One of the biggest challenges of the e-commerce age is making last-mile parcel deliveries in densely populated urban areas. Hurdles like traffic congestion and a lack of parking consistently make the final mile one of the most difficult parts of fulfillment.
To address the problem, researchers in Germany are testing a “neighborhood courier” model under which parcels are collected in local micro-hubs and then delivered to homes by couriers on cargo bikes. This system allows flexible delivery based on recipients’ individual time requirements and provides relief from the neighborhood’s traffic congestion, according to 4flow, a provider of supply chain software and fourth-party logistics services that’s supporting the project with route optimization and resource planning. Among other contributions, 4flow created the demand forecast for the number of parcels expected per day and calculated the need for cargo bikes, staff, and warehouse space for each time slot.
Known as “KOPKIB,” the six-month pilot project will take place in Berlin’s Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district. Led by the Berlin University of Applied Sciences in partnership with the Berlin School of Economics and Law, the online retailer Zalando SE, and the bicycle supply chain company Cycle Logistics CL GmbH, the pilot is being funded by the Berlin state government.