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D-day for deliveries

12 December 2012

City Link and DHL have both enhanced their delivery options in a bid to offer customers greater efficiency and transparency into the tricky 'last mile' of logistics

With the rise of e-commerce and growing numbers of

City Link and DHL have both enhanced their delivery options in a bid to offer customers greater efficiency and transparency into the tricky 'last mile' of logistics

With the rise of e-commerce and growing numbers of small individual orders, delivery efficiency will be an increasingly important performance differentiator for couriers. Their customers are demanding ever more efficiency and transparency in this area, as research from logistics software firm MNetics shows. 100 decision makers in UK logistics businesses of 100 employees or more said deliveries accounted for an average 17% of logistics budgets, with 13% the average amount managers felt they could save by being more efficient.

City Link
The launch of My City Link allows customers to see in real time the exact location of all of their consignments. The idea is that My City Link will allow customers to answer questions from their own customers about the progress of deliveries, backed up with hard data. As well as showing delivery status, the systems can also display photos of the address - proof the courier has visited the correct place when recipients were not in.

It is also set up to allow the customer's customer - the recipient - to have access to extra information. For example, receiving estimated time of delivery messages and being given the option to reschedule deliveries the night before to a more convenient date.

"My City Link is a really exciting development which has already started to make a fantastic difference to our customers," said Paul Scratchley, head of on-boarding and implementation at City Link.

"There is no massaging of data, there is no hiding of data ? it is totally transparent with My City Link providing real time information on the physical status of consignments entrusted to us by our customers." For security reasons, customers will not, however, be able to track the route of delivery vehicles.

My City Link needs no special IT equipment other than access to a computer linked to the internet. Customers logging on can view the information at a number of different levels, including the exact whereabouts of a particular parcel which will be shown on a Google map with a coloured flag. If they want an overview of all their parcels in a particular region, they click on that region on the map and four coloured boxes will appear giving the total number of parcels in each of the following categories: delivered; about to be delivered; delivery attempted but no-one was in; and deliveries that are unlikely to be delivered that day.

The information flow is relayed in real time to City Link's computers via the handheld Motorola MC70 devices that each City Link driver uses to record deliveries as well as failed deliveries. Each handheld updates the central system automatically every two and a half minutes, whether drivers are behind the wheel or making a delivery.

Meanwhile DHL Same Day has enhanced its delivery offering with a solution incorporating MNetics M2 ePOD proof of delivery solution, 850 Motorola MC55 handhelds, and integrated CoPilot route guidance.

DHL Same Day is focused on getting time-critical packages to their destination in the shortest possible time. Handling more than 4,000 deliveries each day, the company runs one of the largest coverage networks for same day services from 31 nationwide service centres.

Again the system is designed to improve customer experience through real-time tracking of parcels. The solution also aims to reduce pick-up and delivery times through efficient route guidance and dispatch.

If there are problems with an order (e.g. traffic congestion) dispatchers can share the information with customers to manage expectations. It is also anticipated that analysing operational data will optimise resource planning, and courier productivity will rise by 5% through improved dispatch, route guidance and automated data collection.

"We are always on the lookout for the latest technology to continually deliver the best service for our customers and required a mobile computing platform that would enable our customers to track couriers in real time," says Veena Bhatt, UK Same Day head of IT, DHL Express UK and Ireland.

"We chose M-Netics' Proof of Delivery solution to deliver this capability. As well as added value for our customers, it also supports our couriers and allows our service centres to allocate jobs more efficiently. The technology is backed by a dedicated support service that should reduce our mobile computer maintenance costs by 20 per cent." M-Netics IM2 ePOD integrates proof of delivery with fleet management, CRM and communications systems. Using GPS tracking, it is designed to enable logistics managers to track job progress to improve customer service, and boost security, while streamlining post-delivery processes such as invoicing.

It is a second generation product, with the first generation gaining notable successes in the distribution chain. For example, pharmaceutical wholesaler, AAH Pharmaceuticals, achieved payback on its installation of the software 30 months after it went live, when the anticipated payback time was seven years.