The workshop on “Co-Creating Next-Generation Last-Mile Solutions” was held on 1 December, in Oxfordshire (United Kingdom), bringing together stakeholders to discuss and co-create innovative last-mile delivery solutions for the Oxfordshire Living Lab in the GREEN-LOG project.
Twenty participants joined the event on site, among which representatives from Living Lab partners Oxfordshire County Council, FEED, Pedal & Post and University of Wolverhampton, as well as Oxford City Council, Oxford University, among others.
The Oxfordshire Living Lab value case
The exchange centred on addressing the challenges and needs of Oxford, to co-create efficient, environmentally friendly, and socially beneficial services, while exploring synergies within the ecosystem. The event was an initial step on the definition of the Living Lab solutions, in an iterative process between project level partners and local stakeholders. Despite being an initial exchange, it yielded relevant conclusions and valuable insights that will inform the next stages of the project.
Specifically, Living Lab activities in Oxford will focus on the development of innovative models to scale up cargo-bike logistics services in the city. Three interdependent solutions will be tested including a moveable consolidation hub, an e-commerce platform for local traders, and a self-driven micro delivery hub to support cargo-bike logistics operations. These solutions are envisaged to increase the capacity, availability, and convenience of zero-emission and congestion reducing last-mile delivery in Oxford City.
Stakeholder needs and definition of use-cases
Local stakeholders presented their needs around last-mile logistics. Oxfordshire County Council defined their objectives around their policies and strategies: to reduce vehicle movements and congestion in the city and to improve air quality in the context of increasing population and parcel deliveries. To this end, the Council seeks to promote freight consolidation and cycle freight as their priorities for last-mile movement of goods. Oxford City Council seconded this strategy and provided a targeted example of the need to reduce vehicle deliveries into the Covered Market, which is owned by the City Council.
Pedal & Post, the largest zero-emission last-mile logistics provider in Oxford, supports these ambitions and would like to expand their operations. However, their ability to do so is constrained by the size and location of their depot. Further, a national trend towards larger parcel size is straining their e-cargo bike volume capacity. Increasing operations will require a solution to both of these challenges.
FEED, which developed innovative remote delivery methods during COVID-19 pandemic, is seeking new commercial models for this technology—which could offer a solution to these challenges. University of Wolverhampton and Aimsun are seeking to develop and test new zero emission delivery methods and orchestrated deployment through a logistics platform—which could create further efficiencies and convenience of zero emission last mile logistics.
GREEN-LOG partners presented three potential zero emission last mile logistics innovation use cases, namely:
- Use-Case 1 focuses on a movable Micro Consolidation Hub. The Micro Consolidation Hub would be a site for direct transfer from larger long distance heavy goods vehicles to e-cargo bike for the last mile journey into Oxford, increasing supply chain efficiency and the number of businesses that would be able to use a zero emission. A portable structure would allow the temporary use of unimproved land—increasing the number of potential sites and reducing rental costs—particularly relevant in the spatial constraints and high real estate costs in Oxford.
- Use-Case 2 focuses on an e-commerce platform that could host products from local traders with zero-emission delivery—offering same day delivery for a premium, but also the opportunity to consolidate deliveries from multiple traders to reduce costs.
- Use-Case 3 is the most innovative and therefore challenging solution being developed by the Living Lab. In this, a self-driven Mobile Delivery Hub vehicle would be used in several use cases to increase the efficiency and convenience of zero-emission last-mile delivery and e-cargo bike logistics operations. These include reloading e-cargo bike couriers in the field to increase their parcel volume capacity, offering extra storage for shops that act as collection point for parcels, and a moveable bank of parcel collection lockers.
Taking stock of the workshop outcomes
Workshop participants were broadly supportive of the use cases discussed, leveraging their experience and knowledge to provide extensive feedback from their stakeholder perspectives. Possible locations for a movable Micro Consolidation Hub and synergies were discussed—including using land owned by Oxford City Council, engaging with other Logistics Service Providers (LSPs), and adding electric vans as last-mile vehicles to increase the area covered by the Hub.
Stakeholders also pointed out that by increasing the availability of zero-emission logistics, an e-commerce platform that focused on serving local traders could be a means to support local businesses in the context of increasing dominance of large international businesses in this area. Better understanding the needs of end-users—including local traders and delivery recipients was identified as a need in the development of this use case further.
The remote driven Mobile Delivery Hub was the focus of much discussion. An EAV 4-wheeled e-cargo bike, designed and built in Oxfordshire, was brought to the workshop by FEED as a platform to demonstrate the various use cases of remote driven vehicles supporting e-cargo bike logistics operations. Workshop participants broke into small groups and benefits and advantages of these solutions—both to users and the overall logistics ecosystem were raised. Practical aspects including challenges and useability requirements of the applications were also discussed in detail.
What does the future have in store?
The Oxfordshire Living Lab activities are set to progress, incorporating the valuable insights gained from the workshop. The potential use cases of a self-driven micro delivery hub will be explored. The event emphasised the importance of co-creation and collaboration in developing next-generation last-mile solutions tailored to the needs, challenges and opportunities of Oxford City. As the project unfolds, it holds the promise of delivering efficient, sustainable, and user-centric services to the Oxfordshire community.
Stay tuned for more updates on the Oxfordshire Living Lab!