We know that the pandemic has made online shopping soar. What remains to be seen now is how to reduce your carbon footprint without compromising the last-mile delivery of goods and merchandise. This is the challenge that brought together on stage at the Portugal Mobi Summit Paulo Humanes, director of Mobility at CEiiA, Paulo Alexandre Silva, director of R&D at CTT – Correios de Portugal, Manuel Pina, general director of Uber Portugal and Marco Oliveira Martins, general director of Saba.
All of them brought a handful of innovative ideas to make distribution fleets sustainable, not only environmentally but also financially. And sometimes you won’t even need to make any changes or investments in infrastructure, as Uber’s CEO demonstrated. “If before we had drivers transporting people, today that same driver uses his proximity to the location to also deliver goods”, explains Manuel Pina, specifying that this can be a solution to reduce the number of kilometers traveled.
It is a good example of how it is possible to rethink urban mobility, says Paulo Humanes: “The distribution of goods and the movement of people must be done in conjunction with the rest of mobility within cities,” warns the CEiiA specialist, recalling that technology plays a central role in the efficiency of services. This is why the sustainability of last-mile fleets depends, above all, on the management of “the entire mobility ecosystem”, something that can only happen with the integration of innovative solutions.
For large companies, such as CTT, the impact of the circulation of its fleets is huge. The four thousand delivery vehicles circulating in the country travel the equivalent of five times around the Earth every day. The route optimization system, therefore, becomes an indispensable instrument that allows routinizing the most efficient routes for each of the vehicles.
In the same way, according to Paulo Alexandre Silva, the electrification of transport is a task that began over a decade ago and that will reach zero emissions in 2030: “But it is not enough just to have small vehicles with low emissions, it is also necessary to develop new mobility models together with local authorities to relieve the pressure on traffic”, explains the head of CTT, stressing that they have “several” partnerships underway with municipal councils.
A good model – proposes CTT’s Director of Production, Logistics and Distribution – would be to create “dedicated distribution zones”. And what does this mean? Firstly, dividing or “shredding” each municipality into several areas is handed over to a single delivery operator. This would allow all routes to be maximized, greatly reducing the kilometers traveled: “By joining this model with the electrification of fleets, efficiency in the last mile would reach its peak”, defends Paulo Alexandre Silva, revealing that the prototype is already being “tested” in Europe.
It is by thinking outside the box that the best solutions emerge. But, in the specific case of Saba – an urban mobility solutions and car park management company – it was thinking inside the car parks that came up with the idea of taking advantage of these spaces to store goods when they are not in use. “Saba’s strategy is to think of these places as service providers, including washing, small repairs or charging electric vehicles,” says Marco Oliveira Martins.
But what is causing a stir in the pilot project that Saba is developing in Barcelona? There are currently 40 car parks in the Catalonian capital, which are used to park cars during the day and become warehouses in the early hours of the morning. First thing in the morning, all the goods that entered the park during the night leave on scooters, bicycles, or electric scooters and are delivered to customers. “We want to develop this concept in Portugal as well,” promised Saba’s CEO.