New-style supply chains needed to cope with urban e-commerce boom

first_imgBy Gavin van Marle 30/05/2017 The increasing growth of e-commerce consumer sales in the UK and Europe will require policy makers to help urban logistics operators develop new supply chain models to contain rapidly increasing city congestion.According to a new report from the UK-based Independent Transport Commission (ITC), the rapid growth in the number of vans and light goods vehicles (LGVs) in London has led to greater congestionand public concern about pollution – especially since they mostly run on diesel, which has come under increasing public focus due to its NOx and particulate emission levels.ITC director Matthew Niblett said: “People are waking up to the fact that freight produces a large and growing portion of daily road miles, particularly during peak hours. With online retail delivery volumes growing 10% in 2016, we need individuals, businesses and public organisations to break out of the ‘free delivery’ mind-set.”The ITC report looks at three case studies to see how more efficiency could be brought into the B2C e-commerce supply chain: a DHL-Camden Council project, which retimed deliveries to off-peak hours; the use of urban consolidation centres (UCCs) in a number of London boroughs; and the use of robots developed by Starship Technologies to make food deliveries in Greenwich.The report found there was a significant reduction in congestion by moving deliveries to early evening, after rush hour traffic had ebbed, which also increased safety levels.Similarly, streamlining deliveries to a council-owned urban consolidation centre also alleviated congestion while bringing “significant supply chain discounts”.“However, the establishment of the UCCs required public subsidy until it reached a sufficient scale,” says the report.Finally, robots, which use pavements rather than roads, also reduce congestion and pollution, as they are also electrically powered. However, the report warns: “The initiative needs to be scaled up, but it was also clear there is a need for a strong regulatory framework to protect this emerging industry.”Dr Niblett said: “The government, metro mayors, transport authorities, local authorities and other public bodies need to get on the front foot to drive change through a combination of actions, including establishing a conducive regulatory framework, interrogating their supply chains, harnessing new technologies, seed funding consolidation centres until the necessary scale is achieved to allow these to operate independently.“All the while [they should be] encouraging behavioural change from all quarters, including suppliers, customers, logistics operators and staff employed by public bodies.“For example, TfL estimates that delivery savings of between 30-50% could be achieved by councils adopting three key steps: restricting deliveries to twice a week, establishing a minimum order of £50, and encouraging delivery to door, not to people’s desks.”last_img read more