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The Last Mile

Platforms that provide direct delivery of products grow rapidly every year. In the development of this industry, while it has been successful in scaling to be able to reach almost everyone, there is one blaring issue staring continued success over the long run. That problem is resolving the costly issue of what is known as “The Last Mile” problem.

In short, the Last Mile Problem is an issue that occurs in supply chain management where the last connection between the company and the consumer multiplies exponentially because the product has to be delivered to each individual person individually. That means that while it may be cost effective to centralize all goods, the further they are distributed and shipped, the more expensive it becomes to deliver the given product. Not only is it costly to the company, but in that most delivery companies rely on vehicles that fun on fossil fuels, it is additionally costly to the environment.

Many solutions have been proposed, such as drones, or electric delivery robots, but the issue arises in security. While a futuristic vision of robots and drones delivering packages may seem appealing, the liability exists that any of those may be intercepted or hacked.

While we may be far off from a completely automated Last Mile solution, DHL, the German logistics company has created a solution for the interim. DHL attempts to address the Last Mile Problem with Publically available lockers to deliver dozens of packages to dozens of people in one centralized area within a reasonable distance from most residences. These lockers can be accessed by a simple swipe of your ID card and the entry of your pin. Because no box is directly assigned to one individual, the boxes vary in size to accommodate packages of all sizes, and register its respective contents to the individual’s account that immediately notifies the customer that their product has arrived. Ultimately they have created an ATM for your packages. While not as convenient as having something shipped to your door, these types of installations are growing rapidly.

To make the solution even simpler to access, the advent of NB IoT technology could provide an even more reliable and secure means accessing these types of locker systems all over a given city. Because most of the communications between DHL and the customer are on a digital platform, an NB IoT smart lock system can be integrated into their platform and allow for a pick-up scheduling. This opportunity would provide more oversight for DHL that allows them to coordinate how many packages they can expect to deliver.

More importantly, with real time understanding of how and when the packages get picked up, DHL can increase the efficiency of their locker technology and develop new features that may allow for a more fluid and secure access in the future for all customers. Such an application could be that an account could have multiple locations registered to it so that a customer can decide where in the city it would make sense to have their package delivered depending on their personal schedule. With technologies constantly evolving to create a higher level of convenience while maintaining security, we must look to bridge all of the developing technologies to find the perfect combination that saves money, time, and the environment whenever possible.

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