Last mile van delivery planning and optimisation
This project will develop systems of classification for street networks based on local terrain characteristics and delivery density, with an aim of identifying areas where a mix of delivery modes (i.e van and walking) may be preferable/more efficient than mono-modal delivery.
The systematic and scalable identification of these features is expected to be a critical enabler to Australia Post’s future network transformation objectives as it adapts to the ongoing decline of letter volumes and resultant deterioration of delivery densities.
The identified attributes will be leveraged into a methodology for route planning and incorporated into a software-based planning tool to enhance and streamline the development of future last mile letter and parcel rounds.
For safety and efficiency reasons Australia Post is committed to phasing out the use of motorcycles within its network.
However, existing options for alternative vehicles are unsuitable in certain areas including those areas with challenging terrain such as uneven or rugged nature strips, areas with steep embankments, as well as areas with access roads having high speeds. In these areas there are no other non-motorcycle options than for vans to be used, at the trade-off of significantly reduced productivity (25% —50% poorer vs motorcycle).
Experiments by Australia Post have shown that the magnitude of the productivity decline is sensitive to local delivery volumes and geography. In areas with low delivery density with no parking issues, vans can move quickly between points with minimal productivity loss.
However, in areas with higher densities and parking issues, it can be more efficient for vans to not stop at each delivery and for the driver to deliver to a group of addresses on foot. In such areas, the most efficient delivery routes are likely to involve a combination of van and park & loop/walking modes, with the appropriate method applied on a sub-area basis.
Given the emerging nature of the issue, Australia Post has limited experience in planning delivery routes for these circumstances. Initial activity in this area has shown that existing approaches are not suitable for the long term as they:
- are complex and time consuming
- place a very high demand on the skills and capabilities of the network planner
- are not systemically repeatable, increasing the cost implementing future network changes (such as an increase in the number of residences in an area)
There is a need to develop new tools and processes to inform last mile network planning for the efficient deployment of vans for letter and parcel delivery.
Australia Post is seeking assistance to improve models for determining safe and efficient delivery routes for vans and walkers in areas where there are significant challenges in moving away from motorcycles.
The main aims of this project are to develop automated methods for:
- identifying areas where deliveries cannot be safely/practically undertaken with vehicles such as electric tricycles
- identifying localised clusters where optionality exists regarding the final mode of delivery (walk vs van), based on a mix of local environment conditions, historical volumes and product mix, and density patterns, plus the relative carrying capacities of different modes; and
- determining efficient multi-modal delivery routes in the areas identified in i), using the insights captured by 2.
Once these objectives have been accomplished, the identified tools and techniques are expected to be applied by Australia Post to enable additional conversion of delivery rounds from motorcycle to vans.
Please note …
This page will be a living record of this project. As it matures, hits milestones, etc., we’ll continue to add information, links, images, interviews and more. Watch this space!