Innovations in Last-Mile Delivery: Automation and Drones

The evolution of Internet of Things (IoT) and smart automation has also expanded to the logistics and courier industry; particularly last-mile delivery….


The evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart automation has also expanded to the logistics and courier industry; particularly last-mile delivery. Innovations and technological advancements in the logistics industry have long been considered the cornerstone of evolution within the global world of supply chain. Companies now have been adopting automation to make the logistics network efficient and effective while also saving costs for business. Although there are many ways to ship locally, international shipping has more documentation and processing which adds to the hassle involved in taking a parcel from the point of initiation to destination.

Last-Mile Delivery

Last-mile delivery can be considered the very last point in the supply chain when the cargo is delivered from the transportation hub to its final destination. A transportation hub is a place where cargo is exchanged between the transportation modes. In international shipping, last-mile deliveries are done from distribution centers or warehouses nearest to the destination to the final point of delivery. In international shipping, the transportation hub is where deliveries are made from sea/air freight in the international region to the road or rail transport for final delivery to consumers at their doorstep. This term has developed over the past years to reduce delivery time and make the products readily available for consumers reducing delivery time and costs.

Technological Innovations in Supply Chain

Innovation and revolution within the supply chain industry have led to significant growth of the global supply chain network. Automation, cloud computing, data analytics and big data are some of the key technologies that have enabled the supply chain to grow multifold. Automation has enabled the manufacturing, warehousing and delivery solutions to become efficient. Cloud computing on the other hand has enabled to store tons and tons of data while also keeping records and making rationale-based decisions that contribute towards organizational success. Similarly, big data and data analytics present the metrics based on which decision-making is based. They also show the performance and efficiency of operations while the company can formulate strategies to optimize the workflow.

Automation and Drones in Last Mile Delivery

Last-mile deliveries are termed as the easiest process but sometimes can be very sensitive to handle in nature. Although it is done closest to the final destination to save costs the human effort utilized is equal to what it takes to move the cargo in the initial stages. With regards to innovations in last-mile delivery, companies are now moving forward towards automation such as driverless vehicles and delivery drones to save human efforts. This process is still in the developmental phase and has a long way to go but the initiation and planning has been done with the testing phase ongoing currently. Drones might be the fastest way to do last-mile deliveries because of no air traffic within its range but the load capacity for a drone is low. Similarly, driverless cars have not yet been made 100% perfect that can do mass deliveries to a great extent. They are being used as a prototype but it will take time for full implementation.


Overall, more than 17 countries have adopted drone delivery systems, particularly for medical supplies in emergency use cases while 13 are in line to implement drone delivery. The implementation of these two technologies will expressively contribute to reduced lead delivery time and costs but for that, the technology will need more advancement in the coming years making the operations more efficient.

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