Facing the future
Triangle Management gave a glimpse into the technologies that are shaping the delivery industry at its Post&Parcel Live: Futuristic Logistics seminar in London yesterday (15 May).
The event- which was sponsored by PocketMobile, ALK and GTS Systems and Consulting – examined the latest trends in both hardware and software.
The opening session looked at recent developments in delivery drones and robots.
Alexander Mauchle, a Principal Engineer with Cambridge Consultants, gave an overview of the progress being made on using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the delivery sector – with a particular focus on the different national regulations. Mauchle said that delivery drones would probably be more successful in rural and suburban areas, rather than in the inner city environment, and he also favoured the operational model of drones delivering to parcel locker terminals.
Lembit Opik, Head of Public Affairs (UK) with Starship Technologies, gave an update on how Starship’s pavement-level delivery robots are being used in cities in the UK, Europe and the US. Opik argued that robots can be a viable addition to the inner delivery model because they can help to cut down road congestion and emissions, and can also cost-effective and profitable. Indeed, Opik argued that the Starship robots could even help to revitalize the High Street. “With an affordable, local delivery service, small shops are back in the game,” said Opik.
Electric vehicles were the subject of the second session.
Tanja Dalle-Muenchmeyer, Programme Manager Electric Freight with the Cross River Partnership (CRP), gave an overview of the operational, commercial and environmental benefits of electrifying delivery fleets.
Charlie Jardine, CEO of EO Charging, followed this up by looking at the practicalities of building a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Jardine drew upon the work that EO Charging has done with London-based carrier Gnewt to illustrate his presentation.
George Kalligeros, Founder & CEO of Pushme, focused on the role of electric bikes in the on-demand delivery sector. More specifically, he focused on Pushme’s device which couriers can use to convert their existing bikes into electric machines, rather than having to invest in an expensive cargo e-bikes. Kalligeros said that the Pushme device will cost £200 to buy. Couriers will then pay £7 a month so they can replace their depleted batteries with fresh ones through a network of exchange points that Pushme will build up with participating restaurants and retailers.
Kalligeros said that over the next few years the on-demand food delivery space will be a battle of “bikes vs droids”. He felt that bikes had the advantage because human couriers are better equipped at dealing with restaurant staff and customers, and also because robot expansion will be held up by regulatory barriers and the challenges of operational integration.
The afternoon programme began with a discussion on autonomous vehicles which featured Ben Boutcher-West, Automotive Lead, Mobility Solutions with Bosch. Rob Wallis, the CEO of Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) gave on updating on the platooning trials taking place in the UK. Uto Patrick, Delivery London Project Manager of CRP, examined the possible impact of autonomous freight vehicles in central London.
In the final session, Mikael Wallstedt, Business Development Manager, PocketMobile and ALK , and Tore Grünert, Owner and Partner, GTS Systems and Consulting, looked at the benefits to be had from using last mile optimization software. Neil Herron, Founder & CEO of Grid, looked at how “smart parking” and “virtual loading bays” could speed up inner city deliveries and alleviate congestion.
Many of the speakers at yesterday’s seminar also contributed to the companion White Paper on “Futuristic Logistics”. The document will soon be available as a free-to-access PDF download on the Post&Parcel website.