The demand for home deliveries has seen a drastic increase, especially in cities, putting urban freight systems under pressure. As more people move to urban areas and change consumer behaviors to shop online, busy delivery operations cause externalities such as congestion and air pollution.
Micro-consolidation implementations and their possible pairing with soft transportation modes offer practical, economic, environmental, and cultural benefits. Early implementations of micro-consolidation practices were tested but cities need to understand their implications in terms of efficiency and sustainability.
This study includes a research scan and proposes a typology of micro-consolidation practices. It focuses on assessing the performance of microhubs that act as additional transshipment points where the packages are transported by trucks and transferred onto e-bikes to complete the last mile.
The purpose of the study is to assess the performance of delivery operations using a network of microhubs with cargo logistics and identify the conditions under which these solutions can be successfully implemented to improve urban freight efficiencies and reduce emissions. The performance is evaluated in terms of vehicle miles traveled, tailpipe CO2 emissions, and average operating cost per package using simulation tools. Three different delivery scenarios were tested that represents 1) the baseline scenario, where only vans and cars make deliveries; 2) the mixed scenario, where in addition to vans and cars, a portion of packages are delivered by e-bikes; and 3) the e-bike only scenario, where all package demand is satisfied using microhubs and e-bikes.
The results showed that e-bike delivery operations perform the best in service areas with high customer density. At the highest customer demand level, e-bikes traveled 7.7% less to deliver a package and emitted 91% less tailpipe CO2 with no significant cost benefits or losses when compared with the baseline scenario where only traditional delivery vehicles were used. Cargo logistics, when implemented in areas where the demand is densified, can reduce emissions and congestion without significant cost implications.
Gunes, S. (2021). Micro-Consolidation Practices in Urban Delivery Systems: Comparative Evaluation of Last Mile Deliveries Using e-Cargo Bikes and Microhubs, University of Washington Master's Thesis.