Ford

A breakthrough in last-mile delivery

Ford’s multi-modal package delivery service is a win for customers and the environment

Facts

Industry

  • Mobility

Service

  • Experience Elevation

Get to know Ford

Ford

Ford Motor Company is among the world’s most recognizable names in mobility. For more than 120 years, Ford has defined the cutting edge of transportation. The company’s founder, Henry Ford, revolutionized manufacturing by refining the assembly line.

Today, the company’s Ford+ plan for growth and value creation combines existing strengths, new capabilities and always-on relationships with customers to enrich those customers’ experiences and deepen their loyalty. Ford Motor Company is based in Dearborn, Michigan, and employs about 177,000 people worldwide.

How do you make delivery services more city-friendly?

Ford

In many cities, vans are the primary vehicle for package deliveries. They alone make the journey from depot to the customer’s front door.

But this creates so many inefficiencies. Vans struggle to navigate narrow and crowded city streets. Drivers might spend hours on the road each week simply trying to park, turn around and back out of tight spaces. The more time a van spends on the road, the bigger its carbon footprint.

In the years before the pandemic, Ford had asked Valtech to help design a more efficient, city-friendly method of getting packages to peoples’ doorsteps.

By 2021, as demand for delivery services shot skyward, Ford’s Last Mile Delivery service was demonstrating that there is a better way to organize package deliveries.

Reimagining city deliveries

Ford

We helped the Ford Mobility Team design a multi-modal Last Mile Delivery system to support deliveries and pickups.

Ford understood that more vans on the road would not meet rising demand. More vans meant more congestion and more inefficiencies.

Instead, we looked to technology to support the delivery vehicles already on the road so their drivers could complete deliveries more efficiently and effectively.

The model

In the Last Mile Delivery model, vans operate as mobile mini-hubs. They leave a local depot and arrive to a central destination point, where a coordinated team of couriers on ebikes and porters on foot take packages from van to doorstep.

This makes for a dynamic system. Vans can be deployed to destinations based on where there are higher concentrations of scheduled deliveries. The system can react to real-time changes, such as traffic patterns, and locations get updated throughout the day.

The algorithm

Last Mile Delivery’s proprietary algorithm, MoDe:Link, connects delivery vans with couriers and porters. The algorithm defines routes and optimizes schedules for the entire delivery team. This is the heart of the service.

The software

We helped build numerous apps and systems, including:

  • An iOS app for the couriers.

  • A backend that works with data from the courier company.

  • Integrations so couriers can load maps and scan barcodes with their devices.

  • Web portals for the depot managers and the courier companies to ensure all actors in the network are connected.

The hardware

We also helped develop a smart jacket for couriers. The smart jacket interacts with the iOS app on the couriers’ devices and with the couriers’ ebikes via gesture recognition.

Results

Ford

  • 3x efficiency. In 2021, Ford teamed with delivery specialists Hermes in London to trial a sustainable courier service using the Last Mile Delivery system. During the Christmas peak season, two vans with connected couriers were able to deliver the same number of packages as six vans making conventional deliveries. And the connected vans made their deliveries faster.

  • Carbon reductions. In 2022, Ford partnered with the UK’s Royal Mail service in Manchester to see whether Last Mile Delivery could impact CO2 emissions. The trial was a success. Van usage for the delivery routes decreased by 50 percent, and daily vehicle mileage decreased by 33 percent. Fewer vans on the road driving shorter distances is a net positive for the environment.

  • Award-winning. In 2021, Last Mile Delivery took home Honorable Mention in the Mobility and Sustainability categories at Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards.

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