Solving the Equation of Urban Logistics (a.k.a. Last Mile Logistics)
Insight 11 Mar. 2022

Solving the Equation of Urban Logistics (a.k.a. Last Mile Logistics)

The issues of transporting goods in the city are to be solved urgently, and the solutions implemented often show their limit too quickly. Over the past ten years, initiatives in the field of warehousing, transportation and robotics have been carried out. Regulations have also been implemented. But are these provisions sufficient? We are entitled to ask.

Last Mile? Back to a difficult start

The initiatives implemented to gain logistical efficiency in the urban environment most often only address one of the many aspects of goods transportation in the city. And as practical as they are in terms of innovation and experimentation, these initiatives generally do not bring the results (or returns on investment) to consider deploying them on a large scale (scale-up).


The challenges of the last kilometer or Last Mile in the heart of the City of tomorrow

In an urban context, marked by increasingly strong physical and environmental constraints, the stakes are considerable, in terms of economic activities, competitiveness, employment and quality of life.

The pooling of logistics flows is a lever that should improve the delivery and collection of goods in urban areas, while responding to a triple challenge:

  • Respond to new requirements and regulations related to Sustainable Development
  • Optimize Urban Development Plans by integrating current and future freight mobility needs
  • Develop the flow of goods in the city in an economical and qualitative way by mobilizing current resources

The beneficial and multi-factorial effects expected from an effective last-mile policy

CO2 emissions is one of the critical indicators for measuring the pooling of capacities, but it is not the only one.

Effects on transportation and logistics spaces usage rate or the satisfaction of the various stakeholders can be expected from a “Last Mile policy” that bears fruit. Here are some examples.

Freight transportation

  • Lowering the ratio kgCO2/tonnes or m3 transported
  • Contributing to achieving modal transfer from road to other means of transport (river, rail, tram, electric vehicles, NGV, etc.)
  • Improving truck filling

Logistics Spaces

  • Optimizing the ratio kgCO2/surface or m3 stored
  • Improving the productivity of warehouse activitiesage

Services and quality of life

  • Reducing nuisance including noise
  • Improving local services via transport
  • Rehabilitating local shops
  • Enabling sustainable growth of distribution activity in cities


In terms of customer satisfaction

For Shippers & Traders

  • Meeting a more ambitious service policy
  • Having concrete solutions to reduce the environmental footprint
  • Implementing actions to reduce the impacts of transport through a voluntary approach

For Logisticians & carriers

  • Marketing residual capacities
  • Reporting on actions to reduce the environmental footprint

For the Community & the Citizens

  • Having delivery and collection solutions that are more respectful of the environment and reduce all nuisances
  • Promoting virtuous behaviors in transport and logistics
  • Assumeing overall responsibility vis-à-vis users of urban space

When last kilometer rhymes with complexity

Urban logistics is multi-actor and highly complex. Because of the decisions to be taken in terms of development and use of “existing logistics infrastructures,” the Last Mile problem raises the question of the territory of application of urban logistics flows and the intervention capacity of the Public sector.

Beyond CO2 emissions, communities and operators must indeed take an interest in other impacts such as:

  • emissions of other greenhouse gases
  • road occupancy problems
  • noise
  • various types of pollution, particularly visual pollution
  • congestion
  • qualification and fragility of service jobs (for example, home delivery)
The response to the question of urban logistics must combine economic, environmental and societal performance, in a single whole. Decisions in the field of urban distribution should not lead to a commercial dynamism deficit and a loss of attractiveness. And this is where the challenge is.
Alain-Bernard Duvic, Partner

Urban logistics, a modern challenge posed by cities

E-commerce, home delivery, or pick-up stations, along with the development of local services, translate into more goods carried around the city. And the resulting urban logistics include a large number of players, both public and private.

Even though carriers, over the past twenty years, have made progress and reduced pollutants and CO2 emissions, the cities of tomorrow will still have to make efforts to cope with their ambitions, particularly in the field of energy efficiency (buildings), socio-economic integration (jobs, diversity, harms, etc.) and the use of multi-modal transportation to support the load.


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