City Challenge

From the March 2017 issue.

Urbanisation has earned buzzword status. As the world’s cities face ever-increasing congestion, pedestrian traffic and mounting delivery demand, can a new generation of trailers help ease the pressure?

Urbanisation may not be a new phenomenon, but it is quickly becoming a global mega-trend. Unrivalled access to the job market, new technologies and everyday amenities is encouraging more people to flock to cities than ever before in history, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which also found that increased urban density can encourage collaboration and fast-track progress in every area of life.

“While innovation can happen anywhere, it tends to be concentrated in highly urbanised areas,” the Organisation said in a recent report*. “Cities are [now] the main centres for research and development activities, patent applications and venture capital.”

But, while urbanisation plays an important role in fostering innovation and improving the lifestyles of city residents, it also brings with it a momentous logistical challenge: As more and more people demand space to live and work, housing construction and delivery traffic increase, too. Combining a number of the most pressing industry issues – such as road access, increasing congestion, tightening emission regulations and the rise of e-commerce – urbanisation is thus forcing the transport community to fundamentally rethink the concept of metropolitan logistics.

E-commerce is arguably the most prominent driver of the inner-city logistics revolution. For many a city dweller, grocery, meal and parcel deliveries to the doorstep are now expected as a standard, meaning more people want access to more things at a higher speed than ever before. Responding to the boom, leading freight companies have been forced to create e-commerce-specific strategies that require heavy investments in bespoke depots, hubs and the latest technology.

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