Future Mobility Lab #2: The (next-to-) last mile

Sustainable inner-city logistics requires dialogue and cooperation between business, politics and municipal administration. At the same time, courage and a systematic approach are needed in order to combine existing pilot projects to form holistic concepts. These were some of the key takeaway messages at the second Future Mobility Lab (ZukunftsLabor Mobilität - ZuLaMo), which was held as a webinar on September 24 and addressed new concepts for the last and next-to-last mile. The event was attended by about 110 participants and co-organized by Kühne Logistics University (KLU) and the German transport magazine Deutsche Verkehrs-Zeitung (DVZ) with the friendly support of KPMG.

In his keynote speech, Dr. Christian Jacobi (agiplan GmbH) stressed the need to hurry: “We have enough pilot projects. Now we have to learn from each other and go into continuous operation!” He went on to underscore the importance of looking at the big picture, finding solutions for specific districts and cities, and last but not least, of mayors making urban logistics a top priority.

Hamburg as a pilot city

In Hamburg, that’s already the case. Next year, when it hosts the ITS World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems for both passengers and commercial goods, the city will also become a showcase for innovative metropolitan logistics. Numerous pilot projects are already underway, such as temporary micro-depots from UPS and Hermes, and parcel delivery with electric tricycles (trikes) from DPD. Hamburg is working toward a low-emission or even emission-free last mile, as Lutz Birke, Head of the “Port and Innovation” office at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation, emphasized.

Commerce has to reinvent itself

Ulrich Binnebößel, a logistics expert at Handelsverband Deutschland, outlined the challenges for stores in the city center. Trends such as e-commerce and door-to-door delivery are reducing the motivation to shop in the city center. As a result, he argued, stationary trade has to reinvent itself; this will require a mix of logistics concepts that works just as well for increasingly small-scale deliveries as it does for large food and clothing deliveries.

There was a lively exchange on the subject of low-noise night logistics. Heavy but nevertheless (thanks to their electric drive) quiet trucks could make their deliveries at night and thus help reduce traffic congestion. Another approach is the flexible use of space, e.g. by means of loading zones that can be locked or unlocked as needed. These areas are secured with bollards, which delivery service staff can unlock with an app.

Green light for underground transport of goods

Another goal: paving the way for efficient, environmentally friendly and safe mobility in large cities. The idea of transporting goods from A to B in underground pipes is a particularly ambitious one. Christian Kühnhold from Smart City Loop GmbH presented a concept for doing so, which the Senate of Hamburg recently pledged to support. According to Smart City Loop, 24-hour operation on 300 days a year corresponds to roughly 540,000 transport trips, and could save over 10,000 tons of CO2 per year.

November 26: Digitalization of urban business traffic

Other guests included David Klein (KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft) and Gerd Seber (DPD Deutschland GmbH). The event was moderated by DVZ deputy chief editor Robert Kümmerlen and Asvin Goel, Professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management. The webinar is part of a public information series on central future questions of urban mobility and logistics, which is leading up to the ITS World Congress 2021. The next session will take place on November 26, 2020 focusing on the chances and the risks of digitalization in the field of urban business traffic.

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