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Three solutions to the challenges facing last mile logistics

As real estate in and around UK cities becomes increasingly more scarce through growth, challenges faced by the UK's industrial and logistics sector have become exaggerated.

The challenges are numerous; consumers desire faster home delivery while remaining acutely price-sensitive and online retailers are increasingly ubiquitous, causing transportation trouble on already crowded UK roads.

Additionally, industrial units are gradually being converted into residential space meaning transportation companies must travel further distance to deliver products, adding to urban congestion.

These roadblocks mean there is a long way to go in streamlining last mile logistics, however logistical companies can look to technology as a solution.

In this article we’ll explore three solutions generating buzz among logistics executives, from warehouses in the sky to autonomous vehicles, which could help protect your business from logistical problems in the future.

Environmentally-friendly Vehicles

Cities are beginning to tackle environmental challenges by restricting older and more polluting vehicles, often diesel vans and lorries, opting instead for bike couriers.

They’re as fast as cars in congested urban areas and far more cost-efficient and for small size deliveries like business documents and food, they’re the most effective option.

In addition, using electric vehicles can help make last mile logistics more sustainable, a trend that will explode as governments and city authorities take action to improve air quality.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are likely to dominate last mile logistics in the near future. McKinsey predicts that by 2025, up to 80% of all deliveries could be delivered by autonomous vehicles and drones.

In cities with high labour costs and air quality issues, the benefits of autonomous vehicles may significantly outweigh those of traditional transporting methods by reducing costs and emissions.

Warehouses in the Sky

A rising population and fierce competition for space has contributed to the soaring cost of land in cities, meaning warehouses to rent  are scarce.

As a result, there is a supply crisis facing industrial markets, meaning that many companies look to transport goods from gateway warehouses just beyond the city outskirts. As delivery times slow, vehicles spend longer out on the road and add to traffic.

Warehouses in the sky are a possible future solution. Using mobile aerial bases for delivery instead of relying on warehouses on the ground would be a complete departure from warehousing as we know it.

Helping to ameliorate the competition for city centre space, it’s a potential innovative and far-reaching solution but not on the near-term horizon.

John Sleeman, Head of EMEA & UK Industrial & Logistics Research, JLL, said: “The industrial sector in London is facing a supply crisis because the stock of industrial land continues to be eroded by the loss of this land to other uses.

“Between 2001 and 2015 London’s stock of industrial land fell by some 1,300 hectares."