Containerization of parcels to increase the potential urban logistics by bike

The urban delivery challenge...

Driven by the growth in online shopping, there is rapid growth in the market to deliver parcels in urban areas. 

This growth comes despite there being a desire on the ground to reduce traffic in urban areas, to minimise its negative impacts and improve the quality of life of local residents.

This activity represents around 20% of urban traffic, and produces 25% of total urban mobility greenhouse gases.

Congestion in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. A traffic light is orange

...where the bike is coming out of the game...

With unparalleled accessibility for tight urban areas, bike delivery is expanding throughout a number of European cities.  

A man wearing a yellow jacket is unloading a cargo bike parked on the sidewalk, street is made of cobbles

Starting out with couriers and small packages, this activity is now expanding to include the last mile of the journey being sub-contracted by large organisations (Schenker, DHL, etc.), thanks to electric bikes with containers varying in size from 0.2 to 2m3

...with urban consolidation centers...

Acting as an interface between logistics platforms on the edges of large cities and the urban areas to be supplied, Urban Consolidation Centres provide the ability to group/divide and store flows of merchandise. 

One green and one grey truck going to a hub, 2 bikes with trailer departing from it

They also provide the ability for mutual handling of flows from multiple order placers allowing optimal final distribution rounds that can then use different vehicles that are better suited to the urban environment. 

...if bike equipment adapts to the rest of the supply chain.

These two complementary alternatives always face difficulties arising from the transloading required when different vehicles are used for the last mile of a delivery. Aside from the additional handling this requires, they also need to use easily accessible space that is ideally located in the heart of (or at least on the edge of areas) to be supplied.

One green and one grey truck going to a hub, 2 bikes with trailer departing from it


Containerization as a solution...

The growth in international maritime traffic is supported by the principle of standardised containers suited to holding a large variety of merchandise.

These Intermodal Transport Units facilitate the transloading of merchandise when transferred from one leg of the transport chain to the next. Transposing this to the scale of urban logistics, the introduction of an Intermodal Transport Unit minimises the impact of transloading for the last mile of the parcel's journey. 

In this case, a lorry is used to transfer merchandise containers from logistics platforms to Urban Consolidation Centres, which have become the equivalent of a port in the maritime example, with the bike becoming the equivalent of the lorry collecting this and completing the last mile of the journey.

Boat being loaded with containers by multiple cranes

...for urban logistics...

At logistic platforms of organisations placing orders, the packages are sorted by delivery round and loaded into containers.

The containers are then transferred to the Urban Consolidation Centres where they are stored awaiting collection for the delivery round.

3 different steps of transloading, a truck with 2 containers, one container in a warehouse, a container on a trailer behind a bike

Using this containerization for urban parcel delivery provides numerous advantages:

  • Reduced handling of parcels (increase in productivity, reduced lateness & reduced risk of damage to merchandise)

  • The merchandise is protected in secured containers

    • the transfers of liability between order placers and sub-contractors are simplified and more secure

    • the flow of standardised containers entering city centres can be more easily shared and used on a mass scale

  • The personalisation of containers with the image of order placers reduces the loss of image that can in many cases result from using sub-contracting for last mile delivery

  • By decoupling the container from the delivery vehicle, containers for delivery rounds can be prepared while the delivery agent is out on a previous round (increased respect of delivery schedules & increased productivity)

  • A wide range of containers (controlled temperature, returns logistics, remote storage, etc.) allows a diversification in the types of merchandise flows (increased profit from material and facilities

...with FlexiModal's products.

Intermodal Transport Units in Euro pallet format (120/80cm) are particularly well suited to bike delivery, fitting perfectly into current logistics chains.

That's why we developped the BicyLift trailer with a unique lifting system. First for lifting and transporting pallet delivery, then with modules designed according to the use : parcels, groceries, food, bikes... Modules are equipped with rolls to facilitate its moves in the logistics chain.

Our second trailer, the Runner, follows our vision. With a compact format, it is perfect for deliveries in the city center. It has a ramp position allowing conteneurization as well.