Royal Mail has partnered with Ford to trial the use of routing software to help make deliveries in Manchester more sustainable, ahead of the city’s clean air zone launch next year.
The purpose of the trial was to examine whether multi-modal delivery using Ford’s routing software could help Royal Mail to increase its foot-based deliveries of larger parcels in urban areas.
Ford said in the pilot project its software helped Royal Mail to use fewer vans within the M4 postcode trial area. The software enabled several posties to make deliveries with one vehicle supporting them.
It identified safe, convenient locations for the handover of parcels to postmen and postwomen who then made deliveries to a mix of high-rise, business, and residential buildings.
During the trial, the teams used a smartphone app that provided the location of the van and showed the most efficient routes to deliver the parcels. This process resulted in fast and efficient deliveries, whilst maintaining human interaction at the point of delivery, ensuring trust on the doorstep, the partnership said.
Using Ford’s software – Mode:Link – and specially built parcel trolleys, the trial helped Royal Mail to reduce the number of parcel vans needed in the city centre each day. Van usage in the trial area decreased by 50%, while daily vehicle mileage decreased by 33%, resulting in a reduction in CO2e emissions per parcel.
Tom Thompson, founder, last mile delivery at Ford Mobility, said: “Our software made it possible for Royal Mail to help reduce carbon emissions and congestion in city centres. As we enter the busiest and most magical time of year for parcels, we are delighted to see the results of this trial prove the value of delivery on foot and the effectiveness of Ford’s software in making city centres cleaner, greener and safer.”
Furthermore, Royal Mail is exploring a range of initiatives, including the use of micro electric vehicles and drones for delivery to remote locations, to use fewer vans in its network. This is alongside maximising the UK’s largest “Feet on the Street” network of over 85,000 postmen and women. Royal Mail added it already has the lowest reported CO2e emissions per parcel amongst major UK delivery companies.
Achim Dunnwald, chief operating officer, at Royal Mail, said: “Ford’s software enabled Royal Mail to reduce van usage and mileage in the trial area, whilst still offering a prompt and reliable parcel delivery service. At Royal Mail, we are continuously looking at opportunities to reduce our emissions, alongside delivering convenience to our customers.”