A series of last-mile logistics schemes trialled successfully across north-west Europe can be shared and rolled out across UK cities with little or no adaption cost, according to researchers.
The LaMiLo project – which stands for last-mile logistics – was launched as a means to boost efficiency in the final leg of a freight journey into city centres.
It wanted to find feasible options for reducing the amount of individual, small deliveries made in separate vehicles into city centres – a result of the increase in e-commerce that has seen many logistics firms extend their supply chains down to the end user. This has led to additional vehicles on the roads, more congestion, air and noise pollution, as well as proving inefficient when customers are not at home.
“LaMiLo wants to show new possibilities for city logistics over the last mile by understanding and influencing the actions of all those involved – those of private companies, the public sector and customers,” says PTV project manager Philipp Lenz.
The first objective was to isolate the challenges and the barriers that have hindered the adoption of a common course of action in city logistics until now, he added.
In the process, it became clear how important it is for the public sector to address the problems in urban commercial traffic, working in cooperation with both companies and suppliers. This can be done, for example, by creating unloading zones specially designed for the needs of consolidated deliveries, or by setting up a common platform for all parties involved to promote co-operation and provide a clear overview of costs. Cost transparency alone can help many companies to quickly understand the benefits.
Trials involved in LaMiLo included:
- In Brussels, a pilot project solved the common problem of several separate deliveries to a single address, with accompanying increased traffic and emissions. First, the delivery vehicles drove to a storage depot where the goods were consolidated before being delivered – where possible, using low-emission vehicles.
- The London Borough of Camden used consolidation to reduce delivery traffic to public organisations by 40%.
- In Paris, goods were first brought to smaller distribution centres, where they were bundled before being delivered to customers using electric cargo bikes. A similar pilot in the Netherlands led to small deliveries being made at times that were particularly convenient to the customers.
The LaMiLo project now hopes other cities will be able to roll-out similar schemes by using the accumulated knowledge from the trials to apply the last-mile models at little cost.
An awareness of logistics and of the environmental and social impacts of freight transport should become a higher priority for cities, urged researchers, because where local governments lead, others will follow.
The LaMiLo project is an INTERREG IVB North-West Europe project partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in which 13 partners from seven north-west European countries took part. Organisers and researchers from the public and private sectors worked together to make the last mile sustainable and more efficient.