FTC 2050 - Freight traffic control - 3 years in the making

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 IOC chief executive Tracey Worth with TNT keynote speaker Andy Wilson at FTC 2050 IOC chief executive Tracey Worth with TNT keynote speaker Andy Wilson at FTC 2050

Three years in the making. Full House of Freight Logistics in the City of London

Fast Green & Free deliveries, overcoming the Last Mile Challenge

FTC Freight Traffic Control conference in the City of London

Institute of Couriers fellows and team were in the City of London this week, Tuesday in a full-house multi-modal audience focused on final mile.

The full house was a culmination of a three year programme: FTC2050 project linked themes, customer behaviour, future from operator’s perspective and new systems for problems in last mile, with infrastructure and policy needs. Folk stacked and racked in the cool, air-conditioned University lecture room of London City campus in Finsbury Sq in the heart of ULEZ clean air zone.

A healthy turnout, strong in academics with operators, consultants and local authorities for lectures and poster events to showcase.

TfL strong in team including Tom Rice delivering a keynote to talk home delivery to office.


The big statements of FTC 2050


Dr Maja Piecyk, University of Westminster, ‘Freight depots moving ever further out from central London because of availability and affordability of land.’

Tom Cherrett, Professor of Logistics, University of Southampton, ‘multi tenant buildings are a challenge for signatures as is unsecured delivery to absent homes and flats.’

Professor Phil Greening, Heriot-Watt University, Looking at electrification to de-carbonise road freight, its going to be incredibly difficult to do this by 2050.

You may need to re-negotiate service delivery with your customers when using electric vehicles. EV charging times impacts on delivery time.

Distribution centres of the future will become power hubs.



Summary of the keynotes at FTC 2025

Simon Connick, DfT head of Office for Science, Department for Transport opened,

Freight is a multi-modal challenge for DfT. We work with our agencies and partners to support the transport networks. We are facing unprecedented changes, more changes than in the last hundred years with the new business models of e-retail. How can we avoid the challenges of the change ahead of us? We are looking for positive outcomes. Freight, drones, platooning, home delivery robots, Mole solutions using underground solutions linking freight from outside the city. Simon talked 'Teresa May announcement committing to net zero emissions by 2050.’

‘Van delivery last mile, vans are fastest growth in transport, accounting for 78% of traffic in 2018. Freight contributes to congestion and emissions. We need to address a clean, low-cost freight revolution, we need to manage freight and congestion and to recognise freight's significance. ‘

‘We have a science advisory council in DfT, recent event looked at ‘encouraging more sustainable on-line shopping, exploring the use of digital twins and understand logistics implications. Across Government we are doing a lot of work and research, we need to bring these together and go forward. Talking Last Mile call for evidence, we have been collecting further evidence, overview, lack of cycling infrastructure, lack of charging infrastructure, additional cost of low weight/volume, opportunities to improve air quality, reducing congestion and job opportunities. We have a response to the call on line, it focuses on e-cargo, 2 million pounds for e-cargo bikes. ‘


The operators' perspective

Ian Wainwright chairs FTC 2050, a Panel Discussion by operators.

Ian Wainwright took the chair to host the Future of the Last Mile Operators Perspective for FTC 2025 showcase in the heart of ULEZ. APC, TNT, Gnewt and Zedify talked shop as solutions on the road. APC a national network of SMEs, Andy Wilson TNT, with Fedex the largest network in the world. Sam Clarke Gnewt, we have only ever delivered by electric. Rob King, Zedify, the delivery mileage is impacted by the urgency, with urgency comes many more miles.

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Ian Wainwright asked the questions of challenge to sector to the panel individually.


Dervla Gallagher, APC, we are network of SME smaller operators forming a delivery network across the UK. A challenge facing our members is the availability of operating space as their businesses grow as ecommerce grows. There is looming challenge as consumers continue to want delivery quicker, for ‘free’, while ULEZ regulations add pressure on the cost of delivery. At APC we introduced a surcharge for London at fifty pence and have been very transparent on the higher operating costs within London. Booking time and space in loading bays would help us in London. We need a joined-up carrier road map of collaboration for the future challenges within London , and with policy making it’s important to have consistency nationally, as urban deliveries are not just about London.


