This innovative start-up ( McGili Canada) deals with smart locker banks for pickup and delivery in the context of omni-channel business-to-consumer logistics and supply chain. Its main contribution is the framework and conceptualization of hyper-connected smart lockers network designs as an alternative to home delivery for enabling to meet the challenges towards efficiently and sustainably achieving fast and convenient business-to-consumer pickups and deliveries. It gradually explores alternative designs from current practices to solutions exploiting Physical Internet concepts such as the PI handling containers. We have identified key relative advantages and disadvantages of alternative solutions, synthesizes strategic insights for industry, and provides real challenges and opportunities in global omni-channel logistics market.
Smart lockers, Physical Internet (PI), PI-containers, Last Mile Delivery, Hyper-connected City Logistics, omni-channel Supply Chains
While advantageous in terms of implementation, fixed capacity smart locker banks can be inadequate when demand evolves or is difficult to predict. The challenge of capacity management and configuration arises in future cities, which is the backbone of the next design proposed.
Solution to the Challenge in Cities:
PI-containers and their modular dimensions bring opportunities to develop new logistics designs rethinking the way we deal with physical goods in future sustainable cities. We propose the use of PI handling containers as pickup and delivery lockers, as an alternative to modular lockers and towers: The PI-containers become smart mobile lockers.
In the proposed pickup and delivery locker bank architecture, PI-boxes (handling containers) are proposed to be used as smart mobile lockers. The structure of PI-boxes, being robust, reliable and seal together, as well as their communication capabilities and their eco-friendly nature, make them suitable to used as efficient and safe pickup and delivery lockers, protecting physical goods from weather conditions and theft, while ensuring monitoring and communication of its content to logistics systems.
The smart locker banks with modular towers and lockers have the potential to mitigate the disadvantages of fixed-configuration locker banks by allowing for capacity management of the network to adjust to variability of demand patterns (global demand and package sizes mix) but more complex, requiring dedicated inventory, capacity management and distribution systems.