SAPICS 2019 Post-Conference Ezine - Page 14

in late 2013 and announced that Amazon
planned to deliver goods to customers by
drone in the future. “Since then, people
realised that this was more than a mere
PR stunt, and a race to operationalise
these in order to drastically cut the cost
of last mile deliveries ensued. Drone
deliveries were successfully tested in
the UK by Amazon and in Australia by
Google, but it was the Chinese retailer who was the first to use them
for commercial deliveries, mostly to rural
Automating the Last Mile
“Not only has ordering goods increasingly
becoming easier and more convenient
due to these recent announcements, but
a series of delivery focused milestones
were also achieved. The fulfilment of
demand has changed rapidly since the
rise of e-commerce and omni-channel
ordering, and no longer does the
consumer have to spend their weekends
travelling to the out-of-town hypermarket,
spending hours walking the aisles doing
the weekly shop. Now the consumer not
the retailer decides when and where
goods will be collected, creating an
exponential level of additional costs and
additional complexity for supply chain
teams. To try and provide solutions
that increase the speed and flexibility
while reducing the amount of manpower
(and significant labour costs), radical
new automated delivery mechanisms
have been developed and they are now
breaking cover.
“In April, a trio of milestones were
announced. Firstly, UPS and drone
technology company Matternet initiated
a medical-sample delivery system for
hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Then, a California-based company
called Zipline launched the world’s
largest vaccine drone delivery network
in Ghana, that is expected to be able
to conduct up to 600 daily, on-demand
medical drone flights to 2 000 health care
facilities across the country. Finally, and
most importantly for the retail industry,
in late April, the Google drone spinoff,
Wing, achieved the Federal Aviation
Administration’s first certification for drone
deliveries, followed almost immediately by
Amazon who also received FAA approval,
and who then declared that a new style
of delivery drone would commence
commercial deliveries this year.
“Earlier in the year, Amazon unveiled
a series of road delivery robots called
‘Amazon Scout’ which were rolled out for
a trial in Snohomish County, Washington.”
Culey says that another last mile delivery
innovation – drone deliveries – created
excitement (and a little derision) when Jeff
Bezos first went on the 60 Minutes show


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