This New Approach to Last Mile is Better, Cheaper and Greener

PartRunner
4 min readJun 8, 2021

By Kelsea Mann

If you have been following us here at PartRunner blogs for a while, you know that the supply-chain industry is rapidly changing. The relationship between large companies and their customers continues to shift due to a growing reliance on ecommerce (if you missed our blog on e-commerce, be sure to check it out). There are many factors which contribute to this including many new technological developments, the purchasing power of the middle class, and of course the world-altering COVID-19 pandemic we are all experiencing. Euromonitor stated recently that they predict 17% of goods will be bought online in 2021, a number which might not seem high until you account for the fact that it’s double the prediction for 2016.

An increase in online orders naturally triggers a rise in delivery volume. If you find yourself wondering about the phenomenon of global shipping, just look at the aftermath of the ship stuck in the Suez Canal earlier this year. A recent report from the World Economic Forum projects that delivery vehicles in the top 100 cities will grow 36% from now until 2030. Last mile delivery is also expected to grow in the same time frame by 78% globally.

However, there’s a large outstanding issue with this rise in global shipping; the additional 6 million metric tons of CO2 included in the rise of shipping globally. According to UN Habitat “cities consume more than 78 percent of the world’s energy and produce more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, they account for less than 2 percent of the Earth’s surface. Millions in cities rely on fossil fuels and live near a very small amount of greenspace.

This issue is not to be taken lightly. According to un.org, “In October 2018, the World Health Organization said in a report that 93 percent of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day”. This means that only 7% of children in the world aren’t consuming air everyday that is so polluted, it is a serious risk to their health and development. The WHO recommends and supports policies to reduce air pollution. These include projects that would target waste management, the use of clean technologies and fuels for cooking in our homes, and heating and lighting which involve the quality of air in our homes.

To quote supplychainbrain.com, “freight activity accounts for 85% of delivery mileage, addressing anticipated levels of congestion and emissions in urban areas is no longer an option. It is a necessity”. Other than the 1,000 Mt of CO2 per year that the industry emits, another problem comes from freight shipping- Black Carbon, tiny black particles, are produced by ships burning heavy marine fuel.

Methods of supply chains past simply cannot keep up with the demand of the future of ecommerce. Retailers are urged to use new types of fulfillment technology to keep up with customers today. Instead of burning fuel on large trucks and ships, small-scale options should be considered. A good example of this is integrating automated technologies into your last mile. Though automation, brands can make better decisions with analytics and intelligent rerouting options. New developments such as route optimization software allow retailers to cut down on not only delivery times, but emission levels (supplychainbrain.com). Many mapping applications like Google Maps have introduced the ability to bring a client down the fastest and most environmentally friendly route by tracking fuel consumption. In cities specifically, traffic poses a huge loss to fuel burning, and using a software which would identify traffic patterns and ways to avoid them will get trucks where they need to be faster and greener.

Now that we have gone over the ways fuel is wasted in big cities, what about the ways we use it in more rural areas? It is common for suppliers to send out a large van to service an area with large developments or a large population. As we have been covering, this is one of the issues causing cities to rapidly feel the effects of climate change; trucks going in and out. Large vehicles are needed to move massive amounts of product around areas with a lot of people and projects, but what about places which are more out of the way? What about one lone contractor, 50 miles away from a supplier, who needs only a few parts? Is it worth it to send a supply house’s 14-wheeler out to them?

The answer, of course, is no. Take it from Medford Johnstone Supply, who runs into this issue frequently. Delivering primarily to Boston, Medford Johnstone Supply occasionally has last-minute, out of the way deliveries they need to make. With only large vehicles and a busy crew of drivers on hand, Johnstone Supply found another solution- PartRunner. PartRunner is your partner in last-mile deliveries, handling everything bulky, but not big enough to warrant an entire vehicle. And, PartRunner has our own interactive app, which tracks our drivers wherever they are to get your products moved quickly and efficiently.

Save some milage off your trucks and keep emissions out of far-off rural areas where they are not needed. At the same time, optimize your last mile for the turnaround customers expect, and get their shipment on time in a smaller vehicle from PartRunner. Check out more by visiting https://www.partrunner.com/en/.

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