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last mile logistics are key considerations in building smart citiesOn October 16 2018 I had the good fortune to represent TECSYS on a panel session “Smart cities and the last 50 feet” at the 2018 MHI annual conference. The panel was an hour of discussion around the topic of changes in last mile logistics technologies and how they will impact industry over the coming five years and I have to say it was a lot of fun and really educational. On the panel was Kevin Condon at Kroger, Alan Amling at UPS, John Ellis at Ellis & Associates and me with the session well moderated by Scott Sopher, Principal at Deloitte.

Grocery Last Mile

Kevin Condon, Director, Engineering & Network Strategy, at Kroger. Kevin designs the supply chain of the future for Kroger and highlighted how Kroger has partnered with Okado, an online grocery from the UK to help manage the complexities of grocery delivery. “Imagine delivering ice cream and a warm roast chicken in the same order along with fruit, veg and packet goods and then having to manage the different temperatures of the individual items throughout the delivery.”

Last Mile Logistics on a Macro Scale

Alan Amling, Vice President, Corporate Strategy, UPS talked about macro scale planning and operations of last mile logistics and delivery. He described how UPS is actively working with big cities in the US to ensure there are open parking spots outside large buildings reported directly to UPS in real time, directing the driver to a viable space. This is to eliminate UPS’ double parking fines, reduce congestion and add efficiency to the driver’s route.

Last Mile Future Technologies

John Ellis, Founder & Managing Director of Ellis & Associates is a consultant to the city of Los Angeles, he talked about how cities are combining politics and blue sky planning to completely change the face of cities by taking advantage of new technologies like self-driving vehicles. “Imagine if those parking spots in residential buildings are freed up due to city residents not owning personal cars but using timeshare self driving electric vehicles, what would all that space be used for? Self service delivery lockers to solve the ever increasing e-commerce delivery space issue?” Very interesting questions.

Last Mile Logistics for Smaller Organizations

And finally there was me, Bill Denbigh, Director, Business Development & Marketing at TECSYS. I discussed these trends from distributor or healthcare provider perspective, and how having a fully connected customer base, trained in to use a smartphone with data entry, mapping and managed ETA allow innovative companies, even smaller regional organizations, to come up with simple but effective ways of offering delivery services that were only imagined a few years ago.

 

While the panel all came from different companies and industries, the trend of smarter cities and developing distribution technologies is something that each of us are keenly studying. We agreed that the key takeaway is that customer expectations and innovative organizations are bringing huge change to the process of delivery and that change is accelerating. Interesting times ahead!

 

The panel conversation was lively and interesting with constant questions and challenges from the audience and the hour was over before we knew it, really an excellent session at a very well managed and stimulating event. This was the first MHI annual conference I have attended and I have to say it will definitely not be my last.


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