Updated: Dec 16, 2021
As more people move to cities, and urbanisation grows at an exponential rate, the pressure on sound infrastructure and future-proof city planning is rising.
The flow of goods through cities is higher than it has ever been, and this increasing trade and congestion of the economy is only set to grow as we move forward. The rise of E-Commerce has seen consumer demands calling for ever-increasing convenience and quicker service times; One-day delivery is the norm nowadays, and this means logistics and transportation businesses have to use their resources as productively as possible to manage demand effectively.
Quicker, more reliable, and more regular delivery and distribution services are in heightened demand, and the adoption and use of novel technologies has played an essential role in allowing these developments to exist.
Experts have suggested that in the past, logistics has been side-lined when planning urban areas and urban expansion, but they also outline the necessity of integrating logistics into cities of the future to assist the economy.
With E-Commerce growing alongside urban populations, these logistics operations have been brought into the spotlight, which has meant they must be looking for techniques to address congestion, the environmental impacts of certain economic processes, and greenhouse gas emissions in our cities.
We are going to explore this upward trend of e-commerce, the downside of urbanisation, the subsequent strain placed on freight logistics and transportation operations to meet growing demand, as well as the need to integrate Logistics into planning for sustainable cities.
The downside of Urbanisation & the prioritisation of efficiency
More goods are passing through our cities than ever before. 75% of the world’s resources are used by cities, and they are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, the 63 largest towns and cities are responsible for almost half of our total emissions, with London contributing 11% of that statistic.
People expect fast, reliable delivery options, regardless of the products they’re buying and where they’re coming from. These expectations are both responding to, and encouraging technological developments in e-commerce and delivery. Furthermore, the demand of seamless reverse logistics is rising, as people want to easily return goods to the company they purchased from, quickly and conveniently.
All of these developments have placed huge pressures on the complexity of logistics operations, as the sector has had to adapt quickly, and balance these demands with the reduction of environmental impacts.
By 2030, there is predicted to be a 36% increase of delivery vehicles in our cities, so it is currently more vital than it has ever been to address the environmental implications of increasingly complex distribution processes.
Balancing Economy & Environment: Sustainable Logistics
The question for logistics and transportation operations is how can they minimise the impacts of these processes in cities, whilst continuing to meet demand and stay profitable?
Senior Vice President Ground Operations Europe at FedEx Express, Trevor Hoyle, has shared Industry insights and expertise on the subject.
From careful planning, restrictions on vehicles, congestion charges, the encouragement of electric vehicles and so on, there are numerous emerging ways that cities are tackling their own emissions.
Hoyle states that there is no one solution; different cities each have their own approach and policies, but this may well be part of the issue. This fragmented approach to tackling congestion has meant global logistics operations have had to tackle avoidable complexities. For example, if 2 bordering cities have different vehicle restrictions, there will be delays and disruptions as drivers change into appropriate transport.
If city planners and governments can align their policies, then globally operating distribution processes can be streamlined, and similarly, a singular approach can be applied to tackling congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.
Hoyle has urged that Logistics needs to be integrated into the future of city planning in order to tackle this fragmentation effectively, and avoid adding complexity to the already complicated processes that logistics operations address.
Levelling up: Addressing Climate Change
Amongst the creation of affordable homes, investment in urban regeneration and new businesses, the UK Government’s ‘Levelling up Agenda’ has laid out plans for the UK to be carbon neutral by 2050.
These ambitions pose huge challenges for logistics, and Hoyle has relayed that with different cities using different approaches, with varying timescales and policies, it is urgent that Government bodies and councils understand the importance of including logistics into the planning of these major changes.
Cities cannot function without effective logistics in place, and it is an essential component of a functional, efficient economy and a sustainable city.
Trevor Hoyle hosted a Webinar; “Logistics as an essential service - the opportunity for logistics & urban planning” back in June 2020, which you can watch by clicking here.
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