Data analysis is identifying locations for micro-hubs and supporting alternatives to LCVs.

Trials of new technologies in key European cities aim to reduce the congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions caused by logistics fleets.

The rapid growth of e-commerce has led to a huge increase in demand for deliveries, creating challenges for city authorities wanting to reduce traffic jams, promote active travel and improve air quality. The World Economic Forum estimates emissions from delivery traffic will increase by 32% and congestion by over 21% in the top 100 cities globally through 2030. 

Vianova and Webfleet

In Paris, where 4.3 million deliveries are made per week, micromobility data platform Vianova announced last week (6 April) that it would start work with Bridgestone Mobility Solutions to analyse anonymised telematics data from Webfleet-connected vehicles for insights into the routes and dwell times of commercial vehicles.

The aim is to profile and understand logistic flows, delivery locations, and the duration of stops while drivers make a delivery.

This data and analysis will be shared with Paris authorities to support decisions about where best to install last-mile delivery hubs to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads as well as improve road safety. 

Thibault Castagne, co-founder and CEO at Vianova, said: “Inefficient logistics planning not only creates congestion but increases safety risks because of the inefficient usage of large commercial vehicles in urban areas.”

He added that Paris is the first city to come under the partnership’s microscope, but the data had the power to transform any global city. 

Losing a lane

Logistics firms could soon find it more difficult to circumnavigate the French capital, after Paris announced a public consultation on reserving one lane of the ‘périphérique parisien’ (the ringroad around Paris) for carpooling, public transport and taxis. One lane of the busy road will be reserved for athlete travel during the 2024 Paris Olympics, and when the Games finish, city authorities want to see more car sharing and fewer single-occupancy vehicles in order to improve air quality, reduce noise pollution, cut traffic congestion, and lower fuel consumption.

London trials freight innovation

Across the Channel, the UK Government’s Freight Innovation Fund today (11 April) announced funding for a series of pilot schemes to develop greener and more efficient solutions for freight.

These include a joint project by Electric Assisted Vehicles and FedEx to develop a four-wheel, electrically assisted lightweight delivery vehicle as an alternative to vans with internal combustion engines. Another project with CurbCargo will use data to track the environmental impact of freight deliveries, with the goal of deploying 'smart' management of delivery bookings to minimise their environmental impact.

Cargo bikes

The initiatives follow Transport for London’s (TfL) launch at the end of March of a Cargo Bike Action Plan in a bid to make the bikes an attractive option for last-mile freight and servicing trips.

According to TfL, cargo bikes could replace up to 17 per cent of van kilometres in central London by 2030, and make journeys quicker, more efficient, cleaner and safer – the bikes pose less of a risk to other road users such as cyclists and walkers. Major businesses, such as Amazon and DHL, are already using cargo bikes for deliveries. 

The Action Plan promises to explore opportunities to create micro-hubs and parking to support last mile cargo bike operations and to provide businesses with the tools and information they need to switch to cargo bikes for deliveries.

Christina Calderato, TfL's Director of Strategy and Policy, said: "Freight and servicing are the lifeblood of London's economy but also contribute to air pollution, carbon emissions and traffic congestion. We are determined to provide a green, healthy and sustainable future for all Londoners and cargo bikes can play a vital role in cutting carbon emissions, air pollution and road danger.”

Rob King, co-founder and CEO of cargo bike courier company Zedify, said cargo bikes are not only significantly cleaner than diesel vans, but also electric vehicles, saving over 90 per cent CO2 emissions per km compared to EVs.

“With e-commerce growing, it's clear cargo bikes have a serious role to play in decarbonising UK transport. Cargo bike logistics has hit a vital stage of growth but it's still a young sector and we need to invest in the ecosystem with things like product development as well as finance and insurance options,” he said.


Images: Shutterstock, Zedify

Authored by: Jonathan Manning