https://www.iaa.de/en/iaa/news/what-form-will-the-last-mile-take/

What form will the last mile take?

Electric mobility, delivery robots, logistics concepts for towns and cities – at the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2018, the latest developments and new delivery methods will be presented and discussed.

Image Source: Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash ( https://unsplash.com/photos/KSQgzzn3dW0 )

The parcel delivery sector is growing fast. According to the German association of courier, express and parcel (CEP) service providers, more than three billion items were delivered in 2016 – one billion more than in 2005. And this trend can be expected to continue in the coming years. More and more people are buying products on the Internet. The Nuremberg-based market research firm GfK predicts that online sales in Germany will double by 2025.

At the same time, expectations are rising. Today customers can already decide themselves where their packages are delivered. This could be at home, at the office, with a neighbor or in a “Paketshop” depository. And if necessary the goods will arrive on the same day. Deliveries are now more convenient and more flexible than ever. New methods are appearing all the time. For example, one idea being developed is to deliver to the trunk of a car. DHL and VW are currently testing mobile delivery to vehicles. And Deutsche Telekom is marketing the “PaketButler,” a lockable container that receives deliveries on the customer’s doorstep.

However, the steadily increasing flood of parcels also has a downside. Above all on the “last mile” – the way from the depot to the customer’s front door – vans are filling up the roads and causing problems in the inner cities. Delivery vehicles now make up more than one third of inner-city freight transport. A courier has to make up to 120 stops a day. In large metropolitan areas such as Berlin and Hamburg, the topic has long been a political issue. There are other challenges for the logistics sector, too: the threat of vehicle bans, environmental zones and residents’ desire for less traffic noise all demand alternative logistical solutions.

New methods can be used for some deliveries, offering a flexibility never seen before coupled with greatly improved efficiency, for instance by means of drones, robots or electrically powered vans. But not only innovative technologies and vehicle concepts are needed. Town planners, traffic researchers, vehicle makers and couriers must all work together to develop alternatives for transporting goods in our inner cities. City hubs indicate one way forward. They are designed as storehouses located very close to the recipients. These micro depots could be located in parking garages or at local public transport stops, for example, where vehicles come to drop the goods only at night. Delivery staff would then pick up the packages during the day and take them to the recipients either on foot or using a barrow or bicycle.

Alongside these concepts, innumerable other approaches are either already in use or are being trialed. It remains to be seen which ones will ultimately prevail as the ideal solutions to the problem of covering the last mile. Numerous exhibitors will address this topic at the IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hannover from September 20 to 27, 2018. The New Mobility World FORUM, the IAA’s central conference format, will be a meeting place for decision-makers, pioneers and visionaries to examine and debate current challenges for urban logistics solutions with representatives from politics, local government and academia.