UPS and Dublin City Council reinvent sustainable last mile deliveries

Delivery technology promises to reduce congestion and pollution in Dublin city centre

16 July 2020

A world-first walking and cycle-based system designed to optimise deliveries in city centres has launched in Dublin.

Operating out of mini urban distribution centres and combining powered e-walkers and e-quad cycles, the model allows for last mile deliveries that do not contribute to local emissions or congestion. The launch represents a step change in the way goods are delivered in busy city locations.

Funded by Dublin City Council, Enterprise Ireland and Belfast City Council, the solution was developed as part of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) challenge that sought new approaches to optimising deliveries. Participating in the challenge enabled Fernhay, an innovative design and manufacturing consultancy, to develop the new zero emissions delivery solutions for global logistics carrier, UPS, to trial.

The e-walker and e-quad operate from ‘urban package eco hubs’ that UPS has introduced around the city. The eco-hubs take in larger consignments of deliveries and redistribute them to walkers and cyclers using removable Cube containers. Two of these mini distribution centres are currently up and running in Dublin. They have facilitated the removal of five diesel vehicles from the road, reducing carbon emissions by up to 45%.

Speaking at the launch, Owen Keegan, chief executive, Dublin City Council said: “Collaboration is key to tackling the challenges facing our city right now so we are very happy to see our Transportation Department and Smart City programme working with innovative partners such as Fernhay and UPS to address last mile deliveries. This solution helps the city adapt to the COVID-19 situation by enabling foot and bike deliveries and discouraging the return of congestion.”

“It is really exciting to be piloting this in Dublin –the first city to test the Fernhay e-walker. As cities reopen for business after the COVID-19 shutdowns, those looking for ways to keep goods moving while minimising the return of congestion and pollution, should take note,” said Frances Fernandes, director, Fernhay.

“Fernhay’s e-walker and e-quad are part of a wider system that enable key workers to deliver groceries, medicine and parcels without the use of vans. Cities are facing huge change to respond to ‘social distancing’ with pavements widened outside shops and roads narrowed to make more space for walking and cycling. Our system offers a clean and viable option and rethinks how cities can support last mile deliveries now and in the future.”

“This is about reimagining last mile logistics,” added UPS international sustainability director, Peter Harris. “Cities need solutions that eliminate emissions and congestion and this system achieves that. But it goes further. The ability to load the box that the e-walker and the e-quad carry anywhere within our network will help UPS operate more efficiently. Taking this concept of removable containers, long since practiced in long haul freight, into the urban environment is a game changer and furthers UPS’s long-standing commitment to bring its customers sustainable solutions.”

Traditionally, urban freight deliveries are made by diesel commercial vehicles which add to traffic levels while damaging air quality. The current increase online shopping has exacerbated these impacts by amplifying the volume of deliveries. Concern around public health, urban quality of life, and climate change is driving urban policymakers to reappraise how deliveries are managed. 

TechCentral Reporters

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