Last mile digital transformation

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Last Mile delivery is one of the most vital (and challenging) phases in the supply chain. Today’s consumers expect fast and seamless delivery, which demands careful coordination across an entire operation. Last mile delivery is a critical process for post & parcel teams—one that makes all the difference between a satisfied recipient and a lost customer. As consumer demands for faster and smoother delivery rise, it’s never been more important to optimise the last mile delivery system.

Getting the right parcel to the right destination at the right time doesn’t happen by accident.  There are many moving parts that need to work effectively as one system, from parcel identification to driver navigation and capturing proof of delivery. So, post and parcel businesses constantly seek out ways to improve regular delivery tasks quickly and accurately to provide good customer service and control costs

 

Going mobile

To make last mile delivery easier and more efficient for all parties, post & parcel businesses are experimenting with different tools as part of their digital transformation. For example, warehouse staff in distribution centres have typically used costly barcode scanning devices to collect and load parcels into the correct vehicles for delivery. However, organisations can now bring increased speed and simplicity to distribution centre workflows by replacing dedicated scanning hardware with software-based scanning apps on smart devices.  As well as reducing costs, the additional features available in a mobile app offer more ways to improve regular processes carried out by employees.

This scanning software is driven by computer vision technology and can be used with augmented reality (AR) feedback which superimposes information about parcels and packages on a device screen. A driver loading a delivery vehicle can hover their smartphone over items and have them highlighted in the most efficient order for loading. AR can also identify specific parcels in a quick ‘search and find’ task, locate missing or incorrect items, or display the real-time status of parcels with strict delivery requirements, such as pharmaceuticals. Having real-time information at the fingertips of staff, fundamentally reduces human error and increases productivity.

Smart devices also enhance last mile delivery by making it easy for dispatchers to plan itineraries, optimise delivery routes and track delivery progress in real time, driving efficiency and transparency. Fleet drivers can be empowered with access to GPS and information on dynamic navigation factors, like weather or traffic, fostering more efficient and seamless deliveries. Being able to scan multiple barcodes in one go, means delivery drivers can quickly identify specific packages in their vehicle, shaving time off each and every delivery stop.

Like point of delivery, pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) requires close coordination to ensure the correct parcels reach their third-party pick-up locations on schedule. Employees at pick-up and drop-off points must sort packages as quickly and accurately as possible to meet customer expectations. Putting computer vision and AR in flexible, mobile devices used by workers can reduce human error and improve workflow efficiency. Employees and temporary workers with any level of experience can process undelivered or incoming parcels with ease—encouraging faster and more cost-effective PUDO operations.

 

Augmenting delivery

Thanks to the accessibility and versatility of camera-equipped smart devices, almost any company can make effective use of mobile computer vision. With the right software, modern smartphones, tablets, wearables and other smart devices can be augmented with computer vision capabilities—allowing them to capture and analyse image data in a fraction of a second. As a result, the applications for mobile computer vision are nearly limitless.

We’re already seeing companies in retail, healthcare, air travel and manufacturing reap the benefits of this technology. For the post & parcel industry, mobile computer vision and augmented reality (AR) is an innovation that offers significant improvements in the speed, cost and efficiency of last mile logistics, bringing productivity gains and improved customer service.