A smart locker system can provide convenient access for both delivery workers and office building tenants in major cities. The locker system can eliminate the need for tenants to rush out of a meeting to intercept a delivery person at their office. While common carrier locker systems offer cities many potential benefits, little publicly accessible data exists on how to measure the performance and effectiveness of these locker operations.
Here we found interesting research findings by the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center at The University of Washington that rolled out The Final 50 Feet Research Program in order to investigate solutions to optimizing operations in the final 50 feet of the supply chain. The program has two goals:
- Reduce dwell time (the time a truck is parked in a load/unload space) and
- Reduce failed first delivery rate (the rate at which courier company was attempted to deliver but was unsuccessful)
For ten days in spring 2018 a common carrier parcel locker was installed in the 62-floor Seattle Municipal Tower as part of a 20-day pilot test designed to measure in real-world conditions if the locker could reduce both delivery time and failed first delivery attempts, as well as meet multiple partners’ diverse goals.
Key conclusions of the research include:
- A delivery to the common carrier locker reduced total delivery time in the Seattle Municipal Tower by 78% when compared to traditional floor-to-floor, door-to-door delivery in the building. This result shows what is possible.
- Seven parcels failed to be delivered in traditional door-to-door delivery, while there were ZERO failed deliveries to the locker.
- For participating Seattle Municipal Tower tenants, the locker provided additional security and convenience. For building management, the locker allowed them to offer a valuable amenity to tenants at a small cost. For delivery drivers, the locker proved fast, reliable, and easy to use..
According to Dr. Anne Goodchild, the Founding Director, Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center, and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington, “In this research we’ve proven that parcel lockers can dramatically reduce delivery times; that the obstacles of ownership and multiple stakeholders can be overcome; that customers are interested in, and will use, the lockers. In short, we’ve proven that lockers are a good solution for some of our urban freight challenges and should be part of our solutions toolkit.”
This report provides compelling evidence of the effectiveness of a new urban goods delivery system strategy: common carrier locker systems that create parcel delivery density and provide secure delivery locations in public spaces. Common carrier locker systems are an innovative strategy because they may be used by any retailer, carrier and goods purchaser. Common carrier lockers use existing smart locker technology to provide security and convenience to users.
This dramatic reduction in delivery time is based on a best-case scenario, when the driver had a single package to deliver and then returned directly to the loading bay after making the delivery. This demonstrates that a locker system has the potential to substantially slash delivery time. While delivery time will increase if multiple parcels are delivered to the locker, it will still be significantly shorter than going to door-to-door for deliveries.
In addition to the locker substantially reducing delivery time, the locker also cut the parcel failed first delivery rate to zero. Out of 545 total parcels delivered via the conventional door-to-door delivery method over the 20-day pilot period, data collectors observed seven parcels that failed to be delivered. The most frequent reason for failed delivery attempt was due to an incorrect address (the most common scenario observed was that the tenant for whom the parcel was intended was no longer working at the Tower), with the second-most-frequent reason being the tenant was unavailable to receive the parcel at the time of delivery. While a common carrier parcel locker cannot solve for an incorrect address, it can eliminate failed first delivery for reasons such as tenants being unavailable to receive the package or drivers not being able to locate the person authorized to sign for a parcel.
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