Last Mile Automation with LTL Carriers?

last mile automation

LTL carriers navigate many roads across the globe – but the last mile is one that isn’t one of their focus points. The last mile in logistics is commonly referred to as the final step in the delivery. Since most LTL shipments deliver to an end user, finding creative ways of integrating last mile automation is a challenge for many LTL carriers.

Contrary to popular belief, the LTL industry definitely has a need to invest in last mile automation in order to improve the customer experience, without putting a huge dent in their operational costs. Noted below, we’ll outline a few of the creative ways that LTL companies are beginning to introduce last mile technology that focuses on their shippers need to improve the last-mile experience.


What is different from Parcel to LTL Last Mile Services?

Did you know that the last mile can comprise up to 30% of the total movement of a product from its source destination to the end user? However, there is a primary reason why most LTL carriers stay away from last-mile delivery services.

Often times, it’s simply not cost-effective. But this is highly dependent upon their business model. It’s also a statement of fact that the majority of last mile services are focused on the parcel segment – where smaller packages are delivered to consumers at homes or their offices.

The LTL last-mile places an emphasis on tailoring their white glove services to business deliveries – as most LTL carriers simple are unable to deliver to residential addresses, or they choose to avoid these deliveries due to the lack of profitability. However, both LTL and Parcel shipments utilize similar automation platforms to improve customer service, reduce missed-deliveries, and maintain profitability.


How is Automation Utilized in LTL Last-Mile Deliveries?

There are three major areas that maximize efficiency and minimize costs of last-mile delivery.


Route Planning & Optimization

LTL carriers struggle with route planning, especially when those unexpected changes occur. However, LTL route planning happens far in advance. 

On the other hand, a parcel delivery service contains smaller packages. These smaller packages can be swapped during transport if a customer requests a different delivery time. This brings up an interesting conundrum for LTL carriers; as they simply don’t have the flexibility to change their freight layout as easily.

A solution that many LTL carriers have utilized is a proprietary route planning and optimization software. Generally, one that uses a series of complex algorithms and cloud-based communication platforms.


Communication with the Customer

This is an area that all carriers can utilize. Customers today have become dependent on mobile technology – especially those in business locations. Many LTL companies have updated their communication platforms with cloud-based CRM systems, mobile apps, and multiple automated communication systems that can send up to the minute updates to customers, to prepare them for the LTL delivery. This feature is exceptionally beneficial for those with limited staff, as the carrier can provide them with an instant message via SMS text, desktop alert, or emails to let them know that the delivery is in route.

By investing in last-mile automation, the carrier reduces downtime, improves route efficiency and experiences fewer missed-deliveries.


Final Thoughts

The primary objective of white-glove last-mile service is to improve the customer experience. Nowadays, shippers have more flexibility as to who they partner with. For carriers, it is wise to invest in last-mile automation that allows them to gain an edge over their competition.

If you’re a shipper who is looking to work with LTL carriers that utilize similar last mile automation as your company, contact an experienced 3PL.

3PL professionals like Redwood Logistics maintain solid relationships with multiple LTL carriers. This allows us to guide you into partnerships with like-minded carriers. Carriers who not only give you a great deal but who also represent your company exceptionally well.

Ready to improve your last-mile efforts through automation? Reach out to the experienced team here at Redwood Logistics!