Ford Launches “Warehouse on Wheels” Parcel Pilot

Ford has launched a pilot trial of a last-mile delivery service in London that could combine logistic solutions using light commercial vehicles with cycle and even pedestrian couriers.

The trial will be conducted in league with delivery company Gnewt by Menzies Distribution in an attempt to create a digital parcel courier service claiming to help reduce congestion and offer faster deliveries. Ford claims its logistics software can identify the best city places for van drivers to park near multiple drop-off points. It is hoped that should the cloud-based software prove successful the service will also link up with pedestrian cycle couriers to perform the last leg of delivery.

During the trial, Gnewt’s “last‑mile” delivery service will be driven by Ford’s multi‑modal routing and logistics software MoDe:Link, that manages parcel delivery from depot to doorstep. Ford claims its service will create a “warehouse on wheels” where vans act as dynamic delivery hubs that collect orders from a depot and then briefly stop at strategic locations determined to be the most efficient for each batch of orders. Its software platform will coordinate with nearby foot couriers, or potentially with bicycle couriers, drones and autonomous robots in the future, to complete the last leg of each delivery.

“Our goal is to keep larger vehicles like delivery vans operating in the high‑load, less‑congested environments in which they perform best,” said Tom Thompson, project lead, Ford Mobility. “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.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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