Research: smart method for self-organization in last-mile parcel delivery

Parcel delivery operators experience increasing pressure to meet the growing demand for delivery services while protecting city livability and the environment. Improving the performance of the last mile of delivery is considered key in meeting this challenge as it forms the most inefficient, expensive, and environmentally unfriendly part of delivery operations.

A primary cause is significant duplication of service areas, resulting in redundant vehicle kilometers traveled. In a paper by van Duin et. al., a method is presented that allows for the allocation of parcels to delivery vehicles and the construction of vehicle routes in real-time through an auctioning system.

These tasks are performed in a self-organizing manner by vehicles, parcels, and a supporting platform, to allow for collaborative and intermodal delivery. The performance of this new method is tested and compared against the currently used techniques using an agent-based simulation model in the city of Delft (NL). The new method manages to greatly improve the efficiency, robustness, and flexibility of delivery operations.

In this study, the role of public actors is not yet considered. The main goal of this study was to show the potential of a self-organizing concept for parcels. The public actors could support in standardizing data sharing and loading units, providing measures for zero-emission, or supporting the creation of the order demand platform.

Source: van Duin, J. H. R., Vlot, T. S., Tavasszy, L. A., Duinkerken, M. B., & van Dijk, B. (2020). Smart Method for Self-Organization in Last-Mile Parcel Delivery. Transportation Research Record, 0361198120976062.

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