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Post and Parcel ran an excellent report (http://postandparcel.info/70983/news/boris-johnson-calls-for-more-click-and-collect-hubs-to-combat-london-congestion/) on Boris Johnson calling for more click and collect services in order to reduce road congestion in London.

This is the second of two short articles exploring how his ideas can be expanded upon and what the logistics industry is doing now and in the future to reduce congestion.

Both business and consumers are generating more parcel movements (deliveries and returns) each year and there seems no end in sight to this growth. More parcels mean more vehicles, more journeys, more mileage, more pollution and inevitably more congestion. Boris’ idea of expanding click and collect to cope with this will help but cannot come close to solving todays issues let alone the larger parcel volumes in the future.

The logistics industry faces the challenge of reducing their impact on congestion yet ship ever growing volumes of parcels; how are they to achieve this, seemingly impossible task?

There are two key areas that need to be addressed. Firstly journeys need to be minimised by making the parcel distribution process as efficient as possible; and secondly, ways need to be found to dispense with road based vehicles and alternative delivery methods sought.

The parcel delivery process today suffers from a number of in-built inefficiencies. Parcels delivered to homes often fail because the recipients are out. This results in re-delivery attempts and therefore more vehicle miles per delivery. Failed delivery rates are between 5 and 10% of all parcels delivered (a minimum of 100 million failed first time deliveries across B2B and B2C sectors). To combat failed deliveries, many courier firms have introduced 1 or 2 hour time slot deliveries. These approaches may reduce the overall number of deliveries per vehicle, but in doing so, it may result in greater overall vehicle miles due to sub-optimal delivery schedules.

Real progress in reducing congestion will come from deploying more infrastructure such as Click and Collect, parcel lockers and parcel boxes. The greater the geographic density of such things means that parcels can be delivered close to (or in the case of parcel boxes – directly to) the end customer. This aids the efficiency of each individual vehicle allowing more deliveries over a shorter time per journey. Most consumers value the certainty of delivery over speed; most people are happy with next or two day delivery if they are certain to get the goods rather than a specific time where they need to be around; whereas click and collect, lockers and parcel boxes all give the certainty that a delivery can be received even if no one is around.

Red Pelipod

Click and Collect and locker boxes work because they are secure and notify users when parcels are delivered to them so they can be collected at a convenient time.

 Green Pelipod Logois the first personal parcel box in widespread use that replicates and even improves upon the capabilities of Click and Collect and lockers. Pelipod uses technology to provide a complete picture of what has been delivered, when it was delivered and who retrieved it and it then sends an email notification. The great advantage of a Pelipod is that it is located exactly where the parcel is needed and requires no additional journey for parcel delivery or retrieval.

There is also much talk of drones starting to deliver parcels and indeed, trials for such services are underway in a number of countries. The bad news is that drones are not going to make a significant dent in the overall number of parcels delivered by road. Drones are limited in the number and weight of parcels they can carry and the distance over which they can deliver; they are also limited by bad weather. It would take many drone to replace the delivery capability of a single van. Despite this, drones may be useful in delivering to remote or heavily congested areas and will eventually be a niche part of the overall delivery infrastructure.

There are plans for autonomous vehicles and even “moles” that will utilise the existing underground tunnel network to ship parcels. When these are fully developed and deployed (probably not before the end of the decade) they will also be a useful addition to the delivery mix but the fact is that road based, manned deliveries will remain the mainstay of B2B and B2C parcel movements for the foreseeable future. This means that greater efficiencies and innovations need to be applied to existing practices in order to cope with increasing volumes whilst reducing vehicle miles per delivery. Click and Collect, Parcel Lockers and dense network of intelligent parcel boxes such as Pelipod are the only methods that will make significant gains in productivity and reduce the growth of, if not the current volume of congestion.

 

Boris Johnson wants industry to reduce London congestion through more efficient parcel delivery
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