MHI Solutions

Technology

SMART CITY LOGISTICS: TRENDS IN SUSTAINABLE LAST-MILE DELIVERIES

These Integrated, Smart Transportation Systems Use Data, Applications and Technology to Help Move Goods More Quickly, Cheaply and Efficiently —

By Mary Lou Jay —

Last-mile deliveries to consumers and merchants in urban areas pose a variety of challenges for logistics companies.

Today’s consumers have very high expectations when it comes to product deliveries. “There are a lot of customers today that expect the delivery of the freight or the merchandise the same day or the next day, and even next day is almost too late,” said Stacey Hodoh, VP, Supply Chain – Distribution at Walmart.

Increased traffic congestion in urban areas makes it even harder to meet those expectations. Added to that, cities and their citizens intent on improving air quality and quality of life are demanding that logistics carriers do their part by finding more sustainable, less intrusive ways to make urban deliveries.

In addition to these challenges, firms are asked to make those quick, sustainable and less intrusive deliveries, all while reducing the cost of goods, improving working capital and relieving margin pressure.

Regional and national government agencies are starting to address cities’ congestion and pollution issues. In December 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation launched the Smart City Challenge, asking mid-size cities across America to share their ideas for developing an integrated, smart transportation system that would use data, applications and technology to help people move goods more quickly, cheaply and efficiently.

The ideas they received ranged from sharing data to providing dynamic routing for truck traffic to apps for on-demand delivery trucks to city streets with dynamic markings that can change from loading zones to thoroughfares. (Download the complete report at http://bit.ly/SmartChallengeIdeas.)

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According to the recently released 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report, “Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Adoption,” eight out of ten survey respondents believe these supply chains will be the predominant model within just five years. However, the report found that the adoption of some of these technologies was slower than originally reported when MHI started the annual report in 2014. The report cites three top barriers to adoption of these technologies: 1. Making the business case for NextGen supply chain investments. 2. Tackling the supply chain skills gap and workforce shortage. 3. Building trust and security in digital, always-on supply chains. This issue of MHI Solutions focuses on the adoption of these digital solutions, from best practices in robotics and artificial intelligence to blockchain and innovations in last mile delivery.

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