Creating Sustainable Last Mile Deliveries with AI Solutions

AI in Supply Chain Sep 16, 2020

Sustainability is a hot topic in the UK Logistics industry. With a consistent rise in fuel prices, the potential introduction of new Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in many British and EU cities [1] and a growing climate crisis, there is mounting economic and environmental incentive to embrace greener technologies. The sector is believed to be responsible for 7% of all global carbon emissions [3], meaning it is likely to get hit hard by government environmental regulations. LEZs will have serious implications on Last Mile Deliveries, which already take up an average of 53% of overall business costs [4].

Innovation and technology has been seen as the answer to questions surrounding cost-effective and sustainable business operations that address the need for environmental action. Massive hardware investments have already been undertaken by major UK service providers and embracing electric lorries and bio-fuel boats is a great first step towards driving  supply chains towards becoming eco-friendlier.

While electric cars are close to becoming the new normal in the UK, a lack of infrastructure has negative effects on potential range, viability and adoption of vehicles for both personal and commercial use. What's more, for most logistics service providers, the notion of replacing their entire fleet is no trivial expense, leaving smaller firms to bare the brunt of regulations.

This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions can be of service. Integrated into existing fleet management systems or built as their own entity, this software can improve transparency of carbon emissions and transform operational efficiency. Tracking emissions data is the best way to offer useful insight into an organisation's carbon emissions, allowing them to make informed decisions regarding  green practices and set aggressive goals to achieve their sustainability goals.

Existing prediction models can present information about the emissions a vehicle is expected to create. AI can take this much further, analyzing large data sets to predict future carbon emissions based on actual use, pin-pointing factors that contribute to excess carbon production and optimising planning to use low emission routes and times. All whilst minimising impact to delivery efficiency. AI in this form can take your sustainability goals to the next level, easily dealing with issues of time and complexity.

This might take the form of a Simultaneous Localization and Mapping tool (SLAM), which can aggregate and analyse data relating to road conditions, idling and traffic patterns. The data is then analysed alongside the emissions created during the journey to generate greener routes in the future. What makes AI so special here is that this process becomes embedded and automated into the operations and planning process: it becomes the way of doing business. This frees up a workforce from time intensive manual tasks to focus on acting on insights and making decisions. It should really be noted that this does not strictly involve replacing employees; humans still play a vital role in monitoring, assessing and sense-checking the recommendations based on knowledge and experience. The combination of insight and experience is what allows both machine and human to work more effectively.

Planning these solutions is complex and implementing these solutions comes with its own learning curve and risk. The challenge of any organisation looking to leverage AI is balancing the risk with the potential reward. This is where Brainpool comes in. We specialize in planning, building and integrating these solutions into businesses. Utilizing our network of over 400 top AI and Machine Learning experts we set out a clear bespoke roadmap for solutions that mitigates risk and manages complexity.

The benefits of AI are multi-faceted. Lower costs, reduced carbon footprint and a healthier planet. AI is  perhaps one of the best available means of innovating your business; doing what you do smarter, faster and more sustainably.

Looking to the long-term, it's easy to see the value of investing in AI investments as the industry is increasingly pushed to making every trip count: becoming more reliable, more efficient and more sustainable on every journey. Slashing waste and inefficiency across the business operations will take more than elbow grease. It will mean fundamentally rethinking the role of data, technology and people, and how they all work together. What is needed is for companies to begin to act so the benefits for business, customer and citizen can be realised sooner rather than later.

Logistics is a fundamental industry which will only become more vital to society in a post COVID-19 world. Adaptation and disruption will be key to thriving in what lies ahead. In such a competitive industry, the environmental and economic incentives for investing in AI solutions are essential to keep your business on the roads.

Written by Dominic Richmond

[1] Mayor of London ‘The Mayor's Ultra Low Emission Zone for London’ (2019)
[2] EU ‘Urban Access Regulations in Europe’ (2020)
[3] International Transport Forum ‘The Carbon Footprint of Global Trade’ (2015)
[4] Business Insider ‘The challenges of last mile delivery logistics & the technology solutions cutting costs’ (2018)

Brainpool AI

Brainpool is an artificial intelligence consultancy specialising in developing bespoke AI solutions for business.