Ford is trialing a new ‘warehouse on wheels’ digital delivery service with Gnewt by Menzies Distribution which it says could cut traffic and emissions as well as improve delivery times.
The service will see vans collecting orders from a depot before stopping at strategic locations determined to be the most efficient for each batch of orders.
Ford’s software platform then coordinates with nearby foot couriers – or potentially with bicycle couriers, drones and autonomous robots in the future – to fulfil the last leg of each delivery.
Ford estimates that one van and four couriers on foot or bicycle could be used to deliver the same number of parcels as five individual vans when working as part of a multi-modal network.
Tom Thompson, project lead, Ford Mobility, said: “Our goal is to keep larger vehicles like delivery vans operating in the high-load, less congested environments in which they perform best.
“However, for the last mile of a journey into an urban area, where congestion and lack of parking can be a challenge, it makes sense to offload deliveries to more nimble, efficient and cost-effective modes of transport.”
During the trial, Gnewt’s last-mile delivery service will be driven by Ford’s cloud-based, multi-modal routing and logistics software MoDe:Link, that manages all aspects of parcel delivery from depot to doorstep.
Ford says the service could help businesses optimise processes and increase van utilisation, as well as improve customer experience by offerign improved delivery windows and reduced costs.
In addition, it could contribute to healthier streets and reduced traffic in major cities, cutting congestion around kerb space where vans typically load and unload.
Gnewt operates the largest fully electric delivery fleet in the UK with more than 70 electric vans.
Sam Clarke, founder and head of business development at Gnewt, said: “We want to change the way we think about moving goods around our cities.
“We are keen to understand how multi-modal deliveries can benefit our business, our customers and – by promoting active travel and the associated health and environmental benefits of walking and cycling – our employees too.”
Video: Ford's vision of the future of deliveries