The future of inner city logistics

insights  June 22, 2018

All over the world urbanization is increasing and this comes with challenges and opportunities. The logistic sector must deal with these challenges and respond to opportunities that digitalization and urbanization bring. In 2025, daily there will be a minimum of 500 million deliveries made in cities[1]. However, the way in which the supply of inner cities takes place is inefficient and detrimental to quality of life, accessibility and sustainability. This requires innovative logistics solutions.

Urban collection centers
A solution for the inefficient and polluting logistics in inner cities is the development of local distribution centers on the outskirts of cities. Herewith an online purchase is delivered to the edge of a city or district. The products are then redistributed and delivered to the final address. The advantage of this is that products from different suppliers are combined and delivered, which ensures a more efficient use of delivery vehicles and fewer trips. In addition, the transport from the local distribution centers can also be done by bicycle, which benefits sustainability within cities.

The use of water transport for inner-city distribution is a sustainable alternative to road freight transport

Water transport
A way to reduce emissions and reduce the number of delivery vans needed for inner-city distribution, is by using water transport. Inner-city distribution over water is something that is currently being used to a limited extent in certain cities. Today, canals are mainly used to transport tourists and rivers through cities are used for freight transport rather than for urban transport. In Amsterdam, for example, small-scale freight traffic or city distribution over water makes up less than 1% of all transports in the city.

The use of water transport for inner-city distribution is a sustainable alternative to road freight transport. It means that a lower number of trucks will drive through city streets. This also increases the accessibility of cities because congestion is reduced. More and more ships are driven by clean and silent electric motors, and this contributes directly to a clean and livable inner city.

Innovative vehicles
The use of electric delivery vehicles, drones and autonomous delivery robots and vehicles can also facilitate more sustainable and efficient inner-city logistic practices. Some of the inner-city deliveries may soon be taken over by these futuristic vehicles, while others are still in the test phase.

Supply at other times
The delivery of goods at night or in the early morning gives the opportunity for deliveries to be made while the roads are emptier compared to during the day. This increases efficiency and can reduce CO2 emissions. Of course, these vehicles can also be electric to prevent noise pollution.

[1] Frost & Sullivan (2013), Delivering to the Cities of Tomorrow: Global Mega Trends and Impact on Future of Urban Logistics. Retrieved from:
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