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What is the last mile?


The last mile is considered the most difficult because it is the most expensive part of the route in goods logistics and the transport of people. The term “last mile” comes from the English language and means “last mile”. Depending on the industry, it different meanings up. At its core, it is always about solving the task for the last 'mile' or the last meters in the delivery to the end customer. This applies to both passenger transport and goods deliveries.

In modern society, the concept of the last mile has also become established in urban mobility. You don't just fixate on a vehicle to get from A to B. Where macromobility ends (at train stations, parking garages or tram stops) micromobility begins. Here come vehicles such as rental bikes,e-scooter ore-scooter used to cover the last mile to the destination. Two-wheeled e-mobility offers attractive solutions here because the vehicles have enoughRange, require little (parking) space, are easy to use and are fun to drive. In this way, the congestion-plagued inner cities are not only relieved, but alsoEmissions decreases. Whether you use sharing offers or buy your own vehicle is up to you.

History and origin of the term ‘last mile’

In the telecommunications industry and in the area of electricity and gas supply, the “last mile” refers to the last part of the line, for example to the last house connection.  Officially, this piece is referred to as part of the classic telephone network,  as a subscriber line. In the postal system, too, the “last mile” is considered the last part of the delivery route to a private or commercial household.

Last mile transport of goods

In recent years, the “last mile” has been transferred from the telecommunications sector to the logistics industry and is referred to here as the part of the transport to the end customer’s doorstep. In rail transport, last mile refers to the capacity of electric locomotives to travel non-electrified sections of the route with the help of an additional diesel engine.

In the 21st century, with the rapid increase in online trading, the term last mile has found its way into it. As the volume of orders in private households (B2C) increased, the need for customer package services inevitably increased. Shipments to private households are expensive for online retailers and their service providers. Due to the small delivery quantities and distributed delivery points, the goods can hardly be bundled. Logistics services are often the largest cost factor for parcel deliveries. Due to the boom, some transport service providers have focused on delivering specifically for private shipments.

The last mile for food and drink delivery

The large and mostly global logistics service providers are DHL, UPS, Hermes or DPD. In addition, other specialized delivery companies have been formed for individual sectors, such as Lieferando, hellofresh, lieferheld or foodora (food) or picnic or mytime (grocery shopping). The American online giant Amazon is now also represented in the food delivery services segment. Suppliers that specialize in beverages are very popular with customers. Due to the relatively high weight, the benefit for the end customer over the last mile is particularly high. Oetker's acquisition of the logistics startup Kolbenpost for more than one billion euros shows that there is a lot of potential in delivery services.

Last mile passenger transport

In passenger transport, new business models are being implemented by mobility providers, especially in urban centers. The aim here is to relieve the cities of urban traffic. Today, an average of 1.3 people travel in a car, causing traffic jams, nitrogen oxide pollution and therefore bad air. But last-mile concepts for passenger transport are also gradually being used on the outskirts of cities. Here it is important to offer connection options for the journey home from the (usually) last stop on public transport. What is important here is integration and therefore barrier-free connection for the end customer. Booking and using last mile mobility services should be easy, otherwise the customer will not accept these solutions.

Commercial vehicles for last mile deliveries

Who doesn't know the parked inner cities, blocked pedestrian zones and blocked cycle paths - mostly by diesel vans from Renault, MAN, Daimler or VW. However, a few things are happening here: theUsefulvehicle manufacturer are all working on electric vans for last-mile deliveries. Since the impending driving bans on diesel vans, the delivery services have also known that the aim is to carry out deliveries in inner cities emission-free and therefore electrically. In addition to the elimination of emissions, deliveries by e-vans will be virtually silent, which opens up completely different delivery options, for example overnight or at least in the early hours of the morning.

More electric vehicles for deliveries to urban centers

In addition to these e-vans, there are electric two- and three-wheelers such ase-cargo bikes, or evene-CargoBikes called, very popular in our cities. Many delivery services are still testing its practical suitability. Smaller intermediate depots are often used to serve the ‘last mile’ from there with electric cargo bikes.

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