The internationally-renowned delivery group is rapidly expanding its last mile footprint thanks to Urbantz.
Dynamic route planning
Pioneering is a word that’s often abused in business. But it’s the one that best describes FM Logistic. Its slogan, ‘supply change’, is more than a clever play on words. After all, the company has fashioned an international delivery operation and a reputation for excellence through its use of innovative technologies and progressive attitudes towards sustainability.
Today, the company operates four million square metres of warehouse space and is developing last mile delivery services in selected cities across Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Russia, Brazil and India.
It has got to where it is by adopting novel strategies to surmount key logistics hurdles across every part of the supply chain. “We’re always looking for new ways to overcome the biggest barriers to more effective logistics,” says Julien Brémard, GIS Urban Logistics Manager at FM Logistic. “Today our most pressing challenges are lowering emissions and the speed with which we can launch our services in new markets.”
To those ends, FM Logistic has helped popularise transportation pooling, where freight from different upstream providers is loaded into a single shipment per distributor to accelerate and greenify deliveries. And a one-roof fulfilment management model, which applies the same logic to warehousing space. It also promotes eco-friendly co-packing solutions and has set an ambitious target to operate carbon-neutral warehouses by 2030.
These are some of the methods the company has used to quickly build greener supply chains. In the last mile, it has turned to another pioneering concept – Urbantz’s last mile delivery management software – to help scale its delivery operations efficiently, rapidly and sustainably across the global markets where it operates.
Julien Brémard – GIS Urban Logistics Manager
For an enterprise as large as FM Logistic – it has more than 29,000 employees globally and was first established in 1967 – replacing legacy systems is a huge undertaking, even with its progressive outlook towards technology.
Before using Urbantz, allocating last mile delivery jobs and planning routes were manual tasks. Julien Brémard, whose own background is across digital transformation, workplace innovation and IT infrastructure, explains: “We were processing route creation and optimisation manually based on the knowledge of our transport managers and customers in each city.
“But this wasn’t scalable. It was a heavy workload every day just to plan the day’s activities, taking several hours and sometimes even longer depending on seasonality.”
As an example of just how laborious the last mile operation had become, proof of delivery could only be sent to customers a day after their delivery was completed, in the best case scenario. First, drivers were required to complete their route, return to the distribution hub and then scan the necessary documents.
In some countries, they would even phone consumers to manually agree the date and hour of delivery.
But the team at FM Logistic had already seen a compelling proof of concept for a leaner, more efficient operation. One that made use of powerful algorithms to allocate and optimise routes in moments, factoring in hundreds of criteria. An order of magnitude greater than even the most talented transport manager could keep track of on paper.
That’s because the company had been building a sustainable last mile delivery brand called CityLogin for several years. Designed with the express aim of offering eco-friendly deliveries to businesses and consumers in built-up areas, CityLogin was already using Urbantz to manage its Spanish fleet of low-emission vehicles.
“Urbantz does all the heavy lifting for us, freeing up our transport managers to deliver greater value to customers and more support to drivers,” explains Julien Brémard.
“From an IT perspective, the platform is just so easy to use for our operational teams. They pick it up in no time.”
By rolling Urbantz out to the wider organisation, FM Logistic was able to enjoy tangible benefits in the form of:
“One of our major headaches was effectively managing the collective knowledge of our customers’ constraints, especially for new colleagues,” said Julien Brémard.
“With Urbantz, the onboarding process is hugely improved for transport managers and drivers.”
Ultimately, he and his team measure the system’s value in how quickly it enables them to scale their services to new cities and countries.
“Urbantz massively accelerates our time to market, improving the speed and autonomy with which we can launch last mile delivery activity in a new city or country.”
“We’ve used it in Spain for two years, in France for 12 months, in Brazil for the last six months and in India since September. In India, we were able to launch a fully-fledged last mile operation in just one week using Urbantz.”
Another factor in improving the operational efficiency and speed of the company’s last mile operation is how easy it was to get set up.
“It was very easy to deploy Urbantz in a centralised manner from the corporate side and now our key users in each country are fully autonomous and able to onboard new customers into the platform by themselves,” says Brémard.
“All that’s left for us is to help them fine tune specific constraints for customers and locales.”
Once FM Logistic was up and running with Urbantz, it quickly realised that one of the biggest benefits of the system is the flexibility running throughout it.
The logistics giant uses the platform for deliveries, pickups and additional doorstep services in the last mile. Although there is a common core use case that covers 80% of its activity, the ability to easily configure different constraints by market helps FM Logistic to fully serve the remaining 20%.
And that has been crucial in building its reputation among customers and driving long-term brand loyalty.
“Urbantz has accelerated our success and reinforced the trust placed in us by our customers,” explains Brémard.
“Unlike other large enterprises that tend to impose corporate solutions on local markets regardless of fit, we’ve succeeded in building localised solutions that then inform corporate strategy. Urbantz has played an important role in that process.”
Thanks to the flexibility of the platform, transport managers can easily design workflows to fit any customer constraints – from accepting cash on delivery to setting out specific delivery time windows and processes for chain of custody or proof of delivery.
Beyond increasing operational efficiency, FM Logistic also strives to improve the sustainability of its transportation activity across the globe.
It tracks KPIs like CO2 emissions per customer and per fleet, as well as number of deliveries and pickups to analyse trends and establish new ways to optimise for greener deliveries.
The flexibility of the Urbantz algorithm means that it can easily be configured to optimise for the lowest emissions when planning routes – prioritising use of the greenest fleets and vehicles.
But it goes beyond a simple understanding of each vehicle’s fuel consumption. Because the algorithm also understands the characteristics and constraints of different vehicles.
This means that route planning automation can account for the discrepancies in how you drive an LGV versus how you ride a cargo bike – covering everything from where you’re allowed to go, to what access you need to a delivery address or how close you need to park.
By setting smart rules to assign deliveries across fleets or third-party logistics (3PL) partners, it is also possible to support advanced use cases.
These could include a rule that only electric vehicles are used for deliveries within ultra low emission zones, or that two-wheeled vehicles are preferred for deliveries within a certain proximity to your distribution centres.
Julien Brémard – GIS Urban Logistics Manager
By deploying Urbantz across its global operation, FM Logistic is able to continue its rich tradition of driving logistics forward through innovation.
The Urbantz system enables it to rapidly set up and scale efficient, sustainable last mile logistics in any city or country, with lead times for new markets as short as a week.
The flexibility of the technology platform has helped FM Logistic cater to the specific needs of its customers.
And its ease of use means that FM Logistic can quickly onboard transport managers and drivers, building localised delivery experiences for better engagement with customers and recipients.