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Co-Creating Last-Mile Solutions: Insights from Ispra’s Green-Log Workshop

The workshop on “Co-Creating Next-Generation Last-Mile Solutions” was held on 29 September, in Ispra (Italy), bringing together stakeholders and final users to discuss and co-create innovative last-mile delivery solutions for the Ispra Living Lab in GREEN-LOG.

The event counted nine participants on site, including Living Lab partners and representatives from the Joint Research Centre (including canteen and site management, logistics providers, etc.), who will be the final users of the solutions to be developed. Eighteen participants joined the event online, including GREEN-LOG partners and follower city representatives from Arad, Romania.

The exchange focused on addressing the unique challenges and needs of the site, to co-create efficient, environmentally friendly, and socially beneficial services, while exploring synergies within the ecosystem. The event was an initial step towards defining the Living Lab solutions, in an iterative process between project level partners and local stakeholders. The exchange produced relevant conclusions and insights into the work to be carried out.

Photo Credits: GREEN-LOG

The Ispra Living Lab value case

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is a European Commission infrastructure that offers science and knowledge services, located in Northern Italy. It features a daily population of roughly 2.200 staff employees in over 100 buildings, 36 km of internal roads, and all the logistical services that are necessary to run a small town, including energy generation and water provision. All this is in a fenced area of 167 ha providing a safe and secure, yet real environment.

The whole road network can be used for validating safety and drivability of the vehicles thanks to the wide variety of infrastructural elements: from straight road segments to curves, to roundabouts, various types of zebra crossing areas, different layouts of parking areas, different types of asphalt conditions.

Living Lab activities will focus on the need to develop innovative models of autonomous and multimodal delivery able to support daily activities, particularly food delivery within the JRC’s premises. Solutions tested will likely be cargo-bikes and autonomous vehicles for last-mile, such as the ones developed by the companies Measy and Yape.

Assessing stakeholder needs

With respect to stakeholder perspectives, the Ispra canteen management emphasised the importance of food hygiene and safety standards. They have faced challenges related to resource limitations, unpredictable customer flows, and limited organisational and financial support. Payment processing was also identified as an issue, and potential solutions involving intermediaries were discussed.

From the perspective of the site managers, there is the aspiration of creating an efficient service that complements the existing catering delivery without creating competition. They highlighted the need to decarbonise logistics, explore human-robotic interaction, and consider the social implications. Implementing two-way communication and learning/testing before scaling up were deemed essential.

As for the logistics service provider’s standpoint, the workshop was a unique opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders in designing and delivering last-mile solutions aligned with the site’s diverse needs, using technological advanced delivery vehicles, such as droids and electric cargo bikes).

Lastly, the understanding user motivations for choosing the service was a central theme. Users showed interest in reducing emissions by opting for delivery over using personal vehicles. Saving time and avoiding cafeteria queues, were discussed as primary reasons for using the service. The possibility of same-day ordering and offering hot lunch via cargo bikes equipped with thermal boxes was also explored.

Photo Credits: GREEN-LOG

Taking stock of the workshop outcomes

The workshop emphasised the need to reduce carbon emissions and promote eco-friendly last-mile solutions. Effective communication strategies, including potential e-mail outreach, were discussed to reach potential users. Participants underscored the importance of ensuring a smooth and user-friendly platform for ordering and tracking deliveries. The idea of offering both cold and hot lunches was explored, with suggestions to overcome logistic challenges related to hot dishes. The workshop highlighted the value of collaboration and shared data, including results from JRC-Ispra’s user questionnaire.

What does the future have in store?

The Ispra Living Lab activities will evolve, considering the lessons learned in the workshop.
The potential expansion of last-mile solutions to larger areas and the possibility of simultaneous canteen deliveries will be explored.  The event also underscored the importance of co-creation and collaboration in developing next-generation last-mile solutions tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the Ispra site. As the project continues to evolve, it holds the promise of delivering efficient, sustainable, and user-centric services to the Ispra community.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Ispra Living Lab!


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