Hermes UK and vehicle manufacturing giant Ford, have been piloting a sustainable courier service in central London designed to support cleaner air and clearer roads through a unique set-up of delivery vans, pedestrian couriers (porters) and smart software. It also addressed the key challenge delivery drivers face when working in urban areas of scarce parking areas and the constant threat of penalties.
The trial involved delivery vans bringing full vehicle loads of parcels into London where unique software identifies suitable, safe locations for the drivers to park. Each van is met there by a number of couriers who unload parcels onto trollies and then deliver them to nearby delivery addresses on foot. Meanwhile the vans deliver the larger parcels.
Ford’s intelligent logistics software identifies safe, convenient locations for the handovers to pedestrian couriers and coordinates those teams as they make deliveries to a mix of high-rise, business and residential buildings. The couriers use a simple smartphone app that advises the location of the van and shows the most efficient 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.
‘This has resulted in high levels of satisfaction both for customers and couriers,’ says Adrian Berry, Innovation Delivery Manager at Hermes. “Delivery speed is quicker than someone delivering from a van as they do not have to stop multiple times, look for a parking space, and deal with the other extra challenges when fulfilling orders.”
Adrian Berry has himself tried out the scheme in his local community in York and is certain it is a viable alternative way for delivering to homes in some areas.
“Delivery speed is quicker than someone delivering from a van as they do not have to stop multiple times, look for a parking space, and deal with the other extra challenges when fulfilling orders.”
“The result is less pollution, less road congestion and the van drivers are less stressed because they do not need to worry about parking. As a result we are looking at expanding our trial into other regions,” explains Adrian.
During the last year a lot of local authorities have tried to create more space on the road with the introduction of congestion zones and other restrictions. ‘It is difficult when councils plan schemes and don’t consider how delivery companies will operate,’ admits Adrian Berry. For him planning schemes should be more inclusive and the authorities and delivery companies need to work together and find a joined-up approach that can create the best outcome. Solutions need to factor in both a commitment to improving the environment as well as a way to ensure that consumers can continue to receive the goods they buy online.
Moving forward, Hermes is keen to work with other companies from different industries that can add value to its projects and bring fresh thinking. The company is already engaging with numerous software providers who can power up deliveries and enhance the customers’ experience as this is an important part of developing and innovating. ✷
Leeds Sustainable Deliveries
Hermes is in the early stages of a trial designed to enable independent traders at Leeds Kirkgate Market to offer a home delivery service to the local community. Deliveries are being made by dedicated Hermes’ employees on Eco friendly, zero emission bikes and the service is free for retailers and consumers in the first phase. The ultimate aim is to integrate these local deliveries into the company’s operations with couriers collecting orders from shops and possibly pharmacies and delivering them together with other parcels. Adrian Berry, Innovation Delivery Manager at Hermes UK, said: “We started designing the service last year after realising that very few of the smaller local independent shops near the office were set up to offer a delivery service. We wanted to help support the local community in which we work and where many of us live, and enable vulnerable and shielding customers to continue to buy from their local retailers in a more sustainable way.”