Firms Combine Logistical Capabilities to Support the NHS
at Summerhall Distillery switched its available resources during the height of the pandemic to develop and produce hand-sanitising spray to help keep frontline workers safe. It’s logistics partner, , part of – Europe’s largest and fastest-growing express palletised freight network, and part of Imperial Group, transported goods to the NHS, emergency services, schools and care homes across Scotland. So far, the distillery has produced over 90,000 bottles of hand sanitiser for frontline services including the armed forces, care homes and pharmacies across the UK. By working together closely, two small and agile local Edinburgh businesses ensured that they could better meet the needs of their customers and keep to tight deadlines when supplies were short.
Vanda Roberts, general manager at Palletways Edinburgh, said: “Despite the challenges, our services continued throughout the crisis. Our team worked exceptionally hard under the most adverse trading conditions imaginable, but we kept going to keep vital shipments moving.
“The current climate continues to place an even greater level of importance on efficient collections and deliveries. The palletised freight industry is the unsung hero during the crisis, and we’re proud of the part we played – and continue to play - in the national effort to support our frontline workers.”
Dave Quinnell, general manager and head of sales at Pickering’s Gin, added: “We were incredibly proud to be able to step up and do our bit to bolster the supply chain when larger sanitiser producers were struggling to keep up with the demand for hand sanitiser. Using a local, responsive business for our logistics, meant we didn’t lose any time reaching those who needed it most.”
Palletways Edinburgh is one of over 115 transport providers that are part of the Palletways UK network. They benefit from shared expertise and resources from within the group to deliver consignments of palletised freight to market faster and more cost-effectively than ever before. The Palletways Group comprises 450+ depots and 23 hub operations, through which it provides collection and distribution services across 24 European countries, including the UK. And, today, the company can openly say that they are supporting the National Health Service, and frontline service workers to fight the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, beyond the boundaries mass movement of goods from A-B. The logistics company says the exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its experimentation in new autonomy solutions, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president, advanced technology and innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.