“Pooling resources to manage the last mile better”

Financial information
9 min

To respond to the explosion in deliveries, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, noise pollution, and impact on traffic: this is the equation that Jean-Louis Carrasco, Director of Urban Logistics within the Services-Mail-Parcels Business Unit, is trying to balance.

What is urban logistics and what makes it a key issue?

E-commerce is skyrocketing, taking the delivery market with it. In 2016, La Poste delivered 100,000 parcels every day in Paris alone, and this figure may well double or even treble by 2025! Added to this challenge, end-customers are becoming increasingly demanding. They want to receive their parcels ever more quickly, and especially where, when and how they want. At the same time, our cities are seeking to improve traffic flow in their centres, and to make them cleaner and more attractive. They are tightening their rules on the transport of goods. Some, such as Strasbourg, have now gone as far as to ban delivery vehicles from their city centres during the day, including electric two-wheelers! Faced with these conflicting issues, the last mile has become a tough intellectual challenge for those involved.

La Poste has many strengths. But this is not enough. To maintain its leadership position, it must continue to pool its resources.

Jean-Louis Carrasco
Director of Urban Logistics within the Services-Mail-Parcels Business Unit

What contribution can La Poste make in this context?

With its fleet of electric vehicles, its employees’ expertise, its substantial reserves of property, and its many brands dedicated to delivery (Colissimo, Chronopost, DPD, Pickup, Start, etc.), La Poste has many strengths. But this is not enough. To maintain its leadership position, it must continue to pool its resources. It has already done so with the “Chronofacteur” service, where small Chronopost parcels are delivered to private individuals by postmen. And with the hôtel logistique urbain (HLU) in Bordeaux, which is home to the activities of DPDgroup, Chronopost and Colissimo on a “time-sharing” basis. Similarly, the mail site on rue des Renaudes in Paris’s 17th arrondissement is to house a new Chronopost delivery micro-depot. If we are to take optimisation even further, why not encourage the Group’s various entities to share their delivery vehicles! Urban logistics property has become strategic for the future of delivery services in cities.

How is La Poste preparing for the ban on diesel vehicles in Paris by 2024, and on petrol vehicles by 2030?

In the first half of 2019, in the centre of Paris, we will be testing the introduction of micro-depots (100 to 300 m2). They will be supplied with parcels that have been sorted by delivery rounds upstream to simplify delivery, which will take place during off-peak hours. In the case of very large parcels, grouped parcels and pick-up points, deliveries will be made by 100% electric vans. These micro-depots will act as a base for postmen and delivery staff, who will move around the area “in soft mode”, in other words on delivery bikes or on foot. This model will of course need to be replicated in other cities, provided an acceptable economic balance can be achieved.

But how can postmen be expected to keep delivering increasingly heavy, bulky rounds “in soft mode”?

We are currently testing a number of solutions, one of which is the robotic trolley. This is an electric trolley capable of carrying several hundred kilos and of autonomously following the mail carrier as they move about. Its sensors enable it to track the postal worker while avoiding passers-by on the pavements. This solution appears particularly suitable for mixed rounds (mail and parcels), which require a stop at every door, and for cities such as Paris which have raised verges. For cities with no pavements, such as Strasbourg, or for longer rounds, we envisage using electrically assisted delivery bikes. It only remains to decide which model is best suited to the work of a postman: delivery bicycles or tricycles, with a crate at the front or rear, and so on. We have initiated consultation with manufacturers to establish this.