Ford Launch Trials Multi-Modal Delivery in London

Online shopping and ordering has been made easier with the release of Ford’s new “warehouse on wheels” using the “last‐mile” delivery service. It is currently doing a test run on this new digital delivery venture in London. This is in partnership with Gnewt by Menzies Distribution. Gnewt is a sustainable urban parcel courier and a winner of the 2018 U.K. Sustainable Logistics Company of the Year focusing in zero-emission last‐mile delivery services.

The largest fully electric delivery fleet in the UK with more than 70 electric vans is run by Gnewt. It is brains behind the pioneering sustainable last-mile delivery services working with several leading retailers, e-commerce companies and logistics firms. It is estimated that Gnewt delivers over three million parcels a year to consumers and businesses in London. Gnewt will be responsible in coordinating multiple approaches of transport, from pedestrian to bicycle couriers and others. This new venture is believed to have the potential to help cut traffic, reduce carbon emissions, and improve delivery times.

The concept of “warehouse on wheels” is practically designed to be compatible both with Ford vans and those from other van manufacturers. Then these vans act dynamically as delivery hubs. They collect orders from a specific depot and then briefly stop at strategic locations to identify and determine the most efficient way for each batch of orders. The software MoDe:Link platform of Ford will be responsible in coordinating with nearby foot couriers. This can further go into potentially finding bicycle couriers, drones and autonomous robots in the future to complete and fulfil each delivery.

According to Tom Thompson, project leader of Ford Mobility, the goal of this new venture is to keep larger vehicles like high-load delivery vans operating in less-congested environments in which they are like to perform best. Further the project leader added, “However, for the last mile of a journey into an urban area, where congestion and lack of parking can be a [great] challenge, it makes sense to offload deliveries to [a] more efficient and cost-effective modes of transport.”

The head and founder of business development in Gnewt, Sam Clark, further opined that the company wants to change the way people think about moving goods within and around London City. “We are keen to understand how multi-modal deliveries can benefit our business [and] our customers. And by promoting active travel and the associated health and environmental benefits of walking and cycling, our employees too [will benefit]. We are delighted to be working with Ford and helping to trial its revolutionary new software solution.”, he added.

Current Delivery Situation

Online shopping, from simple grocery items to fashion and household appliances, in Europe is increasingly growing and is expected to double in the next ten years. That means deliveries will also double in the coming years. Most of these deliveries are done and completed by vans thereby leading to heavy traffic congestion in many cities. The average journey times in London due to delivery vans have risen by more than 40% in just three years. The demand has put carriers under increasing pressure in delivering more parcels efficiently and more quickly with less cost, without compromising the welfare of the employees and environmental responsibility.

Change brought by multi-modal delivery

Now, this new venture of Ford in digital delivery service under trial in partnership with Gnewt by Menzies Distribution will be a game changer in London. Multi-modal delivery has been adapted by other countries and companies in US like Amazon which uses drones. This new partnership between Ford and Gnewt will efficiently coordinate multiple modes of transport. The cloud-based software of Ford will identify optimum places for van drivers to pull over near multiple drop-off points to hand over deliveries.

During the trial, lastmile delivery service by Gnewt will be driven by Ford’s intelligent cloudbased, multimodal routing and logistics software MoDe:Link.  The software will manage all aspects of parcel delivery from depot to doorstep. This can greatly help couriers, fleet managers, logistics and food delivery companies optimize their delivery processes while increasing van utilization, at the same time companies will be saving time and money while boosting work capacity.

This mode of service can also improve customer experience by offering improved delivery windows and reducing costs. This also reduces speeding time from the order phase to delivery by permitting delivery vans to make more frequent round trips back to the depot. Furthermore, this delivery service can contribute to healthier streets and alleviate reduction of traffic in major cities. Therefore, cutting congestion around valuable roads and parking space where vans typically load and unload.

Optimization of Last-Mile Deliveries

With the possible results ‘last-mile’ will surely deliver, The UK Government has also recognized the urgency to develop smarter delivery solutions for urban areas. This leads to an open consultation to further explore last-mile deliveries and the opportunities available in delivering products sustainably. The call for evidence, to which Ford has responded, seeks to examine the environmental benefits of micro-vehicles, e-cargo bikes, and measures to improve logistical efficiency.

Ford is committed to tackle urban mobility challenges to lessen traffic and carbon emissions, in particular the deliveries of goods and services, through innovation, technology and partnerships.

Michael Hurwitz the director of transport innovation of Transport for London said, “Freight and deliveries are [vital in] supporting London’s economy. With half of the value of the capital’s household expenditure relying on it.” He added further, “However, congestion and poor air quality are some of the biggest challenges the city faces. More last-mile deliveries (made in this way), alongside the growth of micro-consolidation centers, are essential to tackle the pollution problem and keeping.”

Benefits of Multi-modal deliveries

The “warehouse on wheels” and “last-mile” concepts are not only designed to help traffic congestion. This new venture between Ford and Gnewt have other social and environmental benefits as well. First thing being addressed to this venture is the increase in employment. With the last mile concept, the company will be able to hire more workers to deliver parcels and products to every doorstep. This venture is believed to increase employment rate across London. According to Ford, one van and a team of four couriers on foot or bicycle can be possibly used to deliver the same number of parcels as five individual vans in multi-modal network. The second beneficiary of this service is Earth itself. This venture also focuses into helping solve the carbon footprint and emission brought by traffic and car congestions in major cities like London. The multi-modal delivery service offers different modes of transportation liking using bikes, drones, and even by simply walking and bringing the package yourself, this greatly helps in lessening the carbon emissions. Third is the company efficiency. This service greatly helps courier companies to be cost-efficient. Delivering more goods and products in real-time without costing too much. Courier companies can deliver parcels by batches in strategic drop-off points thereby making work easier and faster without affecting the delivery cost.


Final Remarks


The partnership of Ford and Gnewt totally change the way most people see delivery services. Also the partnership increases the pressure of other business competition to go greener without compromising the work efficiency.

The London multi-modal delivery service trial is one of the several initiatives in which Ford is looking to address - delivery and urban mobility challenges – creating a greener and more efficient city of tomorrow. The trial so far has been considered a success for everyone – the society, company, and the environment. With this being said, the trial will now be extended to the different cities in Europe. To name some, these are Valencia, Spain and Cologne, Germany this year. In the U.S., Ford still continues and strives to innovate in urban goods and service deliveries. As a matter of fact, the company now prepares for a future with self-driving vehicles. Further, Ford has been teaming up with Postmates. It is an on-demand delivery platform in Miami that operates a self-driving delivery service.

Add comment

Security code