VeloCarrier testing temporary hub sorting centre app

A German research institute has announced plans to pilot temporary sorting centres in car parks in partnership with VeloCarrier.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) has been given €1.7 million by the German Federal Ministry of Transport to develop an app that can be used by parcel delivery companies and logistics firms to flexibly rent space in car parks around cities.

The pilot is to take place from the second quarter of 2018 until the end of 2019, and should help thinking on the use of low emissions vehicles for deliveries and parcel pickups in major urban centres.

The pilot is to be tested in Stuttgart using the e-cargo-bike delivery company VeloCarrier who will use car parks in the German city as hubs from which its bikes will travel to customers’ premises and homes. The temporary car park hubs will be used for parcel pickups as well as drops.

The system fits in with the ‘hub and spoke’ model of delivery where a large vehicle stops in a certain place and e-cargo-bikes collect the goods for delivery in nearby locations. The IAO app would improve this system by enabling the hub to be in a place out of the way of traffic yet would not require investment in bricks-and-mortar infrastructure in parts of towns where development can be extremely expensive. At peak times such as Christmas, so more car parks could be used and fewer at lower intensity delivery times.

Given a general push towards using low and zero emissions vehicles in cities around the world to tackle air pollution, this scheme may improve the way parcels are handled in last mile delivery while meeting local emissions targets.