Andy Wilson, TNT, the Fedex deal makes us the largest network in the world, today shops get their stock in the day they want to sell it, they do not store it in stock-rooms anymore, which makes it time-sensitive. Big issues for us are clean air zones, the assortment of different policies from various cities is a challenge. Even London has sub-zones, City of London and Hackney with zero emission zones. Add Direct Vision standard to this, you may invest in an electric vehicle that does not meet with the Direct Vision standard. We would like to see battery technology improve, range improvement for delivery beyond the city centres. On policy, we must concentrate on using the space we have on the roads efficiently. In America vehicles are kept longer and the focus is on congestion charge. In the UK vehicle life is driven by construction-and-use legislation changes. No-one would argue against clean air; we all want it, but I ask the question, if we decided to renew all Euro 5 vehicles after a few years use wouldn’t this have a carbon consequence?


Sam Clarke, Gnewt Cargo, we have only ever delivered by electric vehicle, ‘We need city-wide schemes, not borough by borough.’ ‘delivering nine and a half million parcels by electric in the last decade. Different cities and different regulations for clean air zones is a challenge I also recognise. The other challenge is commercial, the sector runs on a very tight margin. We use small vans and have developed some of those vans to larger volume but the next step to larger van is limited with very few vehicle options in the market. We need legislative intervention to create change, with margins so tight change will not come from the operators, it's legislation that will bring change. Loading bays must be recognised as not a 'one size fits all', a service van in the loading bay for a day impacts delivery to that building.’


Rob King, Zedify, we focus on the smaller packages with electric cargo bikes from micro-centres. ‘We are about city centres, operating mainly electric trikes, no options for leasing these vehicles and reliability is a challenge. Space is a problem in London, it's hard to find affordable space for logistics hubs. Five years ago when you ordered online you would be impressed if it came next day. Today the expectation is in hours. Prime, because it's free, we expect it to arrive, the delivery mileage is impacted by the urgency, with urgency comes many more miles. We can't tell Amazon how to do business, but we need to see a price placed on urgency. ‘


London Borough of Camden raised a question on the value of kerb space, the space to park a car road side is valued in the region of eight thousand pounds but no one pays parking chargers of the value of eight thousand pounds. City of London talked 33 regional boroughs, In City of London we want to work with operators to find solutions.


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Dervla Gallagher, APC, we are network of SME smaller operators forming a delivery network across the UK.


Tom Cherrett, Professor of Logistics, University of Southampton took the academic keynote slot,

‘The false assumption of free delivery. Meeting the needs of retailers, the average letterbox will not take half of the deliveries, multi-tenant buildings are a challenge for signatures, unsecured delivery to absent homes and flats.’

The Freight Traffic Control project has worked closely with TNT and Gnewt Cargo in alliance with the lead Universities of Westminster, Liverpool and Southampton to look at Parcel Delivery in Central London: Current Operating Patterns and Future Challenges. Growth of B2C, B2B and E-Commerce.

‘Early in the project pre-GDPR, we were tracking vehicles and rounds for delivery, blending routes, taken to look at the drivers daily role, working with 18 parcel carriers in one day in London, van stopping about 38 times, driving seven km, driver walking ten kms, the van is stationary for 68% of the time, the van asset sat at the roadside.’

Driver challenge is often to work their own schedule, using their knowledge of parking, traffic warden locations, nine-digit codes to enter multi-occupancy buildings. In the UK we often deliver to desk, 28% of deliveries were to people inside buildings, as much as thirty per cent of time spent in the buildings to complete the delivery. A driver who knows the patch well is very ordered, novice drivers, courier driver standing in for holiday, a typical 8km route took 19km, not familiar with parking spaces, such as the Barbican, extra time for the driver to sign in when they are not known to security.

Looking at density of delivery in urban areas, the data has been rich and mapped intensity in the urban areas, we can map speed average to the impact of delivery for parcel carriers.


Dr Maja Piecyk, University of Westminster working with Julian Allen.

Freight depots moving ever further out from central London because of availability and affordability of land. Talking Fast Green and Free, future of Home Delivery, ‘UK parcel market (Mintel 2017) 2.8 billion items delivered. 30% decrease in road capacity 1993 to 2009.’ ‘Using an inexperienced driver brings a particular challenge to operating cost. In the medium term operating cost will rise for last mile, driving time is likely to increase as much as 60%. The first intermediate conclusion is we need to act, FTC sessions identified, portering delivery systems, optimising routing, bringing depots closer to concentrated delivery. Looking at clustering and routing, driving and walking, both driving and working element impact on operating cost, reducing driving time is an action of routing.

‘Key conclusions include, the need for policy intervention to drive implementation of solutions, need for a shift in culture to improve sustainability of last mile, need for more data on urban freight delivery.’



Professor Phil Greening, Heriot-Watt University

Looking at electrification to de-carbonise road freight, it's going to be incredibly difficult to do this by 2050.

