It was announced today that a consortium of businesses and organisations plan to develop and trial an innovative electric powered bike and walker trailers to deliver packages in the centre of London. The IP protected prototype will be designed and developed by Skotkonung, Fernhay and the University of Huddersfield and tested by Outspoken Delivery in Cambridge ahead of the live trial testing by UPS in the City of Westminster.
The design signals the next generation of delivery trailers – combining speed, mobility and analytics to provide a sustainable delivery system that could signal a new future for urban courier logistics.
The Low Impact City Logistics project is part of a £10 million investment by Innovate UK in a range of collaborative research and development projects that aim to improve the efficiency and experience of the end-to-end journey for people and freight. Specialist product development firm Fernhay will coordinate the consortium, having been awarded the funding following a competitive pitch process.
Development of the trailer system begins this month, with trials by leading global logistics provider UPS taking place in early 2017 in Mayfair, one of the densest London delivery areas. The trial comes at a crucial time for logistics providers, who have seen the rates of B2C domestic package delivery increase significantly as e-commerce continues to grow.
Fernhay’s innovative technology is net neutral, so the weight of the trailer is not felt by the handler, allowing for increased last mile deliveries by foot or cycling. This will result in a decrease in the use of vans in congested urban areas, providing environmental benefits as well as increased parcel drop rates and more flexibility in delivery routes. Six trailers can be dropped into a busy city centre by a single van, allowing the trailer system to easily cover a large urban area.
The project will also create associated optimisation algorithms written by Skotkonung, through a GPS tracker fitted within the trailer, allowing for continuous improvement in route speed and efficiency.
Robin Haycock, Director of Fernhay said: “Solving problems that are difficult but important to society, is exciting and rewarding work for Fernhay. Delivering increasing volumes of parcels to people in dense urban environments, whilst minimising the environmental effects and saving money, is the solution that we hope to deliver with our trailer system.”
Peter Harris, UPS Director of Sustainability EMEA said: “UPS has always prided itself on its market-leading sustainability schemes, and the Low Impact City Logistics project is no different. Using Fernhay’s advanced technology and UPS’s years of logistics experience, we can transform the way that customers receive their parcels.”
The UK is one of UPS’s leading markets in terms of environmental initiatives, and is a natural fit for the trial of this exciting venture.
Rob King, Managing Director of Outspoken Delivery said: “We are very excited to be involved with this project; we have over 10 years’ experience in cycle based delivery and have seen huge leaps in innovation in the last few years which has contributed to cycle based delivery being seen as a demonstrable solution to the environmental problems associated with deliveries in urban areas.”
Professor Rakesh Mishra, University of Huddersfield said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting project that has the potential to provide substantial costs savings to the freight transport sector as well as significant benefits for the environment. The combination of our expertise in sensor design and analytics along with the expertise and knowledge of the consortium partners will ensure that we deliver an innovative technology that will have a transformative effect.”
Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Parking, said: “Westminster City Council is committed to improving air quality throughout the borough. We are taking the lead through our Greener City Action Plan to map out how, with our partners, we can tackle pollution. Reducing freight vehicle movements and increasing cycling are key parts of this, so we are pleased to be working with businesses in joining them together through this innovative scheme in our vision for a cleaner, healthier and greener city.”
Jon Cole, Skotkonung said: “Skotkonung are excited to be a part of such an innovative project, which is paving the way toward revolutionising logistics operations. Skotkonung’s experience in developing technology solutions to maximise efficiency makes us well placed to contribute to this project, and we look forward to continuing to work with the wider team to a successful project conclusion.”