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Last Mile Automation: Revolutionizing Delivery Services

July 31, 2023 | By Joe Weaver
Last Modified: December 6, 2023
What is last mile automation? Find out how automated delivery vehicles and advanced software solutions are changing the way we order and receive products from warehouses.

Last mile automation is a critical development in logistics. Advanced technologies such as driverless vehicles and drones make the delivery process more efficient. However, it’s important to recognize the challenges of integrating last mile automation. It takes time, money, technology, and skills to manage these systems. Stakeholders must be strategic in the implementation phase to reap the benefits.

According to the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), last mile automation streamlines the final leg of delivery through cutting-edge tech. Drones, robots, and autonomous vehicles optimize routes and reduce costs. This ensures timely and efficient delivery of packages to the doorstep.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the tools and technologies that have had an impact on last mile delivery. We’ll see how they work and why they’re making a big impact on supply chains.

Get in touch with us today and start improving your last mile logistics.

Last Mile Automation: Understanding the Last Mile Process

A loaded semi truck moving cargo on a highway.

In logistics, the last mile is the parcel delivery stage. The shipment is delivered to the end user from a distribution center. Traditionally, shipping companies had two choices for this step: sending semi trucks directly to the end user, or cross-docking at a facility that routes packages to small delivery trucks.

This stage is vital as it directly influences customer satisfaction. End users expect their orders to arrive quickly and without error. Additionally, customers now rely more on delivery rather than traditional storefronts.

Consider the dramatic increase in parcel shipments since 2015. It’s easy to see why streamlining the last mile process is vital to the supply chain.

YearParcels Distributed (in Millions)


However, the last mile process faces several challenges. These include: 

  • Urban congestion 
  • Inaccurate addresses 
  • The high cost of short deliveries

Furthermore, customer expectations for fast and free shipping can put a strain on delivery companies. The standards set by industry giants like Amazon means that people now expect most products within two days or fewer. How do we address these concerns?

Technology has become a game changer in tackling these challenges. Through route optimization, real-time tracking, and automated delivery methods, technology has improved the last mile process. Let’s examine automation technology and how it’s affected the last mile.

Find out more about the future of last mile delivery.

Tools and Technology

Automated picking robots in a modern warehouse.

Like many other aspects of the logistics and delivery experience, last mile delivery has been impacted by automation technology. From the packing station to your door, this tech is being leveraged to improve the shipping experience. These technologies include autonomous vehicles, automation software, and robotics.

Autonomous Last Mile Delivery

Autonomous delivery vehicles are becoming a staple of last mile logistics. These self-driving delivery bots can maneuver through traffic and deliver packages without assistance from human operators.

The benefits of using an autonomous delivery robot include:

  • Reduced labor costs
  • Increased efficiency
  • Around-the-clock delivery
  • Improved delivery time
  • Less opportunity for human error
  • Lower vehicle emissions

Several case studies have highlighted the success of autonomous delivery.

  • The robotics company Nuro partnered with Kroger to use autonomous vehicles for food deliveries in Houston. 
  • Waymo uses self-driving cars for parcel delivery in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
  • Starship Technologies built delivery robots that can only be unlocked by the customer’s smartphone.

Another option some LTL companies have used is to modify trucks so that a lone driver can unload heavy materials. However, this rarely the most cost-effective choice. This means the future of the last mile lies squarely with automation.

Automated Last Mile Delivery Systems

Automated picking and packing robots at a conveyor belt in a modern warehouse.

Robotics and aerial delivery drones also simplify the process. Distribution centers can use robotic equipment to sort and handle packages, Delivery drones can bypass traffic altogether and deliver light packages the same day.

Automated software solutions play a large part in the process. They work with autonomous vehicles to choose the best delivery routes and automate the delivery of tracking information. Overall, it’s meant to improve the customer experience.

Advantages of Last Mile Delivery Automation Systems

Some of the advantages to automating the last mile include:

  • Improved customer experience
  • Less chance of damage to shipments
  • Improved routing for fast delivery
  • Simplified reverse logistics
  • And more

Out of all the advantages listed, customer experience deserves special attention. A reliable, automated process produces consistent results that keep customers coming back.

How Last Mile Automation Works

A warehouse manager evaluating warehouse performance metrics on a tablet.

To get a better idea of how automation works, let’s examine the different stages of the last mile. 

Each stage benefits from automation in its own way.

  • Pre-Delivery Stage: During this stage, automation focuses on order processing and routing. Not only can they process orders faster, but sophisticated programs can then find the most efficient routes for delivery.
  • Delivery Stage: Last mile automation enables tracking and real-time updates during delivery. This lets customers know the exact status and location of their package. Automated delivery robots and drones have features like obstacle detection and secure locking systems to ensure that parcels are delivered without any damage or theft.
  • Post-Delivery Stage: After the parcel is delivered, last mile automation helps in return management and reverse logistics. Automated systems can efficiently handle returns, process refunds, and manage inventory. Automated feedback systems also help with customer feedback. They can collect reviews and ratings to help companies to improve their services.

By employing automation at all stages of the last mile, you’ll go a long way toward getting happier customers and increasing your bottom line.

Why Choose USA Last Mile Logistics For Your Business

Last mile automation offers several advantages and benefits such as increased efficiency, cost savings, and improved customer satisfaction. These factors are essential in today’s competitive ecommerce and logistics industry.

At USA Last Mile Logistics, we have years of experience in moving shipments from distribution to the end user. 

Our services include:

  • Business to business deliveries
  • Request for Proposal assistance
  • Freight Consulting

Why not put that experience to work for your business? Email or call us at 866-569-1445 today! We look forward to hearing from you.

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