The partnership utilises Ford’s smart ‘MoDe:Link’ multi-modal routing and logistics software to coordinate traditional 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 simple 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 orchestrates 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.
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 put to the test during one of the busiest times of the year for parcel deliveries.
Working through the Christmas peak, the pilot service met unprecedented demand for home deliveries. Operating alongside a team of eight pedestrian couriers and located across three postcode areas, two Ford Transit vans 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.”
Last Mile Delivery is just one of the ways in which Ford is exploring how connected technologies can help promote cleaner air in cities. A recent study across three European cities showed how blockchain and dynamic geofencing can complement plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, such as the Ford Transit Custom PHEV, to contribute to improved urban air quality, benefiting cities, citizens and operators.