February 18, 2020

Ford’s new take on getting parcels delivered


Ford is trialling a new “warehouse on wheels” digital delivery service in London with Gnewt by Menzies Distribution, which it says has the potential to help cut traffic, reduce emissions, and improve delivery times.

With most online shopping deliveries fulfilled by vans, carriers are under increasing pressure to deliver more parcels, more quickly, with less cost, while continuing to ensure employee welfare and environmental responsibility.

Ford’s new digital delivery service will see its vans collecting orders from a depot before stopping at strategic locations determined to be the most efficient for each batch of orders. The brand’s cloud-based logistics software then co-ordinates with nearby foot couriers – or, in the future, potentially with bicycle couriers, drones and autonomous robots – to complete the last leg of the delivery.

Ford estimates that one van and a team of four couriers on foot or bicycle could be used to deliver the same number of parcels as five individual vans when working as part of a multi‑modal network.

The service could also improve customer experience by offering improved delivery windows and reducing costs, speeding time from order to delivery by enabling vans to make more frequent round trips back to the depot. In addition, Ford says it could contribute to healthier streets and reduced traffic in major cities, cutting congestion around valuable kerb space where vans typically load and unload.

“Our goal is to keep larger vehicles like delivery vans operating in the high‑load, less‑congested environments in which they perform best,” said Tom Thompson, project lead, Ford Mobility.

“However, for the last mile of a journey into an urban area, where congestion and lack of parking can be a challenge, it makes sense to offload deliveries to more nimble, efficient and cost‑effective modes of transport.”

Gnewt operates the largest fully electric delivery fleet in the UK with more than 70 electric vans. The company’s founder and head of business development, Sam Clarke, said: “We want to change the way we think about moving goods around our cities.”

“We are keen to understand how multi‑modal deliveries can benefit our business, our customers, and – by promoting active travel and the associated health and environmental benefits of walking and cycling – our employees too. We are delighted to be working with Ford and helping to trial its revolutionary new software solution.”