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Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles tests a digital assistant for couriers

6.4.2021
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles tests a digital assistant for couriers

Optimising deliveries and simplifying the work of couriers: that’s the aim of the digital assistant that Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has tested with the start-up Viscopic.

For obvious reasons, the courier and parcel delivery sector has undergone a real boom over the past year. As a consequence, the industry is now working on further optimising its processes. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is cooperating in this challenge with logistics provider Hermes to support its parcel delivery staff with innovative assistance systems for the Volkswagen Transporter and Crafter vehicles.

A pilot project based on intelligent software aimed at doing just this has been carried out in Bavaria by Munich start-up Viscopic. On paper, the process is simple: the software learns the delivery routes to be taken and then sorts the parcels into a logical order for loading. This saves searching and sorting time en route.

Organisation is everything

Packing more than 100 parcels into no more than 18 square metres of cargo space in the back of a Volkswagen Crafter requires good organisation. “We first split the large quantity of cargo into small portions, which go into one container each,” explains Viscopic CEO Felix Meißgeier.

These box-shaped containers are then stowed inside the Crafter. “The key factor here is the order. Because the delivery routes follow a similar sequence, the bags can also be loaded accordingly.”

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Constant growth

Thanks to an app, the driver can see which bag contains the next customer’s parcel. Based on the Volkswagen Crafter’s GPS coordinates, the bags containing the parcels that are to be delivered nearby are shown on the van’s infotainment system and on a hand-held device. The aim is to save a significant amount of time that would otherwise be spent searching for parcels at the delivery address.

This digital assistance has come at just the right time: according to the Parcel Shipping Index 2021 the expansion in the sector is set to continue, with an annual growth rate of at least six per cent for the period through to 2026.

A difficult job

However, it is not just about saving time. The aim is also to improve working conditions for the drivers. “Delivering parcels is a very demanding task, particularly in urban areas. Inner-city traffic demands total concentration, places to stop for large vehicles are hard to find, and due to the pandemic and associated safety measures delivery work has become even more complex,” explains Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles project leader Artur Hasselbach. “In light of that, intelligent solutions like this for the last mile are very interesting for our customers in the logistics sector.”

The Future Logistics Challenge

Viscopic was chosen from 180 entrants all over Europe in the Future Logistics Challenge run by Hermes and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to find the most promising solutions in the areas of “Delivery Driver Experience” and “Smart Delivery Vehicles”. Viscopic came out top along with one other project. The aim is to test the system and analyse how much it increases different drivers’ efficiency in everyday use.

We are looking intensively into how we can further support the work of our delivery staff and we already have a range of digital tools in use. We are looking forward to seeing the findings from this trial,” declares Marco Schlüter, Chief Operation Officer at Hermes Germany GmbH and a member of the Future Logistics Challenge jury.

SourceVolkswagen AG

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