Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Will Volvo’s Roam Concept Be The Future Of Delivery?

Today’s world is all about speed: faster cars, faster public transport, faster internet, instant food – you name it. All of it design to make our lives easier by eliminating the wait. Our journeys are quicker than ever and the internet moves from page to page in less than a second; but there are some things that haven’t kept up with the acceleration. Delivery of goods, for example, has always been a bit of a speed bump in the instant way of life – after all, there’s only so fast an item can travel from one end of the country to another. How many times have you needed to get somewhere but been stuck at home waiting for a package to arrive?

There have been a couple of attempts to address the issue, most recently Amazon’s decision to try and use drones to deliver packages in less than 30 minutes. Creativity is the key here: you can’t just make the trucks faster, you have to think of an entirely new way of doing it.

The latest and perhaps most inventive idea to this end hasn’t come from one of the big product-moving giants like Amazon or FedEx, but from Volvo (of all people). Their idea, called Roam, aims to eliminate the need to wait around at home for your parcel to arrive, as well as lessening the costs companies face in missed deliveries. The latter is a difficulty that wastes huge amounts of money for the delivery industry each year.
So here’s what Volvo decided to do: come up with a system where deliveries can be dropped off and left inside your parked car for you to pick up when you return to it. This means you can receive packages when you’re out and about doing something else, rather than sitting around at home, which would be ideal for busy workers and families. It also means no delivery can be left incomplete.

The Roam system uses existing technology in Volvo cars that allows a courier (who is provided with a digital key) to locate the car via GPS, enter it on a one-off basis, and drop whatever goods you want inside. Once the process is complete the car then re-locks itself and your delivery waits for you to return to the vehicle. It’s been trialled with good success over in Sweden and could well be an idea that Volvo is looking to integrate into the supply chain in the coming years. And why not? There’s definitely a market for it – online purchases are on the rise, meaning goods shipping will likely increase, and we’ve all felt the pain of constantly being out of the house when the delivery man shows up.

But Is It Practical?
It’s a very clever idea, but will it work? Is it realistic? For starters, there are a whole mess of security issues to contend with – will people be comfortable having their cars opened while they’re not around? “Most people don’t leave valuable items in the car for security reasons,” says Professor of Supply Chain Strategy Richard Wilding, a problem that could lead to an inherent distrust in the system as a whole. He also points out that if groceries are involved “Chilled products will also be a problem, as the inside of cars can reach quite high temperatures – thinking about health and safety, there would have to be some kind of temperature control.” Hector Au, Senior Buyer at leading packaging supplier Rajapack, is equally sceptical from a safety point of view, citing the example that “There may be certain high crime areas that you would not want your orders delivered to.”

So there are a few early roadblocks in terms of safety; but what about viability? Is it a practical solution? Professor Wilding believes that some of the logistics are more difficult than Volvo are letting on, for example “unplanned trips and difficult locations – what if the vehicle moves suddenly or the delivery van has to navigate a complex car park? Both will cause logistical issues.”

Hector Au has similar concerns for the practicability of the concept, pointing out that “Boot space is also another problem for larger orders; I could see a form of ‘click and collect’ service working better in this instance.” Does this mean that the idea is slightly too ambitious, and a simpler existing one would do? Professor Wilding seems to agree: “Central locations to pick up items seem to work quite well. You could also have a drive through system, almost like at McDonalds, where you can drive to a collection window on your way home.”

So all in all, the concept is good, but the issues may be too many to contend with. Verdict? It could work – but it’ll take a few years to overcome all of the above.

Source: Volvo

Monday, April 07, 2014

Why Breakdown Cover Is a Holiday Essential

If, like me, you enjoy planning your family holidays then I bet you are already working on the details of your forthcoming trips in the summer holidays. If you are driving, either at home or abroad, in the Easter holidays, May holidays or summer holidays then make sure you remember to check or buy breakdown cover from a reliable provider such as The AA so that your holiday memories are all good ones!

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For me, this is my first year as the Mum to a school child so the long school holiday is a big change for us so we are planning a couple of weeks away as a family, one of them will include a long long drive up to North Yorkshire with our 2 year old and 5 year old daughters.

I am a list maker.  And so, among my list of things to book or buy or pack for my holidays is always a check on our current breakdown cover to make sure that we are adequately covered.  I have bad memories as a teen having to be towed home from a holiday before we were ready to leave because the car had given up and our cover wasn't valid so I always take extra care to check now.

When you are choosing your cover, make sure you know what your cover includes.  Some policies will only take you home and not to a local garage.  Others are the inverse. Some policies will cover the costs of alternative accommodation.  Others don't.  When you are driving to your holiday destination, you don't want to end up being diverted back home again if you can possibly avoid it!  Ideally, any faults with your car will be dealt with at the side of the road.

There are a few things (other than checking that you have up to date breakdown cover!) that you can do to help to prevent disaster when driving on your holidays.

  • Check all of your fluid levels before you travel - coolant, oil, air conditioning and screen-wash
  • Check your tyre pressures against the manufacturers recommendations
  • Check your tyre tread levels (your garage can do this for you)
  • If your car is due for a service in the near future, it may be worth bringing it forward a little so that your car receives a little TLC before you travel
  • Clean your windows and mirrors before you travel
  • Make sure you have the contact details of your insurer and breakdown cover supplier handy when you travel - just in case.
  • Relax and enjoy your holidays!

Note: This is a sponsored post but that doesn't stop it being fun to read
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