Ford has partnered with delivery company Hermes to trial a sustainable courier service aimed at reducing the footprint of parcel deliveries in cities and making them faster.
The partnership utilises Ford’s smart ‘MoDe:Link’ multi-modal routing and logistics software to coordinate conventional delivery vans with pedestrian couriers, identifying safe locations for drivers to park within walking distance of multiple delivery addresses.
From there, the final leg of the journey is completed on foot as couriers make deliveries to a mix of high-rise, business and residential buildings.
Couriers use a smartphone app that advises the location of the van and shows the most economical routes and itinerary to deliver the parcels.
The app integrates with Hermes’ tracking systems to ensure customers have real-time visibility of the status of their deliveries.
The overall system has been designed to orchestrate the end-to-end journey for each parcel, ensuring that deliveries – whether on the first mile from the depot by road, or the last mile to the doorstep on foot – are as efficient and as sustainable as they can be.
Initially focussed on London, Ford and Hermes will now explore extending the pilot to further areas of the UK.
According to Ford, the pedestrian delivery model also opens the door for a new workforce who no longer need to drive or own a vehicle – in an industry that has had to race to recruit delivery drivers to meet consumer demand.
“Being smarter about how we deliver parcels in the future will enable carriers to operate more sustainably and efficiently – while delivering a better experience for customers”, said Tom Thompson, project lead, Ford Mobility.
“Our trials with Hermes have shown how multi-modal deliveries can be scalable and effective, even during peak times of the year.”
The initiative was launched in September 2020 by a team from the Hermes Innovation Lab across an area of central London and was tested during the Christmas peak, where the pilot service met unprecedented demand for home deliveries, said Ford.
Operating alongside a team of eight pedestrian couriers and located across three postcode areas, two Ford Transit vans reportedly delivered the same number of parcels as six vans making conventional doorstep deliveries and did so more quickly.
“We are exploring new delivery initiatives that can reduce emissions for the final mile delivery as part of our commitment to sustainability, and to also be prepared for further incoming legislation in cities, such as ultra-low emission zones”, said Carl Lyon, chief operating officer, Hermes UK.
“In addition, this operating model is easy to scale up to meet the increasing demand for home delivery and opens up the courier work for a whole new workforce who no longer need to drive or own a vehicle.”