With emphasis on exploration of smart solutions in different sectors and services, several methodologies or models are being refined and developed for improving the operational quality and efficiency of different tasks. The retail industry, similarly, is undertaking rigorous research for potential usage of new technologies for better logistical operations.
Drones or UAVs are currently a hot topic of discussion considering their usage in picking and dispatching packages at precisely defined locations autonomously. Some of the leading retail services like Alibaba and Amazon are already using robots for classification and arrangements of packages that are stored in warehouses; it is, thus, expected of the leading E-Commerce services and companies to seriously consider the use of autonomous systems for delivery operations.
While planes and ships are generally used for large scale cargo shipping and trucks and trains are used for transporting packages in bulk across cities, there is still debate on the most preferable solution for package delivery within cities and towns. According to City Logistic: Light and Electric, a report by researchers from Amsterdam and Rotterdam Universities, trucks and vans used for delivering packages form a significant share of traffic on roads and their traffic has grown by 71% in the last 20 years in the UK. This calls for the need of alternate logistics setups. Two of the most contemplated futuristic solutions are e-cargo bikes and drones, each researched and invested in by several companies.
While drones might be the more anticipated, more ambitious option for logistics operations in the future, there are constraints involved with using drones that are addressed by cargo bikes – the much simpler alternative to drones.
Since there are a number of legal restrictions that constraint the usage of drones in cities, bikes can be researched and invested in by companies. That is the reason why VW has initiated their development of a “tilting e-cargotrike,” a small vehicle capable of smart maneuvering through city traffic that can reach its dispatch point in time very conveniently. The Department of Transport in UK, similarly, is investing in e-bikes for the purpose of reducing environmental pollution caused by fuel powered vehicles under general usage. As per a report in Bike Biz, “The Government has said this fund will help to cut congestion and improve air quality, encouraging companies to replace older, polluting vans with a zero emission alternatives to create a cleaner, greener future. Money will be split between larger fleets and smaller operators to ensure benefits are available to and spread between all sizes of business.”
As per a recent Dutch study, “E-cargobikes are a great alternative for some 20 percent of all delivery vans currently operating in large cities.”
Although it would be an oversimplification to state that one particular solution is the most suitable of all, e-cargo bikes, as per many companies and experts, hold much more potential for future applications as compared to drones.