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Meeting the challenge of last-mile logistics

Meeting the challenge of last-mile logistics

Last-mile delivery services are experiencing growing demand due to the rapid increase in online shopping. In this fast-growing subsector of the logistics industry, advanced telematics solutions are giving delivery businesses a competitive edge. Andrew Overton, CEO at fleet technology and connected vehicle solutions provider, Connexas Group.

With more people shopping online - ordering goods for home delivery and returning them too - the growing cost and complexity of last-mile delivery services have become major issues for retailers. In turn, the value of telematics platforms in improving operational efficiency is now widely acknowledged. However, some delivery businesses are going a step further by trialling innovative connectivity solutions, which are designed to enhance the delivery experience and take operational visibility to the next level.

Recent advances in the use of integrated electronic proof of delivery (EPOD) and job management technologies are helping to address some of the complexities of last-mile delivery and make the overall consumer experience as hassle-free as possible. Accessed via the vehicle’s existing telematics platform, the latest Job Management and EPOD software can be used to plan delivery routes and pinpoint hard-to-find addresses with a high degree of accuracy, so drivers can complete deliveries more efficiently.

On arrival at each address, the ePOD application will lead the driver through a specific workflow in order to capture time and location stamped proof of delivery data, such as signature and image capture, barcode scanning and any additional required details. This information is then collated to provide an auto-generated invoice and instant email receipt for the customer. 

As well as streamlining and certifying delivery systems, enterprise-level EPOD software can bring many added-value benefits for fleet operators. For example, dynamic optimisation software designed to take account of live traffic information on a designated delivery route, and provide live re-routings where necessary, can help drivers to stick to their delivery schedule and ensure that consumers benefit from a more reliable service. In addition, connected driver behaviour monitoring systems can be used to identify unsafe and inefficient driving styles, which can then be used to inform and educate drivers about how to drive more safely and optimise fuel efficiency.

Modern telematics systems can be tailor made to meet the specific requirements of the delivery business. For instance, if the business wants to focus on improving driver safety, integrated sensor technology can be worn by drivers to monitor key health and wellbeing metrics, such as whether they have had enough sleep or if they are experiencing high levels of stress. Alcohol interlock devices can also be introduced, requiring drivers to take a breath test before starting the ignition and immobilising the vehicle if the pre-set breath alcohol limit is exceeded.  Where fleet maintenance and compliance are key, systems can be developed to keep track of the tax and MOT-status of individual vehicles for example, at the same time as monitoring tyre pressure and tachograph readings.

Growing use of electric vehicles for last-mile delivery services has sparked a fresh wave of technological innovation. The software-based solutions now coming to market are capable of configuring routes around a vehicle’s delivery range and known charging points. As more delivery businesses switch to greener fleets, further innovation in this area is likely and some automotive manufacturers are already piloting on-board technologies. As these technologies are taken up, there could be further opportunities for transport operators to increase operational efficiency by adapting their footprint. For example, we could see the creation of more local depots, located within major conurbations, fitted with fast chargers, where vehicles can return to reload regularly.

The challenges posed by last-mile delivery are not going away and with margins under pressure, delivery businesses must find new ways to improve operational efficiency, whilst delivering a reliable service and meeting consumers’ expectations. Investing in onboard connectivity will unlock value and help them to stand out in this increasingly competitive marketplace.

Andrew Overton, CEO at fleet technology and connected vehicle solutions provider, Connexas Group.

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