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City logistics: examples of successful cooperations

Developments such as the boom in online trade and the increasing traffic in cities pose major challenges for city logistics. The experts in the forums at transport logistic 2019 agree that the last mile is getting more crowded. The solution: a cooperative mix of new technologies, shared infrastructure and responsible consumers. Examples of successful cooperations show how city logistics can cope with change.

City logistics is facing challenges

There is a threat of traffic gridlock in the cities: by 2030, courier, express and parcel shipments alone are expected to increase by two thirds. They account for only five percent of daily delivery traffic, which is dominated by general cargo and stationary trade with 75 percent. Holistic solutions are necessary to meet this challenge.

Examples of innovative solutions for city logistics

To use clever solutions to make the last mile neat, bundled and congestion-free, it is above all the federal government, the federal states and the municipalities that are in demand. Dr. Raimund Klinkner, Chairman of the Presidium of the German Transport Forum (DVF) is convinced of this. Politicians must organize more test fields for the multitude of new technologies and approaches.

Klinkner is convinced that there is no lack of ideas. Various solutions are already being tested today, all of which need their own space. They include:

  • robots and drones used for parcel delivery,
  • the use of alternative modes of transport such as waterways or trams,
  • underground pipe systems or
  • micro-depots for emission-free delivery by cargo bikes.

A simpler approval procedure would be an important first step here.

The future: joint solutions for city logistics

"We cannot change everything with one big bang," reports Hamburg Senate Director Lutz M. Birke, whose region is regarded as a pioneer in new solutions approaches. He talks about his experiences with parcel robots, which are currently in unaccompanied test use, and drones, which fly back and forth between the hospital and the laboratory with tissue samples.

But in spite of his progressive attitude, he also only makes small progress. Why? Because it takes time for everyone involved to act in concert. And he believes that this is one of the most important prerequisites.

The future of logistics is therefore a shared responsibility, was the general consensus of many statements on city logistics in the forums at transport logistic 2019.

The consumer also bears responsibility

Part of this shared responsibility lies with the consumers. They decide, for example, whether they need the goods within a few hours as same-day delivery or whether they can wait a little longer in favor of the price and possibly go to the parcel station. This makes big differences in the logistics chain.

In the long run, consumers will therefore have to develop an awareness that their consumer behavior influences logistics, in e-commerce as well as in stationary trading.

Cooperation as a natural part of planning

The cooperation between municipalities, logistics service providers and technology providers is another decisive factor. It is important that the cooperative concept is a natural part of planning right from the start.

The benefits:

  • Logistics, for example, could automatically be part of the concept for future district developments.
  • Municipalities could make a greater contribution with their own areas or incentives for the economy.
  • Better use of existing infrastructure such as railway stations or parking garages.

Example of a successful city logistics cooperation

The prime example of a successful cooperation is the Project KoMoDo in the Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg. Here, in a municipal area, the five largest parcel delivery services—DHL, DPD, GLS, Hermes and UPS—have organized a joint micro-hub for cargo-bike deliveries.

“Thus, we need fewer time-consuming approval marathons," says Birgit Heitzer, Head of Logistics, REWE Group. As a negative example, however, she refers to a research project on night delivery to three branches.

© Tatabrada

Result: cooperation as an opportunity for city logistics

With an average of 40 parcels per capita and year—with upward tendency—and an environment of aggravated conditions ranging from climate change to shortage of skilled workers and space, the time of small-scale promotion of specific individual solutions is over.

The fact is that traffic doesn't decrease. But there are opportunities. The technology is available and the willingness to cooperate among all participants is increasing. If this were not the case, the provocative question of "Has the last hour for the last mile come?” in the title of one of the forums at transport logistic 2019 would become reality more quickly than everyone involved would want to admit.

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