The Big Pipe dream

It’s Monday morning at 8am, for the millions of us that commute you’re facing a daily dose of side streets, highways and traffic that cumulatively sucks the life out of you before you’ve even sat down at your desk. In fact, before you set off for work, you’ve acclimatized yourself to the undeniable fact that you’re looking at an average of 45 minutes each way.  (by the way that’s 15 miserable days per year stuck in commuter purgatory...more than most workers get in vacation time)

Yes, you live in a city or commute into one and while cities are bastions of employment they are increasingly becoming larger, more congested and polluted. According to a 2018 article by  McKinsey and Company, in 2014 there were 24 Megacities worldwide, fast forward to 2030 and we’re looking at 41. As our population grows, more and more of us are flocking to cities to live and work, compounding the pressure put on a transportation infrastructure that was designed and implemented in most cases decades ago. The proverbial “10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound sack” scenario. Guess what?..it’s not going to get any better.

For us in the logistics industry we’re facing a situation where what we do accounts for a disproportionate amount of congestion, pollution and some serious wastage of finite resources. Estimates on urban truck traffic in Canadian and US cities points to $30 billion annually on wasted hours and gas costs by our couriers sitting in traffic or taking deliveries the last mile. Logistics based traffic represents only 7% of the total flow, but constitutes 17% of the overall costs of congestion. As well, the image of the ubiquitous “cube van” double parked on a crowded downtown street doesn’t do us any good in the brand loyalty arena either.

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, there have been a ton of “blue sky” thinking revolved around solving this problem; from drones, driverless cars, shared logistics but in realty most of these solutions are many years away from implementation, if at all. Where are the solutions that are currently feasible based on existing technology, innovation, effort and a willingness to change in order to make a difference?

At Parcel Port if we were to white board a utopian solution (actually we have many times) that board would be filled with the following in BIG BOLD LETTERS.

1.    Reduce congestion and pollution

2.    Improve service

3.    Lower delivery costs.

Ok so we admit that it sounds like a pipe dream, but is it?..Let’s look at number one..

Reducing congestion

Cramming more and more trucks in our growing cities isn’t the solution. What about couriers delivering parcels outside of the standard 7am-7pm window? Using these off peak hours would substantially cut down our impact on congestion and at the same time drastically reduce fuel consumption right? (estimated to be a 40% reduction) Problem is that most businesses aren’t open all night and consumers don’t want a parcel delivered at 3 am. So what do we need to do to make this viable?

a.    Incumbent couriers that are very good at delivering packages over the long distances…check

b.    Cost effective couriers that can deliver during off peak hours. Imagine as well harnessing the myriad of ride share offerings to help with off peak parcel deliveries (Uber, Lyft come to mind)…check, totally doable

c.    A network of secure urban parcel lockers located in multi-unit residential buildings, commercial high rises and convenient community locations that are open 24/7 that can accommodate these deliveries while the rest of us are sleeping and our urban centres are free from congestion…We’re working on this feverishly…soon to be a check.

Service is King

So we’ve nailed the congestion with existing albeit modified processes, what about the service? Using the above scenario, the courier has delivered the parcel in record time to a Smart Parcel Locker (ours of course),over their morning coffee the consumer reads the email and or text notifications from Parcel Port that their parcel has arrived at one of ourLockers. He/she plans to drop by and pick it up on their way to work, or maybe on their way home from work or even during their lunch hour. The beauty of our Smart Parcel Lockers is that the consumer can access them at any time of their choosing, when and where it’s convenient for them. Also their parcel is housed in a secure, video monitored private slot that only they can open.

It’s all about the bottom line

As well, since your courier didn’t have any last mile costs to deal with or have to leave the consumers parcel on their porch or with a concierge, it’s also saving a truckload of time and money. Additionally as we grow our network of Smart Parcel Lockers your couriers can make a convenient one stop drop off that covers many different neighbourhoods and streets so again last mile costs could virtually be a thing of the past. Imagine the last mile savings when 15 parcels with different addresses for each are dropped off at one location. By the same token, while they’re delivering parcels they can also pick up consumer shipments at the same time. Yes, our Smart Parcel Lockers also act as pick up points for consumer returns and shipments.

As our network grows we’ll have more drop off and pick up locations to serve you, the more we have the more centralized your deliveries can become and the greater your bottom line profit will be.

Our vision for a sustainable future

Parcel Port is working towards helping to build a new logistical future that works to reduce congestion, improves air quality, makes our cities more liveable while bringing service levels that exceed what many have come to expect from traditional courier deliveries.  It’s a vision that we’re working hard on.

Thanks as always for reading!

The Parcel Port team