The automotive company’s cloud-based software identifies optimum places for van drivers to pull over near a multiple drop-off point and then hands over to last leg delivery
Ford is trialling a new "warehouse on wheels" digital delivery service in London in partnership with Gnewt by Menzies Distribution, which will coordinate multiple modes of transport including pedestrian and – one day – bicycle couriers.
The automotive company’s cloud-based software identifies optimum places for van drivers to pull over near multiple drop-off points and then hand over to last leg delivery.
Gnewt is a sustainable urban parcel delivery service that uses an electric fleet. During the trial, its last-mile delivery service will be driven by Ford’s intelligent cloud-based, multi-modal routing and logistics software MoDe:Link, that manages all aspects of parcel delivery from depot to doorstep.
This could help couriers, fleet managers, logistics and food delivery companies optimise processes and increase van utilisation, saving time and money while boosting capacity.
The service could also improve customer experience by offering improved delivery windows and reducing costs, speeding time from order to delivery by enabling vans to make more frequent round trips back to the depot. In addition, it could contribute to healthier streets and reduced traffic in major cities, cutting congestion around valuable kerb space where vans typically load and unload.
“Our goal is to keep larger vehicles like delivery vans operating in the high load, less congested environments in which they perform best,” said Tom Thompson, project lead, Ford Mobility.
“However, for the last mile of a journey into an urban area, where congestion and lack of parking can be a challenge, it makes sense to offload deliveries to more nimble, efficient and cost-effective modes of transport.”
Ford is committed to tackling urban mobility challenges, in particular the deliveries of goods and services, through innovation, technology and partnerships. The “warehouse on wheels” concept is designed to be compatible both with Ford vans and those of other manufacturers.
These vans then act as dynamic delivery hubs that collect orders from a depot and then briefly stop at strategic locations determined to be the most efficient for each batch of orders.
"Our goal is to keep larger vehicles like delivery vans operating in the high load, less congested environments in which they perform best”
Ford’s proprietary software platform coordinates with nearby foot couriers – or potentially with bicycle couriers, drones and autonomous robots in the future – to fulfil the last leg of each delivery.
Multi-modal deliveries like these have the potential to be faster, cheaper and offer greater capacity than van only deliveries. Ford estimates that one van and a team of four couriers on foot or bicycle could be used to deliver the same number of parcels as five individual vans when working as part of a multi-modal network.
Gnewt operates the largest fully electric delivery fleet in the UK with more than 70 electric vans and has pioneered sustainable last-mile delivery services, working with leading retailers, e-commerce companies and logistics firms to deliver three million parcels a year to consumers and businesses in London.
Working with Transport for London and with several universities as part of the FTC2050 research project, Gnewt has been trialling urban portering services to measure the impact of this new approach as a model for reducing the number of vans needed to fulfil deliveries and cut emissions.
“We want to change the way we think about moving goods around our cities,” said Sam Clarke, founder and head of business development, Gnewt. “We are keen to understand how multi-modal deliveries can benefit our business, our customers, and – by promoting active travel and the associated health and environmental benefits of walking and cycling – our employees too. We are delighted to be working with Ford and helping to trial its revolutionary new software solution.”
“We want to change the way we think about moving goods around our cities”
Ford is also working with Transport for London on a multi-million pound project to trial 20 plug in hybrid Transit vans that run solely on electric power for most city trips. The trial is being extended to the City of Valencia, Spain and Cologne, Germany this year.
In the US, Ford continues to innovate in urban goods and service deliveries as it prepares for a future with self driving vehicles. Ford has teamed up with Postmates, an on-demand delivery platform in Miami and Miami Beach to operate a self-driving delivery service.
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