Last Mile Delivery – Transforming the Last Leg in Logistics (Part 2)

Drone Delivery

The trends and technologies helping supply chains go the extra mile…

Online shopping, same-day delivery and new business models have raised consumer expectations of delivery services to unprecedented heights; triggering a race to meet customer demands for a faster, more efficient and reliable experience.

Originally a term used in telecommunications, the last mile has become synonymous with supply chains and the final stages of the transportation of goods, specifically it covers the journey from distribution center to your front door.

Fraught with obstacles like urban infrastructure, unforeseen changes during the journey, insufficient and/or incomplete data and human error, the last mile is deeply inefficient and costly. A final act in desperate need of new ideas.

Attempts to improve the process are nothing new, but unlike previous endeavours, we now have a distinct advantage – technology has caught up with our aspirations.

Following on from part 1 last week, here’s part 2 of our look into how supply chains trying to redefine the last mile…

Robots

Robot Delivery

There seems to be an inevitably about the rise of AI. Machines. Robots that will aid us, work with us and help us evolve as a species… Well, that or turn on their creators, bringing about the end of our species.

An online food delivery service have brought home 1,000 take away meals via robots, during trials in London.

Produced by Starship Technologies, the robots can hold about 22lb in weight, and travel up to 10mph.

Armed with a radar, multiple cameras and sensors, the robots can detect and avoid any obstacles (including puny humans) in their path. And, while they are monitored from a control centre, human assistance has not yet been called for.

Ideal candidates to take on last mile delivery, the Just Eat robots are sure to be adopted by rivals and other industries in the next couple of years. Will they permanently replace your traditional pizza delivery guy? Who knows – Let’s just hope they don’t get too aspirational though.

Drones

The definite attention grabbers in the revolution of the last mile, drones have become media stars thanks to successful tests by big companies.

In recent months they have been delivering pizza, medical supplies and, erm, contraband to prisons, but can we really expect drone deliveries to take off?

Well, some online giants are intent on releasing swarms of drones into our skies. However, the great drawback is a question of safety. Governments and other authorities are rightly concerned about collisions, crashes and the general maiming of the public, so it all depends on the brains behind the technology working with law makers to make drone deliveries a reality.

If the technology is accepted, then the impact on the last mile would be huge.  Airborne delivery would mean an order is fulfilled just a couple of hours after been placed, and the costs of fuel and manpower almost eradicated.

Alternative Transport

Alt Transportation

Drones aren’t they only forms of transport looking to replace the trusty old van. Bikes, boats and trains are all back in the running to bring new life to the last mile.

The bike has the obvious advantage of being light, compact and capable of getting much closer to your front door. Great for small or medium(ish) deliveries, but obviously out of the question for heavy duty goods.

While taking advantage of the UKs canals and railway lines could create moving distribution hubs, carrying large cargos into the heart of the city, and then distributing by van, bike or drone.

City Distribution Centres

Amazon are also building traditional distribution hubs in cities throughout the world, with 58 established in the US last year alone.

Bring the distribution centre closer to the delivery location obviously cuts the last mile running time down. It also means that your couriers are focused on one specific area, therefore giving them a deeper insight to help the get the job done more efficiently.

Gig Economy

The emergence of crowdsourcing apps like Uber, Hungry House and Airbnb is now giving rise to logistics based apps that function in the same way. Like city based distribution hubs, engaging a ‘local’ courier to fulfil a delivery has the advantage of local knowledge to save time and money.

Lockers

Placing lockers at convenient locations like shopping malls, stations, gyms, etc. gives customers the option to pick-up their order directly from the lockers at their own convenience, using a barcode scanner to get the goods.

InPost lockers have proven  successful by freeing the courier and customer from a specific delivery time. 

Last Metre Delivery

As we said, we now live in at a time where technology and intent are finally in sync to take on the challenges of the last mile. An attack that will continue to see more solutions emerge, and the inefficiencies finally addressed.

The days of the ‘Last Mile Delivery’ may indeed be numbered – The time of the ‘Last Metre Delivery’ is now upon us.

 

To find out how we can help you take on the last mile, please contact us today.