Urbanization is expanding rapidly throughout the world. In fact, two-thirds of the world’s population will reside within urban centers by 2050. While this trend offers many opportunities and advantages, it also poses serious challenges. These challenges are readily apparent when it comes to urban logistics in transportation. With advances in e-commerce and with expanding urban populations, urban transport problems and solutions need to be addressed. Fortunately, many companies are accepting these challenges and pursuing strategies to find innovative solutions.
Major Areas of Urban Transport Problems and Solutions
As urban populations advance, several serious challenges exist when it comes to urban logistics. One of the most obvious issues involves air pollution and carbon emissions. Urban centers are imposing emission constraints in many areas to protect the environment. For example, London in 2019 will have zones that only permit ultra-low emissions in specific areas of the city. Zero-emission zones are planned for 2020. Though this case is certainly desirable, these policies cause delivery services serious urban logistics obstacles.
Other areas that relate to urban problems and solutions are those involving traffic and congestion. As e-commerce deliveries rise and urban populations grow, space constraints reflect additional problems for urban logistics.
In the recent Road to Sustainable Urban Logistics Survey, these concerns emerge as common among businesses. In fact, more than half of them state congestion is a major issue, with nearly 60 percent expressing concern about air quality. These issues are the major urban transport problems and solutions targets for businesses of the future.
Partnerships and Collaborations in Urban Logistics Are Essential
While businesses are among those most concerned about urban logistics problems, they are not alone. Municipalities are beginning to recognize and appreciate urban transport problems and solutions needs. Likewise, consumers will drive urban logistics solutions as the demand for efficient and timely deliveries are required.
As a result, collaborative partnerships are evolving to address these challenges. Such collaborative approaches facilitate the innovation and creativity necessary to overcome existing obstacles.
In Spain, McDonald’s offer a prime example of such partnerships. Overall, McDonald’s manages over 250 million miles in logistics transport. So, urban policies that constrain logistics pose significant challenges for the company. McDonald’s’ approach was to partner with Spanish companies HAVI and Scania to address urban transport problems and solutions. Together, these organizations switched to zero-emission fuels, dropped carbon emissions by 20 percent and markedly reduced noise pollution.
Innovations, Technologies and Creative Policies in Urban Logistics
Certainly, partnerships among stakeholders in urban transport problems and solutions areas will be necessary. But at the same time, these collaborations must generate innovative ideas to address future urban logistics challenges.
The role of technology and the use of “big data” will offer advantages in this regard. Also, new urban policies that align with everyone’s interests more effectively must be considered. One company that values doing this is United Parcel Services—better known as UPS.
UPS has shown a track record in dealing with urban transport problems and solutions through innovation and collaboration. In 2012, UPS worked with the town of Hamburg to accommodate narrow streets and pedestrian-only areas. The ultimate solution involved a central hub for package deliveries where electric tricycles then delivered packages to their destinations. The collaboration also involved Workhorse Group, which supplied UPS with its vehicle fleet. Similar solutions are now being explored in Dublin, Munich, Pittsburgh and Fort Lauderdale as a result of its success.
Future Strategies to Resolve Urban Logistics Complexities
Businesses that are willing to create partnerships and develop innovative concepts will be able to overcome future challenges in urban logistics. Companies like UPS are already pursuing these strategies in bold fashion. UPS has also collaborated with a U.K. consortium in utilizing smart grid technologies for urban transport. Notably, UPS is working with the University of Washington, Georgetown University, and municipal departments of transportation to develop innovative solutions. Indeed, businesses that embrace this type of strategy will be those that are willing and able to rise to the challenge of urban logistics demands.