Logistics, the last mile needs to be smart!

A graduate from the French prestigious HEC business school, Jérôme Libeskind is an expert in urban logistics and e-commerce. He has 25 years’ experience in operational management in the development and management of logistical platforms, in France and abroad, in addition to having worked in the logistics service industry, notably in textile and e-commerce. In 2013, Jérôme Libeskind set up his consultancy business, Logicités, and works on numerous projects with different associations. He recently worked as a moderator during conferences at the Autonomy Tradeshow.

Opteven Lab: What are some of the latest developments in urban logistics? What are some of the future challenges?

vers une logistique smart

Jérôme Libeskind: Today, people are really aware of the issues and negative effects of logistics (the noise, traffic jams, CO², risks of accident, etc), the State, towns and constructors are also all aware of these factors. When it comes to solutions, well, that’s slightly more complicated, as there are many specific issues and local constraints.


Everyone at their level has put forward different measures. Some towns have banned diesel vehicles from entering the city centre or have asked for 100% electric delivery. These strict restrictions have forced transporters to change the way they work.


The principal challenges to help optimise logistics in the future are:

  • To work on traffic flow consolidation: this is where technology will be useful. Indeed, goods are heterogeneous in terms of size, transport constraints, weight, etc.
  • Increase professionalisation in logistics carried out by private individuals and small and medium companies (see following paragraph)
  • Continue to develop ranges of clean-energy vehicles: today, there’s a large product offering on small utility vehicles. For the biggest utility vehicles and heavy goods vehicles, the offering is far from satisfactory. Awareness of vehicle manufacturers has led them to propose solutions with attractive economic conditions for small Utility Vehicles.


Opteven Lab: What will logistics be like in the future? How do you think vehicles will be allocated for private or public use?

Jérôme Libeskind: To answer those questions, I’d like to give you a quick overview of the key players in logistics today

  • Company fleets: these companies usually manage their deliveries themselves without using external transporters (e.g.: Darty or Office Dépôt). The optimisation of these fleets works relatively well although they are rarely reach the same economic performance as specialised transporters. In fact, specialised transport companies benefit from pooling resources and from working for several clients at once. Everyone manages the flows correctly with the help of software.
  • Small businesses: these are shops and craftsmen that have supplies delivered every week. They don’t have an optimisation effect and there are many of them in French cities. Moreover, their vehicles are often older and pollute more as they don’t use them as much.
  • Private individuals manage biggest part of goods transport when they do their shopping with their own car. This however doesn’t apply to Paris as 62% of Parisians don’t have a car. Over the next few years, we will have to develop delivery services to private individuals, notably for home delivery.


Jérôme Libeskind: Concerning your question on the allocation of vehicles for private/public use, the subject must be dealt with in 2 parts.

  • First of all, with the emergence of the collaborative economy, private individuals are using their own vehicles more and more instead of professionals. In fact, they look after their own home removals for example, and also for goods that are transported from one private individual to another. In fact, there’s a type of carpooling for goods that exists today. The synergy between the private individual and private companies can make sense on an environmental level. It makes sense for a private individual to put something in their empty car boot to transport it for another company. Things could develop in this way. However, we need to find a balance between collaborative economy and professional development goals.
  • Also, in certain cities, public transport can be used to transport goods. In fact, in big cities public transport is saturated at certain times but not all the time. We need to optimise off-peak hours. We can do this in 2 ways:
    • Either the goods are transported with passengers in closed containers. For example, in Japan, when the seats of the tramway are empty, a container is installed instead.
    • Either by using infrastructures themselves. Generally speaking, between 2 tramways carrying passengers, there could be a goods tramway.



The allocation of the transportation of goods between public systems and private individuals takes a very long time to put into place. We could however use air transport as inspiration that transports both people and freight.


Another point to remember, there’s real synergy in transport of goods and people. You have to be careful however as the transport of merchandise is regulated for vehicles with an engine. This legislation, like the status of self-employed entrepreneurs in France, has favoured the emergence of delivery by bike or on foot by private individuals.


Opteven Lab: What will the means of transport be like in the future?


Jérôme Libeskind: First of all, today, in big cities, the trend is to reduce private use. This trend will continue for private individuals as for goods transport.


In the future

  • The means of transport will be powered by cleaner and greener energy. The most common engines will be:

electric, gas and hydrogen

  • Delivery times will vary: delivery could take place at night as shops will open later and later.
  • The type of vehicle: we will have eco-friendly forms of transport and more heavy goods vehicles. But also, more small vehicles (scooters, three-wheelers, bikes …) The emergence of e-commerce and the setting up of same-day delivery (in last than an hour) will help the development of the use of small vehicles.


Deliveries will be faster, but the downside is that the “last mile delivery” will also become more accident prone. This will require a regulatory framework. Major Chinese towns are also experiencing this change, where they are seeing an increasing number of accidents.


Opteven Lab: What will be the place of the self-driving vehicle in the future?


Illustration d'un camion autonomeJérôme Libeskind: the self-driving vehicle will have an important place and will be probably be used predominantly for the transport of people, for economic reasons. On this subject, technology is developing fast.

  • The self-driving truck will take care of parcel delivery. They will be designed as shown in the diagram. Generally speaking, trucks will be like a pool of automatic instructions. How does it work? The truck travels to different delivery points and as soon as the truck arrives, the person receiving the parcel, receives a code on his/her Smartphone. This code will allow them to open the locker on the truck and get their parcel.
  • Tracer robots will enable you to follow a delivery person on foot to help him/her transport a heavy load (size, weight). This should be coming out soon for couriers and packages. It’s a good solution to make the job easier for the delivery person.
  • Little delivery robots: the idea being that from a vehicle, a human controls these little robots so that they can deliver goods where they are needed. Humans will be present mainly to sort out any problems that could crop up. About 15 start-ups all over the world are working on this subject.
  • Drones: some towns are starting to look into this solution. They are usually quite big towns over wide geographical areas (e.g.: Reykjavik). The characteristics of drones mean that they can gain quick access to complicated areas or to an accident scene, where supplies are urgently needed. In east Africa, drones are regularly used. The capacity of drones is increasing rapidly in terms of load and autonomy. In France, Bordeaux has already tested delivery by drone.




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