A new report from the Independent Transport Commission (ITC) in the UK looks into how urban freight distribution in the country can be improved.
The report examines examples of urban freight innovation through three case studies. These look at solving the challenge of the 'last mile' delivery, urban consolidation centres (UCCs), and the possible retiming of deliveries.
In the London Borough of Camden, DHL has set up a UCC that sees deliveries being channeled through a central warehouse. After this, they are distributed to fewer vehicles for the last stage of their journey. Despite this, the report commented that "without some form of public financial support, UCCs will continue to be slow to implement and too small to have a substantial impact".
A takeaway delivery company has trialled the use of electric-powered robots to bring food to customers in Greenwich, East London. Designed by Starship Technologies, the robots travel at 6 km/h and operate out of hubs where they can be recharged and serviced. Currently, they can deliver within a radius of 3km or delivery time of 30 minutes.
The other case study looked at a successful joint initiative between Camden Council and DHL that retimed deliveries to a clothes shop located on a busy street.
Whilst focused on Britain, the lessons learned could be applied all over Europe in the future.