You may need to re-negotiate service delivery with your customers when using electric vehicles. EV charging times impacts on delivery time.

Distribution centres of the future will become power hubs.

Prof Greening took a new lens focused on food delivery. ‘We can no longer look at historical data, home delivery is fast-moving, technology, operations and policy will define future logistics. The way we do logistics is dependent on the technology available, demand for logistics depends on customer behaviour. What will logistics evolve into? We need a robust solution from parameters and variables that show a system most likely to occur, key to this is consumer behaviour and behaviour of companies in the supply chain.

Finding a solution and a route to electrification with vans. A four-stage heuristics model. First step to analyse empirical data from the retailer, the second step to develop an agent-based simulation to imitate the retailer’s fleet. The third step, introduce electric vans in the simulation, compare diesel fleet, then add battery range and charge power constraints. The fourth step, Identify potential locations. We have mapped Manchester and should be able to use the same methodology for London, Cambridge and other locations. When we run the model do we get benefit from the diesel data to the electric fleet? The first answer is electric vehicles can deliver the same number of deliveries as diesel vehicles. However because of charging time, untimely delivery percentage will rise. You may need to re-negotiate service delivery with your customers when using electric vehicles. EV charging times impacts on delivery time. Distribution centres of the future will become power hubs. Charging time will impact on the way you schedule delivery. There is a great need for data to make the decisions for the future, give us your data for our model to run.


Freight Traffic Control 2050

The academic students shared their latest research.

Poster Presentations in a more detailed and informal way took the next stage.


Optimised Routing Strategies for the Last Mile, Tolga Bektas, University of Liverpool, looking at routing a driver, as many as ten thousand possibilities, when we looked at the driver behaviour we focused on clusters, added parking and time sensitive, delivery of urgency first. In the second stage of the project we looked at a number of carriers coming together, confidentiality and technology was a challenge as was competition, we looked at sharing micro-depot space and sharing porters.

Changes to Logistics Operations Resulting from Electrification of Home Delivery Vehicles, Nadia Taou, Heriot-Watt University. Looking at transition to electrical vehicles, focus on charging, return to base for charge or end of day charging, the business model must be real, the drivers are the key cost.

Developing a Dashboard for Last-Mile Freight Traffic, Dr Kostas Cheliotis, UCL, University College London. Project included lots of operators and a big dataset, communicating the different data with many aspects to look at how to visualise a tool for interested parties and broader audiences that is easy to use as a last mile dash board. You can use the freight dashboard from phones to tablets on a single page.

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Developing a dashboard for last mile freight, Dr Kostas Cheliotis UCL


Incorporating Consumer Behaviour into the Optimisation of Van Deliveries in Cambridge, Pratyush Dadhich, Heriot-Watt University. A consumer model, set in Cambridge, who many supermarkets? A customer choice made online, the retailer then places the order and then delivery comes from store or warehouse, in our research mainly from the store. Customer segmentation showed many clusters in Cambridge. Segmentation study looked at future trends.

Co-designing Digital Services for Collaborative and SustainableLogistics. Oliver Bates, Lancaster University. This project was a co-design with operators, a data background with data management and service design. An idea for a toolkit with field work to create real impact.


New Systems for the Last Mile at FTC 2050

Portering as a solution to kerb space in Central London

Gnewt record for a single person delivery day was 630 parcels.

Sam Clarke, ten years of electric delivery in London, bigger vans, bigger possibilities for last mile electric. Portering, its commercially beneficial to deliver with walking porters.

Tom Cherrett, Univ of Southampton, Sam got us to think about the kerb side use and miles covered. Re-introducing Portering to London, concept to reality, UPS had air walkers in the USA for air mail. Walking is becoming more common, reducing van activity and dwell time is key to plan the round, the time window to routing and optimising the day’s route is very intense. What is the optimal split of workload between driver and walker? To optimise the walking route you must review weight, size, bulk, handling collections and how many clients are in high-rise buildings. In the trials we used an OBO goalkeeper’s hockey bag as it was the largest thing we could find. Optimizing the challenge is about rendezvous between driver and walker and being on the right route. The trial divided the City into north to south walking strips. Familiarity of the route is really key. 630 parcels in one day is the Gnewt record number for one person. In the portering model you need less drivers but you need more porters, then calculate the van size to get drop-off point efficiency to the porters. In this model, the van becomes the depot.

The Highlands and Islands Consolidation Model

Fraser Maclean talked neutral consolidation solutions in the Highlands of Scotland.

Fraser Maclean, ‘Geographically challenged low density drop zones need neutral consolidation. ’ Some islands include a licence to deliver on that island, Increasing B2C is compounding issues, single-track roads and no motorways. Cost is the biggest challenge. Unique issues in the UK parcel market. Low volume, little collection to return.

A different approach, collaboration is the only way to service the remote locations, non-branded vehicles shared by carriers working in the remote areas help drop concentration. Neutral consolidators become more efficient with more volume and trunking together, one vehicle on the A9, not six different operators' units. Dawning of a digital age to track, transfer and communicate, we cannot have twelve scanners for one driver, we developed a single device to scan, identify the carrier and deliver a seamless system of transfer in each providers platform, integrated IT to leave carriers full tracking on their own systems. Development cycles on the IT has run over a number of years and GDPR has changed the landscape while driver training is about knowing what bar codes to scan where carriers have different systems. Pollution, congestion and access will overtake cost in the future challenges to last mile.


Mark Preston, StreetDrone talks Oxford with only six key roads

The Scope for Autonomous Vehicles to Aid Last-mile Delivery

A mobile drone that is a PO box near you.

Based in Oxford, Mark has a motorsport background and competes in electric car racing. The way we move around cities is one of the biggest problems we face today, the future of last mile is capacity vs. density. Disruptive change in mobility ecosystems is effecting the final mile business model. Autonomous, electric and connected mobility systems, in combination with mass transit systems could reduce cars by 80% in cities. Capacity in Oxford is limited by existing road infrastructure, Oxford has only six key roads into the City. MobOx research shows most Oxford journeys are predictable. The 3 key journeys in Oxford ring road show peaks morning and evening that look close to school journeys.

StreetDrone, Our idea – Digital PO Box numbers. Addressable and secure delivery points that move. Mobile PO boxes on wheels. Simply call your service provider to check the current location of your parcel on your PO box number.


Last-Mile Logistics in London at the FTC conference


Infrastructure and Policy Needs for the Last Mile

A Policymaker’s Perspective, Tom Rice, Transport for London

Tom delivered the policy keynote at the FTC 2050 City of London final mile freight conference. ‘80% sustainable mode share by 2041’

Tom explained the TfL role, an employer of twenty five thousand people, the fifth largest land owner in London, we are a curator and promoter of best practice, we are an employer, land owner and motivator. Tom spoke ULEZ, Direct Vision standard, the Freight and servicing action plan, zero emission zone guidance and the London lorry control scheme.

Personal deliveries at TfL, we have encouraged our staff not to receive home deliveries in the office. We need to get under the bonnet of this one, clearly every delivery that was coming to our building is going somewhere else, is there someone in when it gets there?, acting for best practice we want to understand this. We have click-and-collect lockers in our estate, we are aware these are popular and we are looking to expand this.

TfL policy, acting as a curator & promoter for freight, demonstrating projects including the portering and walking deliveries. Consolidation of waste collection including Bond Street and food deliveries at Somerset House. Healthy Street Fund for business includes match funding for projects including waste compactors and building networks for groups to share experience of other groups. Responsible consumer choices, clearly e-commerce is growing, we want to promote best practice choice for goods and time scale of delivery. We are engaging marketing innovators, looking at road work impacts is a recent example.


Impact of Last-Mile Deliveries on Kerbside Space/Road Occupancy

John Dales, Urban Movement.

‘Trouble at Kerbside’

Trouble at kerb side! Talking last mile freight. How do we get stuff to the kerb side? ‘Walk down any busy urban street and it wont take long to grasp that we are trying to fit a quart into a pint pot. Messages from the kerb side. We have looked at Leeds, Manchester and London. The detail is so immense, where do we put the grit bin? This is life when we are thinking about the street. It’s an immense job. Obeying the regulations, parking in the High Street, we have to deliver with demand that has not been provided for.’ John delivered a frank and real case study of street photos from a security cash van on yellow lines outside a bank to a hearse with coffin on yellow lines outside a church. An interactive delivery of what is allowed and what is accepted. Width of footway competing with road and cycle lanes that make the kerbside phenomenally complex. We apply very little science in allocating kerb space. We rant about non-compliance, but we make it inevitable.’ ‘Enforcement is both difficult and friendless, the kerbside is hugely valuable public asset but we just give it away. Today the same piece of kerbside cannot be designated for two different uses at the same time, it can't be a doctors bay if it’s a loading bay. The quality of walking space often appears an afterthought.

John looking at kerbside further reflections, ‘While flexibility in using the kerbside is more efficient, compliance reduces as complexity increases.

Last modified on Wednesday, 26 June 2019 09